European players dominated the podium at the U.S. Open with Briton Emma Raducanu and Russian Daniil Medvedev both claiming their first majors in very different circumstances. Raducanu, who rose from relative obscurity three months ago, made it to the fourth round of Wimbledon with a wildcard at her home Slam and has done even better in New York. Medvedev has been so close yet so far on two previous occasions in Grand Slam finals, but it was a case of third time lucky for the hard-hitting Russian. He thwarted Novak Djokovic's goal of becoming the first player since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win the calendar year Grand Slam, and the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to do so.
It was a dream run and a fairytale ending for the British qualifier, who beat another promising youngster, Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-4 6-3 in the first all-teen final since 1999. Meanwhile Djokovic’s fairytale did not have quite the happy ending that most had expected coming into the event. The Serb, gunning for his 21st major, lost his 6th US Open final. The Russian was too clinical in his 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory.
Some big names were out before the start of the event due to injury. It was the first time since 1998 that a slam was without Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal or Serena Williams in the draw. Perhaps it was destiny’s way of marking a turning point for the future of tennis as this new crop of players come of age.
A Star Is Born (x2)
A winner of 4 Tennis Europe Junior Tour titles as recently as five years ago, Raducanu has become the first British woman since Virginia Wade to win a major since Wimbledon 1977. Her three-week winning streak is unprecedented in that she won 10 matches on the trot, three in qualifying and seven main draw matches. Furthermore, she won the title with the calm and collected poise of a seasoned veteran, all without the loss of a set.
In the main draw, the Brit glided through the field with ease, dispatching familiar names with amazing hitting and nerves of steel. Stefanie Voegle (SUI), Shuai Zhang (CHN), Sara Sorribes (ESP) , Shelby Rogers (USA), Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic (SUI) and Maria Sakkari (GRE) all fell victim to Raducanu on her run to the final.
The run of Fernandez was arguably even more impressive as the Canadian took out three top-five players amongst other big names on her way to the final: Ana Konjuh (CRO), Kaia Kanepi (EST), Naomi Osaka (JPN), Angelique Kerber (GER), Elina Svitolina (UKR) and Aryna Sabalenka (BLR).
When the 2019 Roland Garros junior champ Fernandez beat Osaka in round three, people started to take notice. Osaka hadn’t been in the best of form coming in, and an inspired Fernandez took her out. Dane Clara Tauson gave world number one Ashleigh Barty a run for her money in round two. The Australian made it through a tight second set, only to fall in a nail biter against Rogers in the next round, with the help of a vocal local crowd. Iga Swiatek (POL), Victoria Azarenka (BLR) and an in-form Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) all would have preferred better results, but New York 2021 was the stage for the teenage dream to come alive.
Medvedev Rains on Djokovic’s Parade
Despite his blip at the Olympic Games, many had already decided that Djokovic's name could be engraved on this U.S. Open trophy. However, from the outset it looked like things were not going to be so easy for the world number one, as the other 2019 French Open junior champion Holger Rune (DEN) took a set off the Serb in an impressive display in the first round.
Another prominent teen, Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) made an even bigger name for himself, stunning Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) in the third round. The Spaniard made it all the way into the quarterfinals, becoming the youngest player in U.S. Open history ever to do so, where he unfortunately had to retire against a more established NextGen star, Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.
There were relatively few other surprises in a men’s draw missing Federer, Nadal and Dominic Thiem. A resurgent Andy Murray gave Tsitsipas a good fight in round one. Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini fell to Djokovic again, this time in the quarters. Dutch player Botic van de Zandschulp made a career best run to the quarterfinals, where he fell to the eventual champion.
Spanish tennis looks set to remain a force. Rafa Nadal seems to be a long way from retirement, Alcaraz is doing very well in the big flight and now the country can hail Daniel Rincon, the new US Open junior boys’ champion. The seven-time Tennis Europe Junior Tour finalist, with four titles in singles and doubles, won a 6-2 7-6(6) final over Juncheng Shang (CHN). Kristina Dimitruk of Belarus fell 6-2 6-4 to American Robin Montgomery in the girls’ final.
The future of Swiss tennis is also looking promising, with Jerome Kym and Sebastianna Scilipoti both making it to the semis in extremely competitive junior fields, with Scilipoti having taken out Alexandra Eala of the Philippines in the quarters.
Other former #TEJT players posted strong results with Viacheslav Bielinskyi (UKR), Jakub Mensik (CZE), Linda Fruhvirtova (CZE), Sofia Costoulas (BEL) and 2019 European 14 & Under Champion Michaela Laki (GRE) making it to the round of 16. Meanwhile, former Junior Masters champions Petr Nesterov (BUL) and Petra Marcinko (CRO) and 2020 Australian Open Junior Champ Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva (AND) were all quarterfinalists.
Boys’ doubles final: Max Westphal (FRA) & Coleman Wong (HKG) def Bielinskyi & Nesterov 6-3 5-7 10-1
Girls’ doubles final: Ashlyn Krueger (USA) & Montgomery (USA) def Reese Brantmeier (USA) & Elvina Kalieva (USA) 5-7 6-3 10-4
In a return to her roots as a doubles specialist, Australian Samantha Stosur, the 2011 Singles champion at the US Open, teamed with Shuai Zhang from China to claim the women’s doubles title 6-3 3-6 6-3 over young Americans Cori Gauff and Caty McNally.
The British-American combination of Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram took the men’s doubles title over Jamie Murray (GBR) and Bruno Soares (BRA) in a 3-6 6-2 6-2 win.
Salisbury made it two from two in the doubles, teaming with American Desirae Krawczyk to post a 7-5 6-2 win over Mexican Giuliana Olmos and Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador.