Tuesday, 10 September 2013

US Open 2013: Moo's Final Thoughts

Grand Slam action is over for 2013! Here is my concluding post to wrap up this year's US Open.  Enjoy...

The Champions:
Serena Williams
Serena Williams: A 5th US Open title and 17th Grand Slam title marked another superb week for the world number one.  Progression through to the final was smooth, but the final was anything but as she fought for 2 hours and 45 minutes to defeat Victoria Azarenka in a captivating and thrilling finale.  Serena wasted a 4-1 second set lead and 2 chances at serving for the title, but showed great resolve to stay in the zone and come through the third set, 7-5 6-7 6-1.

Rafael Nadal: Another superb week for Rafa saw him claim a 2nd US Open title with a 6-2 3-6 6-4 6-1 victory over Novak Djokovic in the final.  There were a few hairy moments, but the Spaniard came through for his 22nd consecutive hard court win of the year.  This is the 5th tournament in 2013 where Serena and Nadal have doubled up and Rafa, with no points to defend until the end of the year, is just 120 points behind Djokovic and should overtake him very, very soon.  It was another tough loss for Djokovic, but Nadal is, hands down, the best player in the world right now.

The pleasant surprises...
Richard Gasquet
Richard Gasquet: One of the highlights of this year's US Open was watching 2 of the ATP's eternal underachievers prove all the critics wrong.  Gasquet has long been regarded as not having the bottle to match up to his talent, but he showed a lot of heart and fight this week to post 5 set wins over Milos Raonic and David Ferrer.  A 1-15 record in 4th round Grand Slam matches was a thick cloud hovering over him, but he showed immense character to save a match point against Raonic and come through in 5.  When he goes for his backhand it is a magical shot; however his persistence in staying miles behind the baseline is something that will could prevent him from consistently replicating this week's results.

Stanislas Wawrinka: A first Grand Slam semi-final and wins over Tomas Berdych and Andy Murray capped a terrific tournament for Wawrinka.  Once again, he pushed Djokovic all the way in an entertaining 5 setter, but just like Australia, he was unable to convert on a set and a break lead and break into a first Grand Slam final.  I really like watching Wawrinka's game and his use of the F-bomb twice (in the post-match interview and press) was classic.  The tennis world needs more Stanley...
Flavia Pennetta: There must be something in the water at Flushing Meadows because Pennetta has reached 4 Grand Slam quarter-finals and all 4 have been at the US Open.  This year she went one better making the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career at the age of 31.  She recorded hugely impressive wins over Sara Errani, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Simona Halep.  The win over Kuznetsova highlighted a rather forgotten stat that Pennetta had never beaten Kuznetsova in 5 previous matches.  In addition, beating the in-form and widely-tipped-to-be-semi-finalist, Halep was also a real turn up for the book and a credit to Flavia's high level throughout this tournament.

Dan Evans: Progressing through 3 qualifying matches to make a first ever Grand Slam main draw would have been a good tournament for Evans, but defeating Kei Nishikori and Bernard Tomic was a real coming of age on the tennis court.  I am really intrigued to see where Evans goes from here.  I expect him to dip back into the Challenger events, but if he can show the commitment that he has done throughout the summer then he really should be knocking on the door of the top 100 and much higher.

Alison Riske
Alison Riske: Riske is a name that normally just crops up during the grass court season, but it is a pleasant surprise to see her translate that excellent form onto the hard courts.  Riske first made a name for herself in 2010 when she reached the semi-finals of Birmingham.  After slipping off the radar for a few years, she produced a series of fine performances at Birmingham this year, which included a victory over  Wimbledon finalist, Sabine Lisicki.  She earnt herself a wildcard into Wimbledon and took full advantage of that by reaching the third round with her first ever wins at a Grand Slam.  A stunning last 16 showing at Flushing Meadows demonstrates that Alison is still on the way up and a thumping win against an albeit ailing, Petra Kvitova was very impressive.

