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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hawk-eye: 5 Unforgettable US Open Moments

It's hard to believe the US Open is already over, but even more difficult to believe the results. When the first ball was tossed all eyes were on Serena Williams, a champion that would undoubtedly hurricane through her draw as powerfully as the storm which nearly postponed day one. Instead, it was Slammin' Sam of Australia who subdued the 13-time grand slam champion with fury of her own. While the tournament was full of upsets, fairy tales and the expected dominant performances, there are a few moments from the 2011 US Open that stand out.

In no particular order, here are ITB's top five moments/stories that will live on in our memory. We are also introducing the new "Hawk-eye" article series—posts which will revolve around shots of the day, inspirational moments and other must-see things from tennis matches as they happen.

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Kirilenko and Stosur's Epic Second Set Tiebreak: Perhaps the most heart-stopping and hard fought moment of the tournament, Maria Kirilenko of Russia and Samantha Stosur of Australia competed in a second set tiebreak that gave tournament-goers their money's worth. It was a 32 point slugfest complete with five match points (one of which featured two successful challenges by Kirilenko), extended rallies and palpable tension. If Kirilenko's grunts (roars?) aren't enough to give you chills, the look on her face when she wins the breaker to send the match into a decisive third most definitely will.

Kerber celebrates her victory over Niculescu. (AP Photo)
Kerber's Fairytale Journey to the Semifinals: If you didn't know who Angelique Kerber was before this week, don't feel bad... no one really did. Ranked 92 in the world, the German's best grand slam performance prior to this year's Open was one third round effort at the 2010 Wimbledon. You can't knock her, though; she beat good old Aggie Radwanska in the second round to start what would be the greatest run of her tennis career, then took down a surprisingly strong Niculescu and a confident Pennetta to make her way to a semifinal showdown with eventual champion Sam Stosur.

Though it's clear she took advantage of a crumbling draw, Kerber deserved her moment in the spotlight. She took a set from Stosur (something Serena didn't do) and provided us with the unexpected run we all love to see. Come next year, you might forget who she is again and she might become "the other semifinalist." But for now, she's the feel-good story of the tournament, and I can guarantee you she won't soon forget what she accomplished.

(AP Photo)
Serena Wallops Wozniacki: Since the return of the Williams sisters, we've been waiting for one thing: a face-off between Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki. Would the world no.1 prove her pushing prowess and absorb Serena's heat? Or would Serena step on court and prove that no one, regardless of ranking, is as good as her? Well, the moment finally came and our questions were finally answered: Williams trumps Wozzy.

Serena defeated Wozniacki in a straight set beat-down full of laser-like shots and "come on"s audible from my apartment in Boston. The unforgettable moment was not the performance, however, but the reaction after match point. Serena bounced, cheered and beamed as though she had just won the entire tournament and, quite honestly, made everyone remember that tennis is a passion, not a job. For her reaction, CLICK HERE.

The Hindrance Heard Round the World: There's not much you have to say about this unforgettable moment. Serena struck a blistering forehand that Stosur had no play on, but she exclaimed her joy before the ball was out of play and as a result a hindrance was called. A rule is a rule, and although she deserved the point, she also deserved the penalty. Unfortunately, the call against Williams was followed by a high-tempered rant... Check it out for yourself: (Be sure to vote on our poll at the top of the site!)


Stosur Snags Her First Slam: When all was said and done, you couldn't do anything but feel an overwhelming sense of happiness for Samantha Stosur. Not only did she pick through a difficult Russian trifecta (Petrova, Kirilenko and Zvonareva back-to-back-to-back) she beat the "unbeatable" Serena Williams in the championship match (6-2 6-3). Having been dismantled by Serena in the Toronto final, Stosur was by no means the favorite coming in to her second grand slam championship appearance. But, she did the impossible, and she did it was incredible poise.

Many thought her 2010 French Open effort was the peak of Stosur's performance and that, having crumbled against Schiavone, she would never set foot in the slam spotlight again. Well, the Australian has proven all nay-sayers wrong. Congratulations and welcome to the Grand Slam Club, Stosur.

A slam title well earned. (Reuters)
-Kedzie Teller, ITB Senior Editor


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