September 10, 2020
Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev just played sensational quarter-final matches to set-up a mouthwatering clash at Flushing Meadows.
Meanwhile any one of the four women in the semi-finals of the US Open would be a worthy winner.
It’s all so intriguing in New York. Now we are down to the business end of the tournament. You can feel the excitement.
And it makes us long for such a sense of anticipation at Wimbledon 2021.
It’ll come round soon enough. For now the biggest action takes place across the Atlantic.
With all due respect to Sascha Zverev, who may yet claim the US Open title, the most spectacular fireworks have come from Thiem and Medvedev so far.
Zverev will hope they burn each other out and that he can see off Pablo Carreno Busta without his own fuel tank emptying.
That would leave Sascha fresh enough to give him a chance in the final.
But in a sense you could argue that the real final is between Thiem and Medvedev.
It’s hard to escape the feeling that the new Grand Slam winner will come from that match-up.
They’re only human, of course. You saw tiny chinks in the armour of both men during their quarter-finals.
Medvedev faltered fleetingly during his first-set tie-break against Andrey Rublev and looked as though he might lose it.
Thiem stuttered momentarily in the third set to allow Alex De Minaur to dream of a comeback.
In an instant, the winners had closed the door tightly on their opponents and soon won in straight sets.
Thiem and Medvedev are complete players. Fiery tennis, steely mentality. Men of experience, yet so-far uncrowned.
Daniil pushed Rafael Nadal so hard last year. Thiem has pushed both Nadal and Novak Djokovic to the limit in recent major finals.
So who will win? It could easily turn into a five-set marathon. We take Thiem to edge it.
Then he would have to recover in time to beat the improving Zverev, who should get the better of Carreno Busta.
The women’s semi-finals are even harder to predict.
Serena Williams won a glorious 26-shot rally to help secure victory over Tsvetana Pironkova in the quarters.
At one stage she had no right to stay in the fight but her defensive work proved immense.
Serena will need all that fitness and athleticism to cope with a resurgent Victoria Azarenka in the Battle of the Mothers.
But will all those recent three-set wars of attrition start to take their toll on Serena?
She will need to be at her very best from the start against Azarenka. She must also stay completely free of that familiar burden of history.
The thought or a 24th Grand Slam must not even enter Serena’s head.
Can she do it? We’d love to see the all-time-great prevail. But Vika might just have the edge.
If Azarenka makes it through, who would be joining her in the final?
Experience points to Naomi Osaka. She has reached this stage of a Grand Slam twice before and won both titles.
Her semi-final opponent, Jennifer Brady had never been past a fourth round until this week.
But there is something unstoppable about the free-flowing Brady right now.
All the pressure will be on Osaka. She doesn’t necessarily like being the favourite.
If Brady can enjoy the ride as underdog then she could yet pull off an almighty shock.
And if she can beat Osaka, then why not Azarenka, who will probably have been drained by Serena?
Remember, women’s tennis is notoriously unpredictable and that’s part of the fun.
So in that spirit of fun, let’s turn logic on its head and go with Brady!
Imagine that. Not one but two new US Open winners. Thiem and Brady. What a turn-up that would be!
The giants will be back for Wimbledon 2021. And the tournament will be all the richer for their presence.
No sporting event will be more star-studded than Wimbledon next year.
But isn’t there also something exciting about the organised chaos of the 2020 US Open?
What will happen next? It’s anyone’s guess.
We might as well sit back and enjoy seeing who seizes this incredible opportunity for glory.