The 2022 edition of the US Open signalled the changing of guard with newly-crowned champions Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek leading the charge as the transition from the ‘Big Three’ and Serena Williams eras gathered pace.
As long as Rafa, Djokovic, Federer are there, they will be the best and the rivalry they have between them will always come first. But Jannik and I have shown that we are the present, and we also have long careers ahead of us. Carlos Alcaraz
The men’s semi-finals featured 4 first-timers for the first time since the inaugural US Championships in 1881, some 141 years ago, while the focus on the women’s side began with the spotlight firmly on 40-year old Williams and then shifted away to the rest of the field.
Serena had announced she was, in all likelihood, playing her final tournament as she ‘evolves away from tennis’ to pursue other interests, and when she exited stage left, dispatched by Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, the US Open evolved away from the American, leaving, perhaps, two dozen women with a real shot at the title but, by the final weekend, things reverted back to the form book, with the World No 1 and 2, Swiatek and Ons Jabeur, contesting the title.
With Novak Djokovic in exile, prevented from competing in New York due to US government vaccination mandates for visitors from overseas, and the continued absence from men’s tennis of 41-year-old Roger Federer, and the early 4th-round exit of 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, the trio’s era of domination is drawing to a close.
For the first time since 2003 at a Grand Slam event, the quarter-finals of the women’s and men’s draws did not feature at least one of Williams, Nadal, Djokovic or Federer.
The 4th big name, Andy Murray, the 2012 US Open champion, had his hopes of reaching the Last 16 of a major for the first time since 2017 dashed by Italy’s Matteo Berrettini.
“I thought, physically, I did well, considering, coming in, I wasn’t feeling great,” said Murray, who had been suffering cramps earlier in the North American hard-court swing. “But, physically, I did well in all the matches, which was good.”
Defending champion Daniil Medvedev was toppled in the round of 16 by Nick Kyrgios in 4 sets, and he lost his No 1 ranking too in the process, as the men’s draw saw 4 new faces reach the semi-finals, with debutants Frances Tiafoe and Karen Khachanov joining eventual finalists Alcaraz and Casper Ruud.
The 19-year-old Alcaraz is not quite ready to call time on Nadal, Djokovic and Federer just yet, but acknowledges that a generational shift is well and truly under way.
“As long as Rafa, Djokovic, Federer are there, they will be the best and the rivalry they have between them will always come first,” said the Spaniard after his 5-hour 15-minute quarter-final epic with Jannik Sinner. “But Jannik and I have shown that we are the present, and we also have long careers ahead of us.”
Alcaraz is now the youngest World No 1 in the history of the men’s game.
His coach Juan Carlos Ferrero cautions against expecting the Spaniard to emulate the Grand Slam achievements of the Big Three.
“I think it’s going to be very, very difficult to achieve what they have done in tennis,” Ferrero said. “We’re talking about 22 Grand Slams. He has only one.
“But who knows? I think he has all the tennis and potential to be one of the best.”
Meanwhile, newly-minted US Open champion Swiatek looks more than capable of filling the vacancy created by the retirements of both Williams and Ash Barty, the former World No 1, who stunned the sport by retiring in March at the age of just 25.
The 21-year-old Pole’s straight sets victory over Jabeur in Saturday’s final was her 3rd career Grand Slam, and her first on a surface other than the red clay of Roland Garros, where she won in 2020 and 2022.
Swiatek’s season has included 7 tournament victories, as well as a remarkable 37-match winning streak.
Most comfortable on clay, she said her victory in New York on hard court could turn out to be a psychological watershed for her career, saying the ‘sky is the limit’.
“At the beginning of the season I realised that, maybe, I can have some good results on WTA events,” she said. “I also made it to semi-final of the Australian Open.
“But I wasn’t sure if I was on the level yet to win actually a Grand Slam, especially at the US Open where the surface is so fast.
“It’s something that I wasn’t expecting for sure. It’s also like a confirmation for me that the sky is the limit.”
Just a few months after she ended Swiatek’s historic 37-match win streak in the 3rd-round at Wimbledon, Elizé Cornet, the expressive Frenchwoman, again played spoiler, this time stopping 19-year-old Emma Raducanu’s title defence before it even got going.
