The 2021 US Open was one for the ages.
The year’s final major was filled with unexpected twists and turns that were sure to keep tennis fans on the edge of their seats throughout the fortnight. Miraculous runs from teenagers, a quest for a calendar Slam, and historical wins highlighted the Grand Slam event in New York.
On the women’s side, tournament favourites Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka were both ousted in the third round of the event. Barty, the World No. 1, lost to American Shelby Rogers while two-time US Open Champion Osaka lost to the then-ranked World No. 73 Leylah Fernandez of Canada.
Fernandez, who turned 19 on the second Monday of the Slam, continued to shine and took down World No. 5 Elina Svitolina and World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka en route to the championship match. She became only the third woman in the Open Era to defeat three top five seeds at the US Open in the same tournament.
The young and mighty Canadian wasn’t the only teen turning heads, as Emma Raducanu – an 18-year-old British qualifier – won ten straight matches without dropping a set to capture the iconic US Open trophy. The closest Raducanu got to losing a set was in the second round of qualifiers when she won 6-3, 7-5. She cruised through the final on the legendary Arthur Ashe Stadium, defeating Fernandez 6-4, 6-3.
The 2021 US Open champion cemented her spot in the history books as the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam event in the Open Era.
While Raducanu won her first career title on Saturday, Novak Djokovic was chasing his 85th and, more importantly, his 21st major.
The men’s side didn’t have as much parity as the women’s. The final four consisted of World No. 1 Djokovic, World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, World No. 4 Alexander Zverev, and the then-ranked World No. 15 Félix Auger-Aliassime.
Missing from the top four – World No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas – lost to teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz in the third round. Alcaraz’s tournament was cut short due to an injury sustained in the quarter-finals against Auger-Aliassime.
Despite all of the teenage success at this year’s US Open, the main storyline remained Djokovic’s quest for the calendar Slam (winning all four majors in the same year) and a 21st major – the most ever in men’s singles.
In the semi-finals, 2021 National Bank Open presented by Rogers champion Medvedev defeated Auger-Aliassime in straight sets to reach his third major final and his second this year. Djokovic needed five sets and a bit more time in his semi-final clash, but ultimately, he managed to turn aside Zverev and kept his calendar Slam hopes alive.
Achieving a calendar Slam would have given Djokovic a solid case as the tennis GOAT (greatest of all time) on the men’s side. However, the 25-year-old Russian stunned Djokovic and shocked the entire tennis world on Sunday, winning 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
Every tennis fan wants to know when the Big Three will be handing off the torch to the next generation. Perhaps the new era of tennis has begun.