One player’s yearlong span of dominance, another player’s career and a history of rain delays all came to an end at this year’s U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
The last few days at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center were filled with historic moments beginning with Friday’s stunning defeat of defending women’s champion Serena Williams at the hands of unseeded Roberta Vinci in the semifinals.
Williams was looking to become the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to sweep all four tennis Grand Slam events in the same calendar year. Williams looked well on her way doing it after the first set against Vinci, which she won convincingly, 6-2. But the unseeded Italian shocked everyone by taking the next set against Williams, 6-4, before finishing off the defending champ in the third and final set by the same score.
Vinci’s Cinderella run to for a U.S. Open title came up short in the finals on Saturday, also in dramatic fashion, as she lost to the 26th seed and fellow Italian Flavia Pennetta. Before a packed house at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Pennetta captured the U.S. Open title in straight sets — 7-6, 6-2 — then stunned everyone by announcing her retirement after accepting her championship trophy.
Sunday’s men’s final between defending champion Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer featured what will likely be the last rain delay in Arthur Ashe Stadium history. A retractable roof will be ready for next year’s U.S. Open, thus preventing delays for future finals and other marquee tennis matches.
Djokovic and Federer, the tournament’s top seeds, took the court around dusk and put on a show for the sellout crowd. Djokovic took the first set, 6-4, then Federer — a sentimental favorite among many in attendance — bounced back to win the second set, 7-5.
In the end, Djokovic assumed control of the match in the third set, winning 6-4, then won the fourth set by the same score to capture his second U.S. Open title and third Grand Slam event this year.
As in past years, the two-week tournament brought out huge crowds and celebrities from the stage and screen who took in the action. Among the notable names in attendance for the matches were singer/songwriter James Taylor; soccer champion David Beckham; New York Yankee infielder Alex Rodriguez; Anna Wintour of Vogue magazine; and actors Ben Stiller and Robert Redford.
It figures to be more of the same at next year’s Open, which is scheduled to begin on Aug. 29, 2016.