Nadal and Stephens Take Home the Trophy at the US Open


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Rafael Nadal lunges for a shot at the US Open.

Josh Rosenberg '21, Staff Writer

Summer brings heat, political scandals, and… tennis?

The US Open was a thrilling tournament. It’s been an interesting year for tennis for many reasons, not the least of which being that the top players this year are over 30, Serena Williams hasn’t played since the Australian Open, and the hot new strategy for the top players has been not to play. Despite all this, the world’s top players came together in New York for the 136th year in a row to play in the US Open.

The men’s draw was severely depleted due to the absences of top players because of injury. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal know what that feels like because they dealt with it last year. In fact, Nadal said, “Of course it’s something difficult to imagine eight months ago, nine months ago, that we will win two Grand Slams each, but here we are I just can say thanks to life.” He had spent the last 3 months of 2016 resting to recover from a wrist injury and came back with his best year in a while. This year however, Nadal has won both the French Open (for the tenth time) and the US Open. He breezed through his side of the draw, expecting to face Federer in final. It would have been the first time Federer and Nadal had played at the US Open. Unfortunately for tennis enthusiasts, Federer fell to Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter-finals. del Potro lost to Kevin Anderson in the semifinals, a 31 year old South African. In the final, Nadal blew through Anderson in straight sets, claiming the US Open title for the second time.

The women’s draw was missing Serena Williams for only the third time since 1998, but it made up for it with fascinating matches and two first time major finalists. Maria Sharapova played in her first major tournament since the 2016 Australian Open because of a performance-enhancing drug suspension. She faced a tough first match in world #2 Simona Halep. Sharapova won the first set, then showed signs of rust and fatigue in the second, and finished off the match by winning the third set 6-3. She continued on to win her second and third matches before falling to Anastasija Sevastova in the fourth round, nonetheless showing positive signs for a player coming back after more than a year off.

Venus Williams came into the US Open determined to win it for the first time since 2001. She blew through her first five matches, not dropping a set until the fourth round. She eventually faced Sloane Stephens, an exciting young American, in the semifinals. The other semifinal was played by Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe, making it an all-American semifinals for the first time since 1981. Williams and Stephens traded off sets, each dominating one set, then staged a tough final set. Stephens eventually came out on top, winning the third set 7-5, to propel herself into her first major final. Anyone who says they predicted this matchup 6 months ago is either psychic or lying.

At that time, both Stephens and Keys were out with injuries and had fallen out of the top 25 in the world rankings. While they recovered from their injuries, Keys and Stephens were in constant communication and developed a deep friendship. This made the final a little bittersweet for both of them, knowing they were one step away from achieving their dreams. The only catch was that to get there they would need to beat their friend. After the match, which Stephens won easily in straight sets, they had the longest post-match hug in recent memory. Stephens said afterwards, “I told her (Madison Keys) I wish it could be a draw and if it was the other way around she’d do the same. To stand here with her today is incredible, that’s what real friendship is.” Keys was gracious in defeat and later said,“Obviously I didn’t play my best tennis today and I was really disappointed but Sloane was very supportive and if there was someone I had to lose to today I’m glad it’s her.” These two women have taught us all a lesson about true friendship and good sportsmanship.

You won’t see tennis this good again until Wimbledon next year.