At the conclusion of the 2018 US Open, we catalogued the best performances, moments and more from the fortnight that was. Now, as the year comes to a close, we are giving tennis fans a chance to vote for their favorites in six categories: quotes, photos, fan moments, breakout players, upsets and matches. This vote was conducted via Twitter over a 24-hour period; final results can be viewed at the bottom of this page.
There's something about US Open evening sessions that inspire great matches, as the electric New York crowd, bright lights and towering stadiums conspire to make a 78-foot tennis court feel more like a Broadway stage. Three of our four nominees for match of the year took place after dark. The fourth was the small matter of the women's singles final. Which is your pick for best match?
No. 1 Rafael Nadal def. No. 9 Dominic Thiem, 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7, 7-6 (Quarterfinals)
When the world No. 1 was blanked in the opening set, most observers expected a fightback. The late-night Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd got that and more in what turned out to be an epic display of tenacity from both men, a titanic struggle that lasted 4 hours, 49 minutes and finished at 2:04 a.m. as the longest match of the tournament.
For sheer quality of play, this match is the frontrunner; both Nadal and Thiem flashed their brilliance time after time, right through the end of the fifth-set tiebreak.
No. 20 Naomi Osaka def. No. 17 Serena Williams, 6-2, 6-4 (Final)
The women’s final was a candidate for our upset of the year, but it may be better suited to this category. In a match full of twists and turns, the one constant was an impeccable level of tennis from Osaka; it was a performance that belied the occasion – the 20-year-old’s first major final, against her childhood idol no less.
Somewhat shrouded by the hoopla concerning the point and game penalties levied against Williams was the fact that Osaka thoroughly outplayed the 23-time Grand Slam champion for large stretches and was a fully deserved winner.
If you’re looking for drama, this is the one.
John Millman def. No. 2 Roger Federer, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6, 7-6 (Round 4)
The fan-voted upset of the year is also in the running for best US Open match, as Millman played the match of his life on the biggest stage of his life. After the Aussie journeyman escaped two set points on the Federer serve that would have put the Swiss two sets to the good, he managed to level the match at one set all. From there, the question was whether he could keep it up and continue to match the legend, blow for blow.
Against all odds, Millman only raised his game as the pressure mounted, edging two tiebreaks to send Federer home early.
For pure shock value, the Aussie’s upset takes top prize.
No. 7 Marin Cilic def. Alex de Minaur, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 (Round 3)
The only match-of-the-year candidate to occur outside of Ashe, this Saturday night war of attrition spilled into Sunday in the new Louis Armstrong Stadium. When the gladiators shook hands after 2:20 a.m. (and after eight Cilic match points), the Croat was still standing, his experience seeing him through after more than four hours. The 2014 US Open champ may have spoiled de Minaur’s coming out party, but the young gun will be back, and with plenty of new fans in his corner after his gutsy display.
In this classic old guard vs. new guard tilt, a budding superstar earned his stripes, if not the victory.
The results are in, and the winner is...
Nadal vs. Thiem - 62%
Osaka vs. Williams - 20%
Millman vs. Federer - 12%
Cilic vs. de Minaur - 16%