The winners of the singles titles in this year’s US Open in New York were Kim Clijsters and Roger Federer. This was the first Grand Slam title for the Belgian woman, who is just 22 years old. It was also a happy ending after Clijsters, the most popular female player on the tour had been forced to take almost a whole year off. She had already overcome the leading competitors in the American hard court tournament. In the final against the first ever French finalist, 30-year-old Mary Pierce (who had previously knocked out Henin-Hardenne, Mauresmo and Dementieva), the young woman from Bree won in straight sets: 6-3, 6-1. The only sets Clijsters conceded in this tournament were to Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova.
Svetlana Kuznetsova’s defeat in the first round against the Russian World No. 97, Ekaterina Bychkova, came as a shock. This was the first time in the history of the competition that the title holder had been knocked out at such an early stage. Sadly, top ten player Patty Schnyder of Switzerland lost 4-6, 3-6 to semi-finalist Elena Dementieva, having got through to the last 16. Nathalie Dechy was knocked out in the same round by Lindsay Davenport. Also in the last sixteen, Venus Williams defeated her sister Serena 7-6, 6-2 in a match that only produced high-class tennis in parts. The Women’s Singles suffered to some extent from a relatively high proportion of Straight-Set results in the early rounds. From a German point of view, it was pleasing to see Julia Schruff get through to the third round (where she lost 2-6, 4-6 to Maria Sharapova). Anna-Lena Groenefeld was also defeated in the third round, losing 5-7, 3-6 to Amelie Mauresmo. In the women’s doubles, however, the German No. 1 reached the semi-finals with Martina Navratilova, who is almost 48 years of age (2-6,4-6 against Pennetta and Dementieva). Nina Henkel’s success in reaching the semi-final in the Girls’ Juniors tournament will also have delighted German fans.
In the men’s competition, World No.1 Roger Federer was once again the measure of all things. The Swiss player dropped a mere three sets (against Kiefer, Hewitt and Agassi) on his way to his 6th Grand Slam title. In a contest that was at times unbelievably fast, he conquered the much-cheered darling of the public Andre Agassi 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(1), 6-1. This was his 23rd finals victory in succession, probably a record for all eternity. It also meant that Federer, probably the “friendliest No.1 of all times” has reached at least the semi-finals in all of this season’s Grand Slam tournaments, winning both the US Open and Wimbledon.
Andre Agassi had by far the hardest route to the final. After three-set victories over Sabau and Karlovic (7-6,7-6,7-6!) he went on to win a four-set contest against the Czech Tomas Berdych. He then had a hard-fought five-set victory over Xavier Malisse of Belgium which got him through to the round that turned out to be the sensation of the tournament. In a match that stood head and shoulders above the rest, Agassi defeated compatriot James Blake with an 8-6 win in the tiebreak of the fifth set (Agassi: “This match had only one winner ... tennis!”). This was followed by another five-set match against Robbie Ginepri (USA). Maybe the difficulty of these earlier matches had an influence on his ultimate defeat in the final despite the fact that Agassi had a better game plan than Federer. Nevertheless the two-times US Open champion produced a brilliant performance.
The American nation was stunned, on the other hand, when the spell of co-favourite Roddick was broken in the first round by Luxemburger Gilles Muller (6-7,6-7,6-7!). French Open winner Nadal seemed tired and had to pack his bags after his relatively easy defeat by James Blake in round three (4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 1-6). Remarkable too was a "savage" slanging match between Argentinian Coria and Chilean Nicolas Massu during their last-16 match (Coria won in 5 sets). Spain’s Fernando Verdasco had a good tournament, finally losing his nerve in his last-16 contest against Niemienen from Finland who pulled off a surprise or two (2-6, 6-7, 3-6). Frenchman Richard Gasquet , former HEAD Team Elite member, had a good tournament, losing in the last-16 after a long battle against Ginepri (3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 4-6, 0-6). Another Frenchman, Jeremy Chardy (Wimbledon junior champion and Team Elite member), got through to the Boy’s Final where he lost to unseeded Ryan Sweeting of the Bahamas.