Originally posted on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 9/11/12

The 2012 US Open could make a case for being the most memorable Grand Slam event of 2012. Andy Roddick retiring, Federer bowing out early, a new champion in Andy Murray and just flat-out great tennis has made this Open a pleasure to watch. Here are some final thoughts on a few of the many noteworthy story lines at Flushing Meadows this year.

via Inquirer Sports

New Era Rising. Welcome to the party, Andy Murray. The Scot ended the 86-year drought for British Grand Slam champions after a spectacular five-set final against Novak Djokovic. In typical Andy Murray fashion, the match was not easy: Murray won the first two sets, faltered and lost the next two, and rode a wave of crowd support to victory in the fifth. What the five-hour epic signifies is more important though- Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are the new guard in men’s tennis, the latest proverbial “Big Two” for lack of a better word. Yes, Roger Federer has won this year’s Wimbledon, and yes, Rafael Nadal when healthy poses a major threat to any of the tour’s top players. But this tournament marked a change in men’s tennis. Federer recently turned 31, an old man in tennis years, and Nadal’s arthritic knees may be even more of a liability in the future. It is easy to foresee Djokovic and Murray battling it out like this for the next few years, whether you like their style of play or not.

credit: AP

Loss of an Old Friend. That other Andy, Andy Roddick, will be hanging up his boots after a fourth-round loss to Juan Martin Del Potro. Roddick has always been a polarizing figure on-court: his witty press conferences and frat boy attitude have turned many on and put others off. Where consensus definitely exists is that Americans have lost their most consistent and most prosperous player over the past decade. You can’t help but feel (somewhat) badly for Roddick. The guy started his career in a transitional era, and winning the US Open in 2003 made US fans believe they had their next Sampras or Agassi. Almost immediately afterwards though, Roger Federer initiated his stranglehold upon mens tennis, and Andy’s chances diminished. He is unfortunately known for coming close but not quite getting there, as indicated by his four slam finals losses to Federer, most notably his 16-14 defeat in the fifth of the ’09 Wimbledon. Hey Andy, it’s not all bad, Brooklyn Decker is still waiting for you at home.

via MySports Today

Separation of the Pack. Behind Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, there really is a distinct drop-off in the level and consistency of play. If Roger and Rafa are on their games, yes, those two will always be a threat. But aside from those two, who is really threatening these guys as a future major champion? You would think Juan Martin Del Potro could go on a US Open 2009 run another time, but the big Argentine has been prone to injuries, and Djokovic simply outclassed him at the Open this year. Tsonga is getting a bit long in the tooth, and will always be susceptible to inconsistent play. Tomas Berdych, recent Federer killer, can’t seem to put two great matches against top players in a row at slams. If there really is someone who can put a scare into these guys at the top at slams, he is either a young prodigy who has not yet emerged, or someone we haven’t been thinking about. My thoughts are on ‘young gun’ Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, who has been heralded as the next Federer by the tennis media over the past few years. He hasn’t put it all together yet, but if and when he does, that sort of variety in a tennis player is something that we haven’t witnessed since well, Roger Federer.

Tournament Awards. Now for a few awards to round out my US Open thoughts.

Match of the Tournament- Andy Murray def. Novak Djokovic (7-6 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2). That should be enough said, but if the point didn’t get across, the final was a gut-wrenching, heart-warming display of athletic, 21st century grueling baseline tennis at its best.

Player of the Tournament- Andy Murray. Obviously.

Energizer Bunny Award- David Ferrer. This guy just never stops. Against Tipsarevic his match was taken to a fifth-set tiebreak. Ferrer did not look the least bit winded throughout the match, while Tipsy ended up taking an injury timeout late. At 30 years old, Ferrer is doing this against all odds.

Tournament Disappointment- John Isner. I had the current highest ranked American as an Open semifinalist, as his draw was favorable enough. Isner again displayed some puzzling Grand Slam struggles, losing his serve in key moments and bowing out in the third round.

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