Now 40 years of age, Williams’ career will come full circle as her final match is to be played at the site of the first of her 23 grand slam singles wins, the 1999 US Open. Then just a teenager, Williams burst onto the scene to stun world No. 1 Martina Hingis in the final and lay the first stepping stone on her path to two decades of dominance.
“I’m hoping that she’s going to have a fantastic US Open and to give the best farewell is to go with the win. So [I’m] hoping that she can do it.”
Even if she cannot achieve a dream final flourish by lifting the title at Flushing Meadows, Williams’ 23 grand slam singles titles will go down as the most by any player in the Open Era and just one shy of Margaret Court’s all-time record.
Williams’ greatness is not only limited to the singles court, having won every doubles grand slam title at least twice and winning two of four mixed doubles grand slam titles. She has also achieved more than $94 million in on-court career earnings.
Few tennis players have transcended the sport like Williams and her presence will undoubtedly be missed on the Tour.
However, that was one of just 12 wins that Raducanu has mustered in a season that has been blighted by injuries and patchy form. She’s shown flashes, though, of the player that triumphed at Flushing Meadows last year, most notably in the recent demolition of two-time grand slam champion Victoria Azarenka in Cincinnati.
Two thousand of the 2,756 ranking points that currently have Raducanu 11th in the world — and as high as 10th back in June — came from her US Open win, and failure to get close to defending her crown will see the 19-year-old plummet down the WTA world rankings.
Raducanu’s run in Cincinnati was ended at the hands of world No. 8 Jessica Pegula, but it was a closely-fought contest to finish a week that will likely give Raducanu increased confidence going into the US Open.
Among the stars hoping to snag Raducanu’s New York crown will be Poland’s world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who has won a remarkable six singles titles in 2022.
The two-time French Open winner goes into the tournament as the bookmakers’ favorite, but has only ever reached the fourth round at Flushing Meadows and has struggled for form on the hard court in the lead up to the US Open.
However, Swiatek did reach the Australian Open semifinals at the start of the year and won three successive WTA 1000 hard court events earlier in the season, so she no doubt has the ability to go all the way in New York.
Rafael Nadal aims for No. 23
In the men’s draw, all eyes will be on Rafael Nadal as he looks to add to his men’s record 22 grand slam titles.
“The main thing for me is to stay healthy,” Nadal told reporters after the defeat. “It has been a difficult injury to manage, to be honest.
“The last month and a half hasn’t been easy because, having a tear on the abdominal, you don’t know when (you will be) 100 percent over the thing, so that affects me a little bit in terms of not (being) sure if you are able to try your best in every serve.”
But New York has been a happy hunting ground for Nadal over the years with the Spaniard winning the title on four occasions, most recently in 2019 when he came through a five-set epic against Daniil Medvedev.
Russia’s Medvedev, competing under a neutral flag since his country’s invasion of Ukraine, is the bookmakers’ favorite to lift the trophy and retain the crown he won in 2021 to mark his maiden grand slam victory.
The 26-year-old’s lone title in 2022 came on the hard court in Mexico earlier this month, but Medvedev did reach the Australian Open final at the start of the year, agonizingly losing out after holding a two-set lead over Nadal.
Alexander Zverev, who would have been among the favorites to win, confirmed earlier this week that he was pulling out of the US Open after failing to recover from injury in time.
The world No. 2 underwent surgery back in June on torn ligaments in his ankle, which he sustained after landing awkwardly in the French Open semifinals against Nadal.
Zverev’s absence from the draw moves all those players ranked below him up a place in the seedings, meaning Nadal and Medvedev can now only face each other in the final.
Novak Djokovic confirmed on Thursday that he would not be competing at Flushing Meadows in 2022. The United States’ vaccination rules for non-US citizens meant the Serbian would not have been granted a visa to enter the country, so Nole will wait at least one more year before returning to the Big Apple.
The world No. 6 triumphed at Wimbledon earlier this year to win his 21st grand slam title and move to within one of long-time rival Nadal, but has been unable to play in any of the Tour’s US Open warmup events in the States or Canada.
The US Open will be the second grand slam this year that Djokovic will miss out on due to his unvaccinated status, after he twice had his visa revoked ahead of the Australian Open in January.
“Good luck to my fellow players! I’ll keep in good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete again. See you soon tennis world!”
With a wide open field, the men’s draw will be fascinating to watch — will it be Nadal tying Serena on 23 grand slam singles titles or will another rise up to reign in New York?