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Where are they now? The Flops and the Revelations of the US Open

The US Open 2015 was a memorable fortnight. Six weeks on, how are the most memorable players performing?

The Revelations

Benoit Paire – The enigmatic Frenchman stunned Kei Nishikori in Round One of the US Open and reached the last 16, his best ever performance in a Grand Slam. Only a few weeks before, Paire had picked up his first ATP title yet even after Flushing Meadows many were sceptical on whether his scintillating run would continue. And initially it looked as if the sceptics would be right, with Paire retiring in the first round of the St. Petersburg Open against Jerzy Janowicz towards the end of September, his first match since New York. But in Tokyo, his form would dismiss this as a mere blip. Beating Dimitrov, Baghdatis, Kyrgios and then Nishikori once again, he would reach the final of what is a big ATP 500. Here he would be dispatched comfortably by Stanislas Wawrinka, but that should not take anything away from the run that preceded it. In all his matches he prevailed over three sets; for a player who has gained a bit of a reputation for being mentally fragile, then that is a fact of some significance. Paire now sits at a career-high rank of 23 in the world, and is still fulfilling his revelatory role. He is seeded fifth for the Valencia ATP 250 which starts on Monday. It should also be noted he was suffering from an ankle injury in that Tokyo final.

Ranking after US Open: 32

Ranking Now: 23

Donald Young – He was one of the stories of the fortnight. Every grand slam has to oblige in cultivating a comeback king, and Young was the man to don that title in Flushing Meadows. Young, similar to Paire, has often been a player painted by the ‘mercurial talent’ brush. It was vital then that he backed up his Flushing Meadows success, with qualifying for the Tokyo Open.  The American would be felled in three sets in the first round by Marin Cilic though. Young also qualified for the Shanghai Masters, albeit as a lucky loser and then disappointingly lost to world #66 Victor Estrella Burgos. It has been a mixed bag for Donald Young since New York, but he has risen to #48 and will have the chance to really show the form that captivated the public for that first week at the US Open if he can set up a meeting with Borna Coric or Kevin Anderson in the second round of the Basel indoor tournament. He will face Swiss wildcard Henri Laaksonen in Round 1.

Ranking after US Open: 51

Ranking Now: 48

Johanna Konta – Sorry cynics, Konta has continued her astonishing form. Qualifying for the Wuhan Open, Konta strung together a series of incredible victories. First was 13th seed and 16 in the world Andrea Petkovic, then Victoria Azarenka (courtesy of a retirement from the Belarusian after Konta won the first set) and finally, most impressively, Simona Halep 6-3 3-6 7-5. It took an in form Venus Williams to stop her. Earlier this year, Konta had to ply her trade in ITF Challengers. Now at the end of the season she sits just inside the top 50, with former British #1 Anne Keothavong amongst others voicing their expectations that Konta will hit the top 20 next year.

Ranking after US Open: 58

Ranking Now: 46

Roberta Vinci – The Italian went one step better than Konta in Wuhan (despite losing in the first round of the doubles there – although it seems that this year her drop in the doubles has coincided with her rise in the singles), reaching the semis before being likewise defeated by Venus Williams in three sets. Vinci also competed in Beijing, beating Alison Van Uytvanck comfortably before losing to Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the last 16.

Ranking after US Open: 19

Ranking Now: 17

Flavia Pennetta – Fellow countrywoman Pennetta also reached the last 16 of Beijing, losing to Ana Pavlyuchenkova. She also played in Moscow as a late entry, negotiating past a tricky opponent in Daria Gavrilova but then withdrew. On Sunday she played her first match in the Singapore WTA Finals and her US Open form, somewhat hard to judge upon in her recent matches, was unequivocally absent versus Simona Halep, who gave the Italian a drubbing 6-0 6-3. Having announced her retirement for the end of the season in the Arthur Ashe stadium barely after the dust had settled on her iconic victory, perhaps Pennetta is feeling the pressure of orchestrating the perfect end to a professional career that has spanned 15 years.

Ranking after US Open: 8

Ranking Now: 8

The Flops

Kei Nishikori – Having fallen at the first hurdle of this year’s US Open, the Japanese star had a lot of points to recover. Immediately after the US Open, he led his country to victory over Colombia in the Davis Cup. Next was the Japan Open in Tokyo, and he acquired some soild wins against high calibre opposition including his 2014 US Open vanquisher, Marin Cilic. But then arrived the opportunity to avenge his US Open defeat at the hands of Benoit Paire. He failed to do so, and lost in Round 3 of Shanghai to Kevin Anderson. Nishikori has virtually sealed his spot in the London ATP World Tour Finals, but he will go there dangerously lacking form unless he picks things up in the Paris Masters. With a shoulder injury forcing him out of next week’s Basel ATP 500, his chances at the O2 could be made even slimmer.

Ranking after US Open: 6

Ranking Now: 6

Grigor Dimitrov – New coach Franco Davin has not quite had the desired effect yet. Dimitrov’s US Open second round exit is arguably not a flop, for the Bulgarian has suffered from a season strewn with premature exits. 2014 was a ground breaking year for Dimitrov, but he has failed to capitalize from it. In Kuala Lumpur, he managed to beat Joao Sousa but then was knocked out by #74 Benjamin Becker. In Tokyo he crashed out in the first round. In Stockholm his performance was marginally more promising, reaching the quarter finals to lose to Tomas Berdych 6-4 7-5. Next week Dimitrov plays in Basel, but it seems like the end of the season couldn’t come quick enough for the 24 year old.

Ranking after US Open: 19

Ranking Now: 26

Lucie Safarova – She lit up the French Open earlier in the year, but the Czech was crushed 6-4 6-1 in the opening round of Flushing Meadows. Since then, Safarova has only played one match – losing to Pavlyuchenkova in three sets after receiving a first round bye in Moscow – and will play Garbine Muguruza on Monday in the WTA Finals, following the securement of her spot in the event on Friday with Suarez Navarro’s loss.

Ranking after US Open: 9

Ranking Now: 9

Garbine Muguruza – Safarova’s opponent similarly excelled in the summer, coming second only to a superbly imperious Serena Williams at Wimbledon. The Spaniard has been invigorated since defeat in Round Two of the US. Wuhan saw the youngster reach the final after defeating the likes of Angelique Kerber and Ana Ivanovic. Yet she had the drive to go one step better in Beijing, one of the biggest tournaments outside of the grand slams on the WTA tour. It has been the response of a mature, wise veteran, rather than a developing talent.

Ranking after US Open: 4

Ranking Now: 4

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