NEW YORK – The courts at the US Open were remarkably quiet on Saturday morning. It was the first day after-Serena Williams It felt as if the air had escaped from the site.
Before the Williams third round match against Ajla TomljanovicThere was palpable noise everywhere—in the nosebleeds at Arthur Ashe Stadium, in queues in the dining hall, even waiting in traffic. Thousands gathered to catch a glimpse of the 23-time champion during practice sessions, and her matches became the city’s hottest ticket.
But then she lost, and her legendary career ended. Until Rafael Nadal’s (albeit lopsided) match on Saturday night against Richard Gasquet I felt in flat ash.
But something happened on Sunday. or rather someone.
Playing in the second game in the afternoon on the 18-year-old Ash Coco Guff She had a tough battle against Zhang Shuai, and with each highly competitive rally and sporting performance, the crowd’s voices grew louder and louder. There were chants of “let’s go, join us” and frequent reminders of the chair’s rule of silence.
“I’m feeling crazy. I mean Ash Stadium chanting my name?” Gauff said during her court interview after the match. “I was trying not to smile on the bench at the change. I was trying to stay in the moment.”
Gough eventually won the match 7-5, 7-5, becoming the youngest American woman to qualify for a quarter-final in the event since 2009, and the first female teen since Victoria Azarenka, also in 2009, to reach the tour in two majors during the same season. (Goff advanced to the French Open final earlier this year.)
As three matches stand in the way of her first Grand Slam title – starting with a very tough quarter-final against the flamboyant. Caroline Garcia Tuesday night – she’s clearly one of the next big stars in the game.
And she is not the only one promising to revitalize the masses this two weeks.
Monday afternoon, Francis Tiafoe He achieved one of the biggest upsets of the tournament with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, victory over Nadal, the 22-times champion, to advance to the major quarter-finals of his career.
The 24-year-old American player has always captivated the crowd with his bold play, powerful punches and entertaining style. In a fourth-round match, he finds a way to piece them together at his home slam. While Nadal remains one of the most popular players on the tour, Tiafoe transformed the crowd as the match progressed, and by the end, everyone was on their feet as Tiafoe took the biggest win of his career.
At about the same time, in the court of Louis Armstrong, first rank Iga SwiatekThe two-time French Open champion advanced to the quarter-finals on Monday with a three-set victory over Julie Niemeyer. After falling in the first set, the 21-year-old has won 12 of the last 16 matches of the match.
Later in the night, she’s 21 Yannick Sener He became the youngest person since then Novak Djokovic In 2008 to reach the quarter-finals in all four disciplines when he was late Ilya Ivashka in five groups.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, the 19-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz She defeated 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to advance to the quarter-finals, once again, in New York. He had a surprise run on the same tour in 2021 and has been a tour force – and a fan favorite – ever since. A loyal group of fans remained in the stands, chanting his name and waving Spanish flags, until the end of his fourth-round match, after 2 a.m.
And of course there is Nick Kyrgios, the 27-year-old Australian with seemingly boundless skill and a sexy showmanship. After years of not living up to expectations and getting as much attention for his antics as his talent, he reached his first grand final at Wimbledon in July.
Now, he entered the US Open quarter-finals for the first time after defeating Daniil Medvedev on Sunday. After Nadal lost, Kyrgios became the favorite bet to win the title. While everything seems to come together in court, his personal life is not without controversy. He was accused of domestic abuse by his ex-partner and a prosecution hearing was held in October.
Tennis seems to have finally reached the moment of a change of guard. It’s been expected for years, as the big names have stepped in, but now seems to be the time.
In addition to Williams’ retirement, Roger FedererDjokovic, 41, has been out of action for over a year as he recovers from right knee surgery, Djokovic, 35, has been playing a limited schedule due to his unvaccinated condition and Venus Williams, 42, played sparingly. While Nadal, 36, has won two major titles this year, he’s struggled with a slew of injuries over the past 13 months and was knocked out at his first major slam title since 2017 on Monday.
This is the second major tournament since the start of the 2005 season in which Nadal, Djokovic or Nadal do not participate in the quarter-finals. There hasn’t been a quarter-final round at the US Open without the “Big Three” or Williams since 2003. No one left in the lottery has ever won the US Open, and Swiatek is the only remaining Grand Slam champion.
“I think Nick plays great tennis which is great for tennis,” Tiafoe said, while wearing a sweatshirt bearing Williams’ images, after Monday’s win. “You see him packing the pitches when he’s playing singles, doubles, whatever. Alcaraz is a great character. Wrong. Myself. People are standing behind me…
“It’s great to see a new era.”
There have been many players who have looked like they might be advancing in recent years. Naomi Osaka It looked certain with her four major titles, but she has struggled on and off the field for the past 14 months. I lost in the first round in New York last week.
Medvedev defeated Djokovic to win the 2021 US Open and took first place earlier this year, but failed to defend his title this week.
A number of women have won Grand Slam titles in the past several years since Williams temporarily left the tour on maternity leave in 2021, but nearly all of them haven’t been able to find sustained success beyond the moment of achievement.
And winning isn’t the only thing that makes a star. These younger players have that factor of charisma and originality, and it’s not surprising to see them filling stadiums and gaining new fans with each victory.
Gauff’s popularity continues to overtake tennis. She has become a voice for societal issues, giving a rousing speech at a Black Lives Matter rally in 2020 and writing “Ending Gun Violence” on camera at the French Open shortly after the school shooting in Ovaldi, Texas.
Prior to this year, Gauff had not won a match on Ashe. In 2022, every match of the tournament was played on the field. Her first three were scheduled just before Williams.
This rectangular placement is not lost on them.
“My first round was shocked because I was put on Ash,” Gauff said on Sunday. “Then it happened again in the second round. At that point, I thought it would go on, especially when Serena was playing.
“This should be a perfect lineup for viewers. You have to play first, and finish with GOAT. That’s crazy.”