US Open 2022: Iga Swiatek, Carlos Alcaraz headline the champions corner in New York

Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz won the US Open women's and men's singles respectively as all champions achieved milestones in New York.

Tanuj Lakhina September 12, 2022 19:04:14 IST
US Open 2022: Iga Swiatek, Carlos Alcaraz headline the champions corner in New York

Iga Swiatek (L) and Carlos Alcaraz (R) emerged as the US Open champions for the first time. AP

Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal came in as the marquee faces at the 2022 US Open. Serena for her swansong in New York and Nadal for the potential to extend his lead in Grand Slam titles won. In the end, the American got the much-deserved loud receptions and left in the third round. Nadal, meanwhile, faced an abrupt defeat in what may be the sign of things to come.

Once the confetti had hit the floor and swept away on Sunday night, the heartfelt speeches made and record crowds made their way out of the Flushing Meadows, Iga Swiatek was the women’s champion and Carlos Alcaraz the men’s. A maiden US Open title for both. Swiatek clinching her third major title and first away from Paris. Alcaraz, meanwhile, winning just his first. One can say, with confidence, there will be more.

Swiatek, Alcaraz – the champions

Swiatek had already made clear she wasn’t a one Slam wonder. But with both coming on clay, her preferred surface, the question remained whether she can go all the way on the grass or hardcourts. At Wimbledon, against Alize Cornet, it appeared that grass was a challenge she wasn’t yet ready to circumvent.

WTA Rankings: Iga Swiatek, Obs Jabeur top-two; Jessica Pegula makes top-five debut

Hardcourts, though, were more attainable. Her titles in Doha, Indian Wells and Miami this year would attest to that. But New York is a different beast. The crowd is significantly louder. The courts play faster. Expectations are higher. And then there are the balls.

Swiatek endured momentum shifts in the final against Ons Jabeur to lift the trophy. For the Pole, it was confirmation that she could win even when she’s not in the best of forms. Even when the surface isn’t one that comes naturally to her. “It’s something that I wasn’t expecting for sure,” said Iga, who was in a mini-slump coming to New York. “It’s also like a confirmation for me that the sky is the limit.”

‘The sky is the limit’ also applies to the men’s winner – Carlos Alcaraz. The Spaniard had already been knocking down on doors of big titles last year. This year he broke them down but some of it still hinged loose off. In New York, the proverbial door was smashed and ripped to shreds.

He did everything one could ask him to do towards a Grand Slam success: win long matches, short matches, late matches, early matches. He beat young players and old.

In the final against Casper Ruud, with so much in the balance, he started to look tired by the second set. Or a version of tired for mere mortals. But boy was everyone wrong. The Spaniard kept himself in it and it was Ruud who got tight and buckled.

A thundering serve on second Championship point sealed what many, including his peers, had predicted. This guy is going to win things. And he’s only getting started.

0-2 for Jabeur, Ruud

If Swiatek went 3/3 in major finals and 10-1 in WTA finals, with 10 straight finals won in straight sets, and Alcaraz capitalised on his first opportunity of a Grand Slam final, Jabeur and Ruud are 0-2 in major finals.

Ruud made the French Open and US Open finals and lost to Spaniards Nadal and Alcaraz. Jabeur, meanwhile, has now finished runner-up in two consecutive major finals – something that might be hard to get around.

ATP Rankings: US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz becomes youngest World No 1, finalist Casper Ruud second

Both appeared to take the defeat in their strides. “In Roland Garros, was hard for me to believe that I could beat Rafa. Today was not easier, but I believed it more. I think these two tournaments have sort of made my self-belief to win a Grand Slam grow.”

“Hopefully these two experiences can help me. I guess I hope I don’t play a Spanish player if I ever reach another slam final (smiling). They know what they’re doing in the slam finals. Let’s hope for another than a Spanish,” he said with a smile.

Jabeur, a trailblazer and an inspiration for many, was a set away at Wimbledon against Rybakina. But in New York, she didn’t look convinced or comfortable with her usual array of shots. Her drop shots, best in the business, came late on in the match and were inconsistent at best.

“It’s part of tennis. Winning or losing is part of it. And fortunately it is me. I struggled to win my first WTA title. It took me time. So I believe this will take me time,” said the Tunisian who is now World No 2.

“The most important thing is accepting it, you know, learning from the finals that I lost. But yeah, definitely I’m not someone that [is] going to give up. I am sure I’m going to be in the final again. I will try my best to win it. I’m not sure, but I know I will do my best,” she added.

Men’s doubles: Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury

Rajeev Ram, Joe Salisbury successfully defend men’s doubles titles. After slamming down an overhead, Salisbury hugged his partner and went about in subdued celebrations. The Briton, wearing a black armband, opted to keep his celebrations quiet in respect of Queen Elizabeth II’s passing. “I think it didn’t feel appropriate to be overly celebrating or at least showing that too much, because obviously everybody back home and around the world is in mourning at the moment, and it’s a very sad time,” he said.

Salisbury and Ram became just the second team to repeat as men’s doubles champions at the US Open in the Open Era. The previous were Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, “the Woodies”, who triumphed in 1995 and 1996.

Women’s doubles: Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova

Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova made history by winning the 2022 US Open and completing a Career Slam – winning all four major titles at least once.

They came from 3-6, 1-4 down to beat unseeded Americans Caty McNally and Taylor Townsend 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.

The Czechs have now won six majors together. Others in the set of Grand Slams are: two Roland Garros titles (2018 and 2021), two Wimbledon titles (2018 and 2022) and an Australian Open title (2022).

Krecjikova-Siniakova join a number of former teams who had won all four majors, such as Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver, Serena and Venus Williams, Gigi Fernandez and Natasha Zvereva, and most recently Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci.

They finish the Grand Slam season with a win-loss record of 18-0. They weren’t able to defend their French Open title on account of Krejcikova’s illness.

Mixed doubles: Storm Sanders and John Peers

John Peers and Storm Sanders became the first Australian pair to win the mixed doubles title at the US Open in 21 years in their first grand slam together.

The Aussies came from a set down to beat Kirsten Flipkens and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 4-6, 6-4 (10-7) in the final.

It was Sanders’ first Grand Slam victory while the 34-year-old Peers added to his 2017 Australian Open men’s doubles win.

The last Australian mixed doubles team to win in New York were Rennae Stubbs and Todd Woodbridge (in 2001).

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