What are the key storylines ahead of the 2022 US Open? We look at some of the stats surrounding the tournament before it kicks off in New York on 29 August.
Three Out of Four Ain’t Bad
An abdominal injury brought a disappointing and anticlimactic end to Rafael Nadal’s pursuit of the calendar-year Grand Slam as the Spaniard was forced to hand Nick Kyrgios a walkover in the 2022 Wimbledon semi-finals.
Nadal was on track to become only the second men’s player to record that feat in the Open Era after Rod Laver who won all four slams in 1969.
Back fit and raring to go, Nadal does still have the chance to add his name to a list of men that have won three of the four Grand Slams in a calendar year for the second time after also doing so in 2010 (French Open, Wimbledon, US Open).
Including Nadal, six men’s players have won at least three Grand Slams in the same season across the Open Era, with Roger Federer & Novak Djokovic both appearing on the list three times each.
So close yet so far has never been more relevant for the tennis giants.
Should he be successful at Flushing Meadows, Nadal would be able to boast an unbeaten match record across all four Grand Slams in 2022 – a quirk with his pre-semi-final Wimbledon retirement. The only male to previously achieve this feat was Laver in 1969. If he does win in New York, he will have an almighty record of 26-0 in the four slams this year, just one short of Lavers’ 27-0.
Nadal could also extend his record of the most men’s Grand Slam titles in the Open Era, as well as joining Serena Williams on 23 total slams, the most singles titles in history.
With Roger Federer not gracing the court in over a year and Novak Djokovic’s lengthy vaccine saga eventually ruling him out of the US Open, Nadal has a chance to make the pair watch on knowing they can’t do anything to stop him.
This would also be Nadal’s fifth US Open title after lifting the trophy in 2010, 2013, 2017 & 2019 – that would see him level Pete Sampras, Jimmy Connors & Roger Federer with the joint-most in the Open Era.
US Omen Series
The bad news for Nadal, who lost his only match since Wimbledon to Borna Ćorić in Cincinnati, but not for Maxime Cressy, Alex de Minaur, Nick Krygios, Ćorić & possibly the yet-to-be-determined winner of the Winston-Salem Open is that winning an ATP title on the US Open Series prior to the US Open is a good omen for picking up the Grand Slam title.
The US Open Series is a series of tournaments played on the road to Flushing Meadows (including the US Open) with the 2022 series comprising of the six tournaments below which kicked off with the Hall of Fame Open in Newport in July.
2022 US Open Series Tournaments (Men)
Hall of Fame Open – Maxime Cressy
Atlanta Open – Alex de Minaur
Citi Open – Nick Kyrgios
Western & Southern Open – Borna Ćorić
Winston-Salem Open – Yet to be determined
Excluding Dominic Thiem’s win in 2020, when the Western & Southern Open was the only pre-US Open tournament played due to the Covid-19 pandemic, each of the last three men’s singles champions at Flushing Meadows have picked up a title on the US Open Series prior to the US Open.
2021 champion Daniil Medvedev won the Canadian Open two weeks prior to the US Open, as did Rafael Nadal in 2019. Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, won the 2018 Western & Southern Open a week before the US Open began.
The Canadian Open is not part of the US Open Series in 2022, having been included since its inception in 2004, however Pablo Carreño Busta, winner of this year’s event in Montreal, can draw motivation from the fact that each of the last two men to win the Canadian Open and four of the last 10 have gone on to win the US Open in the same year (Medvedev in 2021, Nadal in 2019 & 2013, Djokovic in 2011).
Recent US Open Winners (Men)
2021: Daniil Medvedev – Canadian Open 2021 Champion
2020: Dominic Thiem – No US Open Series Wins in 2020
2019: Rafael Nadal – Canadian Open 2019 Champion
2018: Novak Djokovic – Cincinnati Masters 2018 Champion
2017: Rafael Nadal – No US Open Series Wins in 2017
Nick Kyrgios, who divides opinion in the Tennis world more than any other player, deserves a special mention having won the Citi Open in August – his first title on the ATP tour since winning the same tournament three years prior.
The Australian’s first singles final since that win in 2019 came at Wimbledon earlier this year, losing to Novak Djokovic despite winning the opening set.
Whilst Nadal has dominated the ATP Tour in 2022, Iga Swiatek has done so on the WTA Tour, though only has one Grand Slam title to show for it this year – the French Open.
The women’s world number has won 37 straight games between 22 February & 2 July when the Pole’s incredible run was halted by Alize Cornet in the third round at Wimbledon.
That was the longest streak of wins on the WTA Tour since Martina Hingis also won 37 in a row in 1997, with the Swiss player also going on to win the US Open later that year.
37 – Iga #Swiatek has won 37 consecutive matches, equalling the longest winning streak in the WTA Tour since 1990 (37 wins in a row made by Martina Hingis in 1997). Storybook.#Wimbledon #Wimbledon2022 @WTA @WTA_insider pic.twitter.com/YQsy23Bjgs— OptaAce (@OptaAce) June 30, 2022
21-year-old Swiatek is all but confirmed to finish as the year-end number one, which would make her the youngest to achieve that since Caroline Wozniacki in 2011 (also 21 years old), though she is yet to live up to her full potential at the US Open. Swiatek has only once made it to the second week in New York, reaching the fourth round in 2021 following third and second round exits in 2020 & 2019 respectively.
Women’s Grand Slams have been a bit of lottery in recent years, however, with no less than nine different players winning a title across the last 12 Grand Slams – six of those first-time winners. Following her win at Roland Garros earlier this year, Swiatek could be the first women to win multiple Grand Slams in the same season since Angelique Kerber in 2016 (Australian Open & US Open).
