By Jane Voigt
No, you won’t see Roger Federer battle Novak Djokovic, or Rafael Nadal pummel Andy Murray. None of them — The Big Four — made it to this year’s men’s singles final at The U.S. Open. And that outcome will make this final worth the watch.
We will have a new champion, created by two new finalists — Kei Nishikori (No. 10) and Marin Cilic (No. 14) — playing in the first-ever Grand Slam final.
There have been other finalists outside the elite four, and not so long ago either. They’ve pulled off the upset, too. In January Stan Wawrinka defeated Rafael Nadal, winning the Australian Open. And back in 2009, Juan Martin del Potro pulled the court out from under Federer in that final. Alas, these were the only two to win one of the biggest honors in tennis over the last nine years.
Today will be another milestone of great worth.
Not since 1997 have we had two finalists ranked outside the top nine seeds contend for Tiffany & Co. silver. No man from Japan has ever walked on to this broad stage on this momentous occasion.
So instead of lamenting the loss of the quartet, here are Down The Tee’s reasons why you should watch this U.S. Open men’s singles final. Many arguments are based on a survey we conducted. Their cumulative understanding has been quoted below.
- One of the Big Four has played in every slam final since The Australian Open, 2005. That’s nine straight years of dominance. Not one will take to Arthur Ashe Stadium today.
- Simply put … it’s the final of a Grand Slam. You watch Major League Baseball playoffs and NFL and FIFA, and so you should watch the final of a Grand Slam no matter who’s up to bat. “They may be relatively unknown, but it’s still the U.S. Open final,” one survey respondent wrote.
- We could be at the tip of the iceberg, the beginning of the Big Four melt-down. “Yes, for Federer it’s age, Nadal his injuries. But I suspect Murray and Nole [Novak Djokovic] will still be around. Yet, it’s the beginning of the end of one of the greatest eras of men’s tennis. The charism, athletic prowess and uniqueness of each player made for great TV and drama. That four great players could overlap has just been the best.”
- You’ll expand your tennis knowledge. “If I have to look up again who they are, then it’s clear I need to know more about who is playing. May the best man win.”
- The melt-down means a new order, a new frontier for men’s tennis, an evolution that we’ve watched by following Nishikori, Cilic, Grigor Dimitrov, and Milos Raonic. “There will always be a top tier in tennis. Nadal, Djokovic … they are far from done. As for the others, we just don’t know their names yet.”
- Michael Chang coaches Nishikori. Goran Ivanisevic coaches Cilic. Both coaches are Grand Slam champions. Have their experiences and strengths trickled down through the decades, infusing their flock with insight and belief that have raised their games enough to school the current four elders? “The big Croatian [Cilic] was aggressive and confident.” “Kei handled the brutal conditions well; I was amazed, considering he came off back-to-back 5-set matches.”
If that’s not enough incentive, here are words from the man Cilic schooled in the semifinals, Roger Federer. “It’s big for Croatia and big for Japan, especially on sporting terms and tennis terms. Everybody who gets to this stage of this kind of a competition deserves to be there because they have put in the work and they hoped for the break. This is it for both of them. I hope they can play a good final.”