US Open Tennis 2012: 3 Reasons to Watch the Men's Final
The elements have once again played havoc with the men's final of the U.S. Open and, for that matter, the women's final as well. As has been the case since 2008, weather and similar factors will result in the men's final being delayed to Monday.
Typically, the U.S. Open has what is known as Super Saturday, where we get the two men's semifinals matches and sandwiched between them is the women's final. This year, only a third of the equation ever got completed.
The men's semifinal between Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych was played out in some of the most difficult weather conditions imaginable for a tennis match. Winds at anywhere from 20 to 30 mph were blowing everything from trash cans to Andy Murray's hat all over the place.
Murray managed to handle these conditions better than Berdych, and he advanced to the men's Final with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7) victory.
According to ESPN, Murray said the conditions were "probably the toughest" he'd ever faced.
The conditions would get tougher. In the other men's semifinal, defending champion Novak Djokovic was scheduled to face off against fourth-seeded David Ferrer. They actually began the first set, and Ferrer had, rather stunningly, raced out to a 5-2 lead before officials had seen enough of the inclement weather and suspended the match until Sunday morning.
The weather also caused the women's final between top-seeded Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams to be moved to Sunday as well.
So what we know about the men's final is that Andy Murray will be trying to once again win a Grand Slam title and become the first British male to win a major championship in 76 years.
He will either be facing Djokovic or Ferrer. Either opponent creates opportunities for Murray—and obstacles as well.
No matter the ultimate matchup, there are three very good reasons to watch the men's final on Monday.
1. Will Andy Murray Finally Break Through?
Is the fifth time the charm for Andy Murray?
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
If momentum counts for anything—and in sports, it usually counts for a lot—then we will all see Andy Murray, at long last, win a Grand Slam title.
On four prior occasions—the 2008 U.S. Open, 2010 and 2011 Australian Opens and Wimbledon in 2012— Murray has been to the final of a Grand Slam event, but he has yet to win.
While that may be true, it was what Murray recently accomplished at the 2012 Olympic Games in London that could serve as the springboard for him to finally win a tennis major.
Andy Murray won the gold medal, in his home country, and he beat some of the men who have given him the most trouble in the past to do so.
In the semifinals, he defeated one of the men who may end up being his opponent in this year's U.S. Open final, Novak Djokovic, 7-5, 7-5. True enough, it was only a best-two-sets-out-of-three, but there was still a potential gold medal on the line, and Murray rose up to defeat the man generally regarded as the best player in the world.
Then in the gold-medal match, Murray excised one of his biggest demons by defeating Roger Federer, regarded by many as the greatest men's tennis player ever, in convincing fashion, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4. The fact that Federer had beaten Murray in the Wimbledon final, on the same court, just about a month earlier made the victory all that much more sweet.
To say that the stars have aligned here at the U.S. Open for Murray's big breakthrough might not do justice to the way in which things have worked out.
First Rafael Nadal pulled out of competition due to injury, the same injury that forced him to miss the Olympics (via NBC Sports).
Then, just as everyone was expecting a rubber match to take place between Murray and Federer in the U.S. Open semifinals, a funny thing happened—Federer was stunned by Tomas Berdych (h/t Associated Press via USA Today).
With all due respect to Berdych, I believe somewhere deep inside, Murray breathed a little sigh of relief.
With Andy Roddick having been eliminated into retirement, Murray may be the player that the American fans will get behind the most. Everyone loves to see a success story and to see someone finally achieve a lifelong goal after having tried and failed before. And Murray is a likable player who many American tennis fans can relate to.
It has been 76 years since a British male tennis player won a Grand Slam event. If Andy Murray can end that drough, and finally capture a Grand Slam title for his own—that alone is one of the most compelling reasons I can think of to watch the men's Final.
2. Is This David Ferrer's Moment to Shine?
Will David Ferrer finally make it to the Final of a Grand Slam event?
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
While it is very easy to root for Andy Murray to finally break through and win a Grand Slam event, it may be even easier to get behind David Ferrer and pull for him to do the same.
The Spaniard has been competing in Grand Slam events since 2003. He has never made it to the final of any such event.
In fact, his appearance here in the semifinals of the U.S. Open matches his best performance ever in a Grand Slam event. Ferrer's best performances to date were reaching the semifinals of the 2011 Australian Open and the semifinals of the 2012 French Open.
If the stars have aligned well for Murray, they may have aligned equally well for Ferrer. Nadal's absence meant that the man who ousted him from the 2012 French Open could not do the same at the U.S. Open.
Moreover, while most people would consider the challenge of defeating Novak Djokovic a daunting one to say the least, Ferrer may be the exception.
The two have met 13 previous times, and Ferrer has actually beaten Djoker five times, including a straight-set win on the hard courts of the Barclay's World Tour Finals in November of 2011.
His sprinting out to a 5-2 lead in the first set as play was suspended should therefore perhaps not be much of a surprise.
But can he keep it going? He is certainly due, and he is a man who has paid his dues. His progress in 2012 has been measurable as he has reached the quarterfinals of both the Australian Open and Wimbledon, to go along with his semifinal appearance at the French Open.
He already survived the match of the tournament when he edged Janko Tipsarevic in a five set thriller in the quarterfinals.
If he can find a way to dethrone Djokovic and make it to his first-ever Grand Slam final to face Andy Murray of all people—well something will have to give.
That, my friends, is what I call compelling television and an even more compelling reason to watch the men's final.
3. Will the Torch Be Passed to Novak Djokovic?
Will Novak Djokovic cement his status as the best player in the world?
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Some people love to see the underdog win. Others love to see a dynasty being born.
If Novak Djokovic wins his second consecutive U.S. Open championship, then the tennis world may indeed bear witness to the birth of a new dynasty.
Since Roger Federer's run of five consecutive U.S. Open championships was snapped by Juan Martin del Potro in 2009, no man has won back-to-back championships at the final Grand Slam of the year.
Rafael Nadal had a chance to do it last year but fell short against Djokovic.
Nadal has won the past three French Open championships, while Djokovic has claimed the past two Australian Open titles.
But a repeat champion at the U.S. Open the past few years has been quite elusive.
If Djokovic wins, will this signify the passing of the torch as far as men's tennis superiority is concerned?
One would have to think so. Consider the year Djoker had in 2011, where he captured three of the four Grand Slam titles.
2012 has not been quite so kind to Djokovic. Yes, he won the Australian Open for the second consecutive year. But he fell to Nadal at the French Open, was beaten by Federer in the semifinals at Wimbledon and lost to Andy Murray at the Olympic Games.
For Djokovic then, successfully defending his U.S. Open championship would serve to reaffirm that, yes, he is still the best male tennis player in the world.
So long as Nadal and Federer are around, they will always be a part of the discussion as to who really is the best male tennis player in the world.
And if Andy Murray is able to win the U.S. Open, then he would also have to be considered as being worthy of discussion.
But if Djokovic can win the U.S. Open again, then he would be the only one of the four great competitors who could lay claim to two of the four Grand Slam titles for 2012. It would be very difficult to argue against Djoker being the best in the world if that happens.
Seeing a great competitor overcome adversity and establish himself as the best of the best is part of what makes sports so great.
To see if Novak Djokovic can accomplish precisely that is another excellent reason to tune in and watch the men's Final.
However this all turns out, one thing is certain—history will be made.