The US Open ended up being really good & dramatic, even without fans

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I really enjoyed the US Open fortnight and the strange, otherworldly vibes around the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in New York. The US Open decided to go ahead with the Slam tournament with no spectators in-person. It was a financial decision that they could make because the TV rights to the US Open are so profitable. While there were some minor kerfuffles involving the coronavirus, the overwhelming majority of the players were happy enough with bubble life and happy to be back on a court, getting paid to play.

The women’s side of the Open was completely fantastic – there were so many good matches and great storylines, like the success of all of the moms, or the rise of some great American players. In the end, the most in-form players ended up in the women’s final: Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka. Vika destroyed Osaka for about a set and a half, then Naomi raised her level and won it in three sets. Her trophy speech was legendary, especially the part where she talks about her masks and Black Lives Matter.

On the men’s side, it was a mess, but I was kind of expecting that because of Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer’s absences. I wasn’t expecting Novak Djokovic to get defaulted, nor did I think that so many young players would completely collapse. At the end of the day, the men’s final was between Dominic Thiem, a 27-year-old Austrian, and Alexander “Sascha” Zverev, a 23-year-old German (his parents are Russian). Sascha got so much attention during the fortnight because he was basically shirtless all the time and because he kept winning matches even though he was playing really badly at times. Both Thiem and Zverev had been anointed the next big things, and they’re close friends off the court too. All of that combined to make a somewhat crazy final? Thiem was completely flat for the first two sets. Then Zverev lost energy and got really passive. Then the fifth set kept going on and on and finally ended in a tiebreak, and both guys were having trouble standing or walking or running. Thiem finally won it.

The Slam loser’s speeches are often more iconic than the winner’s speech, and it was that way last night. People are still talking about how emotional Sascha was and how his parents got coronavirus and they weren’t able to travel with him. He was really gutted and sad.

And here’s Dominic. He spent most of his speech apologizing to Sascha!

Yeah. So I’m happy for Naomi and Dominic and I think they both deserved to win. I’m also happy that the US Open bubble worked out so well. The French Open – which was pushed back because of the pandemic – starts in two weeks. They’re not doing a bubble. They’re having fans in the stands too, but they’re trying to force players to only stay at certain hotels. I don’t know, I think the European swing is going to be a mess.

(Also: Yes, both of the men’s finalists were part of Djokovic’s Adria Tour, which spread the coronavirus all around Europe. Neither finalist ever tested positive for the virus though.)

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Photos courtesy of Getty.

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5 Responses to “The US Open ended up being really good & dramatic, even without fans”

  1. ATLMathMom says:

    Both finals were so good! Loved Naomi Osaka and her masks. My household was rooting for Thiem, but he looked so flat during the first set that I went about my Sunday chores. Was so surprised to see that he made it to the 4th set, and watched the rest of the match. My 15 yo tennis playing child commented that it was so crazy that a match this big came down to a 5th set tiebreaker.

  2. tweeds315 says:

    Why is the women’s trophy so much smaller than the men’s?

  3. Liz version 700 says:

    I was so happy Naomi Osaka won. I also love her and her masks. Great way to use her voice to start conversations.

  4. Call_Me_Al says:

    Thanks for covering tennis, Kaiser! Your enthusiasm always brings me back in to when I watched with my grandmother. It’s such a great sport with so much emotion and personality.

  5. Sof says:

    I was rooting for Sascha even though I was convinced that Thiem was going to win. I think Zverev’s dad had some sort of illness that had him hospitalized last year, now him having coronavirus must be scary.
    It’s crazy that finally there is a male Grand Slam champion born in the 90′s! The big three kinda ate a whole generation.

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