Medvedev waits in the wings but it is still all to play for between Djokovic, Federer and Nadal while Andreescu showed in the US Open the mentality Serena Williams needs to rediscover
1) Historic times for mens tennis
Novak Djokovic arrived in New York with a shoulder injury, then Roger Federer suffered a stiff neck against Grigor Dimitrov. No matter. Rafael Nadal was there to represent the big three and to take his 19th grand slam title, putting him one behind Federer. So much is on the line in these last years of their careers and each final seems to be laced with more historical significance than before. Had Nadal finished off Federer in the 2017 Australian Open final, he would already be the leader. Had Federer won one more point against Djokovic this summer at Wimbledon, he would have fended off his two rivals for a little longer. In the end none of this matters. They have faced each other so frequently over the past 14 years that by now everyone already knows whom they consider the best and no outcome will change minds. But it sure makes for a good story.
2) Bianca Andreescu is a mental giant
Days after Bianca Andreescus first grand slam title at 19 years old, it is still difficult to compute the scale of her achievements this year. Tennis has seen many sublime breakthroughs in the past but after winning Indian Wells then reaching the last 16 in Miami in March, Andreescu played only one match in four months. Lack of match fitness should be an impediment to success, yet she launched herself back in with a 14-match winning streak. She has not lost a completed match since 1 March. Andreescu is blessed with a varied and potent game but the most impressive aspect of her tournament was how well she played the big points. Until those final desperate games against Williams, not once did it seem as if she would falter in an important moment. She never did.
3) Daniil Medvedev will be back
After an exhausting summer of 20 wins in 22 matches Daniil Medvedev stood two sets and a break down to Rafael Nadal in a grand slam final, yet still had the audacity to believe he could win. The spirit and clarity that Medvedev showed as he turned the final round was confirmation that there is so much more to come. Despite rising in the rankings by grinding opponents down, in his first grand slam final he stepped closer to the baseline, took more risks and swept to the net 74 times in total. Over the past two years just about every other player of the 23-year-olds generation has been hyped as the next big thing. How refreshing that the biggest success has come to the player who quietly worked hard in the background, far from view.
4) Serena Williams has a block in finals
After spending much of recent press conferences plastering a fake smile on her face after defeats it was refreshing to see a frank and honest Serena Williams after losing to Andreescu. Though she showered praise on the young Canadian she clearly admires, Williams called her own play inexcusable. She was right. Williams had a great tournament and played high-quality tennis for six matches. She served well and moved better than she has since returning from childbirth, hitting cleanly throughout. But in the final, as Andreescu soared, Williams froze. Her figure of 37% first serves in the second set was pitiful. She has now lost four grand slam finals in a row without winning a single set and it is clear that her issues are mental. Unless she can learn how to play freely in these moments, her rivals have made it clear they will not let her breathe.
5) Johanna Konta is putting herself in good positions
Johanna Konta was ground down in straight sets by Elina Svitolina but she had made another spirited run to the quarter-finals, beating the third seed, Karolina Pliskova, en route. She has now reached the last eight of each grand slam, a significant achievement. Konta is blessed with numerous strengths in her serve, groundstrokes and good movement, yet it is easy to see her as an overachiever who has eked much out of her inefficient technique and limited hand skills. Although she missed a golden opportunity to win a grand slam at the French Open this year, she keeps on putting herself in the right positions. Future draws could break open for her again.