U.S Open 2021: Fans, Upsets, Injuries

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Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Arun Patel, Online Staff Writer

On Monday, August 30, people from all over gathered around their TVs, or in Flushing Meadows, New York, to watch the first round of the 2021 U.S. Open. Due to COVID-19 concerns last year, fans were unable to attend, and travel restrictions prohibited many players from competing in the annual tennis tournament held for two weeks starting on the last Monday in August. This year, fans were allowed to return in full capacity, bringing back the excitement and hype around the tournament. 

This tournament was sure to please fans who love seeing newcomers win. On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer, two of the “Big Three”, pulled out of the tournament due to injury, leaving frontrunner Novak Djokovic without any main competition on his quest for a calendar Grand Slam (winning all four major tournaments in a calendar year). On top of that, defending champion Domonic Thiem withdrew from the tournament due to a wrist injury. On the women’s side, fan-favorites Serena and Venus Williams both pulled out of the tournament citing injury once again, making this the first time both Williams sisters did not compete at the U.S. Open since 2003. 

With many of the “top names”  in men’s tennis sidelined, world number one seed Novak Djokovic was the sure frontrunner.  He made it through to the finals after playing many long and grueling matches against tough competitors. His competition, world number two Daniil Medvedev, made it to the finals with ease, only dropping one set in total. While the tournament had many new names competing and many great performances, the finals were between the world number one and world number two. It was set to be an amazing match with Djokovic one win away from achieving a calendar Grand Slam, which has not been done in 52 years. However, Daniil Medvedev’s youth and power proved successful as he defeated Djokivic in straight sets (6-4, 6-4, 6-4), ending Djokovic’s quest. 

On the women’s side, it was much more about the newcomers. Upsets and stunning matches led to the battle of the teens in the finals: 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez versus British 18-year-old Emma Raducanu. In the end, Raducanu pulled away with the win (6-4, 6-3). Randucanu arrived in New York, ranked 150th in the world. She played her way through the qualifiers and ended up in the main draw with little chance of making it far. However, she dominated her opponents, not dropping a single set in the entire tournament. Now, she is ranked 22nd in the world. 

Senior Will Sun attended the U.S. Open this year. When asked about the atmosphere with fans being back he stated, “There were a ton of people everywhere, and it was very festive.” He had hopes of seeing Djokivic practice but “…he never showed up.” He also added, “The tennis was good, super long matches filled with long rallies.” Sophomore twins Sam and Justin Elkin also visited the U.S. Open this year. Sam stated, “While not watching the matches, walking around the grounds outside of the stadiums with the stores and restaurants add to the experience of the event. Additionally, there are always games to watch on the side courts, so there is always something to do while you are there. I got to watch Djokovic play in Arthur Ashe Stadium and the fans really love him. He’s like the LeBron James of tennis.” Justin shared similar sentiments: “The matches were very fun, and the whole atmosphere was a change and not typical for a sports game. It was a whole day’s event.” Boys varsity tennis player Tristan Salvner was also at the U.S. Open this year: “It was a whole different experience from the matches seen on TV, being able to see the players first hand made me so much more excited to watch every point.” From the good matches with relatively unknown players winning to the fan experience returning, this year’s U.S. Open appears to have been a great experience for all involved. 

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