US Open wrap: Djokovic and Osaka shine, Zverev and Muguruza disappoint

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A hot, humid, and manic US Open concluded on Sunday with Novak Djokovic clinching a third title in New York, a day after Naomi Osaka made history for Japan as the first player from her country to clinch a Grand Slam singles title.

Here’s a look at those who stood out, and others who fell short during the fortnight at the Open.

BEST PLAYERS

Novak Djokovic

He started the season with a 6-6 win-loss record in his first six events and by mid-May had dropped out of the top-20. Fast-forward to today, and Djokovic has won 26 of his last 28 matches, picked up titles at Wimbledon, Cincinnati and the US Open, and is up to No. 3 in the world. He took his tally of Grand Slam titles to 14, tying Pete Sampras in third place on the all-time list of most majors won by a man and is in the running for the year-end No. 1 ranking.

Not bad for someone who had elbow surgery in February and was on a two-year Grand Slam title drought prior to Wimbledon.

He held serve in 101 of his 108 (93.5%) service games at the US Open and didn’t drop a set from the third round onwards.

Naomi Osaka

The 20-year-old Japanese-Haitian had a stunning US Open. She took out five top-40 players en route to her maiden Grand Slam title, dropping just one set (to Aryna Sabalenka in the fourth round), and losing a mere total of 34 games across her seven matches. She showed poise and focus all two weeks and played big-time tennis, especially on the crucial points.

Osaka saved 29/34 (85.3%) break points throughout the tournament and won more than half of her return games (31/60).

She’s now up to a career-high ranking of No. 7, and is at No. 4 in the Porsche Race to Singapore.

BIGGEST FLOPS

Alexander Zverev

No one expected Zverev’s new partnership with coach Ivan Lendl to pay dividends right away, but his third round US Open exit to fellow German Philipp Kohlschreiber is still no doubt a disappointment for the talented youngster. The world No. 5 is 10-4 at the majors this season and has now reached just one Slam quarter-final in 14 main draw appearances.

Garbine Muguruza

The two-time Grand Slam champion was shocked in round two by 22-year-old Czech qualifier Karolina Muchova, who was ranked 202 in the world during the US Open. Muchova had never won a tour-level match prior to the Open but produced some brilliant tennis to upset Muguruza, who lost in the second round at three of the four Slams this season. The Spaniard is ranked 14 in the world at the moment and is 16 in the Race.

SURPRISE PACKAGES

John Millman

The 29-year-old Aussie was ranked 218 in the world last October and was considering swapping tennis for an office job a few years ago. Millman hadn’t made it past the third round in any of his previous 14 major appearances but his fourth round upset of Roger Federer saw him reach the quarters at the US Open, and gave him his first win against a top-10 player in 12 meetings. His reward is a career-high ranking of 37.

Marketa Vondrousova

The talented teenager made waves last year when she won her first WTA title in Biel aged 17 and ranked 233 in the world.

The Czech lefty barely made it into the US Open main draw because she was ranked 103 at the time of the entry cutoff. She was the last direct acceptance into the tournament and ended up reaching the fourth round, her first showing in a second week of a Slam, taking out Cincinnati champion Kiki Bertens and Eugenie Bouchard along the way.

IMPRESSIVE YOUNG GUNS

Alex de Minaur

Although he blew a two-sets-to-love lead against former US Open champion Marin Cilic in the third round, De Minaur has a lot to be proud of from his performances in New York. The 19-year-old Australian showed why he’s considered one of the most exciting young talents on tour, and backed up his third round showing at Wimbledon with another at the US Open.

Aryna Sabalenka

The ‘Summer of Sabalenka’ will be one the Belarusian will remember forever. Just 20 years old, and playing her first US Open, she reached the fourth round in New York, taking out Petra Kvitova en route after winning the first title of her career in New Haven the week before. Semis in Cincy and last 16 in Montreal came before that. She’s now 20 in the world after starting the season at 73.

BEST COACHES

Jan de Witt

This may not have made any headlines but De Witt’s partnership with Nikoloz Basilashvili saw Georgian reach the fourth round at the Open (defeated Bedene, Sock, Pella) and take a set off of Rafael Nadal. It came on the heels of Basilashvili winning his first ATP title in Hamburg late July. De Witt, who previously coached Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon, teamed up with Basilashvili in May and their union is already paying off as he hits a career-high ranking of 31 this week.

