By E.J. Crawford
The 2014 Emirates Airline US Open Series started with a new points system and ended with a familiar champion hoisting the trophy.
While the quality of the tournaments and the play once again starred in 2014, no individual competitor shined brighter than Serena Williams. The reigning queen of American tennis was the only player to win multiple titles during this year’s Series season, capturing the crowns at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, Calif., and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. In fact, her only summer setback came in the latest installment of the Williams sisters rivalry, with Venus topping Serena in the semifinals of the Rogers Cup in Montreal.
Still, the two titles and the one semifinal showing were more than enough for Serena to cruise to the 2014 women’s Series championship – making her the first player, man or woman, to win three Series crowns (2011, 2013-14).
The new points system for the 2014 Emirates Airline US Open Series Bonus Challenge doubled the total for any player who scored points in three or more events. Serena used that to finish with 430 points for the summer season, well ahead of runner-up Angelique Kerber (150 points) and third-place finisher and Rogers Cup champion Agnieszka Radwanksa (120 points).
Joining Serena and Radwanska as a 2014 Series tournament champion was Petra Kvitova, who won the newly renamed Connecticut Open (formerly the New Haven Open at Yale) without dropping a set. Behind that victory, Kvitova finished tied for fourth in the Series standings with Venus and Cincinnati runner-up Ana Ivanovic.
Of course, only the top three finishers play for bonus prize money at the US Open, and first-place Serena made the most of her opportunity. She went on to win her record-tying sixth women’s singles title in Flushing Meadows, which delivered a record $4 million payday – $3 million as the US Open winner and an extra $1 million in bonus prize money as the Open and Series champion.
The chase for the men’s title in 2014 was a much tighter affair. It came down to the final week, with Milos Raonic securing the crown when second-place Series finisher John Isner was forced to pull out of the Winston-Salem Open with an ankle injury.
Raonic, the big-serving 23-year-old Canadian, secured his first Series title by winning the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., reaching the quarterfinals at the Rogers Cup in Toronto and advancing to the semifinals at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati to finish with 280 points. That topped Isner, the BB&T Atlanta Open champion who finished with 200 points, and Roger Federer, the Toronto runner-up and Cincinnati champ who had 170 points. Both Raonic and Isner had their point totals doubled under the new scoring system.
Other champions on the men’s side in 2014 were Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who defeated Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov and Federer in his run to the title in Toronto, and Lukas Rosol, who won the championship in Winston-Salem, N.C.
In doubles action, Bob and Mike Bryan won their 99th career title in Cincinnati – they would add No. 100 at the US Open – and Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil backed up their Wimbledon title with a victory in Atlanta.
Best of all, fans were able to follow the action like never before. In all, there was more than 225 hours of live TV coverage of the Series broadcast on Tennis Channel, CBS and the ESPN family of networks, with coverage airing on 29 of a possible 34 days of the 2014 season – all showing that in its 10th anniversary season, the Series is growing stronger by the year.