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5 things we learned from the US Open

The last major of 2017 left more questions than answers.

TENNIS 11/09/17 21:21
5 things we learned from the US Open

The final grand slam of the year is over, with Rafael Nadal and Sloane Stephens walking off with the big prizes.

For Nadal, the US Open was the 16th grand slam title of his career and his second of the year, while Stephens lifted a major trophy for the first time.

Here, Press Association Sport picks out five things we learned in New York.

What year is it again?

For the first time since 2010, Nadal and Roger Federer have shared all the slam titles between them. The Swiss won in Australia and at Wimbledon while the Spaniard collected his 10th French Open title and a third at Flushing Meadows. Now they sit together at the top of the rankings for the first time in six-and-a-half years. At 36 and 31, Federer and Nadal cannot go on for ever but, with fitness doubts around many of their top rivals, it would be no surprise if 2018 saw them add to their record-breaking achievements.

The women’s game remains in flux

After a turbulent first half of the season, it appeared a hierarchy was emerging at the top of the women’s game in the absence of Serena Williams. The likes of Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza were dominating the big events – bar Jelena Ostapenko’s shock victory at the French Open – and eight women arrived in New York with the chance to be world number one. But only one of those eight – Venus Williams – reached the semi-finals and the title was won by an unseeded player only two months into her comeback from foot surgery. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

America rules the roost

What was beyond doubt was that the women’s tournament belonged to America. For the first time since 1981, all four semi-finalists came from the home country, with Stephens defeating Venus Williams and Madison Keys beating Coco Vandeweghe before Stephens dominated the final. Stephens, Keys and Vandeweghe are at the forefront of a whole crop of talented players in their mid-20s or younger. Watch out for 18-year-old Cici Bellis in the near future, while US Open junior champion Amanda Anisimova, just turned 16, is another outstanding prospect.

The kids are coming

While it has been a throwback year in men’s tennis, 2017 has also provided a glimpse of an exciting future. The hand-wringing about what happens when Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray retire no longer seems so necessary. Nineteen-year-old Andrey Rublev became the youngest player to reach the US Open quarter-finals for 16 years but it was Denis Shapovalov, a year younger, who really stole the show. The Canadian, with his ill-fitting cap and swash-buckling game, oozes star quality. Throw in world number four Alexander Zverev, Frances Tiafoe and, love him or hate him, Nick Kyrgios, and the picture looks pretty rosy.

Slam pickings for Britain

Not so long ago one player through to the third round in singles and a mixed doubles title might have seemed a successful grand slam but Murray’s enormous success has moved the goalposts. With the Scot sidelined, hopefully only until the end of the year, and Johanna Konta beaten in the first round, Britain’s lack of strength in depth was exposed. Kyle Edmund is maturing nicely and was unfortunate to suffer an injury during his third-round clash with Shapovalov. At 22, he should have plenty of good days ahead of him at the slams, but this tournament may well become more the norm than the exception.