The U.S. Open and American Tennis

Andrew Dodderidge, Writer

The 2013 U.S. Open of tennis was very competitive this year. All of the top players competed in this year’s event, with a total of 256 athletes between the men’s and women’s singles.

No. 1 ranked Serena Williams won the singles title Sunday, by defeating No. 2 ranked Victoria Azarenka in three sets, and No. 2 ranked Rafael Nadal defeated No. 1 ranked Novak Djokovic in four sets in the men’s single title Monday. “I thought Serena would win (which she did) and I expect Nadal to win today,” said SMW head tennis coach, Hunter Henry, in advance to the men’s title. “His ground game is unreal and his service game is worlds better than in past years. Novak has been a little off at times this tournament.”

Five of the top eight seeds on the men’s side reached the quarterfinals, with three on the women’s side.

American men have been struggling recently in major tennis tournaments. An American male hasn’t won a grand slam title since 2003, where Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi won the Australian and U.S. Open, respectively. Both of those U.S. stars have retired now. “I think that American culture has made tennis a less popular sport,” said Henry. “Football, basketball and baseball are so popular that people do not want to play tennis, which is finally starting to hurt the men’s tennis success in America.”

On the women’s side, all-star American Serena Williams is playing her best tennis lately. She only lost one set in the U.S. Open, and has now won eight grand-slam titles in the last five years. She also is ranked No. 1 in the WTA rankings for women’s singles, and is the oldest woman ranked No. 1 in the world, at the age of 31. “I think Serena is the greatest women’s player of all time,” said Henry. “She is nearly unstoppable at the moment. I think she could have reasonable success in some lower level men’s tournaments.”

In the 2013 U.S. Open, top seeds were not very successful.  “I think the open has been a little flat,” said Henry. “Many of the big games (Federer, Murray, Ferrer) didn’t make it to the semis, which hurt the appeal. The crowds look a little thin in NYC.” On the men’s side, no. 1 ranked Novak Djokovic, no. 9 Stanislas Wawrinka, no. 8 Richard Gasquet, and no. 2 Rafael Nadal reached the semifinals. No. 3 and No. 4 ranked Andy Murray and David Ferrer, respectively, both lost in the quarterfinals. Djokovic had only lost one set in the tournament, until he was defeated by Nadal in the finals, and has won five majors in the last three years, winning the U.S. Open in 2011. On the women’s side no. 1 ranked Serena Williams and no. 2 Victoria Azarenka have reached the semifinals and no. 5 ranked Li Na got there as no. 3 ranked Agnieszka Radwanska lost in the fourth round. Underdog Flavia Pennetta defeated no. 21 and no. 10 in the world to get to the semis as well.

Here at SM West, tennis has been very successful in the past couple of years.

“I think West tennis will have some good success this year,” said Henry. “Losing the second best player in the state never helps, but our returners will be able to compete in the Sunflower League.”