Sascha Bajin

Osaka’s coach has undoubtedly played a huge part in her progress this season. They teamed up last December and have now won Indian Wells and the US Open together. Osaka says Bajin brings lots of positivity to the table, which is something she really struggled to have in the past. She hit a rough patch prior to the Open but has rebounded with a vengeance, and says enjoying her time on the court has been the biggest factor behind her success.

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Former umpire Richard Ings supports Carlos Ramos' handling of Serena Williams during US Open final

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Former leading umpire Richard Ings has backed Carlos Ramos against allegations of sexism and other improprieties in the wake of Serena Williams‘ US Open final defeat.

Williams was docked a game in the crucial second set of her match against Naomi Osaka for calling the experienced Ramos a “thief” – and she used her subsequent post-match press conference to call her penalty “sexist”.

Her stance was swiftly backed by the WTA Tour’s chief executive Steve Simon, and US great Billie-Jean King, both of whom also questioned the initial code violation handed to Williams for on-court coaching.

But Ings, who penalised John McEnroe a game during a match against Boris Becker in 1987, hailed Ramos for his decisions and said he umpired the match “absolutely perfectly”.

Speaking on BBC Radio Four‘s Today programme, Ings said: “Carlos Ramos is an umpire with 40 years of experience.

“He handled that match absolutely perfectly. He saw violations and he had the courage of his convictions to call them when he saw them.

“I support him 110 per cent. It was one of the best officiating jobs that I’ve seen in years.”

Former British tennis number one Annabel Croft said that, while she had sympathy for Williams, her claim that she had been treated differently because she is a woman was wide of the mark.

“I definitely feel sympathy for her because I was actually commentating on the match and I witnessed the whole thing unfolding and it was incredibly dramatic,” Croft told ITV‘s Good Morning Britain.

“But Carlos Ramos is not, I don’t believe, sexist. He’s a very strict, very decisive umpire, who takes nothing from any opponent whether they’re male or female.

“I’ve seen him giving time violations to Rafael Nadal out there on the court many, many times, but he’s someone who just plays it by the rule book.

“It doesn’t matter who is on the other side of the net, what icon they are, what status they are in the game, he will just play it by the rules.”

Great Britain Fed Cup captain Anne Keathvong also suggested Williams was in the wrong, tweeting: “Sexism is a problem in the wider picture of tennis but I don’t believe the decisions Carlos Ramos made that night had anything to do with it.”

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Novak Djokovic beats Juan Martin Del Potro to win US Open and 14th Grand Slam title

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Novak Djokovic moved into joint third on the all-time list of male grand slam singles champions by beating Juan Martin del Potro to win the US Open.

Djokovic is now level with Pete Sampras on 14 titles and, after following up his Wimbledon triumph by making it back-to-back slam successes, is closing in once more on Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

With his two-year physical and mental dip apparently firmly behind him, questions will again be posed as to whether he can catch Nadal on 17 or even Federer’s 20.

After all the drama this tournament has created, capped by Saturday’s extraordinary women’s final, the headlines here were all made for the right reasons as Djokovic triumphed 6-3 7-6 (7/4) 6-3.

Del Potro was the sentimental favourite as he attempted to win a second slam title nine years after his first, having suffered two serious wrist injuries, the second of which he feared would end his career.

But Del Potro needed more than just goodwill to beat Djokovic at his best, he needed his mighty forehand to be flawless and the rest of his game to back it up.

This was not that day, although even at his absolute best he would have struggled to hold off Djokovic on this form.

The Serbian, who had won 14 of their previous 18 meetings, looked to be in total control at a set and 3-1 up but Del Potro began to really unleash on his forehand and the match came alive.

Had Del Potro managed to get across the line in the 20-minute Djokovic service game that followed to lead 5-3, things might have played out differently, but Djokovic hung on.

The protagonists seemed a little spent when it finally ended and settled for the tie-break, where Del Potro led 3-1 but paid for missed forehands as Djokovic claimed six of the next seven points to end a 95-minute set.

Djokovic had only won two of his previous seven finals at Flushing Meadows, losing to four different players, but his sole loss from two sets up at a grand slam came eight years ago so Del Potro’s chances of mounting a miracle recovery appeared slim.

Even more so when Djokovic broke to lead 3-1 in the third set, only for his poise to desert him a little again and allow Del Potro to hit straight back. On break point, Hughes awarded a time violation against Djokovic, much to the Serbian’s annoyance.

But he took the argument no further, and promptly broke Del Potro again before clinching victory with a smash and dropping to the court in celebration.

Djokovic will climb above his opponent to third in the rankings and has a chance to finish the year back at number one – a remarkable feat considering the manner in which he began the season.

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