by Andrew Moffa
The U.S. Open– the final tennis major of 2013– came to a close last weekend with Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal winning the women’s and men’s singles championships, respectively.
Two weeks ago, 256 of the best professional tennis players, both men and women, gathered at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. for the U.S. Open.
Coming into this highly anticipated tournament, there were storylines abound, ranging from whether Serena Williams could defend her title from a year ago to how Andy Murray would respond in his first Grand Slam as the defending champion.
After two weeks of surprising upsets, routs, some occasional rain delays, and most importantly, thrilling tennis, the four players who played in the two championship matches were the top two players in the world on both the women’s and men’s side.
World No. 1 for the women American Serena Williams, faced off against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the final for the second straight year.
Similar to their match last September, these two women battled it out for well over two hours before Williams came out on top, claiming her 17th Major and fifth U.S. Open title.
As for the men, the title once again came down to two of the best players of this generation, Rafael Nadal of Spain and Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
Meeting in their third U.S. Open final, the two men once again put on a stunning display of grit, heart and ability, as they competed for over three hours before Nadal claimed his second U.S. Open title and 13th Major.
Now that we can call Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal the singles champions of the 2013 US Open, let us take a look back at what made this tournament one of the best and most unpredictable in recent memory.
The biggest story of the first few days of the U.S. Open was the remarkable play and resolve shown by little-known 17-year-old American Victoria Duval in her upset of seventh-seed Samantha Stosur of Australia.
Playing in just her second U.S. Open, Duval fell short in a close opening set but really started to play well and got the American crowd fully behind her.
Using all of this momentum, she was able to pull off the most surprising upset of the tournament.
One of the biggest upsets on the men’s side during the first week of the tournament occurred during the second round. Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt, the 2001 U.S. Open champion, was taking on the sixth seed and 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina.
These two men battled it out for hours before Hewitt prevailed in a tight fourth set and ran away in the fifth set to pull off the stunner.
A fan favorite and one of the greatest tennis players of all time, Roger Federer came into this tournament needing a great performance to boost his confidence and keep his ranking in the top ten.
For the first time in a decade, Federer came into a Grand Slam seeded outside of the top five.
As the seventh seed, he rolled through his first few matches before coming up against Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo in the fourth round, one win away from playing longtime rival Nadal in the quarterfinals.
Federer looked good early on in this match but soon started committing too many errors, and Robredo took full advantage, winning the match 7-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Not many people saw this upset coming, and it caps off a mediocre year for Federer, largely considered to be the greatest player ever.
Another one of the top players in the game, Andy Murray, came into this tournament as the defending champion but suffered a disappointing straight set loss to Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals.
Even with the unpredictability of the tournament’s first week, it was easy to predict the two Finals. Serena Williams was never tested in her run to the final, dominating each and every one of her opponents.
Azarenka, meanwhile, had a bit of a tougher time, having to go to three sets in both the third and fourth round.
These men met in last year’s U.S. Open final, with Williams prevailing in the third set 7-5. On Sunday, Williams and Azarenka battled each other and the wind on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Williams prevailed in a competitive first set and then had two different opportunities to serve for the match in the second set but failed to do so both times.
Azarenka pulled out the second set in a tiebreaker, but was no match for her more experienced opponent in the third and final set.
One final error from Azarenka gave Serena Williams the title with a 7-5, 6-7, 6-1 victory.
On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal, the hottest player on tour for the past month or so, had little trouble advancing to the final.
He dropped just one set and easily took care of the dangerous Frenchman, Richard Gasquet, in the semifinals. Djokovic, meanwhile, had to withstand an absolute battle from Swiss veteran Stan Wawrinka in the semifinals.
The two men played for more than four hours before Djokovic was able to up his game just enough to win the final set 6-4. In their Monday afternoon final, Nadal raced out to an early lead and was by far the better player in a 6-2 first set.
Djokovic, however, developed a rhythm in the second set and started playing like the number one player in the world.
This led to him winning the second set 6-2, and he quickly jumped out to a lead in the third set.
Nadal, however, would not go down easy and pulled even later in the set. After falling behind in his service game at 4-4, Nadal raised his game enough to hold, and then broke Djokovic to take the third set.
From there on, it was a victory lap for the Spaniard. He ran away 6-1 in the fourth set.
After another great two weeks of entertainment and tennis, the 2013 tennis Majors are now officially in the past, and it’s time to look forward to what’s in store for 2014.