US Open 2021 finalists Medvedev Djokovic Raducanu Fernandez

Tennishead’s guide to the 2022 US Open – A review of 2021

With history on the line and unprecedented history created, the 2021 US Open was truly an event to remember. 

Dominic Thiem won the 2020 event in front of an empty Arthur Ashe before being unable to defend his title through injury.

Meanwhile, defending women’s champion Naomi Osaka had history but not form on her side as she struggled mentally in the latter half of the 2021 season.

Join Tennishead as we take you through a review of the 2021 tournament singles draws before the action gets underway at the 2022 event.

Review of US Open 2021

Men’s singles

The Calendar Slam was within touching distance for world number one Novak Djokovic entering New York.

After triumphing at Wimbledon for the third leg of the feat before Olympic disappointment in Tokyo, the Serb was fired up for the US Open.

Persistent rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were out with injury, but Olympic champion Alexander Zverev and two-time Major finalist Daniil Medvedev were both big threats.

Moreover, with Djokovic and Medvedev seeded first and second, a repeat of the Australian Open final earlier in the year looked likely if both men were in top form.

Djokovic won his first match over teenage qualifier Holger Rune, but only after the world number 145 managed to snatch a set off the 34-year-old, bowing out 1-6, 7-6 (7-5), 2-6, 1-6.

The three-time champion won his next three matches over Tallon Griekspoor, Kei Nishikori and Jenson Brooksby, dropping the opening set in the latter two before winning in four sets.



Matteo Berrettini was the only seed to survive the next eighth of the draw, as Wimbledon semi-finalist Hubert Hurkacz lost in the second round to Italian veteran Andreas Seppi whilst fellow Italians Lorenzo Sonego and Fabio Fognini fell in the first round.

A supremely confident Zverev came through his first two matches with ease, defeating Sam Querrey and Albert Ramos-Vinolas both in straight sets. He struggled slightly against wildcard Jack Sock before the American was forced to retire in the fourth set.

Jannik Sinner and Gael Monfils played out a third round thriller that almost saw the Frenchman recover from two sets down before the younger man triumphed, before he himself was on the end of a straight sets sweep from Zverev.



Unseeded Lloyd Harris was the one who made it through to the quarter-finals from the next section after defeating seventh seed Denis Shapovalov and 22nd Reilly Opelka back-to-back in the third and fourth rounds.

The bottom half of the men’s draw is where the real blockbusters came early on. Fifth seed Andrey Rublev met flamboyant home talent Frances Tiafoe in the third round.

Not only did the 23-year-old put on a show for the New York crowd, but he clinched the win 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 6-1 for one of the biggest wins of his young career as he made the fourth round of his home Slam for the second time.

There waiting for him was young Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, himself looking for his best ever US Open result after reaching the fourth round in 2020.

He got the better of the American, reaching back-to-back Major quarter-finals after doing the same at Wimbledon.



In a nightmare first round draw for the Brit, world number 112 Andy Murray faced Roland Garros finalist and third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

But the 2012 champion held his own and even looked set to win the battle from two sets to one up before the Greek eventually triumphed after nearly five hours on Arthur Ashe 2-6, 7-6 (9-7), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.



After that scare, Tsitsipas met rising star Carlos Alcaraz in the third round after the 18-year-old downed Cameron Norrie and Arthur Rinderknech with relative ease.

In another marathon, the Spanish teenager pulled off the biggest rankings win of his career after coming through 7-5 in a final set tiebreak.

He followed up that win by defeating German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk, again in five sets, to reach his first Major quarter-final.


Another more fortunate qualifier was Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands, a man whose success left non-Dutch speakers struggling to properly pronounce his name.

The world number 117 defeated Carlos Taberner, Casper Ruud, Facundo Bagnis and Diego Schwartzman to reach the last eight in just his fourth ever Slam main draw.

In the bottom eighth of the draw, 24th seed Dan Evans produced a brilliant comeback in the third round to defeat Alexei Popyrin 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1) and meet Daniil Medvedev in the fourth round.

The Russian had made short work of all previous opponents, and did so again with the Brit as he made it to the quarter-finals without dropping a set.



Daniil Medvedev US Open 2021

Daniil Medvedev had already reached two Slam finals, at the 2019 US Open and 2021 Australian Open, but was yet to land a Major title entering the 2021 US Open

Quarter-finals onwards

As had been the case in Paris and London, Djokovic once again met Berrettini on the Slam stage in 2021.

Like at Wimbledon, the Italian took the lead first, winning the opening set 7-5. However, also like in that championship match at SW19, the world number one came surging back.

Djokovic came out the victor 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 to take his Slam match win streak to 26.



Zverev won straightforwardly against Harris of South Africa to set a 10th career meeting with Djokovic and fourth already in 2021.

The two men produced an epic, including this astounding 53-shot rally as Zverev saved set point.



However, Djokovic eventually triumphed 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to go 7-3 up in his head-to-head with Zverev, reaching a fourth consecutive Major final and putting him one win from matching the great Rod Laver as only the second man in the Open Era to complete the Calendar Slam.

What could have been a match to remember between two stars of the next generation produced nothing of the sort as Carlos Alcaraz was spent from his previous rounds and retired down 6-3, 3-1 to Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Meanwhile, Medvedev came past Dutchman van de Zandschulp, but not without a first dropped set of his campaign, winning 6-3, 6-0, 4-6, 7-5.

