The US Open 2021 is over, but it will be talked about for a long time, too much has happened. Six insights into failure, departure – and the hope for a piece of normality.
Pure emotions: While Novak Djokovic (left) and Alex Zverev are disappointed, Emma Raducanu can hardly believe their success.
Not a crowning glory in Queens
New York has shown that Novak Djokovic is only human. How much pressure the Serb had been under was shown in the final, when he burst into tears while sitting on his bench before the last break. A little later the game was over, the “Joker” lost in three sets against Daniil Medvedev and thus missed the Grand Slam of winning all four major tournaments in one year. In addition, Djokovic, like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, remains at 20 Grand Slam titles. Up until the Olympics this year, the 34-year-old was more of a machine than a person, but towards the end he ran out of breath. In Tokyo, the semi-finals, in Queens he missed the coronation.
Tennis with spectators – wow!
New York has shown that tennis is much better with thousands of spectators. The sound from the stands after breathtaking rallies, the cheers before the serves and last but not least the song “Sweet Caroline” for the British sensation winner Emma Raducanu from umpteen throats. How sad was the ghostly scenery at Dominic Thiem’s 2020 coup against Alexander Zverev in front of the grandstands suspended from huge tarpaulins. At this year’s men’s final, over 25,000 vaccinated tennis fans sat in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Zverev’s horror in highlight games
New York has shown that Alexander Zverev can still not compete with the big players in tennis. At least on paper. His horror record against top ten players in the Grand Slams: 0:11 (!). The 24-year-old showed mostly great tennis over five sets in the semifinals against Djokovic, but as in the final last year, a few points were missing in the end.
Number 150 versus 73 – who can foresee something like that?
New York has shown that predictions in women’s tennis are currently similar to looking into a crystal ball. Two teenagers were in the final, in which the British Emma Raducanu prevailed against Leylah Fernandez (No. 73) – as a qualifier, listed at number 150 in the world rankings – and without having given a sentence in the ten matches. Mischa Zverev told “Eurosport” a curious side note: In the second round of qualification, Raducanu lost 3: 5 against Mariam Bolkvadze (Georgia) in the second set and signaled to her box that she would probably have no chance. But she pulled through, still won 7: 5 – the rest is history, history.
Kerber polishes her annual balance sheet
New York has shown that Angelique Kerber can still be expected. Not only in Flushing Meadows, but also before in Cincinnati and Wimbledon, where the semi-finals only ended against world number one Ashleigh Barty, the Kiel woman again convinced with her tennis, Boris Becker also confirmed that she enjoyed the game again. Although Kerber was eliminated in the round of 16 against the future finalist Leylah Fernandez (Canada) at the US Open, the form curve is clearly up again after a weak nine months and the first round in Paris in 2020 and 2021 and at the Australian Open in 2021.
Big Three, tennis grandma and her obsessions with ages 21 and 24
New York has shown that the time of the “Big Three” around Federer, Nadal and Djokovic is running out. The show of force by Daniil Medvedev in the final, Zverev’s Olympic victory, the constant, sometimes protracted injuries of the aging tennis elite: Many young players are currently stirring up the tennis circus, even the professionals around Stefanos, who are actually already established among the world’s best Tsitsipas (out against 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz Garcia) have to assert themselves again – is there any room for the stars, each of whom has collected 20 major titles? The same question could be asked of the ladies. Serena Williams has been waiting there for over four years for another, then 24th Grand Slam victory – also not at the US Open due to injury. Will the 39-year-old still manage it? The young generation has shown in New York that they certainly do not want to give the tennis grandma from LA this triumph.