The new era of tennis is here, Daniil Medvedev is for real and other takeaways from a wild US Open

NEW YORK — The 2021 US Open is formally within the books, and it ended with titles for Emma Raducanu and Daniil Medvedev. Simply as all of us predicted, proper?

Evidently, it was probably the most surprising and shocking tournaments in reminiscence and supplied unforgettable introductions to the subsequent era of tennis superstars.

Here is what we discovered from the yr’s remaining main — and what we are able to count on from the remainder of the 2021 season and past.

New period is upon us

Serena Williams wasn’t on the match this yr. Nor was her sister Venus, or Roger Federer, or Rafael Nadal. However whereas the US Open was missing in star energy to begin, by the tip there have been loads of new faces who appear poised to ascend the tennis hierarchy within the subsequent few years.

Positive, Novak Djokovic and his quest for the calendar slam and his twenty first main title obtained nonstop headlines, however it was the rise of a gaggle of gifted youngsters that captivated the world.

Along with eventual shock champion Raducanu, who was ranked No. 150 on the earth and needed to come by way of qualifying to make simply the second Grand Slam most important draw of her profession, 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez was the final word big slayer all through the fortnight, defeating Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka en path to the ultimate. And 17-year-old Carlos Alcaraz recorded one of many largest upsets of the match with a five-set victory over No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Coco Gauff, 17, and Caty McNally, 19, the longtime fan favourite duo identified collectively as #McCoco, reached their first main remaining. They ultimately misplaced to Sam Stosur and Zhang Shuai in three units however furthered cemented their standing as one of many high groups to observe — and their friendship and confidence was nonetheless on full show regardless of the disappointing final result.

“There is not any different individual or participant that I’d fairly do that with,” Gauff stated. “I do know that we’ll be Grand Slam champions ultimately.”

To not point out, the ever-so-slightly-older members of Gen Z represented effectively for the group, too: Felix Auger-Aliassime, 21, reached his first main semifinals; Jenson Brooksby, 20, gave Djokovic one in every of his hardest battles of the match within the fourth spherical; and 20-year-old Iga Swiatek grew to become the one lady to succeed in the Spherical of 16 at each main this yr.

There was plenty of speak about the way forward for the game as its largest superstars all close to the tip of their illustrious careers, however it appears secure to say, tennis appears to be in superb arms — and this simply may be the occasion which we are going to ultimately look again on as the beginning of its subsequent chapter.

Medvedev is the true deal

Not fairly Gen Z however nonetheless very a lot part of tennis’ future, 25-year-old Medvedev grew to become the primary participant outdoors of the “Large 4” to crack the highest two within the ATP rankings since 2005 earlier this yr and had reached two main finals previous to the 2021 US Open, however his potential to win on the game’s largest stage, particularly with Djokovic within the combine, was firmly unsure.

Not anymore.

On Sunday, Medvedev and his can’t-miss serve overpowered Djokovic as he made historical past of his personal. Many have questioned who would ultimately substitute the Djokovic, Federer and Nadal atop the sport, and now it appears Medvedev is the main contender.

Whereas the group was undoubtedly in help of Djokovic in the course of the remaining, Medvedev gained over new followers together with his FIFA-themed “dead fish” celebration and his hilarious postmatch interview wherein he stated the victory must function his anniversary current to his spouse as a result of he hadn’t discovered time to purchase the rest.

So shut, but up to now

Djokovic was one match away from becoming a member of Rod Laver as the one males within the Open period to realize the calendar slam and profitable his fourth main of the 2021 season. However Medvedev performed the final word spoiler and dashed Djokovic’s goals for historical past with a dominant, straight-set victory in entrance of a shocked Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd. As a victory would have additionally given Djokovic his record-setting twenty first main title, breaking a tie with Federer and Nadal, there was a lot dialogue concerning the win cementing Djokovic’s standing because the GOAT.

He did not get the win or the milestone in New York, however even Medvedev stated he was already satisfied of Djokovic’s standing.

