From growing up and playing tennis in the capital of the U.K, few would’ve expected Emma Raducanu to make as big of a leap as she did earlier this month at the U.S Open. After claiming her maiden grand slam title without dropping a set, the rise of Emma Raducanu took the tennis scene by storm after her infamous Cinderalla story.
In what was her fourth main draw on the WTA tour, the young 18 year old had to go through qualifying in order to make the leap into the front draw of the U.S Open. By making it through the qualifying rounds, Raducanu became the first qualifier man or woman, to win a major. On her road to the title, the Brit defeated 2021 Olympic Gold Medalist Belinda Bencic in the quarterfinals and Greek heavy hitter Maria Sakkari in the semifinals. Reaching the final of her second grand slam main draw tournament, Raducanu set up an all teenager final against Canadian Leylah Fernandez. This would be the first all teenager final since the 1999 U.S Open where tennis legend Serena Williams defeated former world number one Martina Hingis of Switzerland.
Despite both teenagers reaching their first grand slam final, neither backed down from the spotlight, producing incredible shots and rallies point after point. With very different playing styles, it was Raducanu who eventually prevailed as champion due to her heavy groundstrokes and powerful serving. Following her win at the U.S Open, Emma Raducanu became the first British women to win a grand slam since Virginia Wade won the 1977 Wimbledon Championships. Bringing glory to her country once more, Raducanu joined an elite group of British grand slam winners that include the likes of Andy Murray, Fred Perry, and Virginia Wade.
In what was definitely the story of the 2021 U.S Open, Raducanu had entered the spotlight as one of tennis’ bright young stars. In the days to follow, Raducanu would see an increase in social media following from fans across the world boosting her Instagram to 2 million followers and counting. She would also go on to dawn a special Chanel outfit at the 2021 Met Gala.
Looking to build on what was most definitely the win of her career, Raducanu looks to Indian Wells where she will playing in another main draw of a tournament.
Heading into last Sunday undefeated in Grand Slam matches this year, Novak Djokovic was looking to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the Calendar Slam. The 20 time Grand Slam champion was poised to win his fourth slam of the year but had one last hump to get over to achieve the impossible.
World number two Daniil Medvedev had only dropped one set on route to his second U.S Open final and was also in great form heading into the final slam of the year after winning the Toronto Masters and making a semi-final run at the Cincinnati Masters. Again posing his dominance during the summer hardcourt season, Medvedev was looking to also make history by capturing his first slam title as well as being the first Next Gen player to defeat a member of the Big 3 in a slam final.
As Sunday afternoon rolled around, the seats filled up with stars and tennis fans alike. From Leonardo DiCaprio, to Brad Pitt and Bradley Cooper sitting together, the stars showed up to witness a potential history making day. Tennis legends Rod Laver and Maria Sharapova were also among the familiar faces seen on championship Sunday.
Taking a commanding lead in the first set, Medvedev broke Djokovic’s serve in the opening game to lead 1-0. Medvedev would only lose three points on serve while serving up ace after ace to take the set 6-4. The second set was much of what fans saw in the first aside from the five early break points that Novak had a chance at during Medvedev’s opening service game. After an immense hold to even up the set at 1-1, Medvedev looked to pounce on Djokovic’s serve again. Medvedev would only require one break of serve to take a commanding lead of the match after going up two sets to none. The second set saw Medvedev land four aces to Novak’s one, as well as hitting 14 winners to Djokovic’s seven. Despite being one of the most clutch players in decisive moments, it was Medvedev who saved several break points to ultimately run away with the second set and Djokovic left his racquet biting the pavement.
The pressure was on once again for Novak Djokovic. He would have to come from behind just like he did against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the 2021 French Open final. The pressure to complete the Calendar Slam was mounting and fans could see how much of a toll it was taking on the legend. After going down 0-4 in the third, Medvedev could almost taste victory as he was just two games away from dethroning the king. However, the pressure to close out the match was something that was also starting to set in for the world number two.
