The 2019 US Open is nearing its completion and with just a few days, and rounds, left until the finals of the seasons year ending grand slam there has been a host of upsets and headline news to keep tennis enthusiasts entertained.
On the men's side, the biggest stories have been the upset losses and withdraws of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Grigor Dimitrov, the 78th-ranked men's player in the world, defeated No. 3 Roger Federer in a five-set thriller in the U.S. Open quarterfinals in New York on Tuesday. The unseeded Dimitrov beat the 20-time major winner 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 at Arthur Ashe Stadium. The 28-year-old was impressive all night, perhaps never more so than when he was up 5-4 in the fourth set. Once there, Dimitrov warded off a triple break point (and five break points total) to tie the match at two sets apiece. Despite Federer noting some health issues after the match the impressive form of Grigor means that he is a hot favorite to make a serious run to the US Open Title.
For Novak Djokovic, it was injury that ultimately led to his downfall this year. On Sunday night in New York, Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland struck first and fast, stunning the world No. 1 and defending US Open champion Djokovic 6-4, 7-5, 2-1 to advance to the quarterfinals. It was a rematch of the 2016 US Open final, which Wawrinka won in four sets. Djokovic, who has been battling a left shoulder injury, elected to retire in the third set when Wawrinka was leading by a break, eliciting boos from sections of the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd. "I'm sorry for the crowd. Obviously they came to see a full match, and just wasn't to be," Djokovic said at his news conference. "I mean, a lot of people didn't know what's happening, so you cannot blame them." Wawrinka said in his on-court interview: "It's never the way you want to finish a match. I'm really sorry for Novak. He's a good friend. He's an amazing champion.
The surprise twists and turns on the men's side has left the competition wide open for all players to compete for a spot in the final, however Rafael Nadal continues to look as impressive as ever and will be a formidable force to anyone that crosses him in the brackets. He next plays Diego Schwartzman of Argentina in the next round, but with history looming and another potential grand slam title to add to his legacy. The tennis world anxiously waits to see if he can achieve this amazing feat yet again.
On the women's side, it’s all about Serena Williams. By the end of her 44-minute 6-1, 6-0 obliteration of China’s Wang Qiang on Tuesday night, Serena Williams seemed to be unplayable. Wang was competing in her first career grand slam quarter-final, but the truth is that she was merely a spectator. She hit zero winners and won only four points in the second set. “After playing her, now I can see why she deserves everything she’s achieved,” she said in Chinese afterwards. However, Williams is focused only on achieving more. As she waved to the crowd in celebration, the camera just caught her face as she whispered four ominous words under her breath: “I’m coming for it.”
In the semi-final Williams will face the fifth seed Elina Svitolina, whose career is a prime example of the mental challenge that tennis presents. The 25 year-old has been one of the best players in the world in recent years, winning four Premier 5 titles, ascending to the top three and beating every top player imaginable. But every time Svitolina would arrive at a grand slam, she would find her powers diminished. Amid all her titles, her best results until this summer were three quarter-finals. She has called the biggest events “tricky” because of the pressure, the feeling of a huge target on her back.
A positive and inspiring story to come out of this years open was the match between No. 1 seed Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff. The two battled it out earlier in the tournament, with Coco a strong fan favorite with the home crowd. The two women exemplified sportsmanship after their incredible US Open match with Japan's Naomi winning the contest 6-3, 6-0. After the match she hugged Coco across the net and invited the 15-year-old athlete to join her for an encore interview. Coco became emotional and expressed hesitation but Osaka encouraged her to seize the moment and address the crowd who came to see her. "I'm going to learn a lot from this match. She's been so sweet to me, so thank you for this. Thank you," Coco said in the interview. "Thank you, Naomi. I don't want people to think that I'm trying to take this moment away from her, because she really deserves it." After Coco spoke, Naomi directed her attention to Coco's parents in the stands. Naomi and Coco both live in Florida and grew up training in the same place. Through her own tears, she applauded Coco's parents for raising an "amazing player." A great sign of sportsmanship and a great example set for the rest of the tennis world. Be sure to subscribe to our blog and follow all our social media channels for all the latest news and results from this years US Open.