Ekaterina Makarova: Makarova's talent has never been doubted with wins over 4 of the current top 5, but it has been her consistency which has let her down and prevented her from really breaking through on the tour.  The US Open was her best tournament of the year as she nailed straight set wins over Sabine Lisicki and Agnieszka Radwanska, and then put up an admirable fight in the quarter-finals, going down in 3 sets to Li Na.  In her two previous Grand Slam quarter-finals, she lost tamely to Maria Sharapova in Australia, but this time round she gave it a right old go.  Definitely a player to keep an eye on in the next year...

The disappointments...
Del Potro
Juan Martin del Potro: After watching that tremendous Wimbledon semi-final against Novak Djokovic, I was convinced Del Potro was going to do wonders at this year's US Open, but things just didn't work out.  He was solid throughout the US hard court season, but a gruelling first rounder with Guillermo Garcia-Lopez set the tone as he was defeated by the plucky, Lleyton Hewitt in 5 sets.  I am really concerned about that wrist.  Rest up DelPo, the ATP tour NEEDS YOU!

Roger Federer: The first three rounds were an utter breeze and that is what I expected when Federer stepped up against Tommy Robredo in the 4th round.  In the biggest shock of the tournament, Fed fell in straight sets against a player he had beaten 10 consecutive times.  It has been a real bad year for Federer and his position at the World Tour Finals (currently clinging at No.7) is still in question.  Federer has lost his air of invincibility and with losses to Stakhovsky, Delbonis and Robredo in the last 3 months, everyone believes they can grab a slice of the action.

Fabio Fognini: Rajeev Ram d. Fabio Fognini, 6-1 6-2 6-2... enough said.

Caroline Wozniacki: It was a dream draw for Wozniacki, but once again, she just could not deliver and take advantage of it.  This is no disrespect to Camila Giorgi, who played a terrific 3rd round match to beat Wozniacki in 3 sets, but based on the credentials of a former world number one, it is a match you would expect her to win.  I really cannot see Wozniacki ever sorting her game out.  She seems to be stuck in a funk between defence and attack.  Everytime she tries to step it up she is essentially moving away from what defines her as a player and her major strength, which is of course her defence, movement and ability to soak up pace.  It's a tough one...

Sara Errani
Sara Errani: Coming in as the number 4 seed seemed too much to handle for Sara Errani, who fell away in straight sets to Flavia Pennetta in the second round.  It sounded like she crumbled in her post-match conference, which is a shame because she has been really fantastic this year.  I am not one of Sara's biggest fans, but you have to applaud her efforts in rising the rankings with, let's face it, a very poor serve.  Keep your head up, Sara.

Sam Stosur: I really thought Stosur was going to have a great US Open, a place she has enjoyed her greatest successes in the last two years.  2013 was not to be as she fell to the bubbly and very promising American talent of Victoria Duval.  Stosur split with long-term coach, David Taylor just before the tournament began and things look uncertain for Sammy right now.

Storylines and Tidbits:
US Open scheduling: It seemed to me that the scheduling at the US Open received just as many headlines as the actual tennis.  My first gripe was the mens 1st round matches being played over 3 days, which produced a distinct lack of consistency across the mens and womens draw because at one point of the tournament, some women were already in the 3rd round before some men had even taken to the court.  Whenever there was rain and the matches started to build up, the schedulers almost always made a terrible decision.  Delaying Azarenka-Ivanovic on Monday, but playing all the mens 4th round matches, which was already operating behind the womens draw, was puzzling to say the least.

The breadstick bagel show on Ashe: This year saw a huge amount of one-sided matches on the Arthur Ashe stadium.  This is a normal tradition for the first few days as the big names take up the schedule, but it was a continuing theme into the quarter-finals.  In total there were 50 singles matches on the Ashe with 35 straight sets matches (70%) and 15 bagel sets served up. 

The outfits: I don't normally wade into the debate on attire, but what was going on at this tournament?! From Wozniacki's outfit, which looked like she had a huge pair of underpants attached to the front of her dress, to poor old Azarenka whose outfit produced some incredibly unflattering sweat patterns of bats... even Federer's night gear was rather puzzling! Womens Tennis Blog always does a very solid recap of Grand Slam attire on the womens side, which you can view HERE.  Beyond the Baseline also picked out some of the duds on the mens side too HERE

James Blake retires: A super career for the American, who polished off some really solid wins this year over Jerzy Janowicz and Julien Benneteau at the age of 33 .  He wasn't a player I followed that closely, but he had some well documented injury horrors and it is always sad to see a player finally hang up their tennis shoes.  Also, a shout out to Jill Craybas, who retired much more quietly at the US Open in doubles action.

