Old Experts Challenged By New Talent In U.S. Open Finals

Canada%27s+Bianca+Andreescu+posted+a+6-3%2C+7-5+win+in+the+finals+of+the+U.S.+Open+against+Serena+Williams+of+the+United+States+at+Arthur+Ashe+Stadium+at+the+USTA+Billie+Jean+King+National+Tennis+Center+in+New+York+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+7%2C+2019.+%28Imago%2FZuma+Press%2FTNS%29

TNS

Canada’s Bianca Andreescu posted a 6-3, 7-5 win in the finals of the U.S. Open against Serena Williams of the United States at Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. (Imago/Zuma Press/TNS)

Lucy Nelson

On Saturday, an exciting match-up ensued between the best female player of this era, Serena Williams, and the rapidly rising star, Bianca Andreescu, who had not lost a match since March. In the two-set match, the 19-year old remained consistently tough against former No. 1 Williams, taking her down 6-3, 7-5 and becoming the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title.

It was almost a mere reflection of last year’s final, when Williams was defeated by the young Naomi Osaka, 20, in a score of 6-2, 6-4. Except this year, there was no yelling at umpires and smashing of rackets from Williams. Instead, she remained composed, even after multiple double-faults took the place of her usually iconic serve. 

The somewhat unexciting match appeared to be over when Andreescu had a match-winning point at 5-1, 40-30 in the second set, but the gritty Williams that so many adore was unyielding, fighting back in close games to tie it up 5-5. A less-experienced Andreescu could have cracked then, especially with roaring cheers for the American echoing throughout the stadium, but she prevailed against Williams’ massive strength and succeeded in executing crucial forehand winners. The match became 6-5 in favor of Andreescu, and then, with the game score at 40-30, the Canadian ripped one more deep forehand winner to secure the match.

Andreescu not only secured her first Grand Slam title this weekend; she also established herself as one of the dangerously-driven youngsters in women’s tennis right now alongside reigning champion Naomi Osaka, 21, semifinalist Belinda Bencic, 22, and the famously young star Coco Gauff, 15.

On Sunday, a face-off took place in men’s tennis that was glaringly similar to that of the women’s the day prior: fan-favorite No. 2 Rafael Nadal faced a vigorous young Russian man making his first Grand Slam finals appearance, fifth-seeded Daniil Medvedev, 23. This match, labeled by The New Yorker as “The Best U.S. Open Men’s Final of this Century,” felt a little more intense than the women’s, however, and had a different result in the battle of the youthful versus the experienced.

In a grueling five-hours match where stamina and athleticism were put to the test both physically and mentally, Nadal conquered Medvedev 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 to claim his 19th Grand Slam singles title just one short of the Roger Federer’s world-record of 20.

The crown did not come easily to Nadal, to say the least. There was not a single set in the match where the former champ didn’t feel pressure from Medvedev. The 6-foot-6-inches Russian’s first serve, reaching 127 mph, ran the Spaniard ragged in the first set, but Nadal pulled through and stepped up his aggressiveness on his two-handed backhand to make it 6-5 and then 7-5 on an unforced error by Medvedev.

The second set saw lots of long, deep rallies and well-placed drop-shots on both ends, but Nadal remained consistent while Medvedev racked up the unforced errors. Things were looking good in the third for Nadal when he was up 3-2, but he tiredly started slicing his backhands and a lanky Medvedev loomed over the net, smashing overheads and tipping unreachable balls, ultimately leading him to secure the third set. 

A re-energized Nadal stepped it up in the fourth, but Medvedev prevailed and found empty spaces at crucial moments.

Both men were clearly gassed in the fifth set it looked like the match could honestly go either way. But Nadal broke Medvedev’s beastly serve in an insanely long 28-shot rally to make it 3-2. His confidence led him to grab onto one more game, and at 4-2 things were looking good for the reigning champ, but the rookie fighter kept digging. After a double-fault on Nadal’s serve, the set became 5-3. Then, following two lost championship points, Nadal still could not manage to break the Russian’s serve, making it 4-5.

Finally, the beloved Spaniard pulled through on a tricky drop shot, giving him the advantage. On the third championship point, he hit one of his few solid first serves of the match, causing a forced error on the return and allowing for his victorious collapse on the court. Later, a stream of tears transitioned into sobs as a tribute to his career flashed on the big screenthroughout the stadium.