The tennis Big 4 has dominated Grand Slam finals since 2005 — until today. In an unpredictable US Open matchup, Kei Nishikori faced Marin Cilic in a historical final without this era’s most prominent players. Christopher Clarey wrote a fantastic piece on this tennis world transition: Tennis World Wobbles as Competitive Axis Begins to Shift
Despite these younger faces emerging, he points out that “Novak Djokovic, after all, remains No. 1 in the rankings and won Wimbledon in grand style in July. Roger Federer, even at age 33, is still elegant and eager. Rafael Nadal, who missed the Open with a sore wrist, has not lost his wicked forehand and stout heart. Andy Murray, for all his self-criticism and recent struggles, retains his deft touch and sprinter’s speed.”
This of course is relief to fans like me who aren’t ready to say goodbye to greats (especially Roger). I was actually hoping he would get another title, so I rooted for Nishikori in his semifinal against Djokovic — that would give Roger an easier opponent to play in the final, right? Wrong. Federer was ousted one step before even making it to the final by Cilic, and thus came about a final not even the tennis experts could have foreseen. Cilic won his first Grand Slam 6-3,6-3, 6-3 against Nishikori, who was the first Asian player to make it so far in a Grand Slam tournament. NY Times writer Ben Rothenberg called Cilic the “Unlikeliest Slam winning man in over a decade.”
You just never know — what an exciting time for ATP tennis.