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US Open 2014: Review

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Online Sport Editor Alex Bonner reviews all the drama from this year’s US Open:

Croatia’s Marin Cilic won his first Grand Slam title at the US Open with a straight sets victory over Kei Nishikori. Nishikori, alongside Cilic, was making his first appearance in a Grand Slam final. Cilic comprehensively won 6-3 6-3 6-3 to become the first Croat to win one of the four tennis majors since his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, at Wimbledon in 2001. Cilic had a tough route to the final, having had to face the likes of Tomas Berdych and Roger Federer.

The 2014 US Open saw the absence of multiple champion Rafael Nadal due to a suspected knee injury. Following Murray’s exit to Djokovic in the Quarter-Final, Murray now finds himself outside the world’s top 10, the first time Murray has been outside the top ten since 2008. This year’s final saw none of the ‘big four’ participate, the first time this has occurred since 2005. The last Grand Slam title match with two first-time finalists was at Roland Garros in 2005, when Rafael Nadal defeated Argentine Mariano Puerta. The US Open has provided a different champion in six of the last seven years, showing how difficult it is to win at New York for consecutive years.

Cilic celebrating at the US Open. Image Credits: The Guardian
Cilic celebrating at the US Open. Image Credits: The Guardian

Tennis, this year, has seen the emergence of a new breed of Grand Slam champion. Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov looked most likely to challenge, but instead it’s Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic who are challenging the dominance of the ‘big four’. In addition to Cilic’s victory at Flushing Meadows, Wawrinka’s victory at Melbourne was also of note.

Murray’s Quarter-Final exit deserves a significant amount of credit. The Brit, despite being unable to regain his very best form that saw him win at Flushing Meadows two years ago, pushed Djokovic to the limit. Murray, despite performing resolutely at the US Open, will need to have a strong end to the season in order to have a chance of qualifying for the season ending ATP World Tour Finals. The Brit will face tough competition to qualify, namely from the likes of Cilic, Nishikori, Raonic and Dimitrov.

The men’s draw produced some eye-opening results, namely the exit of Djokovic and Federer to unfancied opposition. Djokovic entered the tournament as favourite following the withdrawal of Nadal, and looked in prime position to claim his second US Open title following some excellent performances in the opening rounds. Federer, looking to claim his sixth US Open, lost to Cilic in straight sets following some promising early round performances. The 17 time Grand Slam winner has been tipped to win at least one more slam, following a resurgent year for Federer.

Serena Williams, in the women’s draw, claimed her sixth US Open title, overcoming Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets 6-3 6-3. Williams’s route to the final saw her overcome all her opponents in straight sets, a remarkable achievement for the American. Following her victory at the US Open, Williams is now the second-oldest player to win a Grand Slam title in the Open era after Martina Navratilova.

Caroline Wozniacki’s year of resurgence also came to fruition at the US Open, with a final appearance an excellent result for the young Dane. Wozniacki, despite defeating Maria Sharapova en route to the final, was subsequently overpowered by an in-form Williams in the final.

The unseeded Peng Shuai advanced to her first Grand-Slam semi-final, and put in a credible performance against Wozniacki. Shuai, despite at the age of 28, looks set to challenge for future Grand Slams following her performances at the US Open.

Champion Williams with runner-up Wozniacki. Image Credits: ESPN
Champion Williams with runner-up Wozniacki. Image Credits: ESPN

Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová and Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard exited early. Kvitová, following her win at Wimbledon, was widely tipped to challenge at the US Open. Canadian Bouchard, who was defeated in straight sets, suffered from suspected heat exhaustion in her fourth round tie.

This tournament saw the Grand Slam debut of CiCi Bellis, who became the youngest player to win a match at the US Open since 1996 (and the youngest American to do so since 1986) when she defeated the twelfth seed Dominika Cibulkova in the first round at just the age of 15. Bellis, despite exiting early, has the credentials of a future star.

The US Open provided some dramatic results in both the men’s and women’s draw. Indeed, victory for Marin Cilic, in addition to Wawrinka’s early triumph, has produced a new generation of Grand Slam winners. The women’s draw saw Williams claim an incredible sixth title, but also some encouraging individual performances from the likes of CiCi Bellis and Caroline Wozniacki.

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