It didn't have Serena, but it did have a whole lot of excellent tennis.
As she moves to the top of the WTA world rankings, Angelique Kerber will do it as the winner of the 2016 U.S. Open after a three-set victory over Karolina Pliskova.
Kerber, currently seeded second behind Williams, dropped a set for the first time in the tournament but hung on for a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win on a steamy Saturday afternoon at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The win was Kerber's second major victory of the season—and her career—after she kicked off 2016 by winning the Australian Open title. She was also a finalist at Wimbledon and won a silver medal at the Olympics in Rio in August.
The victory also comes as a measure of revenge over the fast-rising Pliskova, who defeated her in the final at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati in late August, right after the Olympics.
Pliskova showed signs of nerves early in her first-ever Grand Slam final, but rallied to win the second set and was up a break in the third before Kerber charged back for the win. Both women played strong matches, heavy on winners and low on unforced errors.
Fans who lamented the absence of Serena Williams in the final were treated instead to an entertaining, suspenseful afternoon of tremendous tennis.