Marin Cilic overwhelmed Kei Nishikori to end a tournament of shocks as one of the US Open's most unlikely champions.
A significant teenage talent, it was a long time ago that Cilic was last mentioned as a potential grand slam champion before his stunning run in New York.
But the 25-year-old left no one in any doubt that he deserved his place in the history of the game with a thumping 6-3 6-3 6-3 victory that lasted just an hour and 54 minutes.
Cilic, who missed the US Open last year while serving a four-month doping ban, is the first Croatian to win a slam title since his coach Goran Ivanisevic at Wimbledon in 2001.
Nishikori became the first Asian man to play in a grand slam singles final and the 24-year-old has shown enough this tournament to indicate his time may well come.
Cilic, who did not lose a set in his final three matches, said: "I think this is all the hard work in the last several years and especially the last year.
"My team brought something special, especially Goran. The most important of all the things he brought to me was enjoying tennis and always having fun. I enjoyed my best tennis over here and played the best tennis of my life.
"Everything I was working for and dreaming about came today. For all the other players who are working hard, I think this is a big sign and big hope that things are going to pay off."
Nishikori congratulated Cilic and said: "He was playing really well, I couldn't play my tennis. It's a tough loss, but I'm really happy to come to the final for the first time. I'm sorry for my team I didn't get the trophy tonight. For sure next time."
It was tough to believe the stadium would not have been fuller had the final been between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer rather than the men that beat them, even at 5pm on a Monday.
After all the talk of the end of the big four, this was the first really conclusive evidence that things are changing in men's tennis.
Many pundits were expecting Grigor Dimitrov or Milos Raonic to be the first of the next generation to reach a final rather than Nishikori or Cilic and the fact one of them was guaranteed to walk away with a slam title added to the intrigue.
It was the first slam final in almost 10 years not to feature Federer, Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray and the first between two first-time finalists ranked outside the top 10 since Pat Rafter beat Greg Rusedski here in 1997.
Cilic had played the best match of his life to stun Federer in straight sets in the last four, while Nishikori outlasted Djokovic in brutally hot and humid conditions.
What both men wanted to avoid was a nervous start and Cilic settled the butterflies by saving a break point in the opening game with a forehand winner onto the line.
Both Cilic and Nishikori have jumped on the former-greats-as-coaches bandwagon and both have spoken glowingly about the difference their respective mentors have had.
Cilic linked up with Ivanisevic, whom he first hit with when he was 14, while Nishikori is being helped by former French Open champion Michael Chang.
Ivanisevic has finally got Cilic to believe that an attacking game is the way for him to realise his potential and he would have been ecstatic at the way his man was handling his first slam final.
The 25-year-old was much the more aggressive and, coupled with the free points he was able to get on serve, it added up to a winning combination.
A break in the sixth game of the opening set proved decisive and the crowd, who were predominantly pro Nishikori, struggled to summon up much encouragement as Cilic moved into a 5-2 lead in the second.
There was the first chink of light when Cilic wobbled serving for the set, but he snuffed out any optimism by breaking again straight away, the final shot of the set a forehand onto the line, of which there had been many.
It was very possible that Nishikori was at last beginning to feel his gruelling route to the final.
He had beaten fifth seed Raonic over five sets in a match finishing at 2.26am, come back 36 hours later to see off third seed Stan Wawrinka also over five sets and then defeated world number one Djokovic.
Something was certainly subduing him - beyond simply the excellence of Cilic - because there was none of the verve that he had shown in those three huge victories.
Cilic was all over him again early in the third set and, when he broke for 3-1, the job was almost done.
Nishikori's last chance came with three break points in the seventh game, but he missed them all and two games later it was all over.
The occasion got the better of Cilic for a moment with a huge double fault on his first match point, but a backhand winner clinched it on the second.
Cilic lay flat on his back in celebration as Ivanisevic raised his hands in the air in triumph.