Fans fear end of golden era, but show goes on

Tue Sep 9, 2014 6:33am EDT
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By Martyn Herman

(Reuters) - Imagine the scenario?

A less informed holder of an expensive U.S. Open men's singles final ticket walks into Louis Armstrong Arena, settles down into a court-side seat and then rubs his eyes in disbelief, checking the smallprint on his stub.

"Where's Djokovic? Federer? Thought he'd be here. How about that Scottish dude...Murray. Nadal??? What the heck?!!!"

A showdown between diminutive 24-year-old Japanese Kei Nishikori and giant, bearded Croat Marin Cilic was not what anyone was really expecting, whether it be fans, pundits or TV executives anxiously checking ratings charts.

It was the first grand slam final since 2005 that one of the so-called Fab Four, be it Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray, was not present. Usually it's two of them.

Barring a few small shuffles, the furniture at the top table of the men's game has remained firmly in place for the best part of a decade.

Now, all of a sudden, the rivalries that have become so familiar, be it Nadal v Federer, Djokovic v Murray or Federer v Djokovic are under threat, be it from seasoned campaigners such as Stanislas Wawrinka, rare talents like Grigor Dimitrov or precocious firebrand Nick Kyrgios.

The top guys say they welcome the challenge, but for fans, it will take a little getting used to. For many of them it is like their favorite TV box set is drawing to a close and they are fretting over what they will watch next.   Continued...

Roger Federer of Switzerland reacts during a break in the last set of the semi-final match against Marin Cilic of Croatia at the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 6, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Segar