The 2018 US Open: A Tournament of Struggles and Triumphs

Aaron Phogat, Online Sports Associate

The fiftieth anniversary of the U.S. Open was filled with a great amount of hopefulness and excitement but did not lack its fair share of drama. In the men’s singles draw, Juan Martín Del Potro faced off against Novak Djokovic for the championship on Sunday, September 9, in an amazingly clean match. With close to the entire crowd cheering Del Potro on, Djokovic had to remain composed under tremendous pressure and play an extremely defensive game. In the end, Del Potro’s immense power was overcome by Djokovic’s deflective play style in a three-set game with Djokovic prevailing 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-4. This U.S. Open is a comeback story of sorts for both competitors, as Del Potro had gone through 4 wrist surgeries prior to this tournament and as a result had considered quitting tennis; similarly, Djokovic had been in a slump for the past two years and had his fans questioning what would come next for him. However, we can see from both of these players’ stellar performances during this year’s U.S. Open that more years of successful tennis lay ahead of them. Along with that, this U.S. Open marks Djokovic’s 14th Grand Slam title, tying him with Pete Sampras for the third most Grand Slam wins behind Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (17).

The women’s singles draw was of a more unusual and dramatic nature this year. Many were astonished that in the first round, first seed and world ranked number one Simona Halep lost to unseeded Kaia Kanepi. However, unsurprisingly, Serena Williams battled her way to this year’s finals against rising star Naomi Osaka. What did come as a surprise was the drama that took place during the match. Carlos Ramos, the umpire, gave Williams a coaching violation and warning (at 1-0 Williams) during the second set when her coach gave her a thumbs-up sign. Williams denied that she received coaching, insisting that her coach was just encouraging her. However, the violation was added, and her anger surrounding this further built up through many unforced errors reached the point where she erupted and smashed a racquet after being broken by Osaka (3-2 with Williams in the lead). This led to a racquet abuse violation, causing a point penalty. Williams, infuriated, vehemently denied that she had received coaching and called Ramos a thief for “stealing” the point from her. At this point she was given a game penalty for verbal abuse and requested the referees to be called in, claiming that men had said much worse to referees and that Ramos was penalizing her because she was a woman. After heated remarks between Williams, Ramos, and the referees in between breaks, Osaka triumphed with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Williams to win her first ever Grand Slam and to be the first female Japanese player to win a Grand Slam. Osaka, just 20 years old, showed the world her potential through her huge U.S. Open victory and has many people speculating that she could be the future of the WTA Tour.

In both the men’s and women’s draws, it is clear that the athletes toiled to reach the top spots. Through overcoming physical injuries, dealing with tension-filled encounters, and fighting through grueling sets, they represented the payoff of insane work ethic and stellar athletic ability. No matter who won or lost, it is clear that all of the players deserved to be competing at the prestigious event.