The 2017 US Open was one to remember – two weeks of dramatic twists and turns, featuring a host of memorable moments and great matches. Here are our five favorites:
5. Shelby Rogers def. (25) Daria Gavrilova, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2R
Together, the two women made history, competing for 3 hours, 33 minutes, marking the longest women's match in recorded US Open history since the advent of the tiebreak in 1970. The 68-minute first set alone was longer than some entire matches during this fortnight. But this was no patty-cake, back-and-forth match. Rogers and Gabrilova went for their shots, hitting more than 30 winners – and 40 unforced errors – each. They played 265 points and exchanged 11 breaks of serve. The cruel irony of tennis, though, is that Gabrilova actually won more points: 133 to 132.
4. (24) Juan Martin del Potro def. (3) Roger Federer, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, QF
If ever Flushing Meadows fans seemed destined to witness Roger Federer against Rafael Nadal, this was the year. Federer and Rafa were the only two members of the Big Four in the draw, and they didn't even need to make the final for their first battle at the US Open to occur. Drawn on the same half, Federer and Nadal needed to only reach the semifinals.
Nadal did his part, routing Russian 19-year-old Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals. But Federer faced del Potro in a rematch of their 2009 US Open final, and the Argentine had a stadium full of compatriots shouting, “Olé, olé, olé, olé, Delpo, Delpo!” as well as a forehand ready to deploy. The 28-year-old took the first set before Federer evened the match. But in the third-set tiebreak, del Potro pulled away, erasing four set points on Federer's racquet to gain control. For US Open fans clamoring for Federer-Nadal in New York, maybe next year.
3. Maria Sharapova def. (2) Simona Halep, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 1R
There are rough draws, and then there is having to face the 2006 US Open champion, whom you have never beaten, in the first round, under the lights in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Halep entered the first-round match against Sharapova 0-6 in their head-to-heads, but the No. 2 seed had momentum from her run to the final in Cincinnati just weeks before.
You won't, however, find a player who delights in playing on the big stage more than the 30-year-old Sharapova, who was returning to Grand Slam tennis for the first time since serving her 15-month suspension. The Russian led by a set and a break before Halep evened the match. But Sharapova was too strong in the decider and celebrated her first win at the US Open since 2014.
2. (9) Venus Williams def. (13) Petra Kvitova, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, QF
Were there two more compelling stories in the tournament? Venus, at 37 years old, trying to reach her third Grand Slam final of the season and playing without her little sister Serena at the Open for the first time since 2010; and Kvitova, returning to Flushing Meadows after missing the first four months of the season after a knife attack in December damaged nerves and tendons in her left hand.
The match stood up to the storylines. Williams, in a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium, controlled the third-set tiebreak to overcome a 1-4 head-to-head record against Kvitova and reach her ninth semifinal in New York.
1. (24) Juan Martin del Potro def. (6) Dominic Thiem, 1-6, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6, 6-4, 4R
Del Potro was, self-admittedly, steps away from stepping away from the match. Down and getting dominated in the second set by Thiem, who was trying to reach his first US Open quarterfinal, del Potro admitted he considered retiring from the fourth-round match.
But then he heard the aforementioned “Olés” and tried to think about something other than feeling flu-like symptoms. Amazingly, it worked. “I saw the crowd waiting for more tennis, waiting for my good forehands, good serves. I took all that energy to change in a good way and think about fighing and not retiring,” del Potro said.
In one of the best comebacks in US Open history, del Potro roared back to knock out Thiem, a Top-10 player the past two seasons. The 2009 US Open champion saved two match points in the fourth set and thrilled a capacity Grandstand crowd on Labor Day with his comeback win.
“I did well, and I start to enjoy little bit more about the fans. I think I did everything well after the third set. The crowd enjoy with me all points. It was unbelievable atmosphere,” del Potro said. “I play one of the epic match of my career here in the US Open, which is my favorite tournament, in front of a great crowd. … But I'm so glad to go through. I'm play a fantastic battle against one of the best players of the tour.”