Sunday, 11 September 2016

Looking back to the last five US Open Finals!

Another exhilarating US Open tournament gets to the business end, with both men’s and women’s finalists confirmed. In the Women’s singles semi-finals, Karolina Pliskova stunned the 22-time Grand slam winner Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber eased past Carolina Wozniacki and entered the finals.
On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic defeated Gael Monfils in a “super hot” semi-final and Swiss superstar Stanislas Wawrinka went past Kei Nishikori to enter the finals . 
Over the years, the Arthur Ashe Stadium has hosted some unforgettable finals and in the previous five occasions, 4 different players won the tournament. Whilst Novak Djokovic dominated the Australian Open and Wimbledon, Rafael Nadal stamped his authority in France.
It has not been the case with the US Open, though, and we have seen different winners almost every time in the last 5 years, making the tournament even more interesting.
Will the defending champion Novak Djokovic lay hands on the trophy for the third time? 
Meanwhile, let’s take a look back at the last five men’s singles finals at the Flushing Meadows.

#5 Novak Djokovic vs Roger Federer (2015)

The world No.1 was in red hot form in the 2015 season, winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon and was up against Roger Federer, the 17-time Grand Slam champion, who was desperate to add one more title to his cabinet.
The match was delayed by three hours due to persistent showers and a day final turned into a tantalizing night match.
Djokovic clinched the first set 6-4 as Federer found it difficult to escape the top seed’s stranglehold. Federer bounced back in the second set and his increasingly aggressive approach saw Djokovic in trouble.
Yet, he failed to break the top seed’s imperious defence and the set neared conclusion at 4-4. Unfortunately for Djokovic, he faltered in the final game. Federer’s hard work paid off and he won the second set 7-5.
Federer broke Djokovic’s serve initially in the third set, but he was too passive in critical moments and the conceded the set 6-4. Federer didn’t go down without a fight, but his opponent took the game when it mattered the most.
He survived three break chances in the final game, yet emerged victorious and hoisted his second US Open title in four sets –  6–4, 5–7, 6–4, 6–4. 

#4 Marin Cilic vs Kei Nishikori (2014)

Marin Cilic, who had blown Roger Federer and Thomas Berdych off the court with his dauntless game in the semifinals and quarterfinals, was up against Japan’s Kei Nishikori, the first ever Asian player to reach the men’s singles final in Grand slam history.
It was the moment of a lifetime for both players as neither of them had appeared in a Grand slam final previously. It was also the first time a Grand Slam final didn’t feature Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray or Novak Djokovic since 2005.
Nishikori had the chance to break Cilic’s serve in the first set, but the latter was too strong and he went on to hold his serve. It was one-way traffic later on and Cilic won the first set 6-3. Cilic broke early in the second set as well and Nishikori just seemed helpless.
The ruthless Croatian then pounced with a perfect game, winning it with four aces and followed it up with another break, to go up 5-2 in the set. Though Nishikori broke his opponent’s serve in the next game, he dropped his serve and conceded the set 6-3.
With a two set lead, Cilic was riding high on confidence and broke Nishikori’s serve in the fourth game. Nishikori had his chances to break Cilic’s serve and stay alive in the contest, but finally, Cilic’s moment arrived when Nishikori double-faulted.
Cilic pursued his dream to lay hands on a Grand Slam trophy and became the lowest ranked men’s champion (16th rank) since Pete Sampras, who won the title in 2002, ranked 17th.

#3 Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal (2013)

It was another one of those moments when critics had written off Rafael Nadal, and he replied with a Grand slam trophy. A three-hour miniseries of cliffhangers and twists entertained every tennis fan in the world. 
Nadal was relentless from the very first minute of the game and remained composed through out the first set. Djokovic was off to a poor start but began asserting himself. Yet, he was the only one to be blamed for his loss, as Nadal won 12 of the last 14 points and Djokovic was just a spectator.
Djokovic was not willing to give up, though, and broke Nadal’s serve three times in the second set. The set also saw an epic rally, which ended when Nadal found the net on the 55th stroke. 
In the third set, the momentum was back with Djokovic and Nadal was just about hanging there. With the scorecard reading 4-4, Djokovic had three break points, but Nadal neutralised with a quick forehand winner and a 125 mph service ace helped him avoid another break.
Nadal then broke Djokovic’s serve and claimed the third set 6-4 and he was just over the moon.
Djokovic showed great spirit in the fourth set, but it was Nadal who withstood and clinched his 13th Grand slam title of his career. The Spaniard’s total of 13 titles was ranked the third best at that moment, only behind the legendary Pete Sampras and Roger Federer.

#2 Novak Djokovic vs Andy Murray (2012)

It had been 76 years since a British man won a Grand slam and it was Murray who ended the long lasting wait. It definitely was not a walk in the park for the Scot as the match lasted almost 5 hours. 
Murray was off to a flying start, clinching the first set convincingly and racing to a 4-0 lead in the second. As he always does, Djokovic fought back and after some time, the scorecard read 5-5. It seemed like another tiebreaker was on the cards, but Djokovic faltered at the heat of the moment and Murray was right there to capitalise.
The set eventually ended in Murray’s favour after Djokovic’s forehand went wide in the 12th game.
Djokovic was back to his imperious best in the next set and the tentativeness in Murray’s body language was very much palpable. Djokovic took the third set and a dramatic fourth set followed.
Chair umpire Jake Garner warned Djokovic about taking too much of time in between points.
Neither Djokovic nor his father were happy with Garner’s confession and after winning the next point, a ‘take that’ glare followed from Djokovic. He made sure the advantage didn’t slip away and won the fourth set.
After breaking the first game of the final set, Murray went into a 2-0 lead. Murray broke again to go up 3-0 and he never looked back there after. He was finally a Grand slam Champion after so many shots at the title.

#1 Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal (2011)

Novak Djokovic produced a near perfect performance in the final of the US Open 2011. In a match full of mesmerising points and long rallies, Djokovic pulled off an amazing win to win the first US Open title of his career.
Rafael Nadal, the defending champion and world No. 2 then, was outplayed in the first set quite comprehensively and the Serbian was looking well set for another major. The third game of the second set lasted 17 minutes and that had everything in it, 22 points, 8 deuces and 6 break points.
Nadal double-faulted in a crucial moment and lost the set 6-4.
The only moment in the match when Djokovic’s level dipped was in the third set. Djokovic was serving for the match at 6-5, but he was broken and the set went into a tiebreaker. Nadal won the tiebreaker and the set, but it was one-way traffic in the fourth set.
Djokovic broke Nadal’s serve in the second game and cruised thereafter to win his third Grand slam of 2011, fourth overall.
Djokovic became only the second man in the history to defeat both Nadal and Roger Federer during the course of one Grand slam event. Juan Martin Del Potro did it en route to the 2009 US Open title.

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