Month: September 2021

Pandemic Teenagers Take Over the US Open 2021

We are down to the business end of the US Open. Championship Weekend. The crowds have been fantastic. The play, even better. Prevailing narrative: tennis’ old guards are changing! This was not a unique or data driven take. The retirement of the sport’s stars has long been swirling. Their absence weighed heaviest this tournament. Serena, Venus, Federer and Nadal all sit on the injured list. Both tours are primed for change.

On the men’s tour, the odds makers leaned in Djokovic’s favor. He hoped to supplant Rod Laver in the record books and surpass Federer and Nadal with 21 grand slams. He failed. Or should we say, Daniil Medvedev stopped him. In a straight set win (6-4, 6-4, 6-4), Medvedev dashed Djokovic’s historic run by beating him with his own game!

But this US Open will not be remembered for Medvedev’s first slam or Djokovic’s loss. It is now and forever will be the debut of phenomenal teenagers, who crashed the party!

No one saw Carlos Alcaraz as a contender for the title. Yet, the eighteen year old Spaniard made the quarter final and may have reached the semi-finals had it not been for an upper leg and abductor injury forcing his retirement. After two five set matches, one where felled Stefanos Tsitsipas, he could not trifle with the twenty year old Canadian. Felix Auger-Aliassime‘s rise since adding Tony Nadal, Rafael Nadal’s uncle and coach, has been swift. But his semifinal berth was short lived. He was no threat to the in-form Daniil Medvedev (4-6, 5-7, 2-6).

The big four domination is over, as Andy Murray learned in his round one lost to Tsitsipas. The ATP is being reconfigured and teenagers are doing their best to leapfrog over the established contenders.

On the women’s tour, things are no different. There is no big three or four. The women’s bench is deep! For the last four years, there are four different slam winners. And this year will be no different.

All of the women front runners were ousted! The upsets stunned. And two unseeded teenagers (Nineteen year old Layla Fernandez and Eighteen year old Emma Raducanu) vied for a Cinderella finish upstaging the historic men’s final.

Canadian Fernandez was a wrecking ball. She took out: Kanepi. Osaka. Kerber. Svitolina. Sabalenka. In the final, she showed no signs of being overwhelmed. She was a bit flat. Her tank obviously nearing empty. But in the second set, when her adrenalin and competitive nature peaked, her momentum was ended by a five minute medical time out. At 5-3, Raducanu’s bloody knee slide frustrated Fernandez. There was no denying the British prodigy’s talent and commitment. Athletic. High tennis IQ. Great groundstrokes. Good touch. Disarmingly good serve. This qualifier has it all even if her road to the final was far easier than her opponent’s. Zhang. Sorribes Tormo. Rogers. Bencic. Sakkari. In the end, Raducanu’s 6-4, 6-3 championship win was historic. She played the draw she got. If only Cori Gauff were so lucky!

Raducanu’s win has her cemented in history. She’s the first qualifier to win a slam and the first British woman to win a slam since wade in 1977.

This pandemic has established players shook and teenagers invigorated! What other surprises will these youngsters deliver this year?