U.S. Open's 4 finalists leave with brighter prospects

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal (Credit: Getty Images)

With a dominant repeat women’s champion and a historic first-time winner on the men’s side, the just-concluded U.S. Open will have a lasting legacy. Let’s take a look at how the finalists' improved their stock emerging from 2010's last Grand Slam event.

Rafael Nadal, men’s champion
Not only did Nadal complete a career Grand Slam at age 24, but the Spaniard also won his sixth title of 2010. With nearly 5,000 ranking points wedged between him and No. 2 Djokovic, Nadal is hitting his prime on a career-best roll.

Novak Djokovic, men’s runner-up
By beating five-time Open champion Roger Federer in a grueling five-set semifinal, Djokovic freed himself from Federer’s psychological grip and — just when the 23-year-old Serbian was becoming an afterthought — restored his place in the Grand Slam title conversation.

Kim Clijsters, women’s champion
Because of Clijsters’ light tournament schedule, the often nonsensical WTA Tour rankings dropped her from No. 3 to No. 5 on Monday after her third U.S. Open title, but there is no one outside of Serena Williams who can consistently call upon the toughness and precision that the 27-year-old Belgian displays at the Open.

Vera Zvonareva, women’s runner-up
The 26-year-old Russian came up nearly empty against Clijsters in the lopsided final, and her 6-2, 6-1 loss was her fourth in five finals this season. But Zvonareva has now achieved a career-high No. 4 ranking by putting herself in position to win majors. Her appearances in the Wimbledon (6-3, 6-2 loss to Serena Williams) and U.S. Open finals came at tournaments where she had never previously been past the round of 16.

Tags: Rafael Nadal , Novak Djokovic , Kim Clijsters , Vera Zvonareva

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