The U.S. Open 2022 - Highlights
This year's U.S. Open had us all on the edge of our seats. From the final sets of the GOAT to a new World No. 1 player, catch up on all the drama with Tennis Expert Nicolas C.
The final Grand Slam of the tennis season is in the books! This year's U.S. Open started with controversy and ended in glory. The women’s field seemed wide open at the start of the tournament, and the men’s side truly was wide open—after Wimbledon winner, Novak Djokovic wasn’t allowed to play due to his vaccination status. Serena Williams delivered an epic conclusion to her amazing career, and Arthur Ashe stadium was the stage for multiple classic matches. Storylines came and went—just like the favorites on the men's side did! At the end of the two weeks, we only know one thing: the future is now.
The Men's Drama
The men’s side of this tournament was as wild and compelling as we’ve had in a long time. After Rafael Nadal lost in the Round of 16 to Frances Tiafoe, it was the first time in more than a decade that none of the Big 3 (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic) would be in the semi-finals. World No. 1, Daniil Medvedev, entered this tournament as the betting favorite. Yet, he too was taken out in the Round of 16 by Wimbledon finalist, Nick Kyrgios. Kyrgios became the betting favorite afterward and was promptly upset in the very next round by Karen Khachanov.
But back to Tiafoe! The 24-year-old American has been a pro since 2014 and had never made it to a semifinal of a slam. American tennis has been starving for a new male star to elevate the sport in this country as Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi once did. Tiafoe gave every American some hope these last few weeks. Not only did he take down Rafa in four, but he also beat Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals to reach his first slam semis. More on Foe’ in a minute!
On the other side of the draw, after the Medvedev and Kyrgios defeats, the sneaky-good Casper Ruud continued his terrific year—getting all the way to the final. After taking out Matteo Berrettini in the quarterfinals, Ruud took care of Khachanov in four sets to make his second Slam final of the season. It was not a surprise when Ruud made the French Open final earlier this season as clay has long been known to be his favorite surface. But making the finals here was surprising; along with the fact that in the final, he not only had a chance at the title but also the No. 1 ranking in the world!
On the bottom half of the draw, there was a collision course in the making, right from the moment the draw came out. 19-year-old Spanish phenom, Carlos Alcaraz, was drawn in the same quarter as his newly minted rival, the Italian Jannik Sinner. Sinner took Carlitos out in the Wimbledon quarters and followed it up a few weeks later with another victory over Alcaraz in the Croatia Open final. No other man on tour had beaten Alcaraz more than once this season! Sure enough, the two men survived being down a break in the fifth set of their Round of 16 matches—and set up another clash in the quarterfinals.
What followed was not only the match of the tournament but one of the greatest tennis matches in the history of the Open. Sinner and Alcaraz played a five-set, five-hour classic—in which Alcaraz won after facing a match point in the fourth and being down a break in the fifth. The match ended at nearly 3 am, and those of us who were lucky enough to see the match in its entirety will never forget it. The electric young Spaniard had captured the imagination of those who were watching the tournament.
Yet in the semifinals, Alcaraz faced the American, Tiafoe. It was the Great American Hope vs. the Chosen One of Tennis, and it did not disappoint. Playing against the crowd for maybe his first time ever, Alcaraz lost the first set before recovering to win the next two. Frances used the crowd’s support to fuel him to an incredible fourth-set tiebreak win, in which he saved a match point in spectacular fashion. Going into the fifth, the crowd was in pandemonium. The American eventually ran out of steam, and Alcaraz won the final set 6-3, in another match that had both the internet and The City That Never Sleeps on fire.
Tiafoe showed amazing heart and resilience, winning over many supporters around the world. Yet the winner was once again Carlitos Alcaraz, proving why he is considered by most to be the next great tennis player. At just 19, he became the first teenager since Sampras in 1990 to reach the U.S. Open final.
With both Medvedev and Nadal losing earlier in the tournament, the final became a winner-take-all match for both the trophy and the No. 1 ranking in the world. And like Sampras before him, Alcaraz took home the title—defeating Ruud in four sets. The youngest No. 1 ever, Carlos Alcaraz has the world at his feet.
