This year’s US Open was different from any other Grand Slam tournament before. The crowd within the Arthur Ashe Stadium, which is the largest tennis venue in the world, only included players and their coaches, as well as the occasional racoon.
Players were forced to adapt to a new routine. While being enclosed in the so-called ‘bubble’, they could only spend their free time in the hotels or at the courts.
Another change included replacing line referees at the side courts with a fully electronic line-calling system Hawk-Eye Live. The traditional line referees worked only on the two largest stadiums – Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong. However, many argued they were not necessary, especially after the greatest surprise of the tournament.
As Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer did not arrive in New York, Novak Djokovic became a clear favourite to win the title. However, during his round-of-16 match against Pablo Carreno Busta, he could not control his emotions and hit a line umpire with a ball, earning an immediate disqualification.
From that point it became clear that we were going to witness the first Grand Slam quarterfinals without Federer, Nadal and Djokovic since 2004. We were waiting for a new Grand Slam champion, the first ever to be born after 1990.
The five-set final brought tremendous emotions. Dominic Thiem came back from 0:2 to beat Alexander Zverev in the fifth set tie break. He earned his first Grand Slam title and became the second Austrian to win a major since Thomas Muster at the French Open in 1995.
In the meantime, the women’s tournament brought plenty of high-quality matches. For the first time in history, three mothers played in the quarterfinals: Serena Williams, Tsvetana Pironkova and runner-up to be Victoria Azarenka. In the final, she lost in three-sets to Naomi Osaka, who lifted her second US Open trophy.
Not only did Osaka become the US Open champion, but during the tournament she showed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Before each of her seven matches, she arrived at the court in a mask with a different name of a black victim of police brutality.
While the US Open has come to an end, there are more grand slam tournaments ahead. The French Open, usually held in the spring, was postponed until 27 September. The organisers of the tournament will be allowing 5,000 fans to attend the games and so we will have to wait and see how that turns out next.