A few weeks ago it seemed impossible that the US Open final would not include Roger Federer.
A poor tournament build-up and a couple of five-setters changed the outlook for the Swiss, as a potential semi-final clash with Rafael Nadal beckoned.
The women’s draw was always harder to predict. It was a free-for-all in the pre-tournament betting.
The all-American semi-finals had the home crowd excited, as promising young stars came to the fore and Venus Williams continues to compete at the very highest level.
First up, let’s take a look at the women's showpiece ahead of Saturday evening's contest...
MADISON KEYS vs Sloane Stephens
Madison Keys trounced Coco Vandeweghe in her semi-final to earn this matchup with Sloane Stephens.
A rapid straight sets victory saw Keys drop a mere three games, after she had seen off number one seed Karolina Pliskova in the quarters. Keys has been expected to make this leap towards the elite, and she has taken that jump here.
This is Keys’ first Grand Slam final, and the 22-year-old is strong favourite to overcome her compatriot in the Big Apple at 12/25.
Only once has she made the last four of a Slam before, and that was back in 2015 in Australia. This year has seen two second round exits at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, but her form in the last fortnight is well deserving of the favourite tag.
Her opponent, Stephens, is ranked 901st in the world. Yes, that’s right. 901st. Her comeback from surgery saw her feature at only one other Slam this season, and that ended in a first round Wimbledon disappointment. She will be back in the top 20 after the US Open.
Like Keys, Stephens has made only one semi-final before, which was in 2013.
The story that has brought these two friends through injury to meet in their home Slam final will be retold countless times before the match, and rightly so.
The 24-year-old Stephens is the underdog, and has more miles in her legs having gone to three sets in her last three matches. The way she fought back against Venus makes it impossible to rule her out, though.
TIP: Keys in three sets @ 8/5
RAFAEL NADAL vs Kevin Anderson
Juan Martin del Potro eliminated Roger Federer, but was unable to stop the number one seed, Rafael Nadal, on his seemingly inevitable route to the final.
This is Nadal’s third Grand Slam final this year. The Spaniard has defied all odds to bounce back from his long-term injury troubles and return to the pinnacle of the sport.
Kevin Anderson, meanwhile, is playing his first final, having never made it to the last four of a Slam until this tournament.
Ranked 35th in the world, the 31-year-old veteran possesses one of the biggest serves around, and will need to be serving at his very best to have any chance of stopping the 1/9 favourite.
Both players were taken to four sets in their Friday night semi-final encounters, with Anderson and Nadal strong favourites to progress. The 6 foot 8 inch South African came back from a set down to see off Pablo Carreno Busta, while Nadal also won three straight after del Potro took the first.
The pressure of a final will weigh heavily on Anderson’s broad shoulders.
Nadal, meanwhile, has done all of this before. It would take a freak poor day for Nadal for the world number 35 to have a chance, and there has been little sign of that happening.
Anderson serve must be perfect, and he must be able to produce winners to avoid Nadal grinding him down with lengthy rallies. The underdog is at good prices to force at least one tie break at 8/15, and to make it go at least four sets at 21/20. Anything more is a step too far with Nadal in this form.
TIP: Nadal to win 3-1 @ 13/5