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What has this US Open taught us?

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TENNIS US OPEN – Our Giulio Gasparin analyses the results of the just-finished Us Open to find new angles for the reading of a surprising edition.

 

US Open: All the interviews, results, draws and OoP

For the second time this year, we have witnessed a new male grand slam champion, Serena Williams has joined Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova at 18 slams, the Bryan brothers have taken their 100th title and Martina Hingis has played her first doubles’ final in 12 years.

It has definitely been a surprising Open, with countless upsets and many unexpected results, but looking backwards it seems it all started even before the tournament started, when Rafael Nadal and Li Na announced their withdrawal from the event due to injuries.

But let’s put some order first and consider each of the events, starting from the biggest surprises, the men’s event.

Stan Wawrinka by Art Seitz

Stan Wawrinka by Art Seitz

The post-Wawrinka case

It has been said over and over by both journalists and players, but the victory of the “second” Swiss in Australia has completely changed the way players consider their chances at majors.

It is nothing new to the world of tennis and it resembles a lot what happened in the WTA tour in the past years, but one knows the substantial differences between the two tours and, before January 2014, it seemed unreal to consider any new slam champion, let alone two!

Wawrinka, in that, did a lot more than win a slam and upset two of the main favourites en-route. He was the St George and killed the dragon: so by doing that, he revealed the myth of the unbeatability of the top names at slams.

All players said that, his win gave a new attitude to all the players fighting from behind the “big four.” Beating them and dreaming of a slam were no more an unforgivable sin, it was possible, it was real.

Truth is that for two more slams this has not occurred. In Paris and London, the same old faces played the last act of both tournaments, but this did not mean all the others would forget what had happened in January.

It all resulted in what we all know: the first final without any of the big four involved since 2005.

On top of that, this result gives us another point of discussion and it is the indirect benefit for Cilic that the doping ban was.

This is no place to discuss the reasons of the suspension, even though I believe it was a case of negligence rather than malice, but after his first slam success, it almost seems a bless in disguise.

The time away from the tour allowed the Croat to concentrate on his flaws, on working to fix them and improving both physically and mentally.

Working on technique is very hard and it is even harder to squeeze it on a very short off-season, that is one of the reasons why changes on top are hardly ever as sudden. Cilic had a long break to exploit and do all the tweaks he needed to be successful, that and the “death of the dragon” came about nicely and it all came about right on time to rise the most important trophy of his career.

Shall we expect more upsets and new slam champions from now on?

Hard to tell, the class of the top names is undeniably great, but this 2014 proved that they are still human, the dragon can be killed, and now every player is aware of it.

Srena Williams by Ray Giubilo

Srena Williams by Ray Giubilo

Serena roars again, but not alone

In a way, Cilic’s success is a bit overshadowed by the great result of Serena Williams, who turned around an horrific season in slam tournaments by conquering her first of the year, the 18th of her career. It was a significant one because she beat Roger Federer on time and, in all time terms, she joined Navratilova and Evert.

Williams, we can say, overcame the women’s version of the Wawrinka-effect, for which she had been upset early in the previous three slams, so that she had never won fewer matches in slams when playing a full season in more than ten years.

The expectations on her to do well in her home slam were great, but she finally found her best form and game to win her third consecutive title in New York, this time without dropping a single set and never losing more than six games in a match.

Sadly, it will not be a final that will be remembered because of its quality, as Williams looked nervous and a little tentative, but, on the other side of the net, her close friend Caroline Wozniacki was probably even more.

The win of the America put an end to the perfectly-scripted story of the broken hearted girl that finds success after being dumped by her fiancé a few months away from the wedding.

But, as Williams whispered to the Dane at the net “you will win one too one day”, the former world number one has proved to be a contender if she can keep up this focus and intensity.

Wozniacki has lost four matches on hard courts this summer and, apart from a blip against Camila Giorgi in New Haven, all the other three losses were close matches against the current world number one.

The Dane has given a statement by beating Agnieszka Radwanska and Angelique Kerber before the Open and then by taking down a very positive Maria Sharapova in one of the best quality matches of the New York slam this year.

But beyond the two obvious storylines of the women’s draw, there have been many others: the first quarter-final of Belinda Bencic (the youngest since Martina Hingis to reach this stage in New York), the surprise runs of Lucic, Krunic and most of all Peng’s, ended by an horrific heat stroke.

As usual, the WTA does not lack unpredictability and the future looks pretty certain to remain alike, starting from the last battles to qualify for the Master of Singapore.

Bob and Mike Bryan by Art Seitz

Bob and Mike Bryan by Art Seitz

Bryan’s 100th

Bob and Mike Bryan lifted their 100th trophy, the 16th slam, the fifth US Open title. There is little to add to these number, they are the first team to ever reach three digits and it was simply amazing for them and the American crowd that all happened at the home slam, in front of their compatriots.

Martina Hingis by Art Seitz

Martina Hingis by Art Seitz

Hingis in another slam final

Many fans and experts were sceptical when the rumours of Martina Hingis’s comeback were confirmed, but after finally finding in Flavia Pennetta a doubles’ partner that fit her traits, the Swiss champion has reached her first slam final since 2002, when she was the double’s title with Anna Kournikova and lost in singles to Jennifer Capriati.

The experienced due crumbled from a set up in the decisive act against Makarova-Vesnina, but this looks to be a team that can improve a lot from here on.