Francesca Schiavone needs a hug: This is what playing Serena Williams can do to you...

Richard Gasquet and his socks: One of the stranger moments of the tournament where Gasquet decided to fling his socks into the middle of the court after losing the first set of his 4th round match to Milos Raonic... odd.

Stan Wawrinka drops the F-bomb twice: You gotta love Stan.  Not only did he call Djokovic, "f****** strong" in his post-match interview, but then swore again in his press match conference after struggling with cramp.

Classic Roddick: I saw this video posted over on The Changeover.  Start watching at 1:15...

Moo's favourite matches of the week: 
When I look at the small handful of good matches at this year's US Open matches I realised that I seemed to miss most of them.  Here are my favourite ones anyway...

WTA - S.Williams d. V.Azarenka, 7-5 6-7(6) 6-1 (F)
There is absolutely no doubt that this rivalry has the potential to keep people glued to the WTA tour.  It was another fantastic match between Serena and Vika, which had bundles of high quality and drama.  They have played each other 4 times this year and 3 of their matches have gone the distance and all been very entertaining matches.  I cannot wait to see them match-up again, hopefully this year.

Highlights from Serena-Vika

WTA - C.Suarez Navarro d. A.Kerber, 4-6 6-3 7-6(2) (R4)
A really keenly contested match that deserves a mention for one of the best match celebrations from the whole year.  Not the best quality, but a gripping affair that got sidelined by Serena-Sloane's match playing at the same time.

Highlights from the 3rd set tiebreak

ATP -  R.Gasquet d. D.Ferrer, 6-3 6-1 4-6 2-6 6-3 (QF)
A match featuring Gasquet deliver his best tennis (in pulses) on the big stage was a lot of fun to watch.  Gasquet's backhand was at times, truly majestic.

Highlights from Gasquet-Ferrer

ATP - N.Djokovic d. S.Wawrinka, 2-6 7-6(4) 3-6 6-3 6-4 (SF)
I feel that that the quality of this match has been over-hyped by many in the press; however it definitely deserve a mention for including one of the longest and most intense games you are likely to see all year.

Highlights from THAT game in the Djokovic-Wawrinka SF

Special mentions also to V.Williams v Zheng (R2), Kerber v Bouchard (R2), Gasquet v Raonic (R4), Isner v Monfils (R2) and of course, Djokovic v Nadal (F) which were all matches I didn't watch, but would probably feature above.

Moo's Predictions:
Champions: I went for a risk on the ladies side and it didn't pay off this time.  Most went with Serena but I really felt Azarenka could do it this year and she came pretty close.  On the mens side, I went with Nadal from the start.  Although there was nothing special in the rest of my original predictions, I did correctly predict the winner and number of sets of both semi-finals and final in my daily previews.

Quarter-Finalists:  This was certainly one of my weaker tournaments although there were plenty of upsets that were difficult to predict.  In the womens, I was just 2/8, which was by far and away my weakest Grand Slam of 2013.  For the men, I was only marginally better at 3/8.

Moo's overall feelings of the US Open:
The 2013 US Open was a strange one.  Both finals were excellent, but it was easily the weakest Slam for quite sometime.  A hell of a lot of one-sided matches, a small handful of quality contests and few gripping headlines to get excited about.  I am not sure if it just me being me, but I thought it was a really flat tournament.  Anyway this is a fitting video (originally posted on Beyond the Baseline) to wrap up the two weeks...

I am taking a few weeks off from the blog as I am away on holiday in Switzerland.  I certainly need a bit of time away from the blog to recharge the batteries.  I will be back for regular blogging duties from the week beginning the 22th of September with previews for the WTA event in Tokyo, Japan.  The season is slowly wrapping up, but I have lots planned for the off-season.  Laters...

Did you enjoy the US Open this year? Please leave your comments :-)


  1. Thanks, I liked the videos really much. Have a good holiday!

  2. brilliant post I'm a massive Tennis viewer from India

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