Almost two years after the start of the pandemic, the tennis community in New York City finally had an event to cheer for. On Aug. 30, fans returned to Queens for the fourth and final Grand Slam tournament of 2021 after last year’s was held in an empty ground.

On the men’s side, the main storyline entering the tournament was Novak Djokovic — arguably the best tennis player of all time — going for the fourth tournament in the Grand Slam. Djokovic won the first three majors of 2021, and if he won the fourth major, he would be the first to win all four Grand Slam tournaments since Rod Laver in 1969. 

Djokovic entered the tournament tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for the most major titles, each holding 20. With Federer and Nadal unable to participate in the tournament due to injuries, Djokovic had the chance to surpass them without having to compete against them.

With only one win to go, Djokovic entered the final round against Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 player in the world. However, Medvedev lived up to his ranking and defeated Djokovic in straight sets (6-4, 6-4, 6-4), claiming his first ever major title

Despite the loss, Djokovic had one of the best tennis years in a while and is still seen by many as the greatest tennis player of all time. His career is also far from over, and fans should expect to see him continuing to compete at an elite level.

On top of Djokovic’s exciting run, the rising stars in the men’s and women’s tours continued to impress. Carlos Alvarez, an 18-year-old from Spain, reached the quarterfinals and became a fan favorite. After beating the No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the (insert round here), fans were chanting for him like they did for Nadal. Americans Frances Tiafoe and Jenson Brooksby — who are 23 and 20, respectively —  also played outstanding tournaments and showed promise for bright futures in professional tennis.

Emma Raducanu, an 18-year-old from Great Britain, also played a remarkable tournament and became the women’s champion with all odds against her. Before the tournament, Raducanu was No. 150 in the world. By the end of the tournament, Raducanu rose to No. 23.  Throughout the tournament, the young star did not drop a set, despite meeting some of the sport’s top stars like Belinda Bencic. Raducanu’s play not only impressed Americans and tennis fans, but it inspired Queen Elizabeth to write her a note after she won the championship. 

In the finals, Raducanu played another teenager in 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez from Canada. Fernandez also played remarkably well and made a huge jump in the rankings this year while gaining the support of fans around the world. En route to her victory, Fernandez beat three of the top five seeds including Naomi Osaka, a former U.S. Open champion. 

Needless to say, this year’s tournament will most definitely be remembered in tennis history as the one that propelled the careers of the new generation of talent.

The U.S. Open during the 2016 tournament. In 2021, the younger players were able to breakthrough and win the tournament. (Michael Mariam/Sports Editor)