Victoria Azarenka made it to the finals of the US Open for the first time in seven years beating Serena Williams in three enthralling sets, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3. This was the first time the Belorusian has beaten Williams in 11 encounters at Grand Slams.
“It’s been seven years? That’s my favourite number. I guess that’s meant to be. I’m very grateful for this opportunity,” Azarenka, a former Australian Open champion (2012 and 2013) said. “On the road to the final, you have to beat the best players and today was that day.”
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Azarenka, famously also met WIlliams in the finals of the 2012 US Open and was serving for the match at 5-3 in the third before losing. Asked if she had flashbacks of that moment, and felt the nerves today, Azarenka replied: “Hell No. I was young. My ego was way too big. And now its a little smaller. So the results are coming.”
Azarenka will face Naomi Osaka in the final on Saturday. The duo would have played each other in the finals of the Western and Southern Open weeks back, but Osaka pulled out citing hamstring injury.
Osaka Beats Brady
Fourth seed Naomi Osaka defeated 28th seed Jennifer Brady in a nail biting three-setter to book her place in the final of the US Open, a Grand Slam she has won before. Osaka defeated the 25-year-old Brady in 7-6 (7/1), 3-6, 6-3, in a match that lasted for 2 hours 8 minutes at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"I just felt like I was sticking it out, it felt like we were trading serves," Osaka said of the semi-final tussle.
Osaka’s ability to perform at big moments is somewhat remarkable for modern day tennis, proof of which can be found in her resume. She has passed the fourth round of a Grand Slam three times in her career. The results when she did so are startling: she won the 2018 US Open, the 2019 Australian Open and she has now reached the 2020 US Open final.
“The closer it gets to the finals, the more I think about – honestly, like no one remembers anyone but the winner,” she said. “Even if I do happen to... [not] achieve my goal in the finals, at least I get a shiny little trophy. At least I can leave with something.”
New Pressure for Last Four
With the ‘Bif Three’ out of the US Open equation for various reasons, and father time creeping on them slowly, a younger generation is hoping to kickstart tennis to a new age in New York. These aren’t signs of youth. The records are now there to be set, regardless of the name attached to them.
Take the semi final line up —Alexander Zverev vs Pablo Carreno Busta and Dominic Thiem vs Daniil Medvedev. A first time Grand Slam winner is guaranteed. Furthermore, the winner will be the first man under the age of thirty to win one in four years, and the first born in the 90s to do so.
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And as much as this opportunity is massive, with it also comes pressure. “The Novak news shocked us all, and obviously for us younger guys, we see that as a massive opportunity, but we have to put our head down and just do our job and focus on ourselves,” Zverev said eloquently in his post quarterfinal press conference.
Thiem the second seed is arguably the favourite, having been to three Grand Slam finals in his career — the latest earlier this year at the Australian Open where he lost to Novak Djokovic in five sets — but his opponent Medvedev has history at Flushing Meadows. The Russian lost to Nadal in last year’s title match and has a game and temperaments suited to New York.
“There is no Roger, Rafa or Novak but there is Daniil, Sascha (Zverev) and Pablo now. They are three amazing players. Every single one of us deserves the first major title. Everyone will give it all and that’s all that is on the mind,” Thiem said, prophesying, perhaps the future of men’s tennis. “Once we step on the court the other three (Big Three) are forgotten anyway.”
Pavic, Soares Triumph
Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares won the U.S. Open men’s doubles title with a 7-5, 6-3 over Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic yesterday.
Pavic did most of the damage with his big serve with Soares net skills hugely important as they surged to victory. “That’s what we practise for and that’s what we were trying to do during those five months off, working for this moment,” Soares said.
The one crucial moment of the match came with Mektic serving at 5-6, 15-40 in the first set. Koolhof missed a forehand volley that would have taken them to a tiebreak. Pavic and Soares took the last three points to close out the set.
“We got through tough moments throughout the week,” Pavic, who won the 2018 Australian Open men’s doubles title with Oliver Marach said. “Very happy to be here lifting the title, great tournament.”
Day 1 of Wheelchair US Open
The first day of the 2020 US Open Wheelchair competition saw two-time men's singles champion Alfie Hewett take a mere hour and 17 minutes to defeat Gordon Reid, 6-0, 6-2, and move into the semifinals. Hewett will be up against Gustavo Fernandez who defeated Stephane Houdet, 6-4, 6-1, in his quarterfinal. In the other semi final, the top seed Shingo Kunieda will play Joachim Gerard.
On the women's side, the No. 2 seed Yui Kamiji beat Grand Slam debutant Momoko Ohtani in a tough contested match. The two-time US Open champion will face Angelica Bernal another debutant in the semi final. Bernal beat British wildcard Lucy Shuker 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. The second semifinal is an all Dutch affair, where top seed Diede De Groot will take on World No. 4 Marjolein Buis.
The first round robin matches in the Quad division also took place on Thursday. Defending champion and No. 2 seed Andy Lapthorne beat David Wagner, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, while top seed and world No.1 Dylan Alcott defeated Sam Schroder 6-2, 6-4.
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