(Photos by Nicole Metzler)
This summer sees the unveiling of a retractable roof atop Arthur Ashe Stadium, making long rain delays a thing of the past. The tournament has a history of postponing Tennis matches due to weather, but now their main court is safe from the elements. The stadium can now also hold 2,000 more fans with its seating upgrade.
The U.S. Open is also parting ways with the beloved Louis Armstrong Stadium, which will be demolished after the tournament closes its doors for the season. The new Armstrong facility, to be completed in 2018 with a temporary stadium in the meantime. This year’s U.S. Open has felt a little duller ever since five-time champion Roger Federer announced he’d be sitting it out in order to rest. Without his presence at the tournament, spectators are left wondering who will challenge the likes of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic for the title.
One thing is for certain: it won’t be Rafael Nadal.
Featured: Lucas Pouille defeats Nadal in five set thriller
2016 has not been Nadal’s year. Getting ousted in the first round of the Australian Open, withdrawing from French Open with a wrist injury and sitting out Wimbledon can’t be easy for the 14-time Grand Slam winner.
However, his summer started to look up. He placed fourth in the Rio Olympics and made it to the third round of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. With Federer out of the picture, many thought the Spaniard could make well on his chances in New York.
Enter Lucas Pouille: Pouille, seeded No. 24, didn’t have much luck in the first two majors, losing the first and second rounds, respectively. However, the tides changed at Wimbledon when the Frenchman made his way to the quarterfinals.
Pouille brought his momentum to the U.S. Open, taking out Mikhail Kukushkin, Marco Chiudinelli and Roberto Bautista Agut in his route to the Round of 16. Battling Nadal wouldn’t be as easy.
Nadal turned the tables after losing the first set by a large margin and fought to definitively win the second set 6-2. Pouille bested the Spaniard 6-4 in the third, but fell 3-6 in the fourth. It all came down to the fifth and final set.
Nadal was operating the set with a break on Pouille for the first eight games. He was finally going to pull out the match win. At 4-3, Nadal easily took the first two points. But two backhand errors leveled the playing field. Pouille hit a forehand winner for the edge. Nadal forced a forehand error to bring the game to deuce until Pouille got advantage from a forehand volley winner. A forced error gave Pouille the break and the Frenchman was suddenly back in the match. Play stayed on serve before the two players entered into a definitive fifth set tiebreaker.
Nadal started off on the right foot with a mini-break over Pouille in the first point, but it didn’t last long. The Frenchman inched further from his opponent, but the Spaniard caught back up at 6-6.
The crowd at Arthur Ashe were very clearly backing Nadal, roaring for their hero as he approached the end. But them the worst happened: an unforced error gave Pouille the 7-6 lead. He needed just one more point to defeat the No. 4 seed, which he accomplished straight away.
Collapsing to the ground, the underdog was in disbelief at his hard-earned accomplishment.
Tsonga denies Sock quarterfinal spot.
Even with the home-crowd support, American star and clear favorite Jack Sock fell in four sets to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 6-3, 6-3, 6-7, 6-2.
Djokovic easily handles Edmund for straight sets victory: The fresh-looking Serbian outlasted the British Edmund, who may have still been feeling the aftermath of a strong match against John Isner in the third round. Edmund started to make more progress in the later stages of the match, but it wasn’t enough to flip the script on his opponent, who ended up winning the match 6-2, 6-1, 6-4.
Veteran Vinci rolls past Tsurenko in fourth round: Roberta Vinci has seen her fair share of U.S. Opens — 14 to be exact. And despite her age (33), she was the runner-up in last year’s tournament. After just squeaking by in a first-set tiebreak, Vinci proved she’s no one to mess with as she won the second 6-2.
Notable Monday matches: In one of the quickest matches of the tournament, Andy Murray defeated Grigor Dimitrov 6-1. 6-2, 6-2.
Two-time U.S. Open champion Venus Williams took the first set off of Karolina Pliskova, but ultimately lost match after a third-set tiebreak. Her sister, Serena Williams, made it through the round in straight sets.
Quarterfinal match-ups: The French men have invaded the U.S., as three have made it into the quarterfinals this year. Tsonga will face Djokovic and Pouille will play Gael Monfils. The two non-French matches will see Juan Martin del Potro take on Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori will go up against Murray.
On the women’s side, Serena will play Simona Halep, Ana Konjuh will face Pliskova, Caroline Wozniacki will try her best against Anastasija Sevastova and Vinci will look to defeat Angelique Kerber.