THE US OPEN 2017: It’s Time for the big ones

The US Open in the Flushing Meadows, New York is the year’s last grand slam Tennis tournament. The 2017 event has been marred by injuries, too many huge names in the world of Tennis, some of them couldn’t even participate while many others had to bow out during the tournament due to injuries. Big names are still there but this US Open is as open for a new champion as it has ever been with Novak Djokovic (elbow), the defending champion Stan Wawrinka (knee) and Kei Nishikori (wrist) all suffering late season injuries, while Milos Raonic (wrist) has also sat this one out. Andy Murray was another late withdrawal; the former world No.1 pulling out just 48 hours before the start of the event hence making the tournament the most open one in recent history. Roger Federer too had a minor back issue which is why he chose not to compete in the Cincinnati Open in a bid to be fully fit for the US Open. In the ladies’ department too, Sam Stosur missed the US Open with a stress fracture in her right hand and Victoria Azarenka bowed out due to an ongoing custody battle. And, just in case you didn’t know, Serena Williams has recently become a mom to a baby girl and will sit out the rest of 2017.

Despite so many injuries, the US Open has produced some exciting tennis so far. Maria Sharapova who had been handed a wild card to the US Open main draw meant she was playing in her first major since making her return from a 15-month doping suspension and what a return it was. It was a great battle against the second seeded Simona Halep in the first round. Both of the players fought with great intensity to produce one of US Open classics. Sharapova came out victorious with a score of 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Sharapova’s Grand Slam return ended with a fourth-round defeat to Anastasija Sevastova. The 16th seeded Sevastova won 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.

Roger Federer’s first game was a sign of things to come that the Swiss Maestro was going to have a tough time in the tournament which proved about right. His first-round tussle with the 19-year-old American Tiafoe was a sight to behold as the atmosphere inside the Arthur Ashe Stadium was absolutely electric. The 5-set match was not of the highest quality but the atmosphere made it into a great watch.

It would have been a great spectacle for the “Fedal” fans as in case of both Federer and Nadal winning their matches, they would have ended up facing each other in the semi-final of US Open this year but that wasn’t to be. Where Nadal has been in an excellent form dropping only two sets on his way to a semi-final berth, Federer struggled in his first two games against unseeded players to a 5-set victory on both occasions and later crashed out in the quarter-finals at the hands of former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro.   Del Potro, who saved match points to beat Dominic Thiem in five sets in the fourth round, is appearing in just his second ATP World Tour semi-final of the season. He is one of only five players to have beaten both Roger Federer and Nadal at the same tournament.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal and the 24th seeded Del Potro resume their rivalry with the Spaniard having an 8-5 head to head lead over the Argentinian. However, the Argentinian leads Nadal on the hard courts with a score of 5-4.

This year, the semi-finals feature two former US Open Champions as well as two Grand Slam semi-final debutants. In the first semi-final on Arthur Ashe Stadium, No. 28 seed Kevin Anderson is going to face off against No. 12 seed Carreno Busta, who has not dropped a set in five matches (15-0). Carreno Busta is attempting to become the first US Open Champion since 1960 without dropping a single set throughout the tournament. While on the other hand, Anderson is the first South African to reach the US Open semi-finals since Johan Kriek in 1980.

If you’re a betting man, you’d probably put your money on Nadal for winning his 16th career grand-slam title and his 3rd US Open title and closing up the gap on Roger Federer’s all-time record of 19th grand-slam titles. But the conditions are favoring Juan Martin del Potro. It’s unusually cooler at the Flushing Meadows which Del Potro prefers indoors and the Argentinean is a different beast at the hard court. Makes up for a mouth-watering spicy semi-final doesn’t it now?!

On ladies’ arena, the tournament saw an all-American affair taking place in the semi-finals. This was for the very first time since 1981that the last 4 featured all players from the host nation.

The veteran and undoubtedly one of the most influential players of past two decades at the US Open, Venus Williams was upset by unseeded Slaone Stephens after a grueling three set battle ending at 6-1, 0-6, 7-5. This will be Stephens’ maiden grand slam final appearance where she goes on to meet Madison Keys who brushed aside CoCo Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-2 to also make it to her first grand slam final. Slaone’s victory is also very special cause of the fact that just this July she was ranked only 957 in the world after sitting out almost whole last year with a foot injury.

The all US battle between the first timers and it is safe to say, the next generation of American tennis stars will be fought this Sunday.

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