Match point. The crowd waits with bated breath. At the edge of their seats, they watch with anticipation and undivided attention at the woman serving.
With a grunt of strength, she slams the ball into the service box. But the teen returning drives it right back into the right hand side of the court. The server scrambles for the ball but can’t retrieve it.
The Women’s Final of the US Open has ended.
19-year-old Bianca Andreescu of Canada won her first Grand Slam title on September 7, 2019. She triumphed over long-time tennis and US Open veteran Serena Williams, an American favorite, to receive her fifth title of the year. The New York crowd, always ecstatic for Williams, cheered her on while also applauding Andreescu’s winning points. Williams started off slowly, making only 50% of her first serves while Andreescu ripped the ball. Williams struggled to handle the teen’s power, dumping forehands into the net and barely retrieving shots. Andreescu took advantage of easy winners and Williams’s unforced errors to win the first set 6-3.
Although it seemed that Williams would go down easily in her fourth consecutive major final, she pulled a classic comeback in Serena fashion, making the second set a rollercoaster of aggression and retaliation. Andreescu dominated the first six games, elevating the score to 5-1. But Williams counter attacked, and with newfound determination, she saved a championship point and won that game. Long rallies, smashing volleys, and three games later, Williams closed the gap to 5-5. Unfortunately, her strong comeback stopped short and Andreescu was able to hold her serve, as well as break Williams’s serve, to conclude the match with a 6-3, 7-5 win.
The Men’s Final occurred the next day, also featuring a rising star facing off with an experienced veteran of the courts. Russian 23-year-old Daniil Medvedev challenged Rafael Nadal, the “King of Clay” from Spain, who previously held three US Open titles. Nadal took the first two sets, but it was not a walk in the park. Medvedev gave him trouble with consistent, well-placed shots, and Nadal was making less than 50% of his first serves. Once the third set rolled around, Nadal’s domination in the match dwindled as Medvedev emerged with a formulated attack plan. Charging to the net, Medvedev handled Nadal’s heavy, looping forehands and thundering shots terrifically, frustrating Nadal and firing up the crowd in the process. Medvedev’s excellent placement and positioning, along with mistakes in Nadal’s forehand, brought Medvedev to a 2-2 set tie with Nadal.
The crowd was definitely a large presence in the match. Although many were Nadal fans, they rallied behind Medvedev’s winning shots and unexpected rebound. They even went so far as to boo Nadal when he stalled on Medvedev’s serves. On top of this, Nadal was warned and penalized multiple times for taking too long to start his serves. The allotted time between points is 20 seconds, but whenever Nadal ran over he was only allowed a second serve, eliciting jeers from the audience towards either the umpire or Nadal. He tensed during the fifth and final set of the match, missing groundstrokes and easy shots. But he also managed to save many tough points, breaking Medvedev’s serve after being down 0-40 in a game. Medvedev was also no stranger to errors in the fifth, fatigued after four hours of play. The final point of the match was on his return. With Nadal up 5-4, Ad-in, the insurmountable pressure, combined with Nadal’s heavy kick serve, resulted in Medvedev making a quick, desperate return that landed outside the baseline. Nadal celebrated with tears of joy as he secured a hard-fought fourth US Open title under his belt.
With high quality tennis in both the Men’s and Women’s Finals, there is no doubt that Andreescu and Nadal’s victories are some of the best recorded in history. Although Medvedev may have lost the final, he proved to the world that he has talent and skill matched with some of the best in the world. We can all look forward to watching these players, especially the young Andreescu and Medvedev, grow as players and people as they pave their own paths towards tennis legacy.
By Jessica Jiang