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Three concluding contemplations from the 2014 US Open

Marin Cilic celebrates after winning the 2014 US Open.
By Sandra Harwitt
Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The conclusion of every US Open always seems like a good time for reflection. After 15 days of top-notch tennis, there always are themes, trends, and surprises that captivate our interest. Here are three thoughts that deserve further deliberation beyond the close of the 2014 US Open.

Unfamiliar Finalists

Tennis fans of late have become used to familiar faces when it comes to crowning Grand Slam champions in the men’s game. Proof positive of that phenomenon is that this year’s US Open final between Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori was the first Grand Slam final since the 2005 Australian Open that didn’t feature at least one of the Fab Four — Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray or Rafael Nadal. What’s more, Cilic’s win marked only the third time in the past 39 Grand Slams that one of the Fab Four hasn’t won the title (with Juan Martin del Potro winning the 2009 US Open and Stan Wawrinka winning the 2014 Australian Open).

Concluding Contemplation: With two of the four Grand Slams this season crowning new Grand Slam champions, is this a defining moment in the sport and a changing of the guard away from the  Fab Four dynasty?

Serena Shines

If there’s one thing we experienced again at this US Open it’s to never underestimate the determination of Serena Williams. She arrived at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the unusual predicament of not having won a Grand Slam trophy during the year. Since 2002, there have only been three seasons — 2004, 2006 and 2011 — in which she didn’t win at least one Grand Slam trophy. She left here with her 18th Grand Slam singles title, equaling the mark of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. Williams not only won the title, but did so without the loss of a set—never losing more than three games in any set played.

Concluding Contemplation: Is there any possibility that Williams, just weeks away from her 33rd birthday, could catch up — or surpass — the Open-era record 22 Grand Slam singles titles of Steffi Graf or the all-time record 24 Grand Slam singles titles achieved by Australian Margaret Court Smith?

Doubles Dynasty

History notched another record at this year’s US Open when the world No. 1 doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan captured their 100th career doubles title together. It’s hardly likely that any sports fan wouldn’t find the Bryans achievement as sign of greatness, but there are those that might insist on proof. How about the fact that the next closest team — the retired Australian duo of Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde — are nearly 40 titles away from the Bryan record with 61 trophies. It seemed as if destiny intervened to make sure that the brothers waited until the US Open to pull off their 100th because there couldn’t have been a grander stage for them to pull off the feat. The Bryans are now 36 years old but are showing no signs of hanging up their racquets any time soon. In fact, almost since the day they won their first Olympic gold medal at the 2012 London Games the duo have been talking about playing at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.

Concluding Contemplation: How many more titles can these age-defying twin brothers collect together, and can they accomplish their dream of taking Olympic gold again?