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Thursday, October 1, 2020

Naomi Osaka wins US Open 2020 - will it be Thiem or Zverev

The 2020 US Open is the 140th  edition of tennis' US Open and the second Grand Slam event of the year. It is held on outdoor hard courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York.  Rafael Nadal and Bianca Andreescu were the men's and women's singles defending champions; however, both decided not to compete. Nadal withdrew from the tournament citing safety concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the switchover to the European clay court season immediately afterward, while Andreescu stated that the pandemic had compromised her ability to prepare and compete at her highest level.  .. .. and we read about Djokovic’s ouster in strange circumstances ! 

Ranked 4th in Men’s Tennis, Daniil Medvedev was seen lambasting the officials quite early in the US Open semi-final game against Dominic Thiem, on Friday, Sept 11. Medvedev, so out of control with his anger, went on to declare that “US Open is a joke”.  Early in the game, during the first set when Medvedev was trailing by 3-2 and at the receiving end of another break point, Daniil Medvedev’s long outburst was seen when a line judge missed the Russian’s first serve. As soon as Thiem returned to his serve and the umpire failed to call the serve out, Medvedev angrily hit his next shot into the net. It only went on to be worse as the No.3 seed in the US Open, Medvedev totally lost his calm and lashed out at the chair umpire after the official denied the player to challenge the call. In fact, what came as a surprise was, Medvedev breached a code by crossing the nests to the other side in order to point out exactly where the ball had landed.

After high drama it is going to be Dominic Thiem Vs Alexander Zverev

Dominic Thiem  is an Austrian professional tennis player. His career-high ATP ranking is world No. 3, which he first achieved on  Mar 2020. He is the second highest-ranked Austrian player in history, behind Thomas Muster (No. 1, 1996). He has won 16 ATP Tour singles titles, including a title at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open, and reached four Grand Slam finals.

Alexander "Sascha" Zverev is a German professional tennis player. He is the second-youngest player ranked in the top 10 by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), and was a permanent fixture in the top 5 throughout 2018. Zverev has won 11 ATP titles in singles and two in doubles.  Zverev was born into a tennis family. His parents Irina and Alexander Sr. both played professionally for the Soviet Union, and his older brother Mischa is also a professional who has been ranked as high as No. 25 in the world. Zverev is a former world No. 1 junior, and won a junior Grand Slam singles title at the 2014 Australian Open.  

Before we read further - Naomi Osaka won her second US Open title and third Grand Slam overall, defeating Victoria Azarenka in the final, 1–6, 6–3, 6–3. This made her the first player to win the US Open women's singles title after losing the first set since Arantxa Sánchez Vicario won the title in 1994. Coincidentally, Sánchez Vicario also lost the first set 6–1. Osaka became the first player from an Asian country to win a third Grand Slam singles title, the first player since Jennifer Capriati to win 3 such titles in 3 attempts and, at 22 years of age, the youngest player to win those 3 titles since Maria Sharapova won the 2008 Australian Open. Azarenka, who participated in her first Grand Slam final since the 2013 US Open, was aiming to become the first mother to win a Grand Slam singles title since Kim Clijsters won the 2011 Australian Open.  Bianca Andreescu was the defending champion, but she withdrew before the tournament began due to travel concerns related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 5 other top 10 players, including reigning Grand Slam champions Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep, also withdrew from the event citing safety reasons.  In all, 24 players ranked inside the top 100 were absent from the tournament. 

In spite of the overwhelming odds against it and the impossibly high hurdles that had to be overcome, the 2020 US Open comes to a close today. The historic decision to restart the Grand Slam tennis season amidst the height of  COVID-19 pandemic, is a success of planning indeed.  Held every year since it originated in 1881, the U.S. National Championships, which in 1968 became the US Open, has been staged amid such global events as the pandemic of 1918, the Great Depression and two World Wars.

Dominic Thiem surely knew the question was coming, so he addressed it front and center.  After dismissing Russian Daniil Medvedev and reaching his fourth Grand Slam final at the 2020 US Open, the 27-year-old Austrian talked about the elephant in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Thiem has played in three major finals, and Thiem has lost three major finals, becoming only the fifth man in the Open era to start 0-3 in Grand Slam title matches.  His elite company are : Andre Agassi (went on to have 8-7 record in major singles); Goran Ivanisevic, my favourite Ivan Lendl (8-11 but none at Wimbledon – grass is for cows !); Andy Murray.   

Speaking on Friday night, Thiem already knew his next steps should he lose against Germany’s Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s final and fall to 0-4 in Grand Slam title matches. “If I win, I have my first,” Thiem said. “If not, I probably have to call Andy Murray.”  Murray and former coach Ivan Lendl are the only men who started their careers 0-4 in major singles finals. But both went on to win multiple Grand Slam titles. “It’s easy for Andy because he has won three in the meantime,” Thiem said.  How quickly Thiem brought up Murray’s poor start in title matches leads one to wonder if Thiem’s 0-3 start has played on his mind.

However, Thiem was quick to say :     “I was joking about it… That's not what I'm thinking about Sunday. [I’m] just going to go in fully focused, like in all the six previous matches. Well, the world continues no matter what's result is, so it's going to be fine,” Thiem said.           Thiem has beaten the 23-year-old German seven of the nine times they’ve played, including the past three. Most recently, Thiem beat Zverev in four sets to reach the Australian Open final.

Interesting ! 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


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