Rafael Nadal vs. Dominic Thiem (quarterfinal). A four-hour, 49-minute instant classic of the highest order. Thiem came out with guns blazing, blitzing No. 1 Nadal in a 6-0 first set. The Spaniard roared back, but Thiem kept blasting away. It came down to a fifth-set tiebreak, whose outcome was in doubt until the final ball a Thiem overhead that sailed long.
Naomi Osaka vs. Serena Williams (final). The shocking final may not have been the finest match of the tournament purely in tennis terms, but it certainly was the most drama-filled. Somehow, the 20-year-old Osaka kept focus while Williams was penalized a point and then a game by the umpire to win her first Grand Slam. Osaka served big, saving five of six break points, and converted four of the five opportunities she had on Serena’s serve to win in straight sets.
Roger Federer vs. John Millman (fourth round). This was the other shocking match of the Open, and certainly an even bigger upset. John Millman, a 29-year-old Australian, had never been past the third round in a major. Federer definitely suffered in the heat and humidity in ways we’ve never seen before, but all credit to No. 55-ranked Millman, who played unexpectedly great and consistent ball, especially on the backhand side, coming back from a set down to topple the all-time Slam winner. The Aussie held his nerve and won the last two sets in tiebreaks.
Dominika Cibulkova vs. Angelique Kerber (third round). The diminutive Slovak, who was ranked No. 8 in the world just two years ago and reached the final of the Australian Open in 2014, has slipped in the rankings to No. 35, but she revived her feisty power game in the matchup with the fourth-seeded German, this year’s Wimbledon champion. Cibulkova and Kerber split sets, but the Slovak kept pounding away, banging 40 winners to frustrate her opponent by refusing to fold.
Marin Cilic vs. de Minaur (third round). Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion and seventh seed, was extended to the wire by the wiry young Australian Alex de Minaur. Cilic rallied from two sets down to win in five. The four-hour match lasted until 2:20am in Louis Armstrong Stadium, and the atmosphere was the most rocking the new venue had yet experienced. Cilic needed 61 winners to outlast the speedy 19-year-old.