The final few days of Grand Slam tennis in 2022 are upon us.
From Novak Djokovic's deportation saga, to the retirements of Ash Barty and Serena Williams, to Rafael Nadal's 14th Roland-Garros title - there have been a myriad of twists and turns to follow as the sport begins to find itself anew in the post-GOAT era.
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.
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Instead, new heroes are being made.
Frances Tiafoe, Ons Jabeur and Carlos Alcaraz are just three among those eyeing a first-ever major crown, with Iga Swiatek the only Grand Slam winner left in either draw.
So what can we expect as the tournament nears its finale?

An American winner?

American women have enjoyed continuing success on the Flushing Meadows courts, with home players winning 10 of the last 24 US Open titles.
That has been helped, of course, by Serena Williams taking six of them, but her sister Venus, Lindsay Davenport and Sloane Stephens have also walked off with the title in the period since 1998.
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

Image credit: Getty Images

However, emerging from that pack has been Frances Tiafoe, who stunned the world by knocking out Nadal in the fourth round.
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.
The requirement? The Spaniard needs to either win the title, or reach the final and not lose it to Casper Ruud, who is - alongside Nadal - the other player in the running for the No. 1 ranking after the US Open.
But a cautionary note: Alcaraz played an exhausting, late five-setter with Marin Cilic in the fourth-round, and his next three prospective matches - Jannik Sinner in the quarters, Tiafoe or Rublev in the semis, Ruud or Karen Khachanov in the final - have all the makings of physically and mentally-taxing encounters too.
With players now able to receive coaching from the sidelines, having former major winner Juan Carlos Ferrero in his corner could prove the difference for the Spanish teen sensation.

Swiatek and Jabeur both in line to make history

For themselves, for their countries.
Iga Swiatek has been the standout player in the women's game since Barty's exit from the sport earlier this year.
But aside from her two wins at the French Open, the 21-year-old has never got past the semi-final stage of any other Grand Slam.
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.
“I believe in myself after Wimbledon,” she said after beating Ajla Tomljanovic in the last eight. “I know that I have it in me to win a [major] final, and here I am in the semi-finals.”
First things first, she must get past an old foe from her junior days, Caroline Garcia, with the latter into her first-ever major semi-final and playing the best tennis of her life.
Bring on the action.
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