Alcaraz and Swiatek give hint of the future as Serena bows out at 2022 US Open
By The Podium News
13 Sept 2022
The final major of 2022 delivered on every sense in New York, as the next generation stepped up to the plate in a chaotic fortnight of tennis.
Going into the tournament, much of the talk surrounded Serena Williams and her decision to retire from the game at the end of the tournament.
With no fewer than 23 Grand Slam singles titles to her name, writing off Serena at the start of the tournament was something nobody wanted to do and her opening round win over Danka Kovinic got the ball rolling.
She looked to be on the brink in the second round against second seed Anett Kontaveit but clawed back to seal a famous win in three sets and anything seemed possible.
However, it wasn’t to be, as Australian Ajla Tomljanović overcame Serena in three sets to mark the end of one of the most incredible careers the game of tennis has ever seen and women’s tennis looks towards an uncertain future without Serena Williams at the top of the game.
In somewhat of a changing of the guard in the women’s game, it was the young and emerging superstar that ended up claiming the US Open title.
World number one Iga Swiatek is certainly no newcomer, with two French Open wins under her belt but proving herself away from the comfort of clay court tennis has always been a question levelled against her.
The Pole wasn’t dealt the easiest of draws, having to see off home favourites and Sloane Stephens and Lauren Davis in the early rounds, she gathered momentum quickly.
Three top 10 opponents stood in the way of Swiatek from the quarter final stages onwards and hard fought wins over Jessica Pegula and Aryna Sabalenka set up the final everybody had been waiting for against Ons Jabeur.
The Tunisian world number 5 had only dropped one set on the way to the final and with her Wimbledon final defeat still troubling her, many felt she would have what it takes to push Swiatek all the way.
However, it wasn’t to be, as Swiatek dominated throughout, taking the final 6-2, 7-6 to cement her status as the number one player in the world currently.
Away from the headlines being made by Swiatek, it was a tournament to remember for the likes of Cori Gauff, Jessica Pegula and Danielle Collins, suggesting that US tennis is in a fantastic place moving forward, with plenty of emerging talent in the pipeline to challenge the Swiatek dominance that is emerging.
In the women’s doubles it was success once more for Czech pair Barbora Krejčíková and Katerina Siniakova, who clinched their sixth Grand Slam doubles title as a duo, and their first in New York.
Elsewhere, Brit Joe Salisbury teamed up with American Rajeev Ram to make it back to back US Open men’s doubles titles, whilst Australian duo Storm Sanders and John Peers clinched the mixed doubles crown.
With Iga Swiatek seemingly on the brink of a dynasty in the women’s game, a similar pattern looks to be emerging on the men’s side, as Carlos Alcaraz properly announced himself on the game’s biggest stage.
2022 has been a real breakout year for the teenage Spaniard, who cut this teeth on the clay with some superb results but his victory here at the US Open, will have the rest of the tennis playing fraternity stand up and take note.
Defying logic and questions around his fitness and mental toughness, Alcaraz survived three epic 5-setters from the round of 16 onwards, to fully earn his maiden Grand Slam singles title.
He was under the pump from the off against 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic but dug deep to win in 5, before repeating the feat from an even more unlikely position against emerging Italian Jannik Sinner in the quarter finals.
Rafael Nadal’s conqueror Frances Tiafoe lay in wait for Alcaraz in the semi finals but once again the Spaniard found a way to come through it, with his meeting with Casper Ruud in Sunday’s final having both the US Open title and the world number one status on the line.
Both men were clearly playing the occasion in the opening two sets but it was Alcaraz who held his nerve, taking the match 6-4, 2-6, 7-6, 6-3 sparking wild scenes and clinching his maiden Grand Slam title.
Whilst the tournament ultimately ended in disappointment for Casper Ruud, the young Norwegian is another man who will have benefitted enormously from his run and with two Grand Slam finals in a year under his belt, he now looks to be dining at the top table in world tennis too.
Semi-finalists Karen Khachanov and Frances Tiafoe have long been on the periphery within the highly volatile world of men’s tennis and runs to the last 4 will be validation for them moving forward through the remainder of the season in 2022.
The COVID vaccination status of Novak Djokovic meant the Serb was once again absent here in New York, whilst Roger Federer remains noted by his absence and Rafael Nadal’s tournament was concluded by the aforementioned Tiafoe.
2021 champion Daniil Medvedev saw his run ended by the revitalised Nick Kyrgios, who followed up his run to the Wimbledon final with another good showing here in New York, where Khachanov eventually put pay to his hopes in the last 8.
With the likes of Aleksander Zverev out injured, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas bombing out in the early rounds and Ruud, Alcaraz and Sinner seemingly setting the blueprint for the next generation of tennis players, men’s tennis too looks to be in a very healthy position.