4 min read
Week 1 of the US Open brought fans an unforgettable seven days of action. With so much going on and so much more to look forward to, let's wrap up the first week's highlights and give some insight into what to expect next.
Serena Williams Takes Her Final Bow
When Serena Williams announced her plan to “evolve” away from tennis last month, she ignited a frenzy of fandom and support. The spotlight burned brighter than ever on her shoulders, and she took it all in stride in New York, playing every point like it was her last.
Every minute Serena spent on the court was special, and everyone inside Arthur Ashe stadium knew it. All four of her matches (three singles and one doubles alongside sister Venus) were lively, unforgettable night sessions.
“For me, tennis has been such a huge part of my life, I can't imagine not being involved in tennis,” Williams said. “I don't know what that involvement is yet. But I feel like it's provided me with so many opportunities. Through that, it's provided other people with so many amazing opportunities. I think it means so much to me in my life, and I've had so many amazing moments, that I don't see a future without it.”
New Yorkers Rise to the Occasion
The US Open has broken an attendance record multiple times this week, largely thanks to Williams and all those fans that cheer her on. Her first-round match against Danka Kovinic attracted a record 29,402 fans, and on Wednesday, 29,959 fans came to see her beat Anett Kontaveit in three sets.
On Friday, the day of her third-round loss to Ajla Tomljanovic, the US Open achieved the highest single-day attendance record with 72,039.
“It's been a fun ride,” Williams said on court on Friday. “It's been the most incredible ride and journey I've ever been on, I mean, in my life. I'm just so grateful to every single person that's ever said, ‘Go, Serena,’ in their life. I'm just so grateful...You got me here.”
Retirements Trend Upward
Of course, the sensational farewell to Williams was the most dominant retirement news of the tournament, but a slew of others announced their career endings at the US Open. Andrea Petkovic, Sam Querrey, and Christina McHale each played their final matches.
College Athletes Stand Out
College tennis as a pathway to the pros has been a viable headline for years, but the value of the student-athlete model has really shined in New York. The men’s draw featured 17 college-affiliated players, while the woman’s draw boasted six. Five have reached the third round or better: Cameron Norrie, Danielle Collins, JJ Wolf, Brandon Nakashima, and Jenson Brooksby (though Brooksby technically never played a match at Baylor).
"College builds character, and it builds like a work ethic, and it builds confidence," said 18-year-old Coco Gauff. "You guys are probably like, ‘You’ve never been; how do you know?’ I don’t know, but I know from speaking to other players, and there are so many great players who come out of college and are still on tour doing well and performing well.”
Celebrities Arrive Early
Usually, the celebrity appearances (most of which are repeat attendees year after year) don’t snag the eye of Arthur Ashe Stadium spyder cams until late in the second week, with the most A-listers spotted during finals weekend. But this US Open was unlike any other and famous faces supported and celebrated Williams' final appearance in New York.
Attendees during the 23-time Grand Slam champion's evening sessions included the likes of Gigi and Bella Hadid, Zendaya, Queen Latifah, Tiger Woods, Mike Tyson, Anna Wintour, Hugh Jackman, Jared Leto, Spike Lee, Ben Stiller, and Rebel Wilson.
Rafael Nadal Marches Towards (More) History
Rafael Nadal reached another milestone by improving to 18-0 in career meetings against Richard Gasquet. By easing past the Frenchman in straight sets in the third round, Nadal pulled even with Novak Djokovic’s record for the best men’s unbeaten record in the Open era. Nadal’s also unbeaten at Grand Slams this year with a 22-0 record.
The Spaniard will take his record into the fourth round against American Frances Tiafoe, against whom he has a 2-0 record. According to INSIGHTS, Nadal is favored against Tiafoe at 79%, the most lopsided fourth-round percentage in the bottom half of the men’s draw. He’s also the INSIGHTS tournament favorite to go all the way, with 24% odds of winning his 23rd Grand Slam.
Iga Swiatek Strolls Through
The women’s INSIGHTS tournament favorite is Iga Swiatek, at 35% odds. The 21-year-old Pole has struggled, at least compared to earlier in the year, since Alize Cornet snapped her 37-match win streak at Wimbledon.
Swiatek appears to be back in her dominant form in New York where she’s won all three of her matches in straight sets. According to INSIGHTS, behind Swiatek is Ons Jabeur with 16% odds of winning her first major followed by Gauff with 9%.
•UTR Ratings and INSIGHTS probabilities as of 1:00 p.m. EST, September 4, 2022.