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Fairytale of New York

The US Open has provided us with a welcome reminder of how exciting the future of tennis is looking. Long-held concerns about how the sport would cope without its main attractions (mainly Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Serena Williams - the first major without the three of them in a singles draw since 1997) were clearly answered and we witnessed the birth of several new stars who will no doubt go on for many years fighting it out for the top spot in both the men’s and the women’s game.

Let’s start with the women of the moment, a new British hero, Emma Raducanu, a name that just 3 months ago none of us would have known. Back then the she was ranked just outside the world's top 350 and had only played one top-level professional event, and now she’s a Grand Slam champion. It has been a dream summer for the teenager. Having had to qualify to play in the main draw, and thus playing three more matches that she would have done otherwise, she did not drop a single set in her 10 matches at Flushing Meadows and managed to beat 19-year-old Laylah Fernandez in the final. Not only this but Raducanu is the first British woman to win a grand slam title since Virginia Wade’s Wimbledon victory in 1977 and is the first qualifier, man or woman, to win a grand slam title. A pretty epic achievement on all accounts (and the earnings aren’t bad either...).

Novak Djokovic was initially the centre of attention as he bid to win a historic 21st Grand Slam men's title and complete a rare calendar sweep of the Grand Slams, however it was the 25-year-old Daniil Medvedev who was lifting the trophy at the end of the tournament, beating Djokovic in straight sets. Medvedev has won more matches and titles on hard courts than any other ATP player in recent years, but this will be the one that means the most, having fallen short at the Arthur Ashe Stadium only two years prior. Medvedev outplayed the Serb by playing smartly and confidently, drawing the errors out of his opponent which is uncharacteristic for Djokovic. Everyone would agree that he was the well-deserved winner of the tournament.

As well as Raducanu and Fernandez in the women's singles, Spain's Carlos Alcaraz was another teenager to announce his arrival onto the main stage. The 18-year-old made history by becoming the youngest player in the Open era to reach the US Open quarter-finals having beaten third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas on his way there. There were impressive runs to the second week of the singles for a number of players aged 21 or under, including Bianca Andreescu, Iga Swiatek, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Jenson Brooksby and Jannik Sinner.

After being closed to fans last year, the tournament was the first Grand Slam since the coronavirus pandemic began to be allowed at 100% capacity throughout, and all the players agreed that having crowds back made a huge difference. The future of tennis looks bright with a huge talent pool of young players coming up quickly through the ranks, and giving the fans a lot to look forward to. With the likes of Emma Raducanu and Laylah Fernandez in the women’s game and Carlos Alcarez and Daniil Medvedev in the men’s we are likely to see new names making their way onto the silverware, and thus producing the next generation of role models and heroes for us to support and follow.

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