NEW YORK — Rafa, you gave your followers quite a scare.
No. 19 looked like it was in the books when you got the first break point of the ninth game of the third set. But it wasn’t, and the second break point flew by as well.
Oh well, it was just 5-4, Daniil Medvedev. There was still time to close out the match in three sets. But after deadlocking the set at 5-5, you won only one point in the last two games of the set.
IT MIGHT BE A LONG NIGHT
Settle back, Rafa Nadal fans. It might be a long night.
The men’s final of Sunday’s U.S. Open was going the distance, even though Nadal served with double game points in the decisive 10th game of the fourth set, but still lost the set.
Nadal even served for the match with a 5-2 lead in the fifth set. He lost that one on a time violation first-serve penalty leading to a double fault to end the game.
Was it time to get worried about Rafa getting No. 19 this night? Was this going to be a Serena-like case of bad fortune for Nadal? Of course, Serena Williams one day earlier had failed again for an all-time tying No. 24 Grand Slam title.
It could have happened to Nadal, too. Anything could have, judging from the way his tall and amazingly agile and quick Russian opponent was playing.
MIGHTY SERVE ENDED A HISTORIC FINAL
Nadal looked like he had a lock on No. 19 again before wasting two match points with Medvedev serving the ninth game of the fifth set.
Rafa even had to fight off a break point in the 10th game before ending the nearly five-hour marathon with a perfectly place serve down the middle.
He went flat on his back in disbelief, and Medvedev went around the net. The two embraced.
It, indeed, was one of the most memorable moments in the history of Grand Slam tennis.
Finally, a 7-5, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 victory that pushed Nadal’s Grand Slam championship total to within one of Roger Federer’s all-time record.
AN AMAZING PERFORMANCE BY BOTH PLAYERS
This was simply an amazing match that left a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium, mostly of Nadal supporters, drained. It was that riveting.
This had to be one of the greatest U.S. Open finals ever.
Medvedev put on an unthinkable display of grit and talent, a sheer desire to win. Medvedev and Nadal were like acrobats at times as they moved around the court to pull off amazing tennis stunts. Anything was possible because of the two players’ athletic abilities.
Nadal is definitely for real. But if his 23-year-old Russian opponent is for real, as he certainly appeared Sunday night, the Australian Open isn’t going to be a picnic for Federer, Nadal or the injured Novak Djokovic, or anyone else.
And then there’s the French Open where Rafa will be heavily favored to get No. 20 if he fails in Melbourne. Of course, if Rafa plays the way he did in the first two sets on Sunday, he may notch No. 20 Down Under.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? WHY NOT A DRAW?
What happens if both Nadal and Federer are tied for the all-time lead with 20 Grand Slam titles each?
If they’re deadlocked in another year or two, it might be time for a permanent dual timeout for both players. As sad as such a day would be, it would be a day to celebrate. Co-record holders wouldn’t be a bad way to go since retirement is inevitable for these two great players.
Although Federer demonstrated at Wimbledon and Nadal showed Sunday night, they can still rival the best tennis has to offer, but the rest of the men’s tennis game isn’t going to take a break waiting for these two greats to retire. Medvedev and his likes will continue to close the gap until there isn’t one.
PRESSURE WILL CONTINUE TO BUILD
As a result of what happened in Sunday’s U.S. Open final, the days ahead will add even more pressure for both Nadal and Federer each time a Grand Slam rolls around.
Federer already has felt that pressure, both here and at Wimbledon, as he tried to widen his lead over Nadal and Djokovic. Even Nadal seemed to feel some of the same pressure Sunday night while trying to close out Medvedev.
After defeating Federer in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic called Federer “one of the greatest ever” in his acceptance comments after the match. Federer frowned, but Djokovic was right.
Djokovic knows, because he’s not out of the all-time race just yet.
It would be nice if Federer and Nadal could/or would retire at the same time, and join Rod Laver as the greatest men’s tennis players ever. But just not quite yet.
James Beck is the long-time tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper. He can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. See his Post and Courier columns at
Caroline Wozniacki Bids Emotional Farewell To Tennis After Defeat to Jabeur
Caroline Wozniacki gave her last on-court interview and said goodbye to the fans after she lost the last match of her career.
Caroline Wozniacki brought the curtain down on her exceptional tennis career with a tearful farewell on Margaret Court Arena.
Appropriately, the Dane’s last professional match was the kind of pulsating three-set battle she is famous for. Ultimately, she lost it 7-5 3-6 7-5 to Ons Jabeur, but the occasion was about so much more than that.
It was a time for Wozniacki to look back at what she achieved and celebrate her triumphs. And, although she was clearly emotional that it was all over, there was no regret in her voice.
“I think it’s only fitting that my last match would be a three-setter, a grinder, and that I would finish my career with a forehand error,” the Dane said in her on-court interview.
“Those are the things that I’ve been working on my whole career, and I guess this was just meant to be.”
Wozniacki continued, “There’s so many things I will remember. Obviously the achievements I had on the court were amazing. The feelings that the fans give us players when we’re out here are really amazing.”
“I will remember the support I’ve had from my family – especially my dad who has coached me all these years.”
“Those are the special memories that I will always cherish. The journey we’ve been on together has been really amazing. It’s been a great ride. I really am happy, but I’m ready for the next chapter (in my life) and I’m excited for what’s to come. You may see me around – off the court.”
Players pay tribute to Wozniacki
During a special tribute, some of the players Wozniacki competed against gave their thoughts on the Dane. Several mentioned that she was a great fighter, while others praised her positive attitude.