With 2022 Australian Open winner Ash Barty now retired, if Swiatek or Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina fail to win the US Open then it will be the sixth straight season on the WTA Tour with each of the four Grand Slams going to a different player.
Swiatek has an almost perfect record in finals, winning nine in a row since losing her first ever in April 2019 at the Ladies Open Lugano against Polona Hercog. That includes a two-from-two record in Grand Slam finals (2020 & 2022 French Open) and a five-from-five record in WTA 1000 finals, giving further evidence towards the fact she can handle the pressure at the top of the game.
Swiatek hadn’t lost on hard court since February against Jelena Ostapenko, winning 20 straight on the surface before losing to Beatriz Haddad Maia in Toronto and Madison Keys in Cincinnati.
She comes into this tournament as the favourite despite being out of form, losing three of her last five matches, just one fewer defeat than across her first 52 matches of 2022 (W48, L4).
When Emma Raducanu defied the odds to become the youngest British player ever to win a Grand Slam in the Open Era last August by winning the US Open without dropping a set, many expected a flurry of WTA finals and titles to follow.
That hasn’t materialised, yet, but the 19-year-old, who broke into the WTA top 10 for the first time in July, is back in New York and ready to recapture her title.
At the 2021 US Open, Raducanu became the first ever qualifier to win a Grand Slam in either the men’s or women’s singles in the Open Era whilst she became the first British woman to win a singles major since Virginia Wade at the 1977 Wimbledon Championships.
No woman has won the US Open in back-to-back years since Serena Williams did so three times in a row between 2012 & 2014. Most of the reigning champions since then have struggled to mount a serious challenge for the title with Naomi Osaka losing to eventual runner-up Leylah Fernandez in the third-round last year.
Only two of the last seven women looking to retain their US Open crown have reached the quarter-finals, with Sloane Stephens losing in the final eight in 2018 and Serena Williams losing in the semi-finals in 2015. Two of the other five didn’t play at Flushing Meadows with Bianca Andreescu (withdrew) & Flavia Pennetta (retirement) absent in 2020 & 2016 respectively.
Recent US Open Reigning Champions’ Performance (Women)
2021: Naomi Osaka – Third Round
2020: Bianca Andreescu – Absent
2019: Naomi Osaka – Fourth Round
2018: Sloane Stephens – Quarter Final
2017: Angelique Kerber – First Round
2016: Flavia Pennetta – Absent
2015: Serena Williams – Semi Final
2014: Serena Williams – Winner
With Raducanu beating Serena Williams in the First Round of the Western & Southern Open earlier this month (6-4, 6-0), becoming the first player to claim a bagel set against Williams since Britain’s Johanna Konta did so in July 2018, has the superstar baton just been passed on?
It certainly isn’t an easy feat to retain the US Open title with plenty struggling on the men’s side too. Roger Federer was the last to do so, winning a record five in a row between 2004 & 2008. Daniil Medvedev became only the third player to beat Novak Djokovic in three sets in a slam final when winning his maiden Grand Slam in New York last year (6-4, 6-4, 6-4) and the world number one will be out to show everyone what they were missing when he was amongst the Russian contingent banned from Wimbledon.
The 2022 US Open will mark the end of a glistening career for one of tennis and sport’s greatest ever stars, as Serena Williams hangs up her racquet.
Williams will take to the court for the 21st time at the US Open in the singles draw, looking to cap off her illustrious career with her most unlikely win yet. At 40-years-old, Williams would be the oldest person to win a Grand Slam in the Open Era, either in the women’s or men’s showcase.
Williams has won more singles titles at Grand Slams than any other player in the Open Era, with six of her 23 total coming at the US Open, the joint-most of any player (level with Chris Evert). Serena has also won more Australian Open titles than any other woman in the Open Era (seven), ranks joint-second for Wimbledon titles (seven) and joint-fourth for French Open wins (three).
When winning her 73rd and most recent title on the WTA Tour in Auckland in January 2020, Williams entered unchartered territory by becoming the first woman in the Open Era to win a title in four different decades (1990s, 2000s, 2010s and 2020s). That victory came 7623 days after her first win at the 1999 Open Gaz de France.
Serena Williams’ Grand Slam Titles
Australian Open – 7 (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017)
Wimbledon – 7 (2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016)
US Open – 6 (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014)
French Open – 3 (2002, 2013, 2015)
Williams was ranked world number one on eight different occasions for a grand total of 319 weeks; only Steffi Graf (377) & Martina Navratilova (332) can better that. That pair are the only players than can also outdo Serena’s achievement of being the year end #1 player on five occasions (2002, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015).
186 of those weeks came between February 2013 & September 2016 with Serena winning an incredible 24 singles titles on the WTA Tour in that period, including seven Grand Slams & two US Opens. That’s a joint record with Steffi Graf, who stayed at the top between August 1987 and March 1991.
Serena never actually managed a calendar year Grand Slam but has twice accomplished the feat of winning four consecutive Grand Slams, now dubbed the “Serena Slam”, twice before (2002-2003 & 2014-2015).
The American’s gold medal at the 2012 Olympics means she is one of two women to achieve the career Golden Slam (win all four Grand Slams & the Olympics) at singles and one of four women to do so in doubles, achieving that feat alongside her sister Venus. The Williams sisters won 22 doubles titles together on the WTA Tour, including 14 Grand Slams & three Olympic gold medals.
Will the pair take to the court again as partners for the first time since the 2018 French Open for one last hurrah?
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