Now 40, Williams’ career will come full circle as her final match is to be played at the site of the first of her 23 grand slam singles victories, the 1999 US Open. Then just a teenager, Williams burst onto the scene to stun world No. 1 Martina Hingis in the final and lay the first stepping stone on her path to two decades of dominance.
“I hope she will have a wonderful US Open and to give the best farewell is to go with the victory. So [I’m] hoping she can do it.”
Even if she can’t achieve a dream final flourish by lifting the title at Flushing Meadows, Williams’ 23 grand slam singles titles will go down as the most by a player in the Open Era and just one shy of Margaret Court’s all-time record.
Williams’ greatness is not just limited to the singles court, having won every doubles grand slam title at least twice and winning two of four mixed doubles grand slam titles. She also achieved more than $94 million in on-court career earnings.
Few tennis players have transcended the sport like Williams and her presence will undoubtedly be missed on the Tour.
However, that was one of only 12 wins that Raducanu collected in a season that was blighted by injuries and patchy form. She did, however, show flashes of the player who triumphed at Flushing Meadows last year, especially in the recent demolition of two-time grand slam champion Victoria Azarenka in Cincinnati.
Two thousand of the 2,756 ranking points that currently have Raducanu ranked 11th in the world — and as high as 10th back in June — came from her US Open victory, and failure to come close to defending her crown will see the 19 -year- old fell down in the WTA world rankings.
Raducanu’s run in Cincinnati was ended at the hands of world No. 8 Jessica Pegula, but it was a closely fought contest to end a week that will likely give Raducanu increased confidence heading into the US Open.
Among the stars hoping to capture Raducanu’s New York crown will be Poland’s world No.1 Iga Swiatek, who has won a remarkable six singles titles in 2022.
The two-time French Open winner goes into the tournament as the bookies’ favourite, but has only ever reached the fourth round at Flushing Meadows and has struggled for form on the hard court in the lead-up to the US Open.
However, Swiatek reached the Australian Open semifinals at the start of the year and won three consecutive WTA 1000 hard court events earlier in the season, so she definitely has the ability to go all the way in New York.
Rafael Nadal is targeting No. 23
In the men’s draw, all eyes will be on Rafael Nadal as he looks to add to his men’s record 22 grand slam titles.
“The main thing for me is to stay healthy,” Nadal told reporters after the defeat. “It was a difficult injury to manage, to be honest.
“The last month and a half has not been easy because, having a tear on the abdomen, you don’t know when (you’ll be) 100 percent over it, so that affects me a little bit in terms of not (being) sure if you’re able to try your best good in every service.”
But New York has been a happy hunting ground for Nadal over the years, with the Spaniard winning the title four times, most recently in 2019 when he survived a five-set epic against Daniil Medvedev.
Russia’s Medvedev, competing under a neutral flag since his country’s invasion of Ukraine, is the bookies’ favorite to lift the trophy and retain the crown he won in 2021 to mark his maiden grand slam victory.
The 26-year-old’s only title in 2022 came on the hard court in Mexico earlier this month, but Medvedev reached the final of the Australian Open earlier in the year, losing agonizingly after leading by two over Nadal.
Alexander Zverev, who would have been among the favorites to win, confirmed earlier this week that he is pulling out of the US Open after failing to recover from injury in time.
The world No. 2 underwent surgery back in June on torn ligaments in his ankle, which he sustained after landing awkwardly in the French Open semifinals against Nadal.
Zverev’s absence from the draw moves all those players ranked below him up a place in the rankings, meaning that Nadal and Medvedev can now only face each other in the final.
Novak Djokovic confirmed on Thursday that he will not compete at Flushing Meadows in 2022. The US’s vaccination rules for non-US citizens meant that the Serb would not be granted a visa to enter the country, so Nole will be waiting for at least one. more than a year before returning to the Big Apple.
The world No. 6 triumphed at Wimbledon earlier this year to win his 21st grand slam title and move within one of long-time rival Nadal, but was unable to play in any of the Tour’s US Open warm-up events in the United States or Canada. .
The US Open will be the second grand slam this year that Djokovic will miss due to his unvaccinated status, after he had his visa revoked twice before the Australian Open in January.
“Good luck to my teammates! I will stay in good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete again. See you soon tennis world!”
With a wide open field, the men’s draw will be fascinating to watch — will Nadal tie Serena with 23 grand slam singles titles or will another rise to reign in New York?