Serena’s Final Play
We cannot talk about this tournament without mentioning the great Serena Williams. She had announced a month or so before the Open that this would be her final tournament. The 23-time major winner was retiring on Ashe.
The expectations before the tournament were low—she had just lost her last two matches in convincing fashion during the warm-up events. So low, in fact, that after her gritty first-round win, it seemed like the tournament had planned a retirement ceremony post-match. But Serena said, “Not tonight!”
The next round would surely be her last, as she was facing the No. 2 seed, Anett Kontaveit. In one of the highlights of the tournament, Serena prevailed in a three-set classic on Ashe. The crowd was as loud and electric as ever, and Williams delivered a performance worthy of the atmosphere. After the match, another similar ceremony was held for the all-time great. Yet now, people were starting to believe…not just that she can continue playing, but that she could win the tournament!
Unfortunately in the next round, she fell in another epic three-set clash with Ajia Tomljanovic, but not before she saved six match points in epic fashion. It was a fitting end to her career. Even in defeat, she managed to electrify the crowd and make people believe in the impossible.
Ironically, the match she lost had the least ceremonial post-match feel of the three she played. A teary-eyed Williams thanked her father, mother, and sister Venus for making her who she is today. Tomljanovic was humble in victory and thanked Serena for inspiring her and millions of other girls around the world.
In a testament to this tournament, it seemed like nothing could top the electricity of the first three matches Serena played. Yet the tournament kept delivering, night after night. Salute to the GOAT!
Iga Is Back
The women’s draw was wide open pre-tournament! While World No. 1 Iga Swiatek was the betting favorite, she was having a shaky second half of the season after her dominant first half. She won her second French Open title in the midst of a 37-match winning streak before a shock loss in the third round of Wimbledon. She then lost a tournament final in her country (Poland) to Caroline Garcia. The invincibility and aura around her were starting to wane, and others—such as Coco Gauff, Caroline Garcia, Ons Jabeur, Jessica Pegula, Aryna Sabalenka, and more—were all thought to have a good shot to win this title.
Garcia, especially, was rolling through the tournament. She had won the warm-up events before this tournament and was on a 13-match winning streak all the way until the semifinals, taking out Gauff on the way. In the semis, she faced Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur. The Tunisian has had her number since their time in the junior ranks—having never lost to Garcia in her career—and that streak continued. Jabeur was through to her second straight Grand Slam semifinal in straights.
On the other side, Iga slowly gained momentum. She was nearly defeated in the Round of 16, being down a set and a break in the second to German Jule Niemeier, but pulled through to win the match. In the quarterfinals, she took down the American Pegula in two tough sets, and in the semis, she came back again after losing the first set to defeat Sabalenka. Once she made the final, you felt she would be tough to beat.
Ons put up a good second-set fight, but Swiatek won the final in straight sets. Another trophy for Iga, another final defeat for Jabeur. The ladies were all class after the match, even though Ons would later be seen in tears in the locker room. She fought hard and came up just short against the best the women's game has to offer.
The 21-year-old Swiatek now has three Grand Slams to her name—two French Opens and one U.S. Having won her first hard-court Slam, one wonders where the ceiling for Iga might be. Grass hasn’t been good to her, but she loves the clay and is also lethal on hard courts. Could she one day win 20 more of these and catch Serena? Probably not, but we’ll watch her try. Congrats, Iga!
The Champions’ Gear
Iga Swiatek uses a Tecnifibre Tempo 298 racquet at grip size 4⅜ strung with Tecnifibre Razor Code strings. It’s a versatile, light racket that allows players to convert defense to offense effortlessly. It has a 98’ head size and weighs just 11oz! Recently, they released a signature Iga version of the racket with a different paint job.
Carlos Alcaraz uses the Babolat Pure Aero VS at grip size 4¼, strung with Babolat RPM Blast at 55lbs on the mains and 51lbs on the crosses. A smooth control racket with excellent spin, his racquet also has a 98’ head size and weighs in at 11.3oz strung.
If you are interested in these rackets or any of the other all-star gear, you can get in contact with any of our Tennis Experts, and we will hook you up with all of the latest and greatest gear!