<
>

U.S. Open snapshots

NEW YORK -- From the beginning, the rhythm of this breezy U.S. Open seemed just a little bit off.

No. 9 seed Andy Roddick departed in the second round, courtesy of Janko Tipsarevic, then No. 4 seed Andy Murray got waxed by Stan "The Man" Wawrinka in the third. On the women's side, dramatic No. 4 seed Jelena Jankovic fell to Kaia Kanepi in the third round, and 2006 Open champion Maria Sharapova, a favorite in some minds (guilty as charged), was thumped in the fourth round by No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki -- who still hasn't beaten a player ranked among the top five in more than 18 months.

The wind blew harder and for longer than anyone could remember at the National Tennis Center, and then the rain, all but absent for most of the fortnight, pushed the men's final into Monday for the third straight year.

With the Grand Slam season in the rearview mirror, here are some of our favorite snapshots from the 2010 U.S. Open:

Rafa delivers the career Grand Slam: You could see this one coming. The 24-year-old Rafael Nadal did it fast than anyone with the exception of Bjorn Borg, a year ahead of Roger Federer. Draw your own conclusions.

Three-peat (with an asterisk) for Kim Clijsters: The absence of Serena Williams and Justine Henin diluted the field, but the genial Belgian has won 21 consecutive matches in New York. Only Chris Evert (31) ever did better. Clijsters won in 2005, then missed three straight Opens to injury and retirement. Now, she's the back-to-back champion. Enjoy her while you can -- she might leave tennis again relatively soon to have another child. The way things are going in the women's game, she could check out for a few years and return to win the Open in 2014.

The glass is half empty and half full for the U.S. men: All eight quarterfinalists on the men's side in America's Grand Slam were born in Europe, with two of them representing Switzerland. Of the 32 quarterfinalists in majors this year, only one was an America -- Andy Roddick in Australia. The good news: 18-year-old Ryan Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., won his first-round match against No. 15 seed Ivan Ljubicic and stirred up the fans with his shot-making in a four-set loss to Sergiy Stakhovsky. Harrison, who moved up 50 spots in the ATP World Tour rankings, to No. 170, is seen as a future top-10 player. Jack Sock, a 17-year-old, from Lincoln, Neb., won the junior boys tournament, beating fellow American Denis Kudla in a three-set final. It was the first all-American junior boys final here since 2000, when Roddick defeated Robby Ginepri.

Ultimately, peace prevails: The "Indo-Pak Express" -- the curious union of India's Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan -- reached the men's doubles final, only to lose to the Bryan brothers in two thrilling tiebreakers. Although their two countries have missiles pointed at each other, the result of three divisive wars, the two players have used their platform to promote peace. After the victory, the Bryans donated a portion of their winnings to flood relief in Pakistan, and the brothers have planned two more fundraisers.

Fading Federer faces the future: He won three Grand Slam singles titles in a year three times, but this year -- for the first time since 2003 -- he failed to reach the finals in three majors. Federer destroyed Robin Soderling in a masterful quarterfinal performance but looked a half-step slow in a five-set semifinal loss to Novak Djokovic. Before the tournament, Federer talked about winning four more majors. Perhaps, in retrospect, two is a more realistic goal.

Doubling his doubles pleasure: Bob Bryan became the first man in 28 years to claim both doubles titles at the same U.S. Open. He paired with Liezel Huber to win mixed doubles, then won the men's doubles with brother Mike. It was their 65th title, the career record, and their ninth major, two behind Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde's total of 11.

Kudos to Daria Gavrilova: It was an all-Russian girls final as Gavrilova defeated Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-2. "I slept so bad during the night," Gavrilova said. "I woke up like 10 times. I think I played like in my dreams my match like 10 times."

Big, Big John: How big is John Isner's serve? The 6-foot-9 Georgia Bulldog lasted only three rounds, but his ace total of 76 placed him second on the list for this year's U.S. Open, behind only Roger Federer's 86 -- accomplished in twice as many matches. Isner's fastest was 144 miles per hour, but Taylor Dent hit one 147. Venus Williams, at 127, was the women's leader.

USTA mandates more youth-friendly changes: New rules governing 10-and-under tennis tournaments call for less lively tennis balls on smaller courts, giving kids a better chance for success. This follows the philosophy of the QuickStart program that makes the game easier to master and, therefore, more fun. "Competition is an important element of learning and growing the game," said Lucy Garvin, chairman of the board and president of the USTA, "and now all children 10 and under will have the proper platform with which to compete."

U.S. Open contest winner: And the winner is … Nick Roosa, who lives in Bristol, Tenn and works as a radio announcer/producer for WETS-FM in Johnson City, Tenn. It was actually a three-way tie, but Nick's entry was received first. Tommasina Pascuzzo, a management consultant for IT projects in Venezuela, had 27 points in the complex ESPN.com scoring system, nailing all four women's semifinalists, but she did not predict that Nadal would make the final. Landon Wallace of Chapel Hill, N.C., was even more prescient, picking both singles winners, but his entry came in on Friday, some 18 hours after Nick's. Actually, Nick is something of a ringer, given that he used to pick brackets for Steve G Tennis back in the day -- he picked Chris Woodruff to reach the quarters at the 2001 French Open, but Albert Montanes took him out in straight sets -- in the first round.

For all the dozens and dozens of contestants, look for our next Grand Slam challenge, coming in only four months.

Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.