Meanwhile, Sloane Stephens summed up many an opponent’s feelings when facing Wozniacki. “Most annoyingly, she just got every ball back – literally every ball,” the American said. “And she had that backhand which was just not fun (to face).”
“I have a lot of really nice memories of her of just being a really genuinely nice person,” added Naomi Osaka.
The last words were left for one of the Dane’s best friends: Serena Williams. “It’s going to be really hard for me to not have Caroline on the tour,” she said. “I’m really happy for her and I know that she’s doing what she wants to do and that’s what it’s all about.”
Wozniacki was then asked how she fought so hard on court but made so many friends on tour.
“When you’re on the court, you’re there to compete and there to win,” the Dane responded. “But when we’re off the court, we’re all in the same boat. We’re all travelling to the same tournaments and I think it makes it a lot more fun if you have friends on tour.”
After her final on-court interview, all that remained was for Wozniacki to say goodbye. Tournament director Craig Tiley gave her a hug and presented her with a koala. Then her dad Piotr lifted her up and carried her across the court.
Finally, the Dane walked around the stadium thanking the fans for their love and support with happy tears in her eyes. She will be remembered very fondly by the tennis community.
Serena Williams Crashes Out Of The Australian Open With Shock Loss To Wang
Serena Williams suffered a shock third-round exit at the 2020 Australian Open. She lost a tight three-set match to Wang Qiang.
Serena Williams unexpectedly tumbled out of the 2020 Australian Open at the third-round stage with a 6-4 6-7(2) 7-5 defeat to Wang Qiang.
It is a massively upsetting results for the American. And it means that her quest for a Margaret Court-equalling 24th Grand Slam title will have to continue if she wants it to be successful.
For Wang, this day means something entirely. It is undoubtedly the biggest win of her career so far and should give her great confidence for her first-ever Grand Slam last-16 match in two days’ time.
It also marked an extraordinary transformation from the Chinese player. At the US Open in September, she was humiliated by the great American. She lost 6-1 6-0 in 44 minutes and did not hit a single winner.
Today in Melbourne, she took the game to Serena and hit 25 of them. In addition, she made sure she held onto her serve as much as possible (she was only broken once) and she made the American play as many balls as she could.
Wang punishes Serena’s mistakes
The 23-time Grand Slam champion did not perform at her best. She made more unforced errors (56) than winners (43), which is usually a bad sign. And she only got 56% of her first serves, which enabled Wang to attack her second serve.
To the 27th seed’s immense credit, she capitalised on Serena’s mistakes. She remained so consistent and made so few unforced errors in the match (just 20 in 160 minutes of play) that she reduced the margin for error for her opponent significantly.
This meant that when the American faltered, Wang could pounce. She was gifted 0-30 in the ninth game of the first set and hit two winners to seize the crucial break.
Then Serena made some sloppy errors in the fifth game of the second set and the Chinese player broke her again. Unfortunately for the 27th seed, the World No.9 played arguably her best tennis of the match to break back four games later and then eventually take the set 7-2 in the tie-break.
In the decider, Wang served brilliantly. She got 74% of her first serves in and won 84% of those points. Consequently, she did not face a single break point in the set.
By contrast, Serena had to save two break points to keep the match going all the way to 6-5 in the Chinese player’s favour.
However, that was the limit of the American’s resistance. She made five unforced errors to gift Wang the game and with it the win that she had worked so hard for.
The Chinese player will now take on another surprise winner – Ons Jabeur – in the fourth round. The Tunisian became the last player to beat Caroline Wozniacki in her career when she recorded a 7-5 3-6 7-5 win.
Barty eases into Last 16
While the former World No.1 was knocked out, the current occupier of that ranking – Ashleigh Barty – suffered no such strife. She continued her serene progress through the draw with a comfortable 6-3 6-2 victory over rising star Elena Rybakina.
The Australian, 23, has now lost just twelve games in her last six sets after she dropped the first set against Lesia Tsurenko in round one.
It is ominous form, but if Barty’s rivals are starting to worry, they may take some comfort from the fact that the World No.1 might have to play the woman who beat her at Wimbledon – Alison Riske – in the next round.
Furthermore, if the Australian makes it to the quarter-final, she will probably face a very tough task in the shape of Petra Kvitova.
The Czech, 29, has made this Grand Slam business look very easy so far at this year’s Australian Open. She followed up straight-set victories over Katerina Siniakova and Paula Badosa with a 6-1 6-2 thrashing of Ekaterina Alexandrova to book her place in the fourth round.
(VIDEO) Australian Open Day Four: American Men Continue To Exceed Expectations
Ben Rothenberg from The New York Times joins Ubitennis to discuss the unexpected run of good fortune for American players in the men’s draw at Melbourne Park. The two also discuss why Roger Federer will not be looking forward to his third round match.
The fourth day of the Australian Open saw few surprises. Both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer progressed to the third round with straight sets victories. Nick Kyrgios was in solid form during his triumph over Gilles Simon. As for the women’s draw, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova experienced little difficult during their second round matches.
Australian Open Day Five: Gauff And Federer Win On Crazy Day In Melbourne
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Gael Monfils and Benoit Paire lead France to a 2-1 win over Chile
(VIDEO) Australian Open Day Four: American Men Continue To Exceed Expectations
(VIDEO) Australian Open Day Three: Roger Federer Gains Momentum As Wind Causes Havoc
(VIDEO) Australian Open Day 1: Rain Causes Havoc, But Djokovic And Federer Still Shine
(VIDEO) Season’s Greetings From Ubitennis
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