The final grand slam tournament of the year, the US Open, is the most unpredictable tournament on the calendar as all the wear and tear of a long season comes to a head in Queens, New York.
The 2022 edition of the tournament continued that trend as 19-year-old Spanish phenom Carlos Alcaraz became the youngest player since Rafael Nadal in 2005 to win a major.
Now that the tournament has finished, let’s take a look into what made the 2022 US Open such an exciting tournament.
We’d be remiss to discuss the women’s draw without mentioning Serena Williams. The 40-year-old tennis legend announced ahead of the tournament that the US Open would be her last. After defeating Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic and the No. 2 seed in Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, Williams lost in the third round to Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, 5-7, 7-6(4), 1-6.
The tournament directors made it a point to pay tribute to Williams before and after each of her matches. The overall energy of the already notoriously-rowdy US Open crowd at Ashe Stadium during each of her matches can only be described in one word: insanity. Williams leaves the game with 23 Grand Slam titles and with over $94 million in prize money under her belt — the most ever.
Tomljanovic would go on to the quarterfinals, where she fell to eventual finalist No. 5 Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, 4-6, 6-7(4). The semifinals saw Jabeur dominate Caroline Garcia in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3. Garcia herself had a great run in the tournament, including a victory over 18-year-old American phenom Coco Gauff in the quarterfinals.
The other semifinal was more intense — Poland’s and seemingly unbeatable No. 1 Iga Swiatek defeated No. 6 Aryna Sabalenka, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.
In the final, Swiatek proved to be too good for Jabeur as she won 6-2, 7-6(5). With that win, the Pole caps off an incredibly dominant year that brought her two Grand Slam titles — the other one being at the French Open. Jabeur, too, is coming off the back of a successful year, racking up two Grand Slam final appearances.
Unlike most other Slams in recent history, the men’s draw was even more unpredictable than the women’s.
Last year’s US Open champion Daniil Medvedev did not look the part in his fourth round loss to Australia’s Nick Kyrgios. Kyrgios deserves all the credit for his flawless serve and ability to take advantage of the lapse in Medvedev’s serving statistics.
Kyrgios would go on to lose in the quarterfinals to Karen Khachanov in an intense five-set match, giving Khachanov his first-ever Grand Slam semifinal appearance. Three of the four semifinalists of this year’s tournament were seeing this round of a Grand Slam for the first time — showing just how unpredictable tennis can be.
Tiafoe would become the first Black American man to reach a US Open semifinal since Arthur Ashe himself by dominating Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals. But the highlight of the tournament — and, really, the highlight of the 24-year-old’s career thus far — was defeating all-time tennis great, No. 2 Rafael Nadal, in the fourth round.
In the semifinal, Tiafoe went on to lose to eventual champion Alcaraz in an intense five-set match. If Tiafoe can consistently string these Grand Slam runs together, American men’s tennis can regain a level of relevancy it hasn’t seen since Andy Roddick’s retirement in 2012.
The semifinal was Alcaraz’s third consecutive five-set match of the tournament, having already defeated 2014 US Open Champion Marin Cilic and fellow young phenom Jannik Sinner.
More records were broken last week, as the match between Alcaraz and Sinner made the books as the US Open’s latest finish in history, stretching until 2:50 a.m. The match itself was full of twists and turns, but Alcaraz eventually prevailed in what commentator and tennis legend John McEnroe regards as one of the best tennis matches in recent history.
Even though the young star showed some signs of fatigue in the beginning — after battling out three consecutive five-setters — the ever-electrifying Alcaraz would find a second wind to defeat Casper Ruud in the final in what was not only the battle for the US Open championship, but also the battle for No. 1 world ranking spot. At 19, Alcaraz is now the youngest No. 1 men’s player ever and represents the arrival of a new generation of men’s tennis.