I must be getting older as I actually fell asleep last night around 11 pm, the US Open and my day job had finally caught up with me. I woke up at 1.50am. There followed that squeaky bum moment, where I checked on the US Open App for the score. Shit! Please don’t have lost! Thankfully a mini fist pump followed and the nerves were calmed after seeing Serena had won 6/3 6/1. It was also encouraging to see that I had received a WhatsApp saying how well she had played. Positive vibes. Boom.
The highlights showed a couple of close games in the first set and then a bit of coasting in the second. Rena played really well early on when she had to and the belief wore away from Svitolina. The Ukranian actually commented after on the fact Serena didn’t even play her best. It was a good performance though and I will be more than happy if she finds that extra gear in the next round. If she does then I can’t ask for anymore. Her movement looked on point and there were some ‘popcorn’ moments and shots for everyone.
I have the utmost respect for Rena’s opponent in the final. Bianca Andreescu referred to Serena (in the nicest sense of the phrase) as “a fu**ing beast” after Williams retired early on in the final of the Rogers Cup. This was after she had said “I’ve watched you your whole career”. She clearly has a lot of respect for Rena and nobody is taking this for granted in the final. I wouldn’t say that Andreescu was at her best against Bencic but for me, that is the most impressive thing. Bencic always looked like the player who would breakthrough in the opener but the Canadian hung in there, forced a tiebreak and then upped her level to take the opener.
That showed a lot of mental strength. Then, when it looked like her level had dropped in the second she raised it once more. Having trailed 5/2 she reeled off five straight games to take the match. There is no doubt that if she can play at this level then she will be up there with Osaka and Gauff in the long term. Injuries are the biggest concern and danger to that as the qualities needed are all there. There was a slight concern when she appeared to have hurt her knee in the opener. There were no visible signs of any long-term discomfort though. By the end, Bencic was in a right state and the panic had clearly set in. She thought she had done enough to take it to a decider. It was a big match performance from a big match player. Andreescu just seems to have no fear when push comes to shove. It could be a final and a half on current form.
Andy Del Potro