All of a sudden, it’s over

By Alex P. Vidal

“The U.S. Open was the first tournament I watched in person when I was 8 years old.”—Coco Gauff

ALL of a sudden, the 2023 US Open tennis tournament is over.

One of the two matches I watched at the Arthur Ashe Stadium during the opening day of the 2023 US Open tennis tournament on August 28 was second-ranked Novak Djokovic’s first round conquest of 85th-ranked Alexandre Muller.

The matched lasted after midnight and I had to disembark from a packed Manhattan-bound 7 train that left the Flushing Meadows Corona Park’s Mets-Willets Point station after only two stations and walked passing through three stations on my way home in nearby Elmhurst.

Djokovic, who returned to World No. 1 after blasting Muller, 6-0, 6-2, 6-3, had won a whopping 354 matches in Grand Slams prior to the first round, while Muller had won just two. Moreover, on hardcourt, the Serb was 675-122, while Muller is 3-5.

We didn’t see Djokovic, 36, in last year’s US Open after he refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine, which was a requirement before entering the United States.

The Serb had promised to keep in “good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete again.” And he proved why he is still the best tennis player in the world by winning the tournament again this year.

Newest U.S. 19-year-old darling Coco Gauff won $3 million by beating Aryna Sabalenka 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the women’s final on Saturday (September 9), while in Sunday’s (September 10) men’s final, Novak Djokovic trounced Daniil Medvedev, 6-3 7-6(5) 6-3.

The victory served as a measure of revenge for Djokovic, who notched his fourth win in 10 Flushing Meadows finals.

It also capped another remarkable Grand Slam campaign with wins at the Australian, French and U.S. Opens and a return to the top of the world rankings.


Djokovic became the oldest U.S. Open men’s winner in the Open Era and the first to win three Grand Slam events in a season for the fourth time.

He walked out on to a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium on September 10 and stared across the net at Medvedev the man once again standing between him and history just as he had two years ago. The last time the two clashed at the U.S. Open was in the 2021 final, when the Russian captured his only major and denied the Serb a rare calendar Grand Slam. While Djokovic and Medvedev are intriguing figures, neither has been fully embraced by the New York crowds.

“Certainly, there was little of the electricity that crackled through Arthur Ashe during the women’s final on Saturday, with no clear support for either player from an attentive but subdued audience,” reported the Independent.

“As expected in a contest featuring the sport’s two premier hardcourt players, almost every point was contested with long rallies as both men pounded away at each other from the baseline. Djokovic came out playing with purpose and applied pressure right away breaking the third seed at the first opportunity on way to a 3-0 lead.”

Through it all, celebrities went coming out in droves to watch the action at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the New York City borough of Queens.


This was how Djokovic reacted after winning record-equalling 24th grand slam title:

“I don’t know where to start, it means the world to me [to win 24 titles], I’m living my childhood dream,” Djokovic said.

“To compete at the highest level in the sport that gave me so much after so much adversity, growing up in the 90s, a couple of wars. It was very expensive, not affordable.

“It was quite a choice, incredible resilience, belief, all these years. My wife, my kids, my team, this is your trophy as much as mine. I love you.

“To make history in this sport is remarkable. It’s special. In every meaning. It’s hard to describe. I had a childhood dream at eight to win Wimbledon and be the best player in the world.

“New goals… I never imagined I’d be here talking about 24 slams. I didn’t know it would be the reality. But I thought I had a chance over the last few years, why not grab it?”

Here’s how Medvedev reacted to his US Open final defeat to Djokovic:

“Congrats to you and your team, I feel like I had not a bad career, I have 24 titles and you have 24 slams.”

“I was here two years ago when I won, what a great anniversary gift for my wife. It’s funny, because dates usually change, but today is the anniversary, I was like, ‘come on, one more time’.

“From one side, I can say, I beat Novak in a slam final, the pinnacle of my career, I played five finals against them and I won one.

“I said in Australia, but I say it again, first we met when I was 500th in the world. He was kind to me, nothing special, but a normal person.

“He still does, nothing changed. Something great about a person you can say.”

I also watched Gauff’s first round victory against Laura Siegemund in a match cheered by former President Barrack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama.

In the championship, Gauff’s notoriously flaky forehand was having one of its off days. Because of her extreme grip, she needed to swing aggressively at the ball in order to generate revolutions and therefore control. But when her racket arm gets tight—as it was here for the first dozen games or so—she sprayed it everywhere.

The turning point was a phenomenal piece of escapology to deny Sabalenka a service hold at 6-2, 1-2. After fending off a series of brutal attacks, Gauff struck a running backhand pass that drew the loudest roar of the tournament to date.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)