The US Open ended and with it the 2018 Grand Slams came to a conclusion. One of the most controversial tennis tournaments in living memory saw Naomi Osaka claim her first Slam while Novak Djokovic claimed his 14th. Here I discuss the key talking points from a fantastic Grand Slam.
Umpires draw controversy
Mohamad Lahyani’s mid match pep talk to Nick Kyrgios led to fierce criticism in some quarters. Umpires are not permitted to encourage players. The US Tennis Association defended the well respected umpire but Lahyani should have known better. This controversy is largely forgotten due to Carlos Ramos giving Serena Williams three code violations in the women’s final. By the letter of the law his decision was correct but it is a rule that is rarely applied. Some players feel they are treated differently and these controversies do not help.
Next Gen close but not close enough
The future stars of the men’s game did not win a breakthrough Grand Slam but there are signs of hope. Karen Khachanov lost an eipc four set contest to Rafael Nadal while Dominic Thiem lost in a fifth set tie break to the Spanish maestro. Alex De Minaur took Marin Cilic to five sets while Denis Shapovalov did likewise with Kevin Anderson. Sascha Zverev suffered another early Grand Slam exit. This year’s semi-finalists had an average age of 30 years old. There’s no substitute for experience in Grand Slam tennis.
Osaka can win more Slams
After the controversy surrounding Serena Williams and Carlos Ramos’ altercation, it is easy to forget that Naomi Osaka at age 20 has won her first Grand Slam. Her heavy hitting and slick movement saw her comfortably beat the 23 time Grand Slam champion. She played the big points exceptionally well throughout the tournament and held her nerve in the final. If she can keep herself grounded then this will not e the lat we hear of the Japanese sensation.
Players need weather protection
This year’s tournament was played in stifling hot and humid weather conditions with many players complaining that the conditions were unfair to play in. We saw similar complaints. Temperatures at the Australian Open in January reached 40 degrees with players feeling the strain. Tournament organisers need to consider the ill effects that players can feel and although it may frustrate fans, players should not have to pull out of matches due to extreme weather.
A Special Era for Men’s Tennis
Novak Djokovic won his 14th Slam as he equaled Pete Sampras’ on the all time Grand Slam winners list. He is now only three behind Rafael Nadal and six behind Roger Federer. Age is on his side while he is back at the peak of his powers. As tennis fans we have been privileged to watch Djokovic, Murray, Nadal and Federer trade blows for the best part of a decade. Since Roland Garros in 2005, they have won 50 out of 55 Grand Slams. Simply incredible.