Over the course of its 3 weeks, the US Open set two new all-time attendance records, with a total of 776,120 fans came through the gates during the two weeks of the main draw to surpass the previous record of 737,872 set in 2019.
The full, 3-week attendance, including US Open Fan Week, was 888,044. The previous three-week best of 853,227 was also set in 2019.
For the first time in Arthur Ashe Stadium’s 25-year history, every session in the stadium, now with a capacity of 23,859, was sold out while, earlier in the tournament, Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, a cornerstone event of US Open Fan Week, also set an all-time attendance record of 35,525.
There were an incredible number of phenomenal, twisting-and-turning, logic-defying matches during the 2022 US Open.
For two weeks, thrilling matches rocked the house on hot days and late into the wee hours, including the latest ever.
The memorable fortnight was marked by career-defining wins, shocking upsets and history-making retirements.
USOpen.org has tallied up the numbers of another earth-shattering fortnight:
- 1 — By winning the men’s singles title in New York, Carlos Alcaraz becomes the youngest World No 1 in ATP history.
- 1 — Sunday’s final between Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud was the first final featuring two men competing for both their 1st Grand Slam title and the World No 1 ranking simultaneously.
- 2 — Victories earned by Serena Williams at the 2022 US Open, giving her a final total of 108 US Open wins.
- 2 — Ruud rises from World No 7 to No 2 thanks to his runner-up performance in New York, a career-high.
- 3 — Number of Grand Slam titles won by Iga Swiatek. Only 3 active players, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Naomi Osaka, currently have more.
- 4 — This year’s US Open featured 4 first-time men’s singles semi-finalists for the first time since the inaugural US Championships in 1881.
- 5 — Hours and 15 minutes, the length of the longest match of the tournament, played by Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner in the quarter-finals. The match was the second-longest match in US Open history, 11 minutes shy of Stefan Edberg’s 5-set victory over Michael Chang in the 1992 semi-finals.
- 6 — Number of losses Iga Swiatek has suffered at the Grand Slams since she began her run to the 2020 Roland Garros title (against 41 wins).
- 7 — By winning the doubles title in Queens, Barbora Krejcikova & Katerina Siniakova become the 7th women’s doubles team to achieve the Career Grand Slam.
- 8 — France’s Caroline Garcia became the 8th WTA player to reach her maiden Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open in the past 5 years.
- 9 — Number of Top 10 seeds that failed to progress to the 3rd-round in New York. They are: Women – No 2 seed Anett Kontaveit, No 3 seed Maria Sakkari; No 4 seed Paula Badosa; No 7 seed Simona Halep and No 10 seed Daria Kasatkina; Men – No 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas; No 6 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime; No 8 seed Hubert Hurkacz and No 10 seed Taylor Fritz
- 10 — Swiatek has won her last 10 WTA finals and her last 10 matches against the Top 10.
- 10 — Thanks to her run to the quarter-final, 18-year-old Coco Gauff will make her Top 10 debut after the US Open.
- 11 — After falling to Casper Ruud in the quarter-finals on Day 9, Matteo Berrettini has lost his last 11 matches against Top 10 players.
- 11 — Alcaraz has risen from No 32 to No 1 in the ATP rankings this year, achieving 11 new career-high rankings.
- 12 — By reaching the final in New York, Ruud becomes the youngest man to reach multiple Grand Slam finals in 12 years, since Andy Murray in 2010.
- 13 — Hours and 28 minutes: the elapsed time that Alcaraz spent on court during his 3 consecutive 5-set wins over Marin Cilic, Jannik Sinner and Frances Tiafoe to reach the final.
- 14 — Number of players that made their Grand Slam debut at the US Open this year. Six—Gijs Brouwer, Brandon Holt and Wu Yibing on the men’s side, and Linda Fruhvirtova, Elizabeth Mandlik and Daria Snigur on the women’s—broke through for their first Grand Slam win.
- 15 — Number of active Grand Slam champions that played in the women’s singles draw, including 6 former US Open women’s singles champions.
- 16 — 18-year-old Gauff becomes the youngest player to reach the WTA’s Top 10 in 16 years.
- 17 — Alcaraz becomes the first teenager to win a Grand Slam men’s singles title since Rafael Nadal in 2005 at Roland-Garros, 17 years ago.
- 18 — At 18, Gauff is the youngest American to reach the Top 10 since Serena Williams, who was 17 when she climbed inside the Top 10 in 1999.
