US Open, the last Major ( Grand Slam) of the Year is one of the oldest tournaments of history. What started in 1881 as the US National Championship is now an incredible 136 years young and still going strong.
Since US Open is in USA and so is Hollywood, here is my review of the 2017 edition from a Hollywood perspective.
Change of Star cast.
2 time Champion Novak Djokovic, defending champion Stan Wawrinka , former Champion Murray and former finalist Nishikori were top 10 players who did not figure in the draw. However their absence was not majorly felt with sterling performances seen from others.
Intrigue and conspiracy
Sentimental favorites Nadal and Federer were world number 1 and 3. However only 5 ATP Points separated Federer from Number 2 Murray. Since the US Open organisers consistently seed players as per rankings, Federer was seeded 3 and Murray was second seed.. That meant a 50% chance that Rafa and Fed would meet in the semis and Tthe draw turned out that way only. Ironically, Murray then pulled out and Rafa-Fed fans were livid that the chance of these two Greats of meeting in the final was sabotaged by Murray.
In Murray’s defence he tried to be fully fit and when he finally knew he was not fit enough to win the tournament, he opted out.
Further there was no guarantee that Federer and Murray will actually both reach the semifinals or if they had been drawn on opposite side, the finals. Ultimately they didnt of course.
While finally it was inconsequential it made for interesting discussion.
Suspense and Romance
In their incredible rivalry, Federer and Nadal had never ever met at the US Open. The prospect of their meeting up in the semi-finals for 1st time ever here was romantic and to add suspense to romance, the winner would be the world number 1.
To meet up they would have to win 5 matches each. Would they ? The suspense continued with Federer just managing to win his 1st 2 matches in tough 5 setters. Rafa though was winning comfortably. They won 2 each, then 3 each, then 4 each. Then Rafa won his quarter final. Out of the requirement of 10 matches, 9 was done. Surely Federer would win his, but no. He lost his quarter final to the Argentine giant Del Potro and that meant that their awaited meet-up at US Open would remain awaited, possibly it may never happen.
Mother of all comebacks, sequels and Bromance
Del Potro had won the 2009 US Open by defeating both Federer and Nadal, an extremely rare feat which only Djokovic had done as well. Del Potro who has battled injury issues for several years now had a chance to be the 1st man to do this twice when he defeated Federer in the quarter final and took a 1 set lead versus Rafa. However Rafa comfortably won the next 3 to put an end to the hope of the gentle giant.
In the 4th round, Del Potro was recovering from viral fever and quickly lost 2 sets to Thiem 1-6, 2-6. He laer said he considered quitting during the 2nd set. However he somehow stayed on and in an incredible comeback ( one of the best in recent times) won in 5 sets. Along the journey he saved 2 match points with aces.
Delpo had defeated Federer to deny him an US pen title. They met in the sequel 8 years later. The script remained the same.
Bromance with Federer was seen with the King nicknaming him “Thor”. Indeed Del Potro was like Thor but in the final came up against Rafa who made Thor a human again by defeating him in 4 sets, with the final 3 sets coming very very easily for DelPo..
David winning versus Goliath, and emergence of new talents
This was a recurring feature of the 2017 US Open. Lesser ranked players defeated their higher ranked higher favoured opponents. The 1st day itself saw 4 seeded players , namely Sock, Ferrer, Khachanov and Haase losing. The 3rd day was a virtual bloodbath with as many as 7 seeds losing. Prominent among them were Zverev, Kyrgios and Tsonga.
Zverev especially was a big shock as with no stan and djo and Murray in one half and Fed-Rafa in the other it was a golden chance for him to not just make a big splash but enter his 1st Slam Final. He however could not make the best of it and lost to 20 year Croat Borna Coric. For Coric it was the 2nd important win of the year after his straight set win over Murray at Madrid and he is one of the players to watch out for the future.
Prominent success stories of the tournament
The tiny 5’7 Diego Schwartzmann defeated former Champion Cilic and also another top player Licas Pouille * winner over Rafa in the 2016 edition) to enter the Quarter Final. He finally lost to Busta in the Quarter-finals
Qualifier Denis Shapopalov captured the imagination of the crowd , especially with his win over Tsonga. The 18 year teen finally lost in straight sets to Busta in the 4th round, but with all the 3 sets going to tiebreaks, he will have hopes for the future. Ranked 200 a few months back, he is poised to enter the top 50 of the rankings.
Russian Andrey Rublev also shone, reaching the quarter finals where he lost to Nadal. During his journey he toppled among others the 7th seed Dimitrov and the 9th seed Goffin both in straight sets. He too is a star of the future..
Busta reaching the semi-finals and Kevin Anderson reaching the finals were major success stories as well.
The Nice Guy winning in the end
Rafa Nadal had an amazing tournament. He lost just 3 sets in his 7 matches, but at no point of time he looked like losing a match. He had straight set wins over Lajoviv in the 1st round, Dolgopolov in the 4th , Rublev in the quarters and Anderson in the finals. The only sets he lost were one each to T.Daniel in the 2nd round, L.Mayer in the 3rd and Del Potro in the semi-finals and interestinly all 3 matches he lost the 1st set before imperiously winning the next three.
By winning US Open 2017 , Rafa has won his 16th Major. Vamos Rafa.