At the beginning of 2017, Roger Federer was ranked No. 17 and hadn’t won a Grand Slam title since 2012, Rafael Nadal hadn’t advanced past the quarterfinals of a major since winning the 2014 French Open, Sloane Stephens was in the midst of an 11-month layoff from the game, and Petra Kvitova was uncertain if she’d ever play tennis again.
As the year progressed, it only got stranger. Serena Williams played in just two tournaments and won one, the Australian Open … while pregnant!; Jelena Ostapenko stunned the tennis world by winning the French Open; injuries derailed the seasons of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka; Jack Sock went from No. 24 to a semifinalist at the ATP Finals – in the span of two tournaments; Simona Halep finished the year at No. 1 despite losing in the first round at two of the four majors; and Caroline Wozniacki, who failed to win a set in her first six finals of the year, walked off with the WTA Finals crown.
Against that backdrop, this year’s US Open looked positively normal. Which in 2017, meant unpredictably spectacular.
So as the year comes to a close, here are the Top 17 moments from the 2017 US Open:
Stephens brings the fans to their feet
Sloane Stephens completed one of the greatest – and fastest – comebacks in tennis history, winning the US Open in just her fourth tournament back following an 11-month layoff due to foot surgery. At No. 83, she was the lowest-ranked player ever to win a US Open singles title.
Third time is charming for Nadal
Rafael Nadal, who suffered stinging five-set defeats in Week 1 of his previous two trips to New York, completed an outstanding Grand Slam season by winning his third US Open men’s singles trophy – becoming just the sixth man in the Open era with three or more men’s singles titles.
Petra Kvitova, who suffered career-threatening injuries during a home invasion in late 2016, returned to the game at the French Open and, after a desultory summer, posted her best-ever US Open showing – a run that included a fourth-round upset of tournament favorite Garbiñe Muguruza.
For the first time at a major since 1985 Wimbledon and for the first time at the US Open since 1981, all four women’s semifinalists were American: Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens, Coco Vandeweghe and Venus Williams.
A solid Kiick
Allie Kiick, who in the past few years has undergone four knee surgeries (two on each knee), dealt with mononucleosis and beaten cancer, qualified for the main draw. Amazingly, to get there she defeated fellow cancer survivor Vicky Duval in the final round of qualies.
Introducing Denis Shapovalov
Denis Shapovalov, the slight teenager with the electric, whirligig strokes, delighted the tennis world during the US Open Series with his run to the Rogers Cup semifinals. He nearly repeated the feat in New York, upsetting Jo-Wilfried Tsonga en route to the fourth round.
Down goes Kerber
In arguably the tournament’s biggest upset, Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka upset Angelique Kerber, making the German only the third defending singles champion in tournament history (Patrick Rafter in 1999, Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2005) to lose in the opening round.
Delpo’s double dip
Juan Martin del Potro played two of the tournament’s best and most memorable matches, coming back from two sets down – and down a break in the fourth – while ill to upset No. 6 Dominic Thiem in the fourth round. Then, two days later, he upset pre-tournament favorite Roger Federer in the quarterfinals – once again denying a Federer-Rafael Nadal US Open showdown.
Maria-Simona face off early
In one of the US Open’s most anticipated first-round matchups in years, 2006 champion Maria Sharapova upset No. 2 seed Simona Halep under the lights on Opening Night in a riveting three-setter, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
Venus-Petra dazzle once again
One of the best – if least-heralded – rivalries in women’s tennis earned a new chapter during the 2017 US Open, when Venus Williams edged Petra Kvitova, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, in the standout women’s match of the tournament. It was their sixth three-setter in six career matchups, with three of those ending in a final-set tiebreak and another going 7-5 in the decider.
Kevin Anderson plays big
One of the most well-liked and respected veterans on the ATP World Tour finally got his turn in the spotlight, with 6-foot-8 Kevin Anderson serving his way into his first Grand Slam final.
Hingis shines in her Open swan song
We didn’t know it at the time – she retired during November’s WTA Finals – but Martina Hingis played her final Grand Slam matches at the 2017 US Open. And she went out a winner – a two-time winner in fact, with titles in women’s doubles (with Chan Yung-Jan) and mixed doubles (with Jamie Murray).
David Wagner, one of wheelchair tennis’ all-time greats, captured both the singles and doubles (with Andrew Lapthorne) titles at the US Open Wheelchair Competition, giving him three singles titles and eight doubles titles (in eight competitions) for his career.
Tennis gets a glimpse of its future
The much-heralded junior Coco Gauff did not disappoint in her first junior Grand Slam event. The 13-year-old wild card advanced all the way to the girls' singles final before falling to fellow American Amanda Anisimova.
A first for China
Wu Yibing won the boys’ singles crown, marking the first time a Chinese player had ever won a singles title at the U.S. Championships/US Open, including men’s, women’s, junior or wheelchair play.
Rojer’s inspired – and inspiring – trophy speech
After winning the men’s doubles title with Horia Tecau, Jean-Julien Rojer delivered a moving speech during the on-court trophy presentation that paid homage to those killed during the Charlottesville tragedy and offered a paean to peace throughout the world.
Wheelchair tennis takes center stage
Wheelchair tennis made its Arthur Ashe Stadium debut at the 2017 US Open, with a pair of doubles matches being played in the Open’s showpiece arena on Thursday, Sept. 7.