Auger-Aliassime simply did not have the game to match Medvedev in his first Slam semi-final, as the more experienced 25-year-old won 6-4, 7-5, 6-2.




So a repeat of the Australian Open final between the top two seeds was on for the championship: Novak Djokovic vs Daniil Medvedev.

In their first meeting since that Melbourne match, fans hoped they would not see the same one-sided affair that Djokovic came through Down Under.

Instead the opposite came true, as a combination of the weight of expectation on the world number one and the brilliant play of Medvedev saw the challenger win 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, flopping to the floor after landing his maiden Major crown in New York.



Novak Djokovic US Open 2021

Novak Djokovic was stopped from becoming only the third player, man or woman, to complete the Calendar Slam in singles, after rod Laver achieved the feat in 1969 and Steffi Graf did so in 1988

Women’s singles

Defending champion Naomi Osaka entered New York seeded third but out of form after a personally tumultuous season.

World number one Ashleigh Barty was fresh off a second Slam triumph at Wimbledon and a title at the Cincinnati Open just a week before the start of the final Slam of 2021.

Serena Williams was absent for the first time since 2017 after suffering injury in the first round of Wimbledon.

What would come to pass was one of the most unpredictable Slam draws in modern history.

Top seed Barty made short work of opponents Vera Zvonareva and Clara Tauson to reach the third round.

Then, she was a double break up in the third set and serving for the match against American Shelby Rogers before crumbling to crash out in New York 7-5 in a tiebreak.



Despite taking out the top seed, Rogers would not be the one to progress to the quarter-finals from her draw section.

That woman was 18-year-old Emma Raducanu, the qualifier ranked 150th in the world who made it to facing Rogers by winning her three qualifying and first three main draw matches all in straight sets.

She did the same to Rogers, breezing past her for the loss of just three games 6-2, 6-1.



Seventh seed Iga Swiatek was the highest seed of the next section, and she met the next highest seed there in newly-crowned Olympic singles gold medallist Belinda Bencic in the fourth round.

After nine set points between them, the Swiss took the opener in a tight tiebreak tussle before downing Swiatek 7-6 (14-12), 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals of the US Open for a third time in her career.



The next eighth of the draw also went as planned by the seedings, with fourth seeded Karolina Pliskova and French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova meeting in the fourth round having dropped one set each.

Former world number one Pliskova came out on top 7-5, 6-4 as she continued her quest to match her 2016 run to the final in New York.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu were the highest ranked players in the next section, but Kvitova was stopped by Greece’s Maria Sakkari in the third round.

She then met Andreescu for a place in the quarter-finals, the pair producing a closely-fought affair with the first two sets splits by tiebreaks before Sakkari won 6-3 in the third.



Former world number one Simona Halep played out a heated encounter with 19th seed Elena Rybakina in the next section, toughing out a 7-6 (13-11), 4-6, 6-3 win to meet Elina Svitolina in the fourth round.

And it was the Ukrainian who won there 6-3, 6-3, breezing into the last eight without dropping a set.

Osaka won her first match in straight sets before a walkover saw her into the third round.

There she met 18-year-old Leylah Fernandez in what proved a battle as the Canadian teen clinched the win of her career so far 5-7, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4.

She backed it up by defeating another former US Open champion, again from a set down, overcoming 16th seed Angelique Kerber 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals of a Slam for the first time.


After ninth seed Garbine Muguruza made it past two-time US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka, she was stopped by French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova in the fourth round, the Czech winning 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).

Finally, Aryna Sabalenka justified her seeding of second by making it to the quarter-finals for the loss of just one set, defeating Nina Stojanovic and Tamara Zidansek before seeds Danielle Collins and Elise Mertens.


Naomi Osaka 2021

Naomi Osaka entered the 2021 US Open having won four of the last six Slams on hard courts, but could not recapture that form for a third title in New York

Quarter-finals onwards

Raducanu has surprised the entire field to reach the quarter-finals, but surely a seasoned pro and new Olympic champion like Bencic would rain on her parade?

No, as the Brit took the occasion in stride to win 6-3, 6-4 and take her straight sets win streak to eight.

Sakkari defeated Pliskova in similar fashion, 6-4, 6-4, becoming the only woman to reach two Major semi-finals in 2021.

Again Raducanu defied the odds to dismiss the Greek 6-1, 6-4 to reach the final of a slam in only her second main draw appearance.



Fernandez versus Svitolina produced the most competitive quarter-final, as once again the Canadian youngster came through in three sets to meet Sabalenka after the Belarusian beat Krejcikova 6-1, 6-4.

That match-up produced another tight contest as a fearless Fernandez won 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-4 before Raducanu met her in the final for a teen tussle.



So it was an 18-year-old qualifier against a 19-year-old world number 73 in the final.

Raducanu only seemed to win in straight sets, while Fernandez made it through tough three-set ties; one of those trends had to end.

And after the first set either was still on the cards as Raducanu came through 6-4, but Fernandez would not back down without a fight.

That fight proved less than enough though, as on her third championship point and with an ace out wide, Raducanu took the title, falling to the court in disbelief as she did so.

As the first qualifier, man or woman, to win a Slam title, Raducanu achieved something that might never be matched again in the sport.



Emma Raducanu 2021

Emma Raducanu became the first British woman to win a Slam singles title since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in 1977 when she took home the trophy at the 2021 US Open

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