Game, set and championship!
Text: Stefan Kapetanovic
The U. S. National Championship was first contested in 1881 for the men’s singles; this makes it the second oldest Grand Slam. From 1987 the US Open became the fourth and the final Grand Slam of the tennis year which is held in August and September. Three other grand slams are the Australian Open (held in January), French Open (Roland Garros – held in May and June) and Wimbledon (held in June and July). Grand Slams are organized into 5 categories: men’s and women’s singles; men’s, women’s and mixed doubles.
Grand slams are held annually, and it is an honor and a challenge to win them all in one year. There are few players in tennis history who have achieved this in their career. Those are: Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) in men’s singles; Maureen Connolly (1953), Margaret Court (1970) and Steffi Graf (1988). There are some other players who won all four Grand Slams but in a non-calendar year, such as Novak Djokovic in men’s singles, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Serena Williams in women’s singles.
Tennis players are ranked by the points they win during one year and Grand Slams bring 2000 points to a Grand Slam winner. Other tournaments bring 1500 points or less to the winners. Moreover winning the Grand Slam does not only bring prestige but also a really good income, because the prize money for this year’s US Open was $46,300,000. Out of that money the winner of the men’s and women’s singles got $3,500,000 each.
Players who have won the most Grand Slams titles include Roger Federer who won 17 , Pete Sampras and Rafael Nadal with 14, and Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson with 12 titles. In women’s competition Margaret Court won 24 titles, Steffi Graf and Serena Williams won 22, and Helen Wills Moody won 19 titles.
In every great tournament all eyes are set on the great players, but all of the players are looking for their own chances. The main favorite for winning this year’s US Open was Novak Djokovic as the world’s number one player. Since Roger Federer decided not to compete in any tournament until the end of the season because of his knee surgery everybody else has a slightly bigger chance to come as far as possible.
Throughout every tournament it is not unusual that some lower ranked players win against better ranked players. So this year’s surprise was that Harrison won against Raonic in the second round. All of the other well ranked players such as Murray, Nishikori, Wawrinka, Djokovic, Tsonga, Nadal played well and reached the fourth round, where Nadal lost against Pouille. So in the Quarter-Finals we had matches where Djokovic won against Tsonga (Tsonga retired), Monfils won against Pouille by 3:0, Del Potro lost against Wawrinka by 1:3, and Nishikori beat Murray in 5 set match by 3:2.
The semi-finals hosted matches between Djokovic and Monfils, and Wawrinka and Nishikori. So far Monfils has never managed to beat Djokovic which is exactly what happened in this match and Djokovic qualified to the finals with 3:1 in sets. In the other semi-final match Wawrinka won against Nishikori with the same result, 3:1 in sets. So the winner of this year’s US Open would be either Djokovic, who is looking for his 13th Grand Slam title, or Wawrinka who has 2 Grand Slam titles and was looking for his third one.
The final match started well for Djokovic, he had a one break lead but by the end of the first set Wawrinka managed to take the first set in the tie-break where he lost by 7:1. But the deficit of 1 set did not discourage Wawrinka and he won the 3 next sets in a row and by winning those three he won the championship and his third Grand Slam. The final result of that match was 3:1 (6:7,6:4,7:5,6:3). Since Wawrinka won Australian Open in 2014, French Open in 2015, and now US Open in 2016, he only needs Wimbledon to be the winner of all Grand Slam tournaments.
For Djokovic as a world number one, he still has a chance to come closer and maybe to overtake Roger Federer when it comes to the number of Grand Slam titles, but it would take him at least a year in order to achieve that goal.
The next Grand Slam is in January in Australia next year, and until then we can only wait and remember the final sentence from this Grand Slam which was:
“Game, set and championship Mr. Wawrinka”.