Sunday, September 17, 2017

U.S. Open Time!: The Definitive U.S. Open Wrap

I didn't get to see Rafael Nadal win his 16th Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open live. I missed most of the match due to inconsistent Wi-Fi coverage during Hurricane Irma and then my computer battery died and there was no power for almost two days. So things have been a little crazy since the Open ended, but it doesn't mean I don't have thoughts about what happened during the last major of the year. Let's go!

1. Watching Nadal play in this tournament brought back memories of the French Open, where he was wearing down opponents who looked great in Set 1. Those same opponents looked like they could use an oxygen tank by the end of the match. Nadal could have found complications in the final against Kevin Anderson, the lone survivor of the bottom half of the men's draw. Heavy and hard hitters like Nick Kyrgios and Denis Shapovalov have gotten the best of Nadal this year, but at this tournament, Nadal was able to blunt power and use the entire court to keep his opponents from standing at the baseline hitting comfortably. I mean, poor Anderson looked like a weary lab retriever by the end of that match -- he's not the most elegant mover to begin with.
I've had some things to say about the bottom half of the draw, but making a Slam final is still an accomplishment, even if you didn't have to beat a top 10 player to do it. This could be the thing that propels Anderson's career to another level. Hopefully, when he gets to that level, he won't feel the need to give himself a fist pump just for holding serve in the first game of the match. It's just that, Kevin, well, you're supposed to hold serve.

Besides, it's not really a fist pump unless you're covering some court.                                  

2. So Sloane Stephens won the U.S. Open and I still feel she was pretty lucky to make it out of her semifinal against Venus Williams. Right? I mean, those last two games featured some of the gutsiest ball retrieval skills I've ever seen from a non-Williams. Look at this:

I mean, what.
Now, perhaps I judged Sloane a bit harshly by wondering what in hell she was thinking by playing Wimbledon first tournament back and losing in the first round. Still a valid question, but obviously, winning the next major out after a long injury layoff is no small feat. And just as you probably shouldn't take anything long-term about Madison Keys' performance in the final, I'd caution the same about Stephens. Keys did not handle her nerves well for the final, but that was such a colossal lock-up, it's hard to imagine her letting that hamper her again. As for Sloane, I don't know what her new pecking order is in the grand scheme now. I'd love to see her tested more against the rest of the top 10, especially Garbine Muguruza.

3. Because the women's No. 1 ranking has been like a hot potato that no one wants since Serena Williams went on maternity leave, Muguruza is now the top dog of the WTA. At least she's a current major winner. Maybe we're asking too much of our No. Ones. Serena and Roger Federer and Nadal and Djokovic have been dominant and consistent in their reins. Angelique Kerber? No, not exactly. Karolina Pliskova? Well, no. Maybe now we're heading into the scrapper age, where players are battling weekly against each other, as opposed to acquiescing to the dominance of one. That actually sounds like a lot of fun, too.

4. Martina Hingis is still out here winning doubles titles, this time with Chan Yung-Jan and Jamie Murray. That brings the grand career total to 25. My unofficial theory: She is out to prove that she can win a title with anyone with the same serve she'd had since she was 16. Pretty bold.
Oh, and also, I'm going to need someone to talk to me about how this dinner went:

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