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Ten things we learned from the 2013 US Open

Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows, New York.
by Mark Hodgkinson
Thursday 12 September 2013
Marathon matches, late-night finishes, foregone conclusions and worthy champions...here are 10 things that Wimbledon.com will remember from the 2013 US Open...
- Rafael Nadal could end up being the most successful man in the history of tennis, with his victory on the New York concrete taking him to within four Grand Slams of Roger Federer's record collection of 17. Nadal's four-set victory over Novak Djokovic brought him a 13th major, which puts him only one shy of Pete Sampras (when Sampras retired in 2002, he imagined that it would be a while before anyone surpassed his 14 Slams, and then Federer did so, and now a second player is threatening to equal and then pass his total). John McEnroe, for one, thinks that Nadal could "easily" win another four or five majors, just so long as he stays healthy. 
- Nadal needn't fear cement or concrete. Remember when Nadal returned to the tour in February, after a seven-month absence, and some wondered whether it might be sensible if he stuck to the sport's natural surfaces, clay and grass? The most remarkable part of Nadal's comeback has been how he has played on hard courts, the surface that is supposed to disagree with his knees. Nadal has played 22 matches on hard courts this season, and won them all. 
- At the age of almost 32, and after winning a 17th Grand Slam singles title, Serena Williams sounds as though she is as motivated as she has ever been. Be in no doubt: the Californian is interested in history. Williams, a winner over Victoria Azarenka, is now just a Slam behind Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, who each won 18 majors, and it's not ridiculous to imagine that she could catch Steffi Graf, who won 22, or even Margaret Court, who gathered 24. Williams would have been disappointed with her year if she had only won the French Open. Like Nadal, she had to achieve the Paris-New York double if she was to truly make this a special season.
- When Williams is hitting the ball with power and confidence, probably the only player who can stay with her is Azarenka. Maria Sharapova, who missed the tournament through injury, hasn't beaten Williams for almost a decade. 
- Novak Djokovic swears by liquorice tea, manuka honey and warm water (though not all together in the same mug). The Serbian's visit to New York doubled up as a book tour, as he has written a guide to nutrition. But perhaps the best advert for his diet was the way he won that 54-stroke point (below) during the final. 
- The emotional energy that goes into winning Wimbledon can leave you feeling depleted (though not everyone retires soon afterwards, as the Ladies' champion Marion Bartoli did). Andy Murray wasn't quite himself in New York, after everything that he had put into his success at the All England Club, and the defending champion was beaten in the quarter-finals by Stanislas Wawrinka (still, there is no great shame in that, as was confirmed a round later when the Swiss came mighty close to defeating Djokovic in the semi-finals).
- Wawrinka could end the year as the Swiss No.1. Twice this year, Wawrinka has almost beaten Djokovic at the Slams - at Melbourne Park and at Flushing Meadows - but there has been much more to his season than glorious failure or a huge heap of almosts. His victory over Murray certainly brought him to the attention of the New York crowd. It wasn't just that he had bumped out last year's champion, but that he did so by going for his shots. Wawrinka doesn't do inhibition. Even if Murray had been close to his best, he still might not have survived. 
- For the second Slam in a row, Federer departed a long time before they handed out the prizes, and it wasn't easy viewing. Going into this summer's Championships, Federer had reached 36 consecutive Grand Slam quarter-finals, which was a record. But at both Wimbledon and the US Open, he has failed to make the last eight. The Swiss lost to Ukraine's Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round at the All England Club, bamboozled by his opponent's serve-and-volleying, and in New York he felt as though he "self-destructed" during his fourth-round match with Spain's Tommy Robredo. 
- The rebooted Dan Evans showed there there is more to British men's tennis than that chap from Dunblane. After qualifying for the main draw, Evans defeated Japan's Kei Nishikori and Australia's Bernard Tomic before troubling Robredo in the third round. Evans left New York with a determination to make the most of his talent in the future. 
- The Bryan brothers aren't invincible. After their victories in Melbourne, Paris and London, Bob and Mike had been attempting to achieve the calendar Grand Slam, but they were stopped in the semi-finals, when they lost to India's Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic, the eventual champions. 


For all the reports and results from Flushing Meadows, visit the Official US Open website

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