A litany of poignant and heart-pounding moments occurred during the 2018 US Open. It's time to look back on the year's major finale even as we greet the hardcourt swing in Asia and year-end championships that follow.
Take a bow, Francesca Schiavone, David Ferrer, Mikhail Youzhny, Julien Benneteau, and Gilles Muller. They're all heading out directly, or soon in any case, from the pro tennis grind. Each had a singular moment of outsize personality or performance. Each deserves a standing O for efforts inside and outside the lines.
Roger Federer used that dreaded r-word, then recanted. And yet. No one save Fed and his inner circle know when that time may come, but based on his performance against John Millman, says here he may enjoy the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and US Open and call it a career. "It's just one of those nights where I guess I felt I couldn't get air," he said. "One of the first times it's happened to me."
He may not be so far behind those noted in item No. 10, but Marcos Baghdatis' chair-dance with ice-packs was the US Open moment we all needed (and perhaps need even now).
Victoria Azarenka + Leo = love.
Vika's shoes: pic.twitter.com/bWb2MVBVng— Ed McGrogan (@EdMcGrogan) August 31, 2018
This may be the relatively unsung mother-son pairing in pro tennis, but it certainly delivered all the feels this year in New York.
Nick Kyrgios came and went. He got coached – and by the chair umpire, no less. Mohamed Lahyani has long been one who hardly shied away from an exchange, and this surely was a Slam with a variety of on- and off-point chair-to-player interactions. Kyrgios went on to defeat Pierre-Hugues Herbert after Lahyani delivered a pep talk to him. (And somewhere Carlos Ramos melted into the floor.)
Federer, for one, was displeased:
Strong response from Federer about the Lahyani incident: "It's not the umpire's role to go down from the chair. You don't go and speak like that in my opinion. He was there for too long. Conversations can change your mindset."— Eleanor Crooks (@EleanorcrooksPA) August 30, 2018
Still, Fed would Kyrgios his just desserts a couple days later, and with a jaw-dropping finish to one point.
A brand-new graveyard of champions? Caroline Wozniacki thinks so.
"Wimbledon used to have a Graveyard Court," said the No. 2 seed after losing in straight sets to Lesia Tsurenko in the 14,000-seats-strong Louis Armstrong Stadium that No. 1 Simona Halep herself also christened with a loss. "Maybe that is going to be the new Graveyard Court."
Postscript: They were hardly alone.
.@Cilic_Marin down two sets to none against @AlexDeMinaur.— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) September 2, 2018
Seeded players who lost on the new Louis Armstrong court:
(1) Halep ????????
(2) Wozniacki ????????
(4) Zverev ????????
(4) Kerber ????????
(5) Kvitova ????????
(12) Muguruza ????????
(13) Bertens ????????#USOpen pic.twitter.com/cnymTlU8o6
Maria Sharapova's unprecedented, unbeaten streak in US Open night-session matches ended at 23-0 (with all but one in Arthur Ashe Stadium). Carla Suarez Navarro halted Sharapova's mark with a straight-sets victory on the former's 30th birthday. (Recall five short years ago when Serena Williams handed CSN a 6-0, 6-0 drubbing on her 25th b'day.) Sharapova's perfect mark was up by three victories on Pete Sampras' 20-0 nighttime record in New York.
Dominic Thiem had introspective words about his epic, five-set marathon loss to Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals:
"It's cruel sometimes, tennis, because I think this match didn't really deserve a loser. But there has to be one."
Thiem's time will come, and this display of grit and power put to rest any notion that, after his implosion against Juan Martin del Potro at the 2017 event, he doesn't have heart or stamina for the biggest stage.
In the toughest moments of her young pro-match career, Naomi Osaka remains laser-focused and saw her dream through to completion – a victory, in a major final, against Serena Williams, one of the sisters she so idolized in her formative years. Then she stayed true to herself and far beyond spunky in addressing the media over the two days that ensued after her first-ever Slam championship.
Witness this thoroughly if oft-subtly hilarious exchange with Ellen DeGeneres.
Remember that time when we all thought that Pete Sampras' record of 14 major singles titles in men's tennis would stand the test of time for a while. Now, Novak Djokovic, winner of this year's Wimbledon, has equaled it, with Rafael Nadal and Federer not oh-so-far ahead of him.
"I'm a student of the sport, as everybody else," Djokovic said. "I respect the history, everyone that has paved the path for me and all of us to be doing what we're doing, to be part of this wonderful sport. Pete Sampras is one of the biggest legends ever to play the game. He was my childhood idol.
"I watched him win one of his first Wimbledon championships, and I grew up playing and thinking that one day I'll be able to do what he does. To actually be here, it's a dream come true."
That's a wrap on this season in major tennis. What 2019 may hold remains anyone's guess, but this US Open definitely thickened the proverbial plot.
Follow Jon on Twitter @jonscott9.
This Weekend on Tennis Channel PLUS
-Davis Cup Semifinals (Sep. 14-16): USA takes on Croatia, while Spain faces France
-Additionally, watch Davis Cup World Group Playoffs featuring Austria vs. Australia and Canada vs. Netherlands