“I by no means stated this to anyone earlier than however I am going to say it now: For me, you’re the best tennis participant in historical past,” Medvedev stated to Djokovic in the course of the on-court trophy presentation.

In fact, Djokovic stays the No. 1-ranked participant on the earth and can have a number of extra alternatives for his newest Grand Slam trophy in the course of the 2022 season — beginning with the Australian Open, the place he’s a nine-time champion and can probably stay the favourite to defend his title.

Golden Slams

A lot was made about Djokovic’s failed try for the Golden Slam when he was unable to win a medal on the Tokyo Olympics, however two athletes did, in reality, file the elusive feat this yr.

Diede de Groot and Dylan Alcott each grew to become the primary wheelchair athletes in historical past to win all 4 majors and Paralympic gold this yr. Making it much more spectacular, if that is even doable, there have been mere days separating the tip of the competitors in Tokyo and the start of the match in New York. Clearly jet lag is nothing for these two.

Alcott, who recorded his fifteenth profession main singles title on the US Open, had a fully iconic celebration in entrance of the group on Ashe on the males’s remaining shortly after his win.

Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett additionally pulled off the Golden Slam in males’s wheelchair doubles.

Osaka’s powerful exit

Osaka, the defending champion, misplaced to Fernandez within the third spherical 7-5, 6-7 (2), 4-6 in entrance of a shocked crowd on Ashe and she or he was unable to cover her feelings on courtroom or after the match. She threw her racket in frustration within the second set and later slammed it on the bottom. When Fernandez compelled a deciding set, Osaka left the courtroom for a loo break together with her head lined in a towel.

She was tearful after the match and admitted tennis was now not bringing her pleasure, saying she was considering taking an indefinite break from competitors.

“I really feel like I am type of at this level the place I am attempting to determine what I wish to do, and I truthfully do not know when I’ll play my subsequent tennis match,” Osaka stated. “I believe I’ll take a break from taking part in for awhile.”

Her information convention abruptly ended. Osaka, 23, has not additional clarified her plans for the remainder of the season, however stays on the entry checklist for subsequent month’s pandemic-delayed BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California.

It has been a difficult few months for Osaka, who opened the 2021 season with a title on the Australian Open. She withdrew from the French Open after her first-round win attributable to controversy surrounding her resolution to choose out of her media obligations after which skipped Wimbledon. She was given the respect of lighting the torch in the course of the opening ceremonies on the Olympics in her native Japan however misplaced within the third spherical of the competitors.

There was an outpouring of help for Osaka from the tennis group and past, and her friends and followers have inspired her to take her time to get wholesome and glad earlier than she makes her return.

Fan help

When the US Open introduced it could be permitting 100% capability for followers, there was some skepticism as to the feasibility of getting such large numbers in the course of the ongoing pandemic, regardless of a late vaccination requirement being added — for followers that’s; players still have no such thing — simply days earlier than the occasion bought underway and there being an indoor masks mandate.

Nonetheless, not solely have been there no experiences of an outbreak linked to the match, however the followers did greater than their half in impacting matches and cheering on their favorites to victory.

Many gamers — maybe most notably Fernandez, Djokovic, Alcaraz and Shelby Rogers throughout her upset win over top-ranked Ash Barty — have been amazed by the group and credited them at various factors for his or her assist in securing victories.

“The group is next-level this yr,” Rogers stated on courtroom after her win over Barty. “You’ve got picked who you wish to win, so thanks for selecting me tonight.”

A yr after there have been no followers within the stands on the match, the US Open grew to become the primary main to permit a capability crowd. In accordance with the USTA, there have been 631,134 followers in attendance all through the match. Whereas not fairly the record-setting numbers of 2019 (737,919), it was nonetheless a fairly spectacular turnout amid the circumstances.

Whereas it is unimaginable to foretell what is going to occur going ahead, it was a welcome dose of normalcy after so many months of uncertainty and uncharacteristic silence. | The brand new period of tennis is right here, Daniil Medvedev is for actual and different takeaways from a wild US Open


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