After Rafael Nadal withdrew and Andy Roddick retired and Roger Federer stumbled earlier than expected, the United States Open spotlight again settled on Novak Djokovic, at once the world’s second-ranked player and, for most of this tournament, an afterthought.
Djokovic deserved more in this U.S. Open. More attention. More platitudes. More respect. He earned all that the hard way, each victory more emphatic than the last, until in the past two days he suddenly became the favorite.
He won his quarterfinal against Juan Martín del Potro on Thursday, in front of a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium. Their contest, a taut, tense, thrilling 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-4 victory for Djokovic, was a testament to this golden age of men’s tennis. No Federer, no Nadal, no problem.