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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday September 16, 2020


The 2020 US Open is in the books, with Naomi Osaka and Dominic Thiem taking home the singles titles. Vera Zvonareva and Laura Siegemund took the women’s doubles title, while Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares took the men’s doubles.

There were six wheelchair winners crowned as well:

Wheelchair men’s singles: Shingo Kunieda
Wheelchair women’s singles: Diede De Groot
Wheelchair men’s doubles: Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid
Wheelchair women’s doubles: Yui Kamiji and Jordanne Whiley
Quad singles: Sam Schroder
Quad doubles: Dylan Alcott and Andy Lapthorne

We know the champions, but what else did we learn from the 2020 US Open? Here are 10 takes…

1. Grand Slam Tennis is Alive!

There were no fans, there were no qualies, juniors or mixed doubles, but given all the challenges that the US Open faced this year, particularly as they planned this event while New York was functioning as the world’s coronavirus epicenter, it’s important to make note of how massive a win it was to have tennis back on the Grand Slam stage again.

Players came, earned hefty paychecks, and produced a very high level of tennis (again, given all the challenges that they were facing). Was it perfect? Of course not! Were there some issues, like the controversy that surrounded Guido Pella, Hugo Dellien and Benoit Paire? Yes. But in the end the US Open and USTA did everything it possibly could to ensure the safety of the public and the players, and the show did go on.

In the end it was a big success under extremely difficult circumstances and we are grateful to the powers that be for pulling it off.

2. Thiem’s Time?

Dominic Thiem has worked extremely hard to put himself in a position to win Grand Slam titles in an era that has not provided many opportunities to rising forces of the game. That’s why it was incredibly gratifying to see Thiem follow through on all his promise and find a way to defeat Alexander Zverev in the final on Sunday. In the first two sets it was obvious that Thiem wanted it too much. He was a deer in the headlights, frozen at the moment when he needed to be sprinting with purpose. But never mind that, because Thiem found a way, and he did it in unprecedented fashion, becoming the first player to rally from two sets down in a US Open final and the first player to win a US Open final in a fifth-set tiebreak.

No asterisk on this title run for Thiem, and it will likely be the first of many on the Grand Slam stage for the Austrian.

3. Osaka is a Pillar of Quiet Strength

Seven masks, seven victories and another chapter is added to the legacy of Naomi Osaka’s career. At 22, the Japanese star is already a lock to be a Hall of Famer, but it’s not the numbers that impress—it’s the character and her ability to deliver under pressure with stoic serenity that belies her age. Osaka’s title run will go down as a true triumph on many levels, it wasn’t just about tennis for Osaka, it was about finding her voice and taking a stand for something bigger than tennis that connected most people to her incredible run.

4. Vika’s back!

How amazing was it to see Victoria Azarenka carrying the type of swagger that defined her years at No.1 and her two major titles back in the day? Who knows why it took so long for the Belarusian to find her missing mojo—she’s been through a lot in her personal life to be sure—but now that she has hit that level, one wonders if there will be a confidence carry-over and more success from the 31-year-old. She’s an inspiration in more ways than one, but it would sure be nice if Azarenka can continue to inspire with her results for at least a few more years.

5. Mom’s Rule!

Three moms in the quarterfinals and a mom-v-mom clash in the semis between Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams. Full credit to the WTA—with an assist from both Azarenka and Williams— for making their workplace more friendly to mothers over the last few years (a rule change gave mothers three years of protected ranking from the date of the birth of their child). That makes it easier for a player like Tsvetana Pironkova to return from the sidelines straight into a Slam draw. In this case it worked out tremendously, as Pironkova was one of the biggest stories of the tournament.

There were nine mothers in the women’s singles draw, five of which won at least a round, and 36-year-old mom Vera Zvonareva took the doubles title for good measure.

6. Canada’s men are on the move

Without Bianca Andreescu in New York to defend her title it was up to the Canadian men to take center stage. And they did just that at the US Open. Three men reached the round of 16 at a Slam for the first time ever and Denis Shapovalov became the first Canadian to ever reach the quarterfinals at the US Open, snapping a run of 12 straight round of 16 losses for Canadian men in New York.

7. Novak Missed a Big Chance

The World No.1 is doing his best to put what happened in New York behind him, and he’ll have to do it quickly with Roland Garros set to start in less than two weeks, but it has to be tough for Djokovic, who was the heaviest of favorites in New York, and playing with purpose through Cincinnati and his first week at the US Open. His shock default was a devastating thing to have happen on many levels. You only get to play four Slams a year, and when you’re 33, there’s no telling how many more chances Djokovic will have to win majors. He’ll likely have quite a few, but it’s never good to miss one, especially one that was seemingly his to lose.

Ah, well, he lost it—time to move on.

8. Don’t judge the week before a Grand Slam too critically during a pandemic.

Dominic Thiem was blasted off the court by Filip Krajinovic in his first match at the Western and Southern Open. Naomi Osaka pulled out of the final at the same event with a hamstring injury. Both went on to win the title, despite our dire predictions. Let’s all be careful how we judge what happens in Rome this week.

9. Jennifer Brady could be a difference maker for American tennis

Is it too early to predict a Top 5 ranking for Jennifer Brady? Perhaps, but she has inspired such predictions with her breakout performance at the 2020 US Open. She reached the semifinals without dropping a set and nearly beat Naomi Osaka at her own game when she got there, in what was the match of the tournament (and one of the matches of the year). There’s a reason the punditry is raving about the 25-year-old, and we can’t wait to see what she can do for an encore.

10. Serena’s Still in the Game

Credit to Serena Williams, who will turn 39 just before Roland Garros this year, for still wanting to be out there chasing the dream. She performed admirably in New York, despite an extremely difficult draw. Sloane Stephens in the third round, followed by Maria Sakkari in the round of 16? That’s no fun for anybody. Williams couldn’t get past Azarenka in the semis (her fourth straight three-setter) but the 2020 US Open shows that Williams is in there with a fighting chance when it comes to winning major title No.24. If she can get a few breaks from the draw gods, it would certainly help here. Maybe that’s what it will take for Williams to win another major, but if you’re asking us if the window is still open for Williams at the Slams, our answer is an emphatic yes.

 

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