From “Zeroes to Heroes” – Recapping a Memorable 2021 US Open in Forest Hills

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Emma Raducanu, of Great Britain, reacts after defeating Maria Sakkari, of Greece, during the semifinals of the US Open tennis championships, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

By: Marvin Azrak

The US Open is over, and our winners are… Emma Raducanu and Danil Medvedev. Wait, who? Yep, it was that kind of tournament where everyone was left simply awestruck at the champions, and ready to give them their dues in tennis history for, despite a Fed, Nadal, and Williams-less fields, these champions rewrote sports with their tremendous achievements. For Emma, the 18-year-old needed to win a pre-tournament just to make it to the US Open draw, while Danil Medvedev only dropped one set en route to the final, where he staged one of the biggest stunners in tennis history against Novak Djokovic who was going for all the marbles.

With Tennis fans still bathing in the events from this past New York fortnight, let’s dive into the top moments from this year’s tournament.

 

  1. MEDVEDEV DENIES DJOKOVIC OF HISTORY:
Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, raises his arms after defeating Feliciano Lopez, of Spain, during the third round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament early Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Entering Sunday(9/14) with no grand slams to his name, and nothing to lose Danil Medvedev stunned the sports world, taking down world NO 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 for his maiden US Open title. The loss stopped Novak from completing the calendar grand slam and surpassing Rafael Nadal, and Rodger Federer on the all-time grand slam count, as the three remain even at 20 apiece. Many assumed Djokovic would finish what he started, as after all he made quick work of Medvedev in the Australian Open final back on January, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2. Djokovic had also rallied from a set down in each of his last three matches, including taking down NO 6 seed Matteo Bertini in the elite eight 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, and avenging NO 4 seed Alexander Zerev who knocked him out in the Olympics in the semifinals, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. But while Novak was 27-0 in majors matches, and getting all the attention, Medvedev quietly breezed through the field as the NO 2 seed, setting up his collision course date with Djokovic.

On Sunday, Danil showed up to the practice courts at 9:30 AM to work on his game 6:30 hours before the match was scheduled to begin. It worked, as he broke Novak in the tilts opening game, before holding serve to grab the first set 6-4. In the second, Djokovic seemingly was on the verge of getting his teeth into the fight, leading 1-0 and 0-40, but some breathtaking serving, saw him put the pressure back on his opponent. Presented with another breakpoint at 2-1, Djokovic blew the return past Medvedev, but the point was replayed due to music over the PA system disrupting play. After mishandling the next point to keep Danil in it, Djokovic smashed his racket in frustration, drawing sarcastic cheers from the raucous crowd on hand to witness history. Danil wasn’t done, as he would then break serve, before once again holding his own for a 6-4 win, pulling himself within a set of his first-ever slam.

For those people who thought Djokovic would pull a rabbit out of his hat, just like he did in the French Open final against Tstipas rallying down two sets to love, 6-7(8), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to capture the title, were quickly on edge, as the sluggish Serbian dropped the opening game of the third set, before getting behind a double- break at 3-0 minutes later. Danil wasn’t giving Djokovic a lane playing the match of his life in all aspects of the sport, by defeating Novak in his bread & butter, AKA the “Long Rallies” by hitting to the middle of the court cutting off the angels forcing his opponent to do the extra work.

Medvedev would finally show nerves in his otherwise flawless serving performance, with back to back double faults up 5-2 in the third on Championship point, but would successfully execute a serve out wide minutes later before dropping to the floor in “Dead fish” style in celebration of his first US Open title winning it 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. After the match, Djokovic told

Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, reacts after scoring a point against Kei Nishikori, of Japan, during the third round of the US Open tennis championships, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

the crowd they touched “his soul” for the support they gave him, with Medvedev calling Novak the greatest of all time.

 

  1. 18- year old EMMA RADUCANU WINS US OPEN, ALL TEENAGE FINAL

Calling all Teenagers everywhere, as they now have a representative in Tennis history. They soaked it all in as two teenagers in Emma Raducanu born in Canada but resides in Great Britain, and Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez battled for all the marbles on Saturday(9/11) in front of a raucous and awe-struck US Open crowd. On one side, Emma’s ranking was so low that she had to win a pre-tournament just to make the US Open draw alone. She then went on to win six straight, and make the final. On the other hand, Leylah Fernandez stunned the world with her own “Cinderella story” knocking down big names such as Naimoi Osaka in round three(5-7, 7-6, 6-4), former champion Angeline Kerber(4-6, 7-6, 6-2), number Elina Svitolina(6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5)), and finally, she took out NO 2 seed Aryna Sabelanka en route to the final.

The match itself was tight, but Raducanu kept her composure, overcame a leg injury she sustained mid-match, and became the first qualifier to ever win a slam, taking it home 6-4, 6-3 over her fellow teenager in Leylah. It was also her maiden slam, and she did it as an 18-year-old which is simply unfathomable.

 

  1. THE RISE OF CARLOS ALCARAZ

Although he didn’t win the trophy, 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz captivated men’s tennis with his run to the elite eight, most notably stunning NO 3 in the world Stephanos Tistipas in round three, 6-3; 4-6, 7-6(2), 0-6, 7-6(5) in round three, before ultimately falling short a couple of matches later to 12 seeded Felix-Auger Aliaseme in the quarterfinals 6-1, 3-1 after being forced to pull out of the match due to injury. Carlos is now 38th in the world, and the Spaniard is only expected to continue upwards towards the top 20.

Authors note: Hey everyone it’s Marvin Azrak speaking to you to let you know that you can find my NFL coverage on thejewishvoice.com in their sports section or just search “Marvin Azrak” in the search bar and all my articles will come up. Hag Sameach!