Del Potro sets seal on memorable US Open
Flushing Meadows, New York
So what will be your enduring image from the incredible 2009 US Open? As we depart Flushing Meadows for another year, there are so many to choose from.
Kim Clijsters' daughter running across the court into super-mum's arms? Roger Federer's through-the-legs winner to create match point in the semi? Juan Martin del Potro flat on his back after beating Nadal and Federer back-to-back for the title?
Or perhaps it was the extraordinary sight of Serena Williams ranting at a line judge, Federer losing his customary cool and swearing at the umpire in the final, or the very 21st century technique of drying the Flushing Meadows courts, involving towels, mops and hands and knees.
In spite of the crazy scheduling, which continues to pander to American TV in an overly familiar way, this was a terrific US Open, daubed by controversy but studded with stories.
And what a finish. After a four-hour, five-set final, a 20-year-old from Argentina was flat on his back celebrating the most phenomenal physical, mental and skilful achievement.
Del Potro celebrates after ending Federer's winning US Open run
Nobody before had beaten both Nadal and Federer to win a major title and to do it inside 32 hours, over the final two days of what is regarded as the toughest of the slams to win, marks Del Potro as a trailblazer. A major star of the sport has arrived and he thoroughly deserved the title.
This young man, 6ft 6ins tall with the fiercest forehand around, will be world number one - absolutely no doubt - almost certainly the next one, possibly sometime soon if this form continues.
The women's final was an absolute joy. Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki looked like two very normal young women, stepping out for fun, and, free from the crippling effects of fear, they produced an excellent match.
It wasn't always perfect but it contained more excitement, variety and enjoyment than most of the recent women's major finals put together - certainly all three contested by Dinara Safina, the world number one.
Wildcard Clijsters, with her astonishing victory only four weeks into her comeback, undeniably produced the story of this or many previous women's tournaments (what will people think in 50 years time when they scour the record books to find the US Open was won by someone without a ranking?) but what about 17-year-old Melanie Oudin, the pocket rocket who knocked over four Russian players in a row?
What a feisty, precocious prospect she is - part Austin, part Capriati, part Henin. At a time when certain tennis federations are putting more and more emphasis on "profiling", identifying what they believe to be the optimum physical dimensions of young athletes, 5ft 6ins Oudin is looking every bit a future top ten player.
A mention too for Flavia Pennetta, the late-blooming Italian, who startled Vera Zvonereva in the fourth round with a memorable fightback, saving six match points in the second set before inducing the predictable final-set-meltdown from the Russian.
The men's tournament reached an extraordinary climax on the extra Monday but earlier in the tournament, Taylor Dent had provided one of the great images of the fortnight as he did a lap of honour around the Grandstand court to celebrate a 2nd round victory over Ivan Navarro.
Dent, who minutes earlier had grabbed the umpire's microphone to roar his thanks to the wild New York crowd, high-fived the fans as he circled the court and then stayed out there for half an hour signing autographs.
For someone who was in a wheelchair a few years ago, recovering after two major back operations, this was a comeback to rival Clijsters'. Ok, he didn't win the tournament, but he never thought he'd walk again let alone win matches at a major. Inspirational, both of them.
Out on court seven on Sunday, perhaps we saw a future star in Heather Watson. The 17-year-old from Guernsey won the junior girls title with an impressive performance in the final having won both quarter-final and semi-final indoors the previous day.
When she walked confidently into the main interview room an hour after the final, the big theatre normally reserved for the likes of Federer and Williams, Watson was heard to say: "This is so cool!". Excited, yet composed. Good luck to her as she starts the tricky transition from junior to senior ranks.
Well done also to Hampshire's Peter Norfolk who won his second US Open wheelchair quad title. Norfolk, the double Olympic gold medallist, has now won 16 majors (one more than Federer!) and was watched in his doubles final on Sunday by Venus Williams who, later at a press conference, promised to "see what she could do" to assist the future of wheelchair tennis.
And so to the lows; Andy Murray, the Serena affair and the scheduling.
Murray's performance in the fourth round to Marin Cilic was "not up to scratch" and "not tactically sound" - his words, not mine. It remains a mystery why Murray chose to keep his immense array of attacking weapons shut away, for the most part, in his locker. He surely needs to show trust in his own ability a little more often but it is still a case of "when" not "if" for him.
After an awkward and embarrassing 48 hours, Serena Williams finally chose the right words when she belatedly apologised for her threatening outburst at the line judge at the end of her semi with Clijsters.
Serena Williams argued the call with a line judge during her controversial US Open semi-final
She said sorry to all concerned and accepted there was no excuse for her "unacceptable" behaviour. The previous statement, released on her behalf by a PR firm, was muddled, poorly worded and stopped short of an apology. What a gaffe by people who should know better.
Now a sizeable donation to charity, couple with the admirably frank apology, would go some way to ending the affair. Talk of an investigation by the Grand Slam committee sounds very grand but Serena made a bad misjudgement, apologised and the sooner the sport moves on the better.
Likewise, the sooner the US Open sorts its schedule out the better.
The idea of 'Super Saturday' is great for the corporate dollar and the TV bosses in their Manhattan Towers, but it's an outdated and unacceptable strain on the players. Why can't there be a Friday evening 'twilight' session for the men's last-four matches?
Some players arrived at the middle weekend of the tournament having played only twice. The first round is spread over three days, something which wrecks the flow of the first week.
When rain arrived, as it predictably did on the second Thursday, the tournament's grand finale was immediately at risk and an overflow day was inevitable the minute Nadal and Gonzalez were ludicrously sent home at midnight.
"More heavy rain is imminent" said the announcement to the disappointed spectators, ahead of two and a half hours of perfectly playable dry conditions. Let's get this tournament sorted out because they make it up as they go along, it seems.
Thankfully the tennis more than made up for the disappointments in the final 48 hours and by the time Del Potro was flashing his forehand around in the final set of the tournament, with Clijsters recovering after a busy day of celebratory media activity, fans knew they had been part of a truly special championship.
* Follow Jonathan Overend and the rest of the 5 Live commentary team on Twitter @5livetennis for gossip and banter.