The 2022 US Open begins today in Flushing Meadows, New York, with all eyes on top-ranked tennis players who have converged for what many spectators hope would be another spectacular tournament.
The impending farewell of tennis legend, Serena Williams, the absence of Novak Djokovic and the return of Russian and Belarusian players to a grand slam since the war broke out in Ukraine are some of the major topics on the lips of tennis followers.
VIP Magazine’s IKENNA OKAFOR presents a comprehensive preview of the tournament.
Today, the 50th successive US Open begins in Flushing Meadows with the participation of both male and female athletes juggling for the same prize money. Undoubtedly, it is the most lucrative of grand slams where expectations are always high and top-ranked tennis players – Men and Women – sweat it out in their bid to be crowned champions.
Defending champions Daniil Medvedev and Emma Raducanu would be battling it out against other stars in a bid to keep their titles.
The 2022 US Open draw is one of the most unpredictable men’s draws in Open history, perhaps the start of a new era. There are at least five players – Medvedev, Tsitsipas, Ruud, Nadal and Alcaraz – who can be the World’s number one ranked tennis player if any of them wins the US Open on September 11.
Russia’s Daniil Medvedev comes into this year’s tournament without any major grand slam in 2022. He was banned alongside other Russian and Belarussian tennis players following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
Medvedev, who faces Stefan Kozlov in the first match on Arthur Ashe Stadium later today, has only one ATP title in 2022. He is the defending champion and the current No. 1 and is a huge favourite to repeat and retain the No. 1 ranking.
Spain’s Rafael Nadal will be hoping to claim a fifth US Open and 23rd grand slam title in Flushing Meadows, New York. His path to winning the title is no longer impeded by Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, who is not allowed to take part due to his refusal to be vaccinated.
36-year-old Nadal shall pray that fitness issues and injuries are not going to derail his quest winning into the tournament he won in 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2019. An abdominal issue forced Nadal out of Wimbledon in June but he won the 14th French Open despite playing the whole tournament with pain-killing injections.
Nadal will get his tournament underway against Australia’s Rinky Hijikata tomorrow. It would also be the beginning of his race to reclaim the world number one spot from defending champion Daniil Medvedev, the man he defeated in 2019 final.
In the women’s draw, Poland’s world number one Iga Swiatek will have nothing but victory on her mind as she hopes to claim her second Grand Slam title in 2022.
Swiatek’s last two tournaments have ended in early exits in 2022 but the French Open Champion who won six straight tournaments this year will hope to replicate such stupendous form. Her US Open quest begins with a first-round tie against Italy’s Jasmine Paolini tomorrow.
Missing in action
Novak Djokovic is in Europe and there is no more hope of a last-minute change of Covid-19 policy by the US authorities. Djokovic won the US Open in 2018. However, the highly regarded tennis star is barred from entering the United States for refusing to take the vaccine.
Recall that Djokovic was deported from Melbourne in January and failed to defend his Australia Open title.
Roger Federer is another notable absentee and coupled with Djokovic’s absence, the race for the men’s title is likely to be fierce.
US Open 2022 Prize Money
The 2022 US Open prize money has exceeded $60m for the first time, and the dollar exchange rate makes it easier for players across the World to win big.
The US Open in Flushing Meadows has increased its prize money for another year, with the $60m total figure breaking its previous record from 2021 by $2.5m
As it is, singles champions will earn an additional $100,000 on what was available last year, while defeated finalists earn half that amount.
Tennis legend Serena Williams shall bid an emotional farewell at this year’s tournament at Flushing Meadows. Today, the 23-time Grand Slam winner will face Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic.
If she fails to win, she is not departing the US Open stage immediately because along with Venus, the sisters has been granted wild card entry in the Women’s doubles event.
Serena turns 41 next month, and Venus, who turned 42 in June, won women’s doubles championships at the US Open in 1999
* Ikenna Okafor, With additional reports from www.usta.com
2022 US OPEN: MEDVEDEV, RADUCANU SET TO DEFEND TITLES