The 2018 US Open is in the history books now. Though the 50th version of the event since the Open era began touted the word history a lot, this event will certainly be remembered, but likely for all the wrong reasons.
Serena Williams’ confrontation with the umpire Carlos Ramos in the women’s singles final is still being talked about and analyzed, and will continue to do so for some time. There’s a separate post about all of that here. This post will instead focus on the overall event.
It’s hard to remember any tennis tournament having to issue so many press statements. Most of this was due to the extreme heat that not only impacted the players during the matches, but also led to much confusion when players took breaks in between sets. The “heat rule” at times seemed to be either above the rules or created new rules that weren’t there to begin with. The Alize Cornet shirt change penalty and the Fernando Verdasco ice bath brouhaha were the most notable. And, of course, then there was umpire Mohamed Lahyani taking on-court coaching to a new level when he stepped down from the chair to counsel Nick Kyrgios in his second round match.
Even the great Roger Federer, who rarely appears to perspire, was drenched and almost ill in his losing effort against Australian John Millman in the fourth round. While the heat certainly played a factor in that match, the slower Arthur Ashe Stadium court didn’t help either. If the USTA really wants to see Federer win again, they should start by speeding up the court, although there was some confusion among officials on if they had actually slowed down the court at all? That being said, Federer will now have gone 10 years without having won in New York, and not to say he won’t ever win again there, but it’s looks more and more likely that the only two majors he will have any chance of winning again are Melbourne, because it’s the first one and he’s the freshest at the start of the year, and of course Wimbledon.
If this year’s USO is a barometer of the ATP tour, then it’s clear Novak Djokovic is the player to beat now. With Rafael Nadal dealing with tendonitis, while Federer will play a very limited schedule for the rest of the year, could Djokovic make a run for Number One? It’s possible though he’d likely have to run the table so to speak and Nadal would have to not play as much. Still it’s an incredible turnaround for Djokovic who struggled earlier in the season.
With the big three back, the wildcards remain Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka who are both on the comeback trail after injuries, though Murray’s progress is looking like he will, perhaps, find better results next year. Dominic Thiem certainly proved he has improved on hard courts despite losing the match of the tournament to Nadal in their quarterfinal. As for Sascha Zverev, despite adding Ivan Lendl to his team, his third round loss to Philipp Kohlschreiber proved his grand slam progress is still very much a work in progress.
Naomi Osaka enjoyed her major breakthrough and proved at age 20 that more Grand Slam success is probably on the way. It’s remarkable that only a few weeks prior to New York, Osaka struggled with confidence and form in an early round loss at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. That she not only quickly regained her form and confidence in New York, and held it all for two weeks, including during a thrilling match against Aryna Sabalenka, proved her to be a great player and champion.
The women’s event provided unexpected, to some, early round losses by the top seeds. The depth of the women’s field once again proved that seeds are not indicators of who will win. And with now four different women having won the majors this year (Wozniacki, Halep, Kerber, Osaka), it wouldn’t be a surprise to see four completely different women win next year’s majors.
Two former US Open champions, Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova, both lost earlier than they would have liked. Venus to her younger sister in a third round blowout. Sharapova to the talented Carla Suarez Navarro in the fourth round. Next year could well be a real test for both if their results don’t improve at the majors as it may factor into how much longer they want to keep playing.
Two other veterans made news at the Open with Patty Schnyder at 39 becoming the oldest woman ever to qualify for a major. French Open champion Francesca Schiavone announced her retirement as well. As the talented Italian said in her press conference, “As we say in Italia, it’s done.”
And for this hot, wild, and bothered US Open, it’s probably for the best that it truly is, done.