Andy Murray always said his favorite Grand Slam was the U.S. Open. Something about the noise, the music, the late nights. It was a weird thing for a Scotsman to say, since he was not so subtly turning his back on Wimbledon, and the British fans.

And then this year happened. Murray, ranked No. 4 for the fourth straight year, hired Ivan Lendl as a coach. He made the Wimbledon final, where he broke into tears after losing to Roger Federer, endearing himself to those fickle Brits in a way he never had before. He won the Olympic gold—at Wimbledon, over Federer—three weeks later, and it felt a little like redemption.

Cue the 25-year-old's favorite tournament. Flushing has waited for a final of this caliber for a long time. The Australian Open, the French, Wimbledon: They all got classics, usually involving Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Finally, we have our classic, and we didn't even need Roger or Rafa. It was a match of defense versus defense. There's a reason we got those maddening, impossible, endless rallies all night.

"Most of our matches that we played against each other were very close, and only small margins decide the winner," Djokovic said a couple of days ago. "That's something that is expected in a way, because we have similar games."

Well… yup. Yes, indeed. The first set lasted nearly 90 minutes (including a mind-boggling 54-shot rally). No set in this match lasted less than 46 minutes. There was a mere five point differential in total points won (160 to 155, with Murray in the lead).

But Djokovic was the guy cramping at the end, and Murray has provided the critical plot twist the men's game needed as we start to move past the Roger-Rafa era. Novak has a formidable opponent heading into the future. The U.S. hosted a major that could kick off a new era for the golden age of the men's game. Finally.

Oh, and by the way: They're pretty happy overseas too: