Colour Commentary: Tennis is back

The U.S. Open was played without fans in Flushing Meadows, New York

The 2020 tennis season started with the new ATP Cup tournament, as well as the Australian Open, the first of the four annual Grand Slams in tennis.

On Aug. 20, after five months of postponed and cancelled tournaments, tennis was finally back on for the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). Both Associations suspended their calendar’s tournaments until August due to the high risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The first tournament since the shutdown, the Western & Southern Open, normally held in Cincinnati, was played without fans in the U.S. Open site in New York.

Despite 2019 champions Rafael Nadal and Bianca Andreescu’s notable absences, the tournament provided a bit of a return to normalcy for the sport, and offered many surprises and great moments.

Speaking of surprises, the road to an 18th Grand Slam title was more than open for world number one Novak Djokovic. Without Nadal and Roger Federer, Djokovic was favoured to win the title right away, as no player apart from these three has won a Grand Slam since Stan Wawrinka did in 2016.

However, Djokovic got disqualified from his Round of 16 match for hitting a line judge with a ball. That meant a new Grand Slam champion other than the Big Three was going to be crowned, four years after Wawrinka. This year, it was Dominic Thiem’s turn to shine, as he lifted his first career major title on the men’s side.

Canadian players Denis Shapovalov, Félix Auger-Aliassime and Vasek Pospisil all finished with career-best results at the U.S. Open. Milos Raonic, the fourth and last Canadian of the tournament, was eliminated by Pospisil in the second round.

In the WTA, the tournament was being played without Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep, world number one and two respectively, as well as four other members of the top 10 — not surprising that we’ve had so many great firsts.

For the first time in WTA history, three mothers reached quarterfinals at the same Grand Slam for the first time, with Serena Williams, Tsvetana Pironkova and Victoria Azarenka all in action. For Pironkova, it was her first tournament since 2017, as she took a break from tennis to give birth to her first child. Pironkova just started back training at the beginning of the year.

Final thoughts:

For the first tournament in a while, despite the nearly half-year hiatus, the U.S. Open surprised me with its organization and preparation. It made it through the two weeks of the competition without COVID-19 problems, and showed the tennis world that it’s possible to have sports despite not playing them in the same conditions as before.


Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion @the.beta.lab

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