US Open 2012: Men’s final preview
September 10, 2012 · Print This Article
Serena Williams is the 2012 US Open women’s singles champion, the American superstar capturing her fourth US Open crown and the fifteenth Grand Slam of her illustrious career by defeating world number one Victoria Azarenka in a thrilling 3 set final.
Day 14 Recap
Day 14 began with David Ferrer and Novak Djokovic resuming their semi-final, with the Spaniard leading 5-2 in the opening set. The fourth-seeded Ferrer captured the opening set 6-2 but, in conditions that were far more pleasant and easier to play in than Saturday’s blustery conditions, Djokovic quickly found his range and began to dominate Ferrer from the back of the court.
The Serb utilised his laser-like backhand to effectively finish points against Ferrer, the second seed claiming the second set 6-1 and building confidence and momentum from there, eventually claiming the match 2-6 6-1 6-4 6-2. The defending champion will now face Andy Murray in today’s final.
In the women’s final, Williams started the match in barnstorming fashion, whacking some blistering backhand returns and generally jumping all over any short balls from her opponent to take the first set 6-2. Serena looked to be in rare form but Azarenka gritted her teeth and broke the American at the start of the second set. The Belarusian eventually claimed the second set relatively easily, as Williams committed a rash of unforced errors.
It seemed as if the momentum had shifted in favour of the top seed, and when Azarenka moved out to a 5-3 lead in the third set and served for the match at 5-4, it looked like the Belarusian was headed for her second career major. But unlike last year, when Williams suffered a meltdown against Sam Stosur, the American veteran remained calm and sent the crowd into raptures as she reeled off the last 4 games of the match to claim a 6-2 2-6 7-5 victory.
For Williams, it was the fifteenth major of a remarkable career and one which came 13 years after she won her very first Grand Slam. It also completes one of the most remarkable turnarounds in recent history, with Williams claiming the last 2 majors of the season after bombing out in the early rounds of the Australian and French Opens.
For Azarenka, it will no doubt be a tough defeat to take, but the Belarusian showed she can match it with Williams from the back of the court and, with Williams now in her thirties, I’m sure Azarenka will have a lot more opportunities to claim the championship in New York.
Match of the Day
Novak Djokovic vs. Andy Murray
Andy Murray heads into his fifth Grand Slam final this afternoon with the Scot still looking to capture his first Grand Slam trophy. Having won the Olympics gold medal earlier this year with a dominant win over Roger Federer, the big question is how much confidence will that win have given the third seed? The Olympics win was a fantastic victory, no doubt, but it’s certain that Murray will still be desperate to win a Grand Slam, and today’s final represents one of his best ever opportunities.
As defending champion and a 5-time Grand Slam champion, Djokovic has to enter the match as favourite, but the Serb has not been anywhere near as dominant on the ATP Tour this season as he was during his incredible 2011 season. Having said that, Djokovic is at his best on this surface, where he can use his unique mix of offensive and defensive tennis to maximum effect.
Murray will be slightly fresher, having had an extra day to recover for the final, but Djokovic’s amazing powers of recovery are well known to tennis followers, and I don’t think that will be a big factor in today’s match. Murray played superbly in the wind against Berdych, and similar conditions would greatly assist the Scot, who has more variety to his game than Djokovic does to his game.
Murray was extremely close to beating Djokovic in the Australian Open semi-finals this year, and turned the tables on the Serb in Dubai, where Murray won in straight sets, so for Murray it’s really a case of trying to turn off the nerves and anxiety associated with the match being a major final and focusing on executing his shots to the best of his ability. As is so often the case in men’s matches, how well each player can defend his second serve will go a long way towards determining the outcome of this match.
To my mind, there’s no doubt Murray can break through and win this major to break his agonising drought, but the statistics clearly favour Djokovic, who has won 4 of his 5 Grand Slams on hard-courts. I’ll take Djokovic in a very tight match. Djokovic in 4.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve to wrap up the men’s final tomorrow.