With her 6-3, 6-3 victory over Caroline Wozniacki in the US Open women’s final on Sunday, Serena Williams won her 18th Grand Slam title and her third straight US Open. Here’s what the victory means for her career and here it puts her in relation to other tennis greats:
• She won her sixth US Open women’s singles title, which ties Chris Evert for the most in the Open era. The all-time record is eight, held by Molla Bjurstedt Mallory (1915-1926).
• She won her 18th Grand Slam singles title, which ties Evert and Martina Navratilova for fourth-most in tennis history (behind Margaret Court’s 24, Steffi Graf’s 22 and Helen Wills Moody’s 19) and is second in the Open era (behind only Graf).
• She won the US Open without losing a set for the third time in her career (2002, 2008, 2014). That ties the Open-era record held by Evert, who accomplished the feat in 1976, 1977 and 1978, though Evert played only six matches – not seven – in 1976 and 1978.
• She won the US Open for a third consecutive year. The only other woman to accomplish that in the Open era was Evert, who won four titles in a row from 1975 to 1978.
• With her victory on Sunday, she improved to 79-9 at the US Open, an .898 winning percentage that is the best in tournament history for a woman. (Bill Tilden holds the men’s mark at .910.)
• She has now won her first and last women’s singles titles 15 years apart. That breaks a tie with Ken Rosewall for the greatest length of time between wins in tournament history. In the Open era, the second-longest time span between wins for a woman’s champion is eight years (Steffi Graf, 1988, 1996).
• She matches Billie Jean King for third place in most overall US Open titles in the Open era, with nine. (Serena also won the women’s doubles in 1999 and 2009 and the mixed doubles in 1998). They trail only Martina Navratilova (16) and Margaret Court (10).
(E.J. Crawford) Cilic makes easy work of Nishikori
Not since the 2005 Australian Open had there been a major final contested without one of the ATP’s Big Four. But the 2014 US Open final broke that trend, as giant-slayers Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic blitzed their way past top seeds and fan favorites to set up an unlikely final that not many could have predicted.
But when the smoke had cleared and the greats had long been gone, it was No. 14 seed Cilic who proved he was the best player at this event, cruising through a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 win in just under two hours to capture his first Grand Slam title. Cilic is now the first Croat to win a major title since compatriot and coach Goran Ivanisevic won Wimbledon in 2001.
Cilic had earned his spot in the US Open final in convincing form, dismissing both No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych and No. 2 Roger Federer in straight sets prior to the final. He continued his dominance against 10th-seeded Nishikori, playing in the zone with a relaxed, loose and consistent game that Nishikori struggled to keep up with.
Cilic opened the match serving well, using his serve as a weapon to put the pressure on Nishikori and set the tone early. Unfortunately for Nishikori, the fearless play he employed in taking down No. 5 Milos Raonic, No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and No. 1 Novak Djokovic to reach the championship stage simply was not present against Cilic.
Though the Japanese star pushed Cilic in long baseline rallies, he was not as consistent with his shots, which allowed the Croat to take the first break of the match for a 4-2 lead. A strong hold at love three games later gave him the set.
As the match wore on, Cilic had the better movement and more aggressive play, covering the court with ease, while Nishikori was left scrambling, his unforced errors piling up. After four breaks of serve in the second set, three of which came on Nishikori’s serve, Cilic secured a solid grip on the match with a two-set lead just an hour and 10 minutes in.
Down a break midway through the third set, Nishikori nearly had a chance to get back in the match when he held two break points in the 4-2 game. But after Cilic erased both chances with two solid serves, he was able to hold on and come within one game of the championship.
In his final service game, Cilic fired two unreturnable serves and a backhand cross-court winner to claim the trophy.
(Photos: Michael O’Kane)