US Open Tennis 2015: What New York Results Mean for Tournament's Biggest Stars

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 14, 2015

Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, reacts after breaking Roger Federer's serve to win a game in the fourth set during the men's championship match of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
David Goldman/Associated Press

The 2015 U.S. Open was a stepping stone for some, an addition to a legacy for others and a chance to say farewell for a few more, as Flushing Meadows produced another fitting end to the Grand Slam season.

A peaking veteran won the championship on the women's side, but not the one almost everybody expected. Add the surprise of a player outside the Top 25 winning to a shocking retirement mic-drop during the celebration speech, and Saturday produced a memorable set of moments in Queens.

As for the men, two all-time greats battled to add valuable accolades to already legendary careers, as a more than three-hour delay turned an afternoon final into a late-night battle for the ages.

Here's a glance at some of the biggest stars from the fortnight and what the results mean for their respective careers.

Novak Djokovic

David Goldman/Associated Press
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Whenever he's tested the most, the skill, tactical genius and overall heart of Novak Djokovic just continue to shine through. 

That was the case once again late Sunday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium, when he topped the great Roger Federer in four brutally tough sets to win the U.S. Open. The way it came about couldn't have been more treacherous, as the Serbian had to fight through breaks and Federer playing arguably at his best.

Not only did Djokovic tie Federer in their head-to-head tally at 21 wins apiece with Sunday's victory, but it inched him closer toward Federer's career earnings, as ESPN's Darren Rovell reported:

Most valuable for Djokovic, of course, is the fact that he just added his 10th career Grand Slam title. At just 28 years of age, he's already hit the double-digit mark.

That puts him in elite company, as ESPN Stats & Info noted:

He's also showing that his previous struggles at Flushing Meadows may be a thing of the past. Djokovic improved to 2-4 in U.S. Open finals and overcame a stiff test in the process.

For the second time in his career, Djokovic has won three of the four majors in a single season. Even more impressive is the murderer's row of top opponents he's had to go through in them, further showcasing his superiority over the rest of the sport.

If there was any doubt that a large distance separated Djokovic ability-wise from the rest of the sport before Sunday, the top seed and world No. 1 put it to rest convincingly. When it comes to men's tennis hierarchy at the end of 2015, it's Djokovic and then everybody else. 

Flavia Pennetta

David Goldman/Associated Press

Take the retirement of your dreams and compare it to the one that Flavia Pennetta enjoyed this weekend at Flushing Meadows. They probably don't compare. 

That's because the way the Italian was able to end her playing career Saturday is one that can only be written in a storybook or imagined in a distant dream. The 33-year-old not only became the oldest woman to become a first-time major winner in the Open era, but she shockingly announced her retirement soon thereafter.

You can't say there's any better way for her to go out, as she told WTA:

One would naturally wonder whether Pennetta arrived at the decision in the emotion of her victory or if it was something that had been brewing for some time. Well, she left no doubt of that to reporters afterward, as she told WTA Insider:

At 33 years old, it's understandable that Pennetta finds retirement an attractive option. But considering she just put together the best tennis of her career and the parity on the women's side, you can't help but wonder whether she would have been able to add another Grand Slam or two.

None of that matters. All that matters is that Pennetta got the swan song she wanted and eventually deserved, and that was to bow out of major professional tennis a U.S. Open champion. A forgotten part of the women's game for so much of her career, nobody in tennis will forget Flavia Pennetta's name now.

Roger Federer

Seth Wenig/Associated Press

We've seen this movie many times before, and it seems to get more and more heartbreaking each time.

But for some reason, Federer just can't seem to break through for that elusive 18th Grand Slam title and his first since the 2012 Wimbledon. Perhaps that reason is Djokovic, who closed the door on Federer twice in major finals this year alone.

At least he didn't bow out of the sport following the loss, as Carl Bialik of ESPN's FiveThirtyEight quipped:

There are plenty of promising tidbits to take from the fortnight at Flushing Meadows from a Federer perspective, even in the wake of another crushing defeat. His ability to make it to the final without dropping a set just proves that he's still at the top of the sport.

But until he finds a way to top Djokovic in a best-of-five or until Djokovic somehow stops dominating the sport, Federer will be playing second fiddle as the runner-up for majors to come. As the years go by and Federer continues to play great tennis, he just can't seem to play well enough to top his Serbian rival.

Sunday showed that Federer is awfully close, but close doesn't mean much when you've reached the top 17 previous times.