The 140th US Open was held in a “bubble” this year, the first time in the competition’s history. This was to use to stop the spread of COVID-19 while players spent their time at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and hotels in Queens, NY. This was the first time in the US Open’s history that no spectators were allowed in the stands. The tournament is the second competition in the Grand Slam tournaments for the year.
Since 128 singles and 32 double players were coming internationally for this event, every athlete was tested for COVID-19. American players did not have to quarantine at the hotels. If any player tested positive, they were forced to leave the tournament. France’s Benoît Paire tested positive and any players that had contact with Paire had to withdraw from their respective matches.
In past years, international athletes enjoyed spending their free time in downtown Manhattan. They would experience Broadway shows, try new cuisine or explore the city. The tournament hosted socially distanced trivia nights and had set up a large screen to let players view NBA and MLB games.
The victor of the men’s single matches was Austria’s Dominic Thiem. This was Thiem’s first Grand Slam trophy and the second player from Austria to win a major title. Thiem lost only one set in the last matches leading up to finals. He would need a tough opponent that could handle his quick feet and groundstrokes to stop his run. In the final match, Thiem faced Alexander Zverev from Germany to win his trophy. His results were 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(6) with a two-set fallback.
On the women’s side, Japan’s Naomi Osaka beat Czech Victoria Azarenka for the women’s singles trophy. This was Osaka’s second US Open win after her first in 2018. She won against Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players in tennis history and winner of six titles. During that match, Williams had a penalty that stopped game play for a time and the crowd was not pleased with this interruption. Osaka became the first Japanese woman to get the singles final of a Grand Slam tournament and Grand Slam singles champion.
Mate Pavić and Bruno Soares were the champions of the men’s doubles finals. Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva won the women’s double finals. Japan’s Shingo Kunieda won the wheelchair men’s singles with a three set match. Netherland’s Diede de Groot beat Japan’s Yui Kamiji in the wheelchair women’s singles.
The total prize money for the championship was $53,402,000. $3 million is given to both the men’s and women’s single champions.The runner-ups receive $1,500,000 each. The winners of the doubles championships receive $400,000 per team.
Playing professional sports during a pandemic is already stressful as it is. Top seeded Novak Djokovic for the men’s singles ended his time at the tournament during his match against Pablo Carreno Busta. Djokovic was disqualified during the first set of his fourth round match due to unsportsmanlike conduct. Djokovic accidentally struck a lineswoman in the throat after missing a pass. The act was unintentional, and he did not realized that he had hit her until she collapsed to her knees. He was then disqualified for also striking a fast ball into the fence two sets beforehand.
This incident with Djokovic and Osaka’s win had a number of news outlets reporting again on the Serena Williams outburst at the 2018 US Open. This was during the final match for the championship title. Williams was called out by the head referee for receiving coaching from the crowd. Athletes cannot receive any form of coaching while on the courts during matches. Williams argued that she believed that the thumbs up from her coach was an unintentional sign since she had won the last point. This argument enraged the crowd with boos and disappointment now that Osaka was ready to serve. After two faults from her service, Williams lost the set and broke her racket. The referee called her over again to speak to her about her unsportsmanlike conduct.
This is not uncommon is tennis. Unsportsmanlike conduct or arguments with the referees is common at every Grand Slam tournament. In Djokovic’s case, immediate disqualification was the only option because he struck another person. Outbreaks of frustration during matches typically comes from referee judgement calls. This is common more in male athletes in this sport tend to break their rackets or hit the balls out of frustration.
The US Open was the second tournament in the Grand Slam category. It follows the January Australia Open and the French Open begins September 27. The Wimbledon Championship has been cancelled completely for the 2020 season. This is the first time since the cancellation of the 1945 tournament because of World War II.