Ever since I became a fan of tennis and started to follow the game regularly six years ago, I have always believed that the U.S. Open is the most exciting Grand Slam tournament. The energetic New York crowd always seems to bring the best out of every player that steps onto the courts, especially at Arthur Ashe stadium. This year’s edition of the tournament only reaffirmed my belief that New York is the place to be for the best Grand Slam tennis, and enhanced my ever-growing love for the game.
There was no one happier than me on Aug. 27 when the 2012 U.S. Open finally kicked off. Big names of tennis like Serena Williams, Andy Murray and Maria Sharapova, top seeds Roger Federer and Victoria Azarenka and the defending champions Novak Djokovic and Sam Stosur embraced this fresh challenge and made light work of their first few rounds. The stage was set for an incredible second week with all the top players still in the draw for both men and women.
Murray, fresh from his Olympic gold medal triumph, found himself a set and 5-1 down against Croatian Marin Cilic in the quarters, but roared back to win in four. Beating Djokovic proved a bridge too far for the 2009 champ Juan Martin Del Potro, who ended Andy Roddick’s tennis career, as he lost in straight sets. The biggest shock of the tournament came when Tomas Berdych knocked out Federer in four sets in the quarterfinals.
On Sunday, tennis fans were treated to one of the best U.S. Open women’s finals ever played as Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka stepped out into Arthur Ashe. After taking the first set with relative ease, Williams committed several errors and was demolished in the second. With momentum now on Azarenka’s side, the American found herself 5-3 down in the third and on the brink of defeat. But Williams exhibited the never-say-die mentality of a champion as she roared back to win four straight games, the final set 7-5, and ultimately the championship. Although it was heartbreak for the young world No. 1, we can’t help but admire and praise Williams, not just for what she achieved this tournament, but throughout her amazing career.
The last game of the tournament was most appropriately the best. In the men’s final, on a rescheduled Monday, Murray and Djokovic absolutely gave their all, both physically and mentally, in an epic match that lasted four hours and 54 minutes. Murray got off to a faster start than the defending champ as he took the first two tight sets 7-6, 7-5 respectively. But Djokovic was able to stage a dramatic comeback and forced a fifth set. Murray had just that little bit extra in the decider as he prevailed 6-2 to finally win his first Grand Slam. My heart has never beat more times in my entire life than it did during those almost five hours. It was a match full of adrenaline, drama, top class tennis and New York energy — it was one for the ages.
The Open said farewell to two legends of the game in Andy Roddick and Kim Clijsters. As a former world No. 1 and four-time Grand Slam champion, Clijster’s career was nothing short of remarkable. She was a true New York crowd favorite, having lifted the U.S. Open three times, and her shocking second-round exit cut her sendoff tournament short. A day later, on his 30th birthday, an emotional Andy Roddick announced that this would be the last tournament of his career. Although Roddick spent most of his career under the shadow of the great Federer, he will always be remembered for his work ethic and true grit, his only Grand Slam victory in the 2003 U.S. Open and for leading the U.S. to a Davis Cup win in 2007.
The 2012 U.S. Open had it all — five setters, shocking upsets, unbelievable comebacks, top quality tennis, farewells, tears, rising stars and two epic finals. What more could you ask for?