Latest Tennis News – US Open
For the first time since the Australian Open in 2005 there was a men’s Grand Slam final without Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, or Murray. Those with tickets for the final probably woke up on the morning of the semi-finals expecting to see Djokovic v Federer two days later, but they ended up with two first time Grand Slam finalists in Marin Čilič and Kei Nishikori instead. Both Čilič and Nishikori registered impressive wins over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic respectively, and thoroughly deserved their places in the final.
Marin Čilič played with the Head YouTek Graphene Prestige, the latest version of a racket that has been around in various guises since 1987, when it debuted as the Prestige Pro. He strung the racket with Babolat VS Team natural gut main strings and Luxilon Alu Power Rough cross strings. Runner up Kei Nishikori, whose appearance in the final went one step further than fellow Japanese Jiro Satoh’s Wimbledon and Roland Garros semi-final appearances in 1932/33, used the Wilson Steam 96 strung with Luxilon 4G main strings and Wilson Natural Gut cross strings.
The much hyped unveiling of Roger Federer’s new racket finally occurred at Flushing Meadows. With Wilson celebrating its centenary in 2014, they chose, as expected, to launch the new racket at their flagship tournament. The Wilson Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph is the first autograph-line racket since the Chris Evert Autograph in 1976. That racket itself was a renamed Billie Jean King Autograph, Billie Jean having left Wilson for Bancroft. On the men’s side it’s the first autograph since the Stan Smith Autograph of 1971, which was a reincarnation of the Tony Trabert Autograph, which was a reincarnation of the Donald Budge Autograph. Wilson’s best known, and the best selling racket of all time is the Jack Kramer Autograph. Interestingly, available alongside the Jack Kramer Autograph was the Jack Kramer Pro Staff, so Wilson has chosen to combine two racket lines in the new Federer model. Cosmetics for all these previous Autograph rackets stayed the same for many years, so it’ll be interesting to see if Wilson sticks with the current graphics for years to come, or whether it follows its current trend of updating the look of its range every two years.
Roger was unable to give the racket a dream start when he was overpowered in straight sets by Čilič, but the racket garnered plenty of exposure during his run to the semis, and is sure to be a best seller on the back of the Federer name, regardless of how well Roger does going forward. As per his previous racket, Roger played with Wilson Natural Gut main strings and Luxilon Alu Power Rough cross strings. Reigning Wimbledon champion and World No 1 Novak Djokovic managed to get a set, but couldn’t hold off Nishikori in the other semi. Djokovic played with the Head YouTek Graphene Speed Pro 18/20 racket, strung with a hybrid of Babolat VS Team natural gut main strings and Luxilon Alu Power Rough cross strings.
Serena Williams won her third consecutive, and sixth overall, Ladies’ Singles title with a straight sets win over Caroline Wozniaki, who remains in search of her first Grand Slam crown. Serena played the Wilson Blade 104 strung with a hybrid of Wilson Natural Gut main strings and Luxilon 4G cross strings, whilst Caroline used the Babolat AeroPro Drive, strung with a hybrid of Babolat RPM Dual main strings and Babolat VS Touch natural gut cross strings. Caroline has come full circle, having reached the US Open final in 2009 with the Babolat before switching, less successfully, to a Yonex frame. Now she’s back with the racket that suits her game, and her ranking is heading back towards the top spot she’s held in the past.
So, the 2014 Grand Slam events have all been completed, and we have the unusual situation where all four men’s and ladies’ singles titles have been won by different players – Stan Wawrinka and Li Na in Australia, Rafa Nadal and Maria Sharapova at Roland Garros, Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova at Wimbledon, and Marin Čilič and Serena Williams in New York. In terms of racket manufacturers it’s 3 titles to Head, (Čilič, Djokovic, Sharapova), 2 to Babolat, (Nadal, Li), 2 to Wilson, (Kvitova, Williams), and 1 to Yonex, (Wawrinka).
Whilst having eight different winners is unusual, what’s even more unusual is that although four different racket manufacturers provided the winners’ rackets, each player used a different model. In Oz Wawrinka used the Yonex VCore Tour G and Li the Babolat Pure Drive, at Roland Garros Nadal used the Babolat AeroPro Drive and Sharapova the Head YouTek Graphene Instinct, at Wimbledon Djokovic used the Head YouTek Graphene Speed Pro 18/20 and Kvitova the Wilson Steam 96, and in New York Čilič used the Head YouTek Graphene Prestige and Williams the Wilson Blade 104. As far as I am aware, this is the first time this has ever happened.