By E.J. Crawford
The 2015 Emirates Airline US Open Series opened with the return of Mardy Fish and closed with Andy Murray and Karolina Pliskova accepting the Series trophies as its champions. In between, there were dramatic matches and unforgettable moments – they very things that have made the Emirates Airline US Open Series a summer staple.
Here’s a look back at some of the most memorable of those moments from the 2015 Series:
The Mardy and Andy Show: Two of the best players of the past generation of American men’s tennis paired to play doubles at the BB&T Atlanta Open, with Mardy Fish making a comeback to the summer hard-court season for the first time since 2013. This time, he brought good pal Andy Roddick with him. Roddick, a two-time Series champion who retired at the 2012 US Open, teamed with Fish in doubles; the duo (pictured above) won its first-round match before falling to No. 3 seeds Eric Butorac and Artem Sitak in the quarterfinals. Fish officially retired from tour play a month later, following his five-set, second-round loss to No. 18 seed Feliciano Lopez at the US Open.
Isner Three-Peats in Atlanta: The 2015 BB&T Atlanta Open wrapped up much like the tournament did in 2013 and 2014 – with John Isner hoisting the winner’s trophy. The former University of Georgia star needed two tiebreaks in the round of 16 against Radek Stepanek and survived a tight three-setter against Denis Kudla in the semifinals – but he held on and defeated a resurgent Marcos Baghdatis in the final for his 10th career ATP World Tour title. Five of those victories have come in Series events.
Happy Birthday to You … and You ... and You: In an exceptionally rare occurrence, three of the four players competing in the first doubles semifinal at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, Calif., celebrated birthdays that day. The Aug. 8 birthday girls were Kateryna Bondarenko, Tatjana Maria and Xu Yi-Fan. In the match, Xu and her partner, the non-birthday-celebrating Zheng Saisai, prevailed en route to becoming the first Chinese team to win the Bank of the West title.
Kerber Turns the Tables: Angelique Kerber bounced back from a runner-up showing at the 2014 Bank of the West Classic to claim the title in 2015, defeating eventual Series champion Karolina Pliskova in one of the summer’s best matches, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
The Swiss Couldn’t Miss: In perhaps the most impressive run to a title by any player in 2015, rising Swiss star Belinda Bencic completed a stunning run through the Rogers Cup draw. In each of her six matches, the 18-year-old defeated either a former Grand Slam champion or finalist, and for the tournament she upset No. 1 seed Serena Williams, No. 2 Simona Halep, No. 4 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 5 Ana Ivanovic. The victories over Williams and Halep, in the semifinals and final, respectively, both came in three grinding sets.
Murray Snaps Djokovic’s Streak: Andy Murray had lost to Novak Djokovic eight consecutive times going into their matchup in the final in Montreal, including setbacks earlier in 2015 in the Australian Open final and the French Open semifinals. But the Brit snapped that streak in the Rogers Cup finale, playing aggressive tennis throughout to topple the world No. 1, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. The victory propelled Murray to the 2015 Series men’s title, his second overall crown after also finishing first in 2010.
And He Sells Ice Cream, Too: In one of the summer’s best stunts, Andy Murray went undercover as an ice cream salesman at the Western & Southern Open. Click here to see his transformation – and the results.
Seventh Heaven for Federer: Roger Federer reminded everyone that he is still capable of beating anyone, anywhere, taking down Andy Murray in the semifinals and Novak Djokovic in the final, both in straight sets, to win his record seventh title at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. The 34-year-old’s seven Queen City crowns are only outpaced by the eight he has won in Halle and are matched by his seven Wimbledon titles. Djokovic, meantime, fell to 0-5 in Western & Southern Open finals; it is the only Masters 1000 title he has never won.
Serena Reaffirms Her Dominance: Serena Williams bounced back from her loss in the Rogers Cup semifinals (to Belinda Bencic, see above) by taking a second consecutive championship in Cincinnati, prevailing in a high-level final over No. 2 Simona Halep, 6-3, 7-6. With the victory, Williams became the first woman to successfully defend her title in Cincinnati since American Jane Bartkowicz in 1966-67.
Sure, You Can Serve 100 MPH, but Can You Drive a Tricycle?: Rivaling the Andy Murray-selling-ice-cream-social-media smash was this “race” at the Connecticut Open in New Haven: Petra Kvitova, Lucie Safarova and Caroline Wozniacki competed in a triathlon obstacle course that involved riding a tricycle, bouncing a tennis ball on their racquets and playing cornhole. Click here to see who prevailed.
Thrice Is Nice: At one time, Caroline Wozniacki owned the Connecticut Open, winning the title in New Haven four consecutive years, 2008 to 2011. It appears she has now ceded that dominance to Petra Kvitova. The two-time Wimbledon champion captured her third New Haven title in four years in 2015, completing an impressive championship run that featured wins over Top 20 players Madison Keys, Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki by defeating No. 6 Lucie Safarova in a three-set final.
Anderson Serves Notice: Kevin Anderson has long been known for his big serve, but rarely has he been more dominant than during his march to the title at the 2015 Winston-Salem Open. The 6-foot-8 South African held in 55 of his 56 service games during the tournament and pounded 16 aces in a straight-sets victory over qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the final. Both players, incidentally, benefitted from the momentum they built in North Carolina. Anderson would go on to upset Andy Murray en route to his first Grand Slam quarterfinal, at the 2015 US Open, while Herbert teamed with Nicolas Mahut to win the US Open men’s doubles crown.