This US Open has been one heck of a roller coaster so far, but before I dissect what has happened in the past five days, I would like to remind you that this is the first time in a while that five of the top contenders (Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, and Kei Nishikori) for the title did not come to New York because of injuries. Now, onto the madness that has captivated the tennis world since Monday and has raised many big questions about the future for certain players.
It all looked like a normal day 1 of a grand slam, except for one match in particular. A jam-packed stadium witnessed Mikhail Kukushkin take out number 21 seed David Ferrer 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1. Normally, this might not be too surprising but after an incredible semifinal run in Cincinnati (1000) as well as an impressive performance the week prior in Montreal (1000) pushing to Roger Federer in three sets, I thought he could make a deep run this fortnight. I do though have to give all the credit to Kukushkin for an amazing show he put on during Monday’s day session.
The next day, despite only two men’s matches being completed, provided a hint of the chaos that would ensue. Rain canceled all the play besides on Arthur Ashe Stadium which closed its roof to be able to resume play. On Ashe were two men’s matches, with both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer prevailing, but not without some scares. Nadal found himself in trouble in the first set against Dusan Lajovic, but he was able to emerge unscathed. The more surprising match of the tournament was at night with Federer vs. Frances Tiafoe. It went to five sets with Federer actually making seven more unforced errors than Bigfoe. After the match in the on court interview, Roger Federer said, “I am very happy with the match.” If he was actually pleased with his performance, then something is really wrong, which I will address later on.
The US Open had to cram in the remaining first round matches that were not completed as well as some second rounders. This third day of the Open was full of many upsets with 7 seeds being ousted highlighted by Alexander Zverev, Nick Kyrgios, Fabio Fognini, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga all leaving New York earlier than they had hoped. Denis Shapavolov put on a successful show in his first ever Arthur Ashe appearance against Tsonga which happened to be at night. Finally, Sascha Zverev was defeated by Borna Coric which was predicted by a tennis blog called Cross Cross Play It Out in a post called Dark Horses at the US Open.
Even though there were only two upsets on Day 4, yesterday was another amazing day of tennis. The most notable match of the day was Roger Federer vs. Mikhail Youzhny, in which Youzhny went up two sets to one, but for the second time this week Fed was able to squeak out a five-set win. So in just two matches, Roger has played ten sets, which is unheard of for Federer in the early rounds majors. It will be very interesting to see how he handles the rest of tournament. Moreover, Nadal struggled against Taro Daniel. Daniel went up a set and a break early on in the second set, but to his dismay, Nadal stepped up his game and played like he was in the semifinals and not in the second round, allowing him to reach the third round. On top of the top two players of the tournament having trouble, Andrey Rublev upset Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets as well as Alexandr Dolgopolov defeating Tomas Berdych.
Day five began the third round highlighted by Diego Schwartzman, who is the best returner in tennis this year, out battling and fighting past Marin Cilic in a closely contested four set match. Furthermore, Mischa Zverev is surprisingly the last Zverev standing after beating the highest ranked American, John Isner last night. More players who made it to the last sixteen include Denis Shapovalov, Pablo Carreno Busta, Kevin Anderson, Lucas Pouille, Sam Querrey, and Paolo Lorenzi. As you can see, this half of the draw has been blown wide open, so do not be surprised to see someone like Schwartzman, Shapovalov, Anderson, Querrey, or Carreno Busta in the semifinals or finals.
Earlier in this post, I told you that I would come back to Roger Federer’s attitude about how he has played, so here I go. In both five-setters, Roger Federer has seemed lackadaisical at times and like he is just trying to have fun rather than win. I have a theory about this. I say that Roger Federer is dejected. He feels that he can not win another slam after tweaking his back earlier this summer in Montreal. Also, with the Arthur Ashe court playing much slower than usual, he knows that he will be unable to defeat Nadal in the highly anticipated match. So, in response, Roger decided to enjoy himself on the court in order to suppress these feelings from the public eye.
Fed will have to play Feliciano Lopez tomorrow which will be a very tough test, and I would be surprised if Lopez does not win a set. But, in the fourth round, if Roger does not lose before, I think the greatest of all time will meet an undesirable fate in losing to Philipp Kohlschreiber. In conclusion, I believe that Roger Federer will retire after this season as in 2018 he will turn 37 years old and will probably want to spend much more time with his wife and kids at home.
Or….. the last two five set matches against Roger Federer were all a ruse, and he ends up returning to his top form. This is the less likely of the two scenarios I believe. So, I will leave it up to you to ponder my thoughts and let time tell who is correct.
I almost forgot to mention that I believe this is the best thing that has happened to tennis for years. What we are currently witnessing is truly special and if you are an avid tennis fan like me, you will think the same way. Unfortunately, this will not be the case for the casual fan who loves to see the top players clash in the finals every time.
Finally, I hope you enjoyed me go on and on about the US Open for a while, but before you go I also want to mention that you have every right to call me crazy about Roger Federer retiring, but if I am right, well……..