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Djokovic Wins U.S. Open

Johnie Freatman |
September 13, 2011 | 12:11 p.m. PDT

Associate Sports Editor

Djokovic surprised no one with his win. (Wikimedia Commons)
Djokovic surprised no one with his win. (Wikimedia Commons)
With one final forehand winner, Novak Djokovic ended the 2011 U.S. Open. 

Though the tournament will ultimately be remembered for Djokovic putting an exclamation point on his dominant season, there were many captivating storylines in both the men’s and women’s draw: Here are the top seven:

7. Caroline Wozniacki is still majorless after a semifinal loss to Serena Williams.

Though Wozniacki has won six WTA titles this year and owns the No. 1 ranking in the world, she will have to endure another four months of questioning before her next attempt at a major breakthrough, not to mention another year before she can try to atone for her loss to Williams and join boyfriend Rory McIlroy as a U.S. Open champion.

Though Wozniacki played well in her first five matches and lost only one set, she was simply overmatched by Williams, who won 6-4, 6-2 and had 34 winners compared to Wozniacki’s five.

6. Venus Williams’ future is in question after her autoimmune disease announcement.

Questions about Williams’ health were answered after she withdrew from her second-round match citing Sjogren’s syndrome, which causes fatigue and joint pain.

Williams hasn’t played as frequently in recent years as she has battled stamina problems. The U.S. Open was her first tournament in two months.

Though she vows to return to tennis, the seven-time grand slam champion is now 31 years old and likely in the twilight of her career.

5. The chaotic effect of the weather.

After a relatively dry first week, the rain came down in a big way starting Tuesday, altering the landscape of the tournament.

Attempting to get in as much play as possible to preserve the traditional Sunday men’s final, the players were ushered out in the middle of the rain Wednesday, only for play to be cancelled after 20 minutes.

The ire of the players was felt by the USTA, as Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Andy Roddick confronted the tournament referee and let their displeasure be known about what they believed were unsafe conditions.

The men’s and women’s finals were each moved back a day and some had to play four matches in five days.

4. An influx of injuries.

Through just six days of the tournament, a record 18 players had withdrawn due to injury, leading Roger Federer to question the toughness of some of his fellow pros. 

In addition to Venus Williams, other notables withdrawing included Thomas Berdych two-time women’s defending champion Kim Cljisters.

Even those who didn’t withdraw often had visible displays of pain, including a bizarre cramping incident suffered by Rafael Nadal and back problems for Novak Djokovic in the final that required treatment.

3. A resurgence of Americans in the men’s competition.

For quite some time now, the forecast for the future of American men’s tennis has been very dark. No American has won a grand slam since Andy Roddick at the 2003 U.S. Open, and with Roddick aging many wondered who would step up next.

Perhaps the biggest revelation at Flushing Meadows was Donald Young, who was once hailed as the “Next Big Thing.” Though he hasn’t lived up to expectations, advancing to the Round of 16 was a big step for him. After some questionable behavior in the past, perhaps just as important as his play was showing an advanced level of maturity.

Though top-ranked American Mardy Fish lost a five-setter in the Round of 16, he continues a late-career renaissance that recently saw him reach No. 7 in the world.

Though Roddick and John Isner both fell in the quarterfinals, Roddick showed that he is not done yet and Isner gave Andy Murray a scare--perhaps a harbinger of things to come.

2. Serena Williams’ tantrum and surprising loss to Samantha Stosur.

After her dismantling of Wozniacki, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Williams would hoist the trophy.

However, some inspired play from Stosur and a controversial rule caused Williams to implode.

Having struggled in the first set, Williams hit what looked to be a winner. However, in her exuberance, Williams yelled “Come On!” before the ball reached Stosur, a violation of tennis’ intentional hindrance rule.

Stosur was thus awarded the point, and the game, but that was only the beginning.

Williams went on a rant at the umpire, saying in part, "Aren't you the one who screwed me over last time here?" a reference to her similarly inglorious indignation at the 2009 U.S. Open.

1. Djokovic’s gutsy win.

Though it wasn’t as easy as some had predicted, Djokovic showed that he has what every truly great champion must possess: guts.

Unchallenged entering the semifinals, Djokovic fell down two sets against Federer before making a comeback for the ages.

After winning the next two sets to tie the match, Djokovic found his hopes hanging by a thread when Federer was serving with two match points. However, after a forehand winner that only he could hit, Djokovic eventually broke Federer’s serve and went on to win the match.

Djokovic was clearly fatigued, forcing the question in the championship match of whether his body would cooperate with his will. In addition to pain in his ribs and cramps in his legs, Djokovic’s back hurt so much he required on-court treatment in the fourth set.

Still, he was able to summon one last surge of energy and defeat Nadal in the fourth- longest Finals match in U.S. Open history.

Now, having won three of this season’s last four grand slams, the rest of Djokovic’s season is about one thing: chasing history.

Whether or not he surpasses John McEnroe’s 1984 season for greatest winning percentage, among other records, one thing is certain: this was a win for the ages.


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