US Open finale: Will Frances Tiafoe or Jessica Pegula land a home win? Can Carlos Alcaraz become youngest men's No. 1?
It's crunch time at the US Open as the final plotlines of the 2022 edition prepare to be written. Can Frances Tiafoe break a 19-year American drought to win the men's event? Will Iga Swiatek continue her remarkable dominance of the women's game? And will 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz become the youngest-ever men's world No. 1? We look ahead to what should be a captivating last few days in New York.
Highlights: Khachanov defeats Kyrgios, Garcia battles past Gauff into semi-finals
And the action at the US Open has witnessed that dynamic to its fullest, with it being the first time since 2003 that none of Djokovic, Williams, Nadal and Roger Federer are in a Grand-Slam quarter-final.
Jessica Pegula, who faces the inordinately difficult task of beating world No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the quarter-finals on Wednesday, has the chance to add her name to that list.
The portents aren't particularly promising for the 28-year-old, having lost her last two matches with the Pole in straight sets. But coming from New York state, she won't lack for crowd support.
The same level of home success cannot be said of the men's side, with Andy Roddick's triumph in 2003 the last time an American male conquered the rest on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
With the Pete Sampras-Andre Agassi era coming before that - the legendary pair won seven US Open titles between them in the 1990-2002 period - the natives were accustomed to dining out on a diet of local winners.
But it's been a long, 19-year drought since then, with no US player even reaching the final since Roddick in 2006.
Could this be a new dawn however? It felt that way at the outset of the tournament, with the likes of Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul and Jenson Brooksby making up one of the most promising groups of American players in recent history.
Frances Tiafoe of USA reacts during 4th round of US Open Championships against Rafael Nadal of Spain at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 5, 2022. Tiafoe won in four sets and moved to quarterfinals for the first time
That display took Tiafoe from dark horse to fancied front-runner - especially in front of the fervent home fans - and if he can come through his encounter with Andrey Rublev, he could take his tournament all the way to the title.
Alcaraz to become youngest-ever male world No. 1?
Carlos Alcaraz will break many records in tennis.
But the one he is on track to smash in the coming weeks - becoming the youngest-ever male world No. 1 - could be the most astonishing of the lot.
Lleyton Hewitt currently holds that mark, at 20 years and eight months. But Alcaraz - at just 19 years and four months - has a huge opportunity to create a new line in the sand in New York.
And no Pole - male or female - has ever won the US Open. Indeed, only one has ever made the final - Jadwiga Jedrzejowska way back in 1937.
A keen student, one wonders if Swiatek is aware of how close her compatriot came - a question for her next press conference maybe - but she certainly has a great opportunity to cement her position at the top of the game in New York.
If she gets all the way to the final, standing in her way may be Tunisia's Ons Jabeur.
Like Swiatek, Jabeur is a true trailblazer, and has already achieved so much for herself, her country, and for Arabian and African tennis. She's clear, though, that she feels she now belongs on the biggest stage in tennis.