Tennis fans couldn't have asked for much more excitement at the 2013 U.S. Open.
In both the men's and women's singles draw, the two highest seeds played each other in the tournament final. As this tweet from Austin Karp of Sports Business Daily suggests, fans were enamored with tuning in for the outcome:
CBS Nadal-Djokovic US Open final got 2.8 overnight yesterday, up from 2.3 for Murray-Djokovic in '12. Also up from 2.6 in 2011, 2.2 in 2010— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) September 10, 2013
Serena Williams captured her 17th Grand Slam title by beating Victoria Azarenka in one final, while Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in the other. Nadal's win gives him 13 career Grand Slam titles, just four short of Roger Federer's record mark.
The stars were out in full force at the final major championship of the 2013 season. Some went home happier than others, but the saving grace of the sport exists in four more Grand Slams next year.
We'll relive some of the action below by taking a look at three of the biggest takeaways from Flushing Meadows.
Nadal is Coming for No. 1
The scariest thing about Rafael Nadal is that his game is still expanding.
It's obvious after going 22-0 on hard courts this year that the 27-year-old Spaniard is no longer a clay-court specialist. Sure, winning French Open after French Open kick-started his career, but he's displayed staying power in more ways than one.
His consistency, shown in this Tennis.com tweet, has been nothing short of remarkable:
Rafael Nadal is the first man to win at least one Grand Slam title for nine consecutive years: http://t.co/jByfBnrZoT— TENNIS.com (@tennis) September 10, 2013
He's now coming for No. 1, and in more ways than one.
For starters, Nadal is inching toward Djokovic's reign on top of the ATP World Tour ranking. As this tweet from the ATP account would suggest, we could have a new No. 1 very soon:
Nadal's next assault on a No. 1 spot could have wide-reaching effects.
How many Grand Slams will Nadal finish with?
With Grand Slam win No. 13 now in his pocket, Roger Federer's record 17 major championship victories appears to be within reach. At the very least, Nadal is knocking on a door where very few men have ever lived.
TIME magazine's Sean Gregory described Nadal's pursuit of Federer's number the only question that now matters in the sport.
ESPN's Johnette Howard thinks the ongoing town hall meeting among tennis circles concerning the greatest player of all time is now officially in session.
With his 2012 struggles now a distant memory, Nadal is officially back to being the most feared man on the ATP circuit. He's coming for No. 1, and his future opponents should be scared.
Azarenka Is a Star in the Making
Azarenka suffered her second straight loss to Williams in the U.S. Open final this year, but there's no denying that she has a bright future.
Only 24 years old, she already has two Grand Slams and two Grand Slam final appearances under her belt. She has also been to three different semifinals in her short career.
After battling back from losing the first set to force a third against Williams, Azarenka's comeback effort fell short. Fortunately, she will have a number of chances to atone for the loss as her career continues to move forward.
Robert A. George of the New York Post was highly complimentary of her performance in the final:
Congrats to Victoria Azarenka. Great, gutsy player with many Grand Slams in her future. Thanks for a memorable final! #UsOpen— Robert A George (@RobGeorge) September 8, 2013
Until Williams retires—or slows down, which seems unlikely at this point—the women's field won't even out. Azarenka is in prime position to be the beneficiary of either situation and will continue to improve as she gains mental fortitude and experience in big moments.
After she puts it all together, Azarenka will be tough to stop on the WTA Tour.
Don't Sleep on Djoker
Djokovic might have suffered an agonizing loss at the hands of Nadal in the U.S. Open final, but he's hardly a player who lets one loss affect his psyche.
Last year when Andy Murray took Djokovic down in the Flushing Meadows finale, he responded by winning at the Shanghai Masters tournament shortly after and then defeating Roger Federer to win the ATP World Tour Finals.
He then won the Australian Open earlier this year, putting the stamp on what was a dominant stretch from the end of the 2012 season to the beginning of the 2013 season.
As noted by BBC's David Law, Djokovic bounces back better than the average player:
Djokovic has now reached 14 straight Grand Slam semifinals. Amazing consistency - 3.5 years of semis. Second best ever behind Federer (23).— DavidLaw (@DavidLawTennis) September 7, 2013
There's three ATP Tour tournaments before the calendar flips to 2014, and Djokovic won't be listed as a secondary contender for any reason. Nadal is hot right now, but Djokovic is only a break or two away from flipping the script.
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