Oh my! What a great US Open that was. Two weeks of tennis at its best filled with comebacks, dramas and pure magic on the court. What a fitting ending it was to see an ageless legend (Andre Agassi) battle for the title on the last day of the tournament. Here are my seven highlights of the 2005 US Open.
1. Roger is still the king. Sporting an astounding 23-0 record in finals, Roger Federer collected his sixth grand slam title and became the first man in the Open era to win Wimbledon and the U.S Open back-to-back in consecutive years. Federer's ability to raise his game to a higher level in critical times sets him apart from his peers. Roger is on his way to becoming the greatest ever to play the game of tennis.
2. Amazing Andre. At age 35, Andre Agassi played four back-to-back five-set matches. With sets tied 1-1 in the final, he was up 4-2 with a service break against the #1 player. His comeback (down two sets to love) against James Blake in the quarterfinal was an instant classic. There is nobody like AA.
3. Queen Clijsters. It was great to see Kim Clijsters win her first grand slam title in her fifth attempt. Clearly the fittest women on the women's tour, she showed the mental fortitude that deserted her in previous finals. The women's title could not have gone to a better person than Clijsters.
4. The pride of India-Sania Mirza. Feisty and gutsy are two words that came to mind when I saw this 18-year-old sensation from India. The first woman from her country to reach the 16th round at the US Open, Sania captured the hearts and imaginations of tennis fans worldwide. Her torpedo like forehand stands out but her confidence and ability to speak her mind make her special. I have only this advice for Sania: get in better physical shape and you can be in the worlds top 10 soon.
5. The demise of the Williams sisters. I have been a fan of Serena and Venus for many years. They changed the women's game with their athleticism, flair and power. Also, they were able to put the game of tennis in reach for players from ethnic minorities. No longer was tennis just a sport for the privileged. Now, I get the sense they have lost respect for tennis. No longer is the game their #1 priority. It was no surprise that neither of them got past the quarterfinals. They ran out of gas and very soon we might view them as pretenders and not contenders.
6. New York, New York. I am fascinated with this city. It is fast and loud but it has its unique flavour. The NY fans at the US Open love underdogs and warriors such as Connors and Agassi. They understand the game of tennis and have respect for players that give their 100 percent. The night matches at the Open are amazing. At 1.15 AM last Wednesday, 20,000 fans stood and gave Agassi and Blake a standing ovation. Now tell me, where else can you find such fans?
7. Katrina and 9/11 bring a proper perspective. Disappointed with the Agassi loss? Wait a minute! As the US Open began, we saw the destruction that hurricane Katrina delivered to Louisiana and Mississippi and the finals were played on the fourth anniversary of 9/11. These are reminders to keep tennis in perspective. It is, after all, just a game.