Djokovic Wins His Third Major of Year


Novak Djokovic holds up the US Open trophy after winning his 10th major.

Nathan Albrinck

By Kevin Yu ’17, Contributor

Over the past two weeks, the US Open has offered scintillating tennis, shock upsets, and a dramatic final featuring the world’s top two players.

The tournament has been marked by its unpredictability, and if there has been one lesson, it is to expect the unexpected. Extremely hot weather caused 16 retirements throughout the men’s tournament, an Open Era record. This number doesn’t even account for those such as Canadian Vasek Pospisil, who fought cramps and finished the match, despite losing the final two sets 6-0, 6-1, and requiring multiple IVs after.

Early in the tournament meant smooth sailing for the top men. However, on the women’s side, seven of the top ten seeds were out by the third round, and Serena Williams’ bid for a calendar grand slam seemed ever more possible. Japan’s Kei Nishikori was the only high-ranked men’s seed to fall in the opening two rounds. However, the wins weren’t coming easily. For the title contenders, saving energy in such tough conditions was a top priority. No. 3 seed Andy Murray needed to come back from two sets down in his second round against French No. 35 Adrian Mannarino, which likely caused his fall in the fourth round days later.

The middle rounds showed why the best are the best. As No. 1 Djokovic, No. 2 Federer, and defending champion Marin Cilic flew through their matches, others weren’t so fortunate. 14-time Grand Slam Champion Rafael Nadal lost his first match from two sets up against Fabio Fognini in the third round. Spanish No. 1 David Ferrer and British No. 1 Andy Murray lost their third and fourth round matches, respectively.

Rain Thursday night forced a packed schedule on Friday, which was to include both men’s and women’s semifinals. Like the men’s tournament last year, the No. 1 and No. 2 women were to face relatively unknown opponents, and like last year, they both lost. Serena Williams lost her second three-set match this year to unseeded Roberta Vinci, ending her quest to become the second woman in the Open Era to win a calendar grand slam. No 2. Simona Halep’s loss meant that there would be, for the first time ever, an all-Italian final at a major. As Saturday’s ticket prices fell from about $1500 to just $60 for the final, Flavia Penetta won her maiden grand slam title, and promptly announced her retirement from tennis during the trophy ceremony.

The men’s semifinals pitted No. 1 Djokovic against defending champion Cilic, and an all-Swiss battle between Federer and Stan Wawrinka. Despite the media’s buildup for these matches, neither quite lived up to expectation. An injured Cilic put up little resistance, losing 6-0, 6-1, 6-2 in just an hour and 25 minutes. Meanwhile, an on-fire Federer put out any doubts the crowd may have had, winning 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 in just over an hour and a half. Djokovic became just the third man in the Open Era to make all four major finals in a year, while Federer was chasing a record 18th grand slam.

That left just one match to play, and as stated by Federer himself, “there are no secrets. It’s a straight shootout.” Just as unpredictable as the tournament as a whole, the final couldn’t be determined until the last ball. After Djokovic took a nasty fall early on, he regrouped himself to take the first set 6-4. The Djokovic return was solid as ever, with Federer dropping serve six times compared to two in his six previous matches combined. Federer bounced back, taking the next set 7-5 after some incredible shot-making, but couldn’t keep his level, as Djokovic took the final two sets 6-4, 6-4. Federer had his chances, but converted only 4 out of 23 break points. The final game showed Djokovic’s resiliency, fighting off three break points and hitting three unreturned serves to wrap up the match. A tenth major for Djokovic marks the end of a tremendous two weeks of tennis, full of ups and downs. This certainly makes for a very interesting final two months of 2015.