The Serena Open is over. Allegedly. And what a five-day event it was. A sendoff befitting a regal and unrivaled player. High production value. High celebrity quotient. High prices. High ratings. High quality tennis—so much so that the featured performer has left the door open (if ever so slightly) to continue. She didn’t add to her haul of Majors—”23 and Me” endorsement?—but represented herself (and tennis) brilliantly.
Now, the second week brings a conclusion to the 2022 US Open that had been deeply obscured—very rightly so—by Serena. Contenders come in all shapes and sizes and ages, foreign and domestic. That includes both his and hers No.1 seeds (Daniil Medvedev and Iga Swiatek); and a player (Rafael Nadal) who himself might end up with 23 Majors.
Herewith our 2022 US Open midterm grades:
Serena Williams: Tennis preceded her. Tennis will succeed her. But will another player ever have this kind of impact? And how lovely that she was/is appreciated while she’s still playing.
Alja Tomljanovic: Just a commanding performance against Serena in round three. Given the weight of the occasion, the opponent, the context, the track record she had failed to close matches…that was a career win.
Top lines: Obscured by the Serena shadow, top seeds Iga Swiatek and defending champion Daniil Medvedev cruise through to Week Two.
teen sensations: Both Coco Gauff and Carlos Alcaraz are staying in character. And Jack Draper, a 6’4” British lefty, is 20, but is a secret no more.
Qualifiers: A year after a qualifier won the dang title, players who had to earn their way into the main draw took out Simona Halep (Daria Snigur), Taylor Fritz (Brandon Holt) and the defending Wimbledon women’s singles champion, Elena Rybakina (Clara Burel) .
Italian men: Matteo Berrettini (his second week appearance for the fourth straight time), Lo Musetti and Jannik Sinner all remain, at this writing. And Fabio Fognini took a set off Nadal before surrendering.
PCB: Pablo Carreno Busta has a new standard for hoe to close a match.
Brandon Holt: The son of Tracy Austin (and Scott Holt) did a magnificent job qualifying, then beating Taylor Fritz (in the only one of his matches that didn’t go the distance). In the second round, he had his chances against Pedro Cachin, also a qualifier, but failed to close. Overall, what a week!
Andy Murray: Another disappointing-with-some-positive-takeaways event. Former champion got to round three and took a set off Matteo Berrettini. But then retreated.
Emma Raducanu: In keeping with our British “another disappointing-with-some-positive-takeaways event” theme. The defending champion heading into the tournament will forfeit that designation, losing as she did in round one to Alize Cornet. But she did not play poorly. And a reset might be a disguised blessing.
Dominic Thiem: Another disappointing-with-some-positive-takeaways event. The 2020 champion shows signs of improving. But he is still a long way from No. 3 forms.
Annet Kontaveit: Would you pull that crap with Annet? The world no. 2 Serena was fodder in the second round. But she didn’t play poorly and behaved like a pro.
Schmaltz: Everyone loves Serena and wants to celebrate an unrivaled (literally) career. But trotting out her opponent and then introducing Serena by showing an Oprah-narrated video—with the words “greatest of all time” flashing on the scoreboards—crosses a line of appropriate, disrespects the opponent and is typical USTA-style lily-gilding.
Pan Hellenic Greeks: Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari—both top-five seeds—were both broken like dinner plates and ousted by Wednesday.
The palm brush: Jelena Ostapenko, Camila Giorgi, Marta Kostyuk (extenuating circumstances we grant you) take note. You play a long grueling match against an opponent. As a show of respect to them as well as yourself the least you could do is look them in the eye afterwards. (H/t Donna Vekic and Belinda Bemcic.)
Simona Halep: Says she’s never felt comfortable in New York—a tell for the opposition—and played like it, going out to qualify Daria Snigur on day one.
Taylor Fritz: At Wimbledon, he lost in five sets to Nadal. No shame there. At the next Major—seeded No. 10; the highest American—he lost in round one to a qualifier, Brandon Holt. There was a lot of emotion and history playing a friend, but this was a deeply disappointing loss.
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