Flushing Meadows has been full of life these past few days as competitors from all ranks of the ATP Tour standings have competed at the Arthur Ashe Stadium and elsewhere as they look to make a lasting impression in the last major, Grand Slam tennis competition of the season. Some have impressed, some have disappointed and some are still in with a chance of emerging victories, holding their trophy aloft. But, for those who have already packed their bags and made their way home, we take a look just how damaging the defeats could be, as the look to prepare themselves for the next few events, such as the China Open and the Shanghai Rolex Masters.
Murray’s next event will be the Shanghai Masters in October and should his form and ability remain on the same level until then, there is a very real chance he will be back to his best and offering a major threat to his rivals in the competition. With the likes of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal also set to feature at the event, Murray will be considered by many as somewhat of an underdog – especially after some disappointing early exits this year from competitions such as Wimbledon – but he has showed in the past he possesses all the tools to emerge as a winner.
He was eliminated from this year’s US Open in gruelling fashion, as Novak Djokovic eventually progressed from their quarter-final clash after defeating the Scot by three sets to two. While the result in theory suggests that ultimately Murray couldn’t go the distance against a fellow elite competitor, his outings in the tournament up until the elimination showed he was slowly and surely returning to his best.
The addition of Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach seems to be a subtle aid to his game given the difficult year he has had and while it seems that there is still some influence yet to be had, bookmakers believe that Murray will be back to his best in 2015. Tennis markets at www.betfair.com show that Murray is considered to be a real contender to earn his second Wimbledon crown in 2015 at a price of 7/2. Those odds place him some way off Rafael Nadal – who is third favourite at 6/1 – and almost neck and neck with current favourite, Novak Djokovic (15/8.) Murray is also 7/2 to win the 2015 Australian Open, although Nadal (5/2) and Djokovic (13/8) are also believed to be major threats to defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka’s (10/1) crown. This conveniently brings us onto our next tennis star….
Warwinka looked to be on course for a breakthrough year with his Australian Open victory over Rafael Nadal back in January, but since then, things have far from gone to plan for the Swiss star. He is now fourth in the current ATP tour rankings – which is an incredible achievement nonetheless – but he looks be lost for consistency in recent months.
A first round defeat in the 2014 French Open was not the ideal Grand Slam follow-up to his success in Melbourne and defeat to Roger Federer meant he was sent packing from Wimbledon at the quarter-final stage. It appeared to be a repeat of the latter at Flushing Meadows this year, as Warwinka again fell at the last eight – only this time to Kei Nishikori of Japan.
Form can be rectified in the remaining few tournaments this season and he is also an integral part of the Switzerland Davis Cup team – alongside Roger Federer – who are due to play Italy in the semi-finals between 12-14 September and it would be the first time Switzerland have made a Davis Cup final 1992, should the team manage to do so. This would surely gloss over a season that has mostly seen success for Warwinka, but has also shown that several inconsistencies are still an issue.
Up until a few weeks ago, it seemed that Nadal would be defending his throne at this year’s US Open. That was until the news broke surrounding his failure to recover adequately from a wrist injury in the middle of August, that is. The defending champion sadly had to withdraw and while you can bet big on Nadal returning to the summit of world tennis one way or another in the future, the growing list of injury concerns the Spaniard is racking up must surely be a worry to people within his camp – and to Nadal himself.
Nadal would have no doubt impressed in front of the Arthur Ashe crowd, having reached the finals in all three of his last US Open appearances, but he has also had his far share of absences over the years as well. Rafa also withdrew from the Open in 2012 due a to a problem with his left knee and while injuries are part and parcel of the game, it is also not the first time Nadal has had to relinquish a Grand Slam title without having the chance to defend it. In 2009, the Spaniard was forced to withdraw from the defence of his Wimbledon crown after lingering issues with knee tendonitis.
Earning as many as fourteen Grand Slam titles is far from a poor achievement in world tennis, but if Nadal’s battle with injuries begins to fail him, we could see the 28-year-old’s bid to overtake Roger Federer’s seventeen titles fall depressingly short of the mark. He does have time on his side, as Federer is still competing at the age of 33 – which in theory gives Nadal five years (at least!) – but given there are only four of the major events per season schedule, Rafa will have to ensure he is at the top of his game – and injury free – for years to come should he wish to top the title rankings.
Isner is 15th in this season’s ATP tour rankings and while that is far from depressing, his exit from the US Open is sure to concern amongst his following. Isner was again – for the third year in a row – eliminated from his home nation competition by Germany’s Philip Kohlschreiber in the third round and this is an issue that he needs to rectify before next year’s tournament.
While Isner was never expected to go the distance and win the US Open, his standing in world tennis meant that fans from all over the glob – not just the US – would have assumed that the American would have made it into the latter rounds of the competition, especially because the tournament is held so close to home. While Flushing Meadows is still nearly a 12-hour drive from Isner’s home state of North Carolina, it is most certainly still classed as familiar territory for him and he really does need to give the fans a more lasting impression on this Grand Slam event.
For Isner, the problem is not so much his tennis, it is just the need to rectify his recent performances in this illustrious competition next time around, as he cannot keep disappointing in front of his own fans, especially when ranked as the number one American male currently in the game.
Any momentum Sharapova had gained from here fiery encounter with Ana Ivanovic in the third round came to an abrupt half when Caroline Wozniacki dumped her out of the competition in the next fixture in the tournament tree.
Sharapova had come under criticism post match for her assessment of Ivanovic’s late time-out during the third round encounter, claiming that the call knocked her off the role she was on and that certainly proved the case against Wozniacki. For Sharapova, it is the second Grand Slam in a row that she has failed to reach the quarter-finals and that must surely be a worry for her – despite clinching the French Open, which is the preceding ‘major’ to Wimbledon and the US Open.
That success came back in June though and the victory can also be chalked up to her enjoyment of the tournament – the Russian has reached the final on all three of her last attempts and won the completion on two of those encounter (2012, 2014) – so it is still fair to assume that her tennis needs some attention going into her next competition.
Although still a hugely prominent figure in the world of tennis, Sharapova will need to maintain her own high standards if she is to once more contend with the likes of Serena Williams and newcomers such as Simona Halep. Her current ATP tour ranking of sixth is evidence of her longevity at the top of world tennis, so it is a case of more of the same – and some improved, consistent performances – if she is to remain a key figure.
The eldest Williams sister was eliminated from this year’s competition by Sara Errani, after the Italian completed a remarkable turn-around after being as close as two points away from defeat in the third round.
There has been lots of speculation that the Williams’ camp are not happy that Venus had her singles match so soon after a doubles match with her sister Serena – in a match that could have gone some way to giving Venus some fatigue against Errani.
The real issue is, however, that Venus has now not even come close to a Grand Slam title run in as many as five years and her slip down the rankings – while her 32-year-old sister Serena has peaked we might add – is an indication that this may be a superstar in decline. It is unquestionably too early to say that Venus is done for good, but failing to win a Grand Slam in as many as five years will simply be considered not good enough by many, especially when her sister is as many as 3,000 points clear in the WTA Women’s rankings.
She did end her trophy drought in early 2014 – when winning the Maluta Madrid Open and becoming the seventh oldest woman in history to win a WTA singles title in the process – but that will all be forgotten if Venus cannot reach the lofty heights of previous years when she next takes to the Grand Slam stage.
It remains to be seen how many of the tennis stars in this list will recover and rebuild after their US Open exits, but one thing’s for sure; the remainder of the competition is set to spark plenty of fireworks and there will certainly be lots of drama as the tournament reaches its climax within the Arthur Ashe Stadium.