Serving for the match at 5-2 in the third, Medvedev only needed one more point to win the match after earning a championship point. However, the mental fortitude that is Novak Djokovic, looked to make things interesting as he fended off championship point and instead forced a break point. After a backhand miss into the net, Medvedev relinquished serve for only the first time in the match and Novak backed up the break of serve with a solid hold to bring the match closer at 5-4.
During the changeover, fans throughout the stadium cheered Novak on as he headed towards his chair. Overcome with emotions, camera footage caught the 20 time Grand Slam champion in tears as he covered his face with a towel to hide the emotion he was feeling. However, it was clear to the crowd and viewers across the world that the world number one was feeling all of the emotions as his face was flushed and eyes slightly watery.
Earning another chance to serve for the match, Medvedev made sure the crowd knew who was top dog. Despite several fan interjections during his serve, Medvedev kept his focus and served a 129 mph serve out wide. With Djokovic’s return heading into the net, Medvedev could finally relax as he was now the 2021 U.S Open Men’s Champion. Celebrating with the signature dead fish celebration from the FIFA video games, Medvedev became the first Next Gen player to defeat a member of the Big 3 in a slam final.
In what was surely the match of his life, Medvedev played outstanding tennis only dropping his serve once throughout the whole match, serving up 16 aces in the process and teeing up 38 winners. After coming up slightly short two years ago against Rafael Nadal where he came back from two sets down to force a fifth set, the world number two was finally able to place his name amongst other U.S Open champions.
With the gates of Wimbledon now closed, the grounds emptied, and the grass worn down to the soil, history rewrites itself following the 134th edition of the prestigious tournament. This year’s men’s finalist, Matteo Berrettini, became the first Italian man in 45 years to reach a Grand Slam final. In his maiden Grand Slam final, the 25 year old Italian was able to nab the opening set of the championship before falling in four sets. With a bright future ahead of Berrettini, this will not be his first and final slam final.
Etching his name into the history books yet again is non other than the great Novak Djokovic. By defeating Matteo Berrettini this past Sunday, Novak Djokovic claimed his sixth Wimbledon Championship as well as his 20th Grand Slam title. Further adding to his claim for greatest of all time, Novak Djokovic has now tied Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for most majors of all time. Passing the likes of Bjorn Borg with six Wimbledon titles, Djokovic now trails only Pete Sampras and Roger Federer for most Wimbledon Championships. With the ladder holding seven and eight respectively.
Adding to an already outstanding season with wins in Melbourne, Belgrade, Paris, Djokovic has now joined Rod Laver as the only men in the Open Era to have won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon Championships in the same calendar year. Aiming for the Calendar Slam, Novak Djokovic would only need to claim the U.S Open this year to complete the elusive feat the likes of which Federer and Nadal haven’t even achieved. Eyes set on N.Y.C for the fourth and final slam of the year, Djokovic is the clear favorite heading into Big Apple seeking his fourth U.S Open title of his career.
With his decision to head to Tokyo for the Olympics and hopefully achieve the Golden Slam up in the air, fans are anxious to see Djokovic etch his name into the record books once again. A feat only completed by Rafael Nadal and Andre Agassi, Novak Djokovic could further cement his legacy by winning the gold medal in singles and the U.S Open to complete the Golden Calendar Slam. With many athletes and tennis players especially, pulling out of the Olympics, the question as to whether or not the Serbian legend will head to Tokyo remains a mystery. Whether he chooses to go or not, he is the clear cut favorite in every tournament he plays as of now.
As the goat conversation has reopen itself yet again with Novak eclipsing 20 slam titles, spectators are beginning to heat up the argument for the greatest of all time. Some claim Djokovic to be the undisputed goat, while others would say Federer or Nadal have earned the right to be called the goat. Depending on which side you choose to defend, there is certainly one thing every tennis fan has in common: we are all blessed to be witnessing greatness.