‘A star is born’
With Serena Williams pulling out due to fitness issues even before a ball had been hit and Naomi Osaka and Ash Barty dispatched in the third round, a loss of interest in the women's singles draw at this year's U.S. Open was palpable.
But no one could have predicted that it would be left to two teenagers -- ranked 150th and 73rd in the world -- to create the kind of frenzied hype in women's tennis as seen over the past fortnight ith their fascinating journeys to Saturday's final.
Britain's Emma Raducanu and Canadian Leylah Fernandez - born two months apart in 2002 - took the U.S. Open by storm with their youthful exuberance and fearless style of play.
The appreciation of fans across the globe was reflected in the mood of the 23,000-strong crowd during Saturday's title clash in the colossal Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"I have never heard a crowd in Grand Slam tennis being this loud, this appreciative of the players and the player responding," said Mats Wilander, a seven-time major champion and Eurosport tennis expert.
"This was an epic of the U.S. Open. It was a great comeback of the U.S. Open, it was just an amazing two weeks."
Raducanu's extraordinary US Open triumph led to an explosion of joy in Britain, with Queen Elizabeth II leading the celebrations as the 18-year-old qualifier made tennis history in New York. "It is a remarkable achievement at such a young age, and is testament to your hard work and dedication," the Queen said.
Emma Raducanu completed the greatest underdog title run in tennis history on Saturday, becoming the first qualifier to capture a Grand Slam crown by defeating Canada's Leylah Fernandez in the US Open women's final.
The 18-year-old was the first British woman in 44 years since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977 to win a Slam crown after beating 19-year-old left-hander Fernandez 6-4, 6-3 to take the $2.5 million (2.1 million euro) top prize.
Tennis great Martina Navratilova tweeted: "A star is born -- Emma Raducanu makes history... and she is just getting started. And will never have to qualify again:)"
It was a stunning achievement for the unheralded 150th-ranked teen, who didn't drop a set in three qualifying matches and seven main-draw matches over two weeks in producing a stunner for the ages. Raducanu is the youngest Slam champion since Maria Sharapova at 17 in 2004 at Wimbledon.
Raducanu's win even managed to knock football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo's two-goal return to Manchester United off Sunday morning's UK newspaper front pages.
The Express called it "Absolutely Emm-ense!" while the Telegraph proclaimed: "She did it!" Social media caught fire after Raducanu sealed the win with an ace.
Former England footballer Gary Lineker broke off from presenting the English Premier League highlights programme "Match of the Day" on BBC TV to post: "First time in my life I've ever tweeted whilst on air but my goodness what a performance, what a triumph, what an amazing young woman."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: "What a sensational match! Huge congratulations to Emma Raducanu. You showed extraordinary skill, poise and guts and we are all hugely proud of you."