- 18 — Poland becomes the 18th nation to produce a women’s singles title winner at the US Open.
- 19 — Age of Alcaraz, who becomes the first teenager and youngest player ever to hold the ATP’s No 1 ranking.
- 19 — Number of bagel sets Iga Swiatek has handed out in 2022, including 2 in New York. Only Serena Williams (25 in 2013) has managed to hand out more bagels in a single season this century.
- 19 — Karen Khachanov’s consecutive losses vs the Top 10, after he fell to Casper Ruud in the semi-finals.
- 20 — Swiatek has won all 20 sets she has played in winning her last 10 finals on tour, which include 3 Grand Slam finals.
- 20 — The Alcaraz vs Ruud final was the youngest Grand Slam men’s singles final in more than 20 years, dating back to 21-year-old Lleyton Hewitt’s win over 20-year-old David Nalbandian for the 2002 Wimbledon championship. It was the youngest US Open men’s singles final since Sampras vs. Agassi in 1990.
- 21-0 — Serena Williams’ record in 1st-round matches at the US Open. The American icon improved to 78-3 all time in first-rounders across all 4 Grand Slam tournaments.
- 22 — Grand Slam titles won by Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard couldn’t win in New York but he finishes the season atop the all-time Grand Slam men’s singles titles list, ahead of Djokovic (21) and Federer (20).
- 23 — Number of Grand Slam singles titles Serena Williams claimed in her legendary career. The American icon stands alone atop the all-time Open Era list.
- 24 — Swiatek will begin her 24th week at No 1 on Monday September 12. Only 16 WTA players have held the No 1 ranking for more weeks than Swiatek.
- 25 — This year the tennis world celebrated the 25th anniversary of Arthur Ashe Stadium, which opened in 1997.
- 26 — Age of Krejcikova & Siniakova, this year’s women’s doubles champions.
- 27 — Swiatek becomes the 27th player to win a US Open women’s singles title in the Open Era.
- 28 — Alcaraz becomes the 28th No 1-ranked player in ATP history.
- 50 — Thanks to his performance in New York, Alcaraz reaches the 50-win mark for the first time in his career. He finished the tournament with a 51-9 record.
- 55 — Number of shots in the longest rally of the tournament, won by Casper Ruud on set point against Karen Khachanov in the men’s semi-finals.
- 63 — France’s Alizé Cornet broke the all-time record for consecutive women’s singles Grand Slam main draws played this year at Flushing Meadows, passing Ai Sugiyama on the list.
- 108 — Serena Williams finishes her US Open career with a 108-15 overall record.
- 367-55 — Williams’ all-time record at the Grand Slams. Only Roger Federer (369) has more match wins at the Grand Slams.
- 3:12 — The length of the longest women’s match at the 2022 US Open, played by Lauren Davis and Lucia Bronzetti in the 1st-round. There were a total of 4 women’s singles matches that stretched past the 3-hour mark.
- 5:15 — Length of the Alcaraz vs. Sinner quarter-final epic.
- 1972 — By defeating Andrey Rublev to reach the semi-finals, 24-year-old American Frances Tiafoe becomes the first Black man to reach a US Open semi-final since Arthur Ashe in 1972.
- 2001 — The year that Lleyton Hewitt became No 1 as a 19-year-old. He was the youngest No 1 in ATP history for nearly 21 years.
- 2003 — The year Alcaraz was born. The 19-year-old Spaniard is the first man born in the 2000s to win a major.
- 2005 — By defeating Rafael Nadal in the round of 16, Frances Tiafoe notched the biggest win by an American man at the US Open since wild-card James Blake upset then-No 2-ranked Nadal in the 2005 3rd- round.
- 2008 — Roger Federer remains the last man to complete a successful US Open title defence, after top-seeded Daniil Medvedev fell to Nick Kyrgios on Day 7. Federer won 5 straight titles from 2004-08.
- 2014 — Top-seeded Iga Swiatek becomes the first World No 1 to win the women’s singles title in Queens since Serena Williams in 2014.
- 2435 — Aces struck during the US Open fortnight. Nick Kyrgios led all players with 116.
- 1300 — Double-faults hit during the 2022 US Open. Jannik Sinner led all players with 40.
[stats courtesy of USOpen.org]