This year at Flushing Meadows, there were obviously the clashes between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal on one side, and between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka on the other. But there were also plenty of sound bites, anecdotes and records that went more or less unnoticed.
Rafa and Nole, inseparable
The final of the U.S. Open between Rafael Nadal Novak Djokovic was already the 37th meeting between the two men. Since tennis became Open, marking at the same time the end of the professional tours’ principle, it has been the most recurrent rivalry in men's tennis. They surpassed Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe, who stopped at 36 confrontations. But it took 12 years for the Czech and the American to reach that figure, when Nadal and Djokovic surpassed it in only eight seasons. And at respectively 27 and 26 years old, it's probably far from over… But that being said, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert can rest easily: their all-time record of 80 face-to-face will never be threatened.
Julian Reister’s golden set
Bill Scanlon is no longer alone. The American, honest Top 10 in the early 1980s, has made in 1983 a feat that long remained unique in the history of the men's tour: performing a "golden set" in a competitive match, namely win the 24-point at stake in a round without losing a single one. He will now share the record with the German Julian Reister, who achieved this feat at the expense of his compatriot Tim Puetz, in the first round of the 'U.S. Open qualifiers for a victory 6/7 6/4 6/0. The greatest feat of a player who had previously never exceeded the 92nd world rank.
Gasquet, the finger and the socks
If he has shone racket in hand, Richard Gasquet has also fuelled the photographers with unusual pictures during this fortnight. Episode 1, in the second round against Stephan Robert, the French directed a magnificent finger right in front of him, but nobody knew exactly for who it was. In the interview room, Gasquet defused the emerging controversy: "It was for myself. It was hot, I was a little edgy after losing two aces... I was no longer myself." The moisture of a stormy sky for ten days over Flushing Meadows continued playing on his nerves two games later against Milos Raonic. After losing the first set, the French took off his socks at the change of sides and said in the middle of the court, provoking the wrath of the referee Enric Molina: "Don't count on the ball boys to pick up your socks!" Explanation of the World No. 9: "I was drenched in sweat, my socks were so soaked that I couldn't even run anymore! I even changed my shoes before the tiebreak... It wasn't a classy response." Later, qualified for the semi-finals, he chose to laugh about it: "This time, no finger, no socks... It's harder on the Central. I keep that for the smaller courts!" He concluded: “You’re often stupid when you play tennis."
American players are feeling blue
This isn't the scoop of the century, American men's tennis isn't well. A drift in the rankings, Yankees have also good reasons to feel abandoned by their own authorities. This year, for the first time in history, the No. 1 U.S. hasn’t been programmed once in "night session," the most important march of Flushing Meadows on the giant Arthur Ashe Stadium. Recent finalist in Cincinnati, John Isner has yet played against serious contenders such as Gael Monfils or Philipp Kohlschreiber... But it was useless since the USTA has, each time, relegated him to the Louis Armstrong court. Worse, a single American has walked the Central this year: Ryan Harrison in the first round... because he was playing against Rafael Nadal. Even the farewell of James Blake to tennis didn't deserved any better than the second court of the complex in the eyes of the organizers. Hard to be clearer: the United States Tennis Association has officially recorded the downgrading of its own tennis.
Say « 33 » or Spain’s boo-boos
Twenty-four hours earlier, the Spanish camp was swimming in euphoria: Nadal was impressing, Ferrer was taking care of business, Suarez Navarro was surprising and Robredo was mind-blowing by defeating Roger Federer. "The Armada," as the Iberian journalists call them was out in force... but not for long. The next day, the Spaniards all drowned spectacularly on the deck of the Arthur Ashe: Marcel Granollers lost against Djokovic (6/3 6/0 6/0), Carla Suarez Navarro sank against Serena Williams (6/0 6/0) and Tommy Robredo was scuttled by his own compatriot Rafael Nadal (6/0 6/2 6/2). An incredible series of 33 consecutive games lost by the members of the "armada". As usual, Rafael Nadal was the last man standing in the final rounds.
Errani and Vinci, love will tear them apart
When the World No. 1 doubles pair, moreover cornerstone of their national Fed Cup by BNP Paribas team, argues, what happens? They don't break up. Like any couple, they try to pick up the pieces. Such is the state of mind of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. The beautiful friendship between the two Italians, titled three times in Grand Slam in the last year and half, seems to have lost its mojo since Vinci, the oldest and lowest-ranked of the duo, won twice against in her junior this year. Cold handshake in the final in Palermo, then we saw them call each other names in Cincinnati. Enough for the Fed Cup captain Corrado Barazzutti to step into the breach: "I spoke with them, and I have to do it again these days. It's necessary to clear things up and arrange everything. Yes, they had an argument, but between two strong personalities like them, it's inevitable that there may be tensions." But to the point of receiving a warning from the referee because they argue between points, as it happened during their second round match...
The Bryans missed the calendar Grand Slam
The two hunks seemed to be a bit tired when they came back on their defeat in the semi-finals of the doubles tournament: in New York, Bob and Mike Bryan were only playing to make "the" calendar Grand Slam, an achievement even rarer in double than in simple, since only the Australians Sedgman and McGregor managed to achieve it in 1951. And the twins could reasonably believe it, those who were unbeaten in Grand Slams since Wimbledon 2012. The wacky Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek finally broke this beautiful dream. The Bryan Brothers won't bring a welcome light on a discipline, which lack of media interest: "Did they really won the first three Grand Slams?" was the first reaction of Rafael Nadal to a question on the possible achievement at the beginning of the tournament.
Ode to Azarenka’s toes
Victoria Azarenka is a young girl full of spirit and humour. And fortunately for the journalist who had a question quite... strange for a press conference: "At the beginning of the year, you had a toe infection because of a problem after pedicure. Have you changed the way you take care of your feet since? And who keep your feet in good shape today? I mean... I know this is going to sound awkward, but, you know, the reason I ask you is because you are an athlete, and for an athlete, the foot is a very important part of the body. At the same time, as a woman there are inevitably a lot of temptations at parties for players, like painting your nails for example. This is a funny question, but not that much, you see." Response of Azarenka, smirking: "Is this really important?" Next.
Nadal beats Gasquet playing video games too
It's not only on a tennis court that Richard Gasquet is unable to beat Rafael Nadal. Before facing the Spanish player in the semi-final, the French told that the multi-winner of Roland Garros was also the best at... video games: "Last year in Monte Carlo, Gael (Monfils, ed) and I were playing a football video game against Juan Monaco and him. You must know that there are two great games that share the market: FIFA and PES. These two games are quite different. Gael and I are into Fifa. Unfortunately it was played on PES. We were not ready and they beat us."
Gulbis on the wrong playground (again)
We can always count on Ernests Gulbis to make the show... off the court. Transparent against Austria's Andreas Haider-Maurer, ranked 88th in the World, who eliminated him in the first round, the Latvian made up for it by making the most "punchy" press conference of the fortnight. After scattering of curses the analysis of his "fuckin'" match, the biggest wasted talent of his generation told off a reporter who was asking if he was working with a mental coach or psychologist: "A shrink? No. You should go see one yourself. But me I don't need it." And living up to his reputation, to the question "Which player do you see winning the tournament?" He said impassively: "Haider-Maurer". Cheers Ernests.