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Anett Kontaveit beats Petra Martic to reach the final in Palermo

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World number 22 Anett Kontaveit from Estonia upset number 1 seed Petra Martic 6-2 6-4 to reach the final at the Ladies Open in Palermo. 

 

Martic has scored her third win in her seven matches against top 20 players after beating Belinda Bencic and Elina Svitolina. 

Kontaveit avenged her defeat against Martic in their only previous match played in Dubai last February before the lockdown. 

Kontaveit had to fight to hold her serve in the first game of the opening set at deuce and took control of the match by breaking in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. 

Martic won only 56% on her first serve in the opening set. Kontaveit came back from 0-30 down to hold serve in the seventh game before breaking for the second time in the eighth game to win the first set 6-2. 

Martic earned an early break in the first game of the second set at deuce, but Kontaveit broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. The Estonian player saved a break point before holding serve to take a 2-1 lead. Kontaveit saved five of the six break points she faced. Kontaveit broke for the second time in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. Martic held serve at 2-5 down before breaking serve at 15 in the ninth game to claw her way back to 4-5. The Croatian player received a medical time-out before Kontaveit for the third time in the tenth game at love to close out the second set 6-4. 

Kontaveit will chase her second title in tomorrow’s final three years after winning in S’Hertogenbosch in 2017.

“I felt like I played a very good match today. I was quite aggressive, consistent, and I served especially well in the first set. It got a bit close in the end, but I played a good game at 5-4 and I am happy to be in the final”, said Kontaveit. 

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Petra Martic comes back from one set down to beat Ludmila Samsonova in Palermo

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Top seed Petra Martic from Croatia came back from one set down to beat qualifier and world number 117  Ludmila Samsonova 5-7 6-4 6-2. 

 

Martic saved six break points in the 10th game of the opening set, but Samsonova converted her third break point in the 12th game to win the first set 7-5. 

Martic earned an early break in the first game to open up a 2-0 lead. Samsonova broke back at love in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Martic broke for the second time in the ninth game to win the second set 6-4. The Croatian player broke twice in the third and seventh games to close out the third set 6-2. 

Martic will face world number 50 Aliaksandra Sasnovich from Belarus in the quarter finals. Sasnovich came through the qualifying round before beating Jasmine Paolini in straight sets. 

Former top 30 Camila Giorgi rallied from losing the first set to beat Slovenian teenager Kaja Juvan 3-6 6-2 6-4 after 2 hours reaching her second WTA quarter final of the season. Before the outbreak of the Covid-19 outbreak Giorgi reached the top 8 in Lyon. Juvan qualified for the Main Draw at the Australian Open and beat five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams in three sets at the Abierto Mexicano in Acapulco. 

Giorgi started with an early break at deuce at the start of the first set and opened a 2-0 lead. Juvan broke twice to take a 4-3 lead. Giorgi dropped serve for the third time after a double fault on the set point. 

Giorgi came back from 1-2 down by winning five consecutive games with two consecutive breaks in the fifth and seventh games. 

Giorgi broke twice to race out to a 3-0 lead at the start of the third set. Juvan pulled one break back at love in the fourth game but Giorgi got another break to race out to a 5-1 lead. Juvan broke at 30, when Giorgi was serving for the match at 5-2. The Italian player earned two match points and sealed the win on her second chance. 

“I think I was more solid in playing my game. I was moving more forward, so it was much for me. At the start of the match, I was making too many tactical mistakes because I was trying to finish points for no reason. I started to adopt better tactics in the second set and that’s when things started working for me”, said Giorgi. 

Number 4 seed Anett Kontaveit from Estonia came back from one set down to beat Laura Siegemund 3-6 6-2 6-2 after 2 hours and 20 minutes booking her spot in the quarter finals at the Palermo Ladies Open. 

The Estonian player has reached her third quarter final this year after the Australian Open and Dubai. 

Kontaveit set up a quarter final against Elisabetta Cocciaretto, who became the youngest Italian player to reach the quarter final of a tournament since Sara Errani in 2006. 

“I am quite happy about the way I was handling close situations, playing the close games and turning the close games around. I thought I actually handled that sort of pressure, that I didn’t think I would be used to, quite well”, said Kontaveit. 

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Andrea Gaudenzi recognizes the contribution of the Italian Tennis Federation in staging the Internazionali d’Italia

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ATP President and former Italian tennis player Andrea Gaudenzi spoke in an interview to Italian TV channel Supertennis about staging the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome before the French Open and recognised the contribution of the Italian tennis Federation (FIT) in staging the tournament in the Italian capital. 

 

The Rome ATP Masters 1000 and WTA Premier 5 tournaments will be held from 20th to 27th September one week before the French Open (27th September to 11th October). 

“We are grateful to everyone, holding an event this year is difficult from an organizational and financial point of view. We thank the Italian Federation and those who organize the Challengers. Italy is making a great contribution. I think the players are waiting for the BNL Internazionali d’Italia. The Foro Italico is among the most beautiful venues in the world. Rome is splendid in September”, said Gaudenzi. 

During his tennis career Gaudenzi scored wins over Roger Federer in Rome 2002, Pete Sampras in the first round of the 2002 French Open, Jim Courier in the 1994 US Open, Goran Ivanisevic, Thomas Muster, Michael Stich and Yevgeny Kafelnikov. Gaudenzi claimed three ATP titles in Casablanca in 1998, St. Poelten and Bastad in 2002. He graduated in law at the Bologna University and obtained a MBA with Honours at IUM.

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