In what has been a breath-taking week of tennis on the decoturf, we have witnessed tumbling seeds, triumphant underdogs, implacable humidity and unwarranted precipitation. The heat and humidity levels in US Open 2014 have been soaring relentlessly making it difficult for the players to bring in their A game. Add to it rain delays and periodic threats of lightning and surely the picture won’t look all that pretty. Despite all the flies in the ointment, the tennis has been largely top notch, a fair blend of high percentage tennis with some ridiculous shot-making. Let us have a day-by-day review of week 1- US Open 2014.
A routine workout for the top players as most of them made it through. Simona Halep, the women’s number 2 seed and Venus Williams, the number 19, both overcame first set hiccups, and rolled through the second and the third. Sharapova on the other hand was critical in her extermination of Maria Kirilenko, 6-4 6-0. Wozniacki won after her Slovakian opponent Magdalena Ryabarikova was forced to retire, courtesy a thigh injury. The top seeds in the men’s half, namely Novak Djokovic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka had comfortable outings. Andy Murray as he has so often been in 2014, was the odd man out. Although the Scott registered a 4 set victory (6-3 7-6 1-6 7-5), two of those 4 sets might have very easily gone the other way.
A similar story recurred on day 2. Ana Ivanovic, Petra Kvitova, Samantha Stosur and Serena Williams barely managed to lose games whereas Azarenka had to put in more efforts than planned as she defeated Misaki Doi in three. Compared to day 1 the star power on the men’s side on day 2 was rather a one man show. Although Ferrer, Monfils and Isner registered impressive victories, it was Federer who took charge of the centre stage. Although Matosevic tried desperately to make a match out of it, but the Swiss maestro was in no mood for lingering as he took the match 6-3 6-4 7-6, hitting a tweener of a dead ball in the process, much to the delight of the onlooking Michael Jordan.
Quite a few tough matches ensued on day 3. Sloane Stephens and Maria Sharapova had to go the distance to ensure a spot in the round of 32. Venus Williams, Simona Halep, Jelena Jankovic and Caroline Wozniacki however made quick work of their unseeded opponents, all advancing in straight sets. The 28 year old Chinese, Peng Shuai was the lady who stole the spotlight as she outlasted the 4th seed Agnieszka Radwanska in two sets ( 6-3 6-4). On the mens’ half, sense prevailed as Wawrinka, Gulbis and Cilic sailed smoothly into the 3rd round. The much anticipated clash between Berdych and Hewitt was stuck on a treadmill as it went only one way, 6-3 6-4 6-3 for the Czech Republican. The match between Feliciano Lopez and Ivan Dodig was the most competitive one, but it unfortunately ended with Dodig retiring at the beginning of the 5th set.
Four of the top 30 seeds on the womens’ side bid adieu, namely Ana Ivanovic, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Samantha Stosur and Madison Keys. Ivanovic crawled her way back to the top 10 in 2014, a journey that saw her win 3 WTA titles. This was her earliest exit in grand slams this year. Eugenie Bouchard, the 20 year old who has reached the semis or farther in all the grand slams this year, was forced to play out a rather industrious 3 setter, which she won 6-4 in the 3rd. No ups and downs on the men’s side as Djokovic, Murray, Isner, Nishikori and Tsonga had to break little sweat to get the job done. Raonic had to face a tough challenge in the form of an unheralded Peter Gojowczyk. The German was able to keep the Canadian off balance and exposed the big man’s movement on court. However Milos came up with thunderous first deliveries through two crucial tie breaks and eventually sent Peter packing in 4 tightly contested sets.
Seven of the top 30 seeds among the ladies crashed out, including the likes of Simona Halep(2), Angelique Kerber(6), Andrea Petkovic(18) and Alize Cornet(22). Jankovic, Wozniacki and Sharapova won in straight sets, and Peng Shuai continued her surge forward beating Roberta Vinci(28). The most bizarre match featured Sara Errani and Venus Williams. It had two bagels and a breaker, and eventually the Italian got the better of the American. David Ferrer received a walkover, Monfils and Dimitrov did the needful in straights but Berdych had to dig deep to get the better of Martin Klizan in a five setter. Once again Roger Federer was due to take court during the night session. His opponent Sam Groth came out all guns blazing with thundering serves that had the Swiss Maestro rattled for an instant. However the veteran was too experienced to be overawed and continued his systematic annihilation of big servers, winning 6-4 6-4 6-4. Ernest Gulbis, Fabio Fognini and Ivo Karlovic had to bite the dust on day 5.
The penultimate day of week one witnessed two of the most spirited performances in this edition of the US Open. One was rewarded, the other went futile. Aleksandra Krunic, the 21 year old from Serbia was set to face the Wimbledon champion, Petra Kvitova in the Louis Armstrong Stadium. An overwhelming display of patience, fortitude and an impeccable harmony of force and finance followed from the Serbian’s strings, as she earned a well deserved victory against a fighting Kvitova, 6-4 6-4. And spare a thought for Victor Estrella Burgos. The man from Dominican Republic (incidentally the first player from the country to have broken into the top 100) had little to show for his unflinching efforts throughout the match as he went down in three tie-break sets to the Canadian Milos Raonic. Philipp Kohlshreiber took out John Isner for the third time in the third round of the US Open in as many years, 7-6 4-6 7-6 7-6, the scoreline. The veteran Tommy Robredo displayed his court craft as he found a way to weather the storm named Nick Kyrgios, 3-6 6-3 7-6 6-3. Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka, Flavia Penetta, Serena Williams and Eugenie Bouchard too made their presence felt winning relatively comfortable encounters.
The clash of two former number 1s, Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova did little to disappoint the tennis fraternity. High decibels on one end and buoyant retrieval skills on the other. Eventually, the Dane outplayed the Russian. Roger Federer struggled to find fis footing in the first part of the match against Marcel Granollers and went on to lose the first set. After the rain delay however, it was one way traffic as the Swiss rediscovered the magic in the Wilson wand and made short work of his Spanish opponent in the next 3 sets. Upsets loomed large on the men’s half. David Ferrer was made to look down the barrel by the Frenchman Gilles Simon, whereas Gael Monfils thwarted Gasquet’s plans of reaching the 4th round of the US Open. Belinda Bencic planted the upsets tree on the ladies’ wing as she downed the number 9 seed Jelena Jankovic. The 13th seed Sara Errani moved ahead in 3 sets. Tomas Berdych, Marin Cilic and Grigor Dimitrov came up trumps against Teymuraz Gabashvilli, Kevin Anderson and David Goffin respectively. Dominic Thiem, the man to beat Ernest Gulbis in the second round after trailing two sets to love, took another scalp, this time the Spaniard Feliciano Lopez. A rather one sided scoreline 6-4 6-2 6-3 to seal the deal.
For a more in depth analysis as to what you can expect in week 2, you may have a look here.