🎾 The US Open¶
The US Open Tennis Championships since 1987 is chronologically the last and fourth Grand Slam tournament. The year starts with the Australian Open, then comes the French Open, then Wimbledon and this would be the last of the big four.
The US Open begins on the last Monday of August and lasts for two weeks, with the middle weekend coinciding with Labor Day, which is a public holiday in the United States. This tournament is one of the oldest in the world and was originally known as the US National Championship, where the men’s singles and men’s doubles categories were initially played for the first time in August 1881.
Currently the tournament comprises 5 main championships which are the men’s and women’s singles tournaments, the men’s and women’s doubles modality, the mixed doubles category, but it also includes events for junior and senior players, in addition to the wheelchair players category. . Since 1978, the tournament has been played at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, located in Queens, New York City, specifically at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and the courts are hard acrylic.
The United States Open is organized and owned by the United States Tennis Association (USTA), being its president Patrick Galbraith and it should be noted that it is a non-profit organization where the income received from the sale of tickets, television contracts and sponsorships, are used for the purpose of developing tennis in the United States.
Photo of Patrick Galbraith taken by chezsmith taken from flickr
The US Open counts within its rules with standard tiebreaks, being the first to 7 and won by 2 in the sets of each singles match, while for the rest of the Grand Slam events, there are other methods of scoring for the matches that arrive tied at 6-6 in the possible last set, being the third for the women’s category and the fifth set for the men’s category. In the French Open when the deciding set is presented, it continues until either player manages to take a two-game lead, but in the Australian Open the tie-break is played extended to 10 points, while in Wimbledon it is used the standard tiebreaker only when the game score reaches 12-12. In the same way as the US Open, all Grand Slam events use standard tiebreaks when deciding the other sets.
In August 1881 this tournament was held for the first time at the Newport Casino in Newport located in Rhode Island. In this first edition, only those members who belonged to the United States National Lawn Tennis Association (USNLTA) will be allowed to enter, with the first male singles winner being the player Richard Sears, obtaining the first of his seven consecutive individual titles.
Between 1884 and 1911, the tournament used a system whereby the defending champion automatically qualified for the following year’s final, where he would play against the winner of that next year’s tournament.
For the first few years of the championship only men competed and was called the United States Men’s National Singles Championship. However, six years after the first men’s national elections were held, in September 1887 the first United States Women’s National Singles Championship was held at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. The player who won the title was Ellen Hansell from Philadelphia, who was only 17 years old at the time and that same year, the men’s doubles event was held at the Orange Lawn Tennis Club located in South Orange, New Jersey. The semifinal of the United States Tennis Championship was held in Newport in the year 1890 and the match was between Oliver Campbell and Bob Huntington.
Philadelphia Cricket Club
Between the years 1888 and 1918 a challenge system was used in the women’s tournament with the exception of the year 1917 and between the years 1890 and 1906 sectional tournaments were held both in the east and in the west of the country, to establish the best doubles teams. at which point, they competed in a playoff for the right to compete against the defending champions who were determined in the challenge round.
Between the years 1888 and 1989 the men’s doubles events were played at the Staten Island Cricket Club located in Livingston, Staten Island, New York. While the 1893 championship was played at the Chicago-based St. George Cricket Club, the men’s doubles event. For the year of 1892 the US Mixed Doubles Championship was included, while the National Women’s Doubles Championship was introduced in 1899.
The national championship was moved in 1915 to the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills located in Queens New York. To move the championship to New York City, a group of tennis players led by New Yorker Karl Behr were the ones who dedicated themselves to this mission.
West side tennis club¶
A group of approximately 100 tennis players signed a petition to move the tournament in early 1915, arguing that most of the players, fans and tennis clubs were located within the vicinity of New York City and therefore, this move to New York would be of great benefit to the development of the sport. However, another group of players, including eight former individual national champions, opposed this decision. So it had to be put to a vote on February 5, 1915 at the USNLTA’s annual meeting, with 128 votes in favor compared to 119 votes against relocation. The men’s singles tournament held in August 1915, took place at the West Side Tennis Club for the first time located in Forest Hills in New York, while the women’s tournament took place at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia, it should be noted that the women’s tournament was not moved until 1921. Between 1917 and 1933 the men’s doubles event took place at the Longwood Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill in Massachusetts and in 1934 both men’s and women’s doubles events were held at the Longwood Cricket Club.
Pancho Gonzales playing in the Longwood Cricket Club
Between 1921 and 1923 the men’s singles tournament was held at the Germantown Cricket Club located in Philadelphia, however in 1924 it returned to the West Side Tennis Club after the completion of the Forest Hills Stadium with a capacity of 14,000 seats. Although it is true that many considered it a great championship, it was not until 1924 that the International Lawn Tennis Federation officially designated it as one of the main tournaments in the world. The 1922 United States National Championship was when the draw seeded players for the first time, thus preventing the leading players from playing each other for the first few rounds. From 1935 to 1941 and from 1946 to 1967, both the men’s and women’s doubles took place at the Longwood Cricket Club.
The open era was when professional tennis players were first allowed to compete in a Grand Slam tournament held at the West Side Tennis Club in 1968, in previous years the tournament was limited to amateur players. With the exception of mixed doubles, the tournament events were open to professionals and that year a total of 96 men and 63 women participated, in addition to a prize pool of $100,000.
The US Open became the first Grand Slam tournament in 1970 to use a tie break, to decide those sets that reached a score of 6-6. Between the years 1970 and 1974 the US Open used a best of 9 sudden death tiebreaker, this was before starting with the points system where the best of 12 points wins, proposed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) .
The US Open in 1973 was the first Grand Slam tournament to award the same prize money for both men and women. For example, that year’s individual champions Margaret Court and John Newcombe each received $25,000. After 1975, after several complaints regarding the surface and the impact on the ball’s bounce, the tournament began to be played on clay surfaces instead of on grass courts. That same year, in order to make the tournament a little more friendly with television, it was decided to experiment with adding spotlights and this allowed the matches to be played at night.
The tournament moved from the West Side Tennis Club to the USTA National Tennis Center in 1978, as it was newly built at Flushing Meadows three miles north in Queens, as well as being larger. The court surface was also changed to hard clay, with Jimmy Connors being the only person to have managed to win US Open singles titles on three different surfaces (grass, clay and hard clay), while the only woman capable of winning US Open singles titles on two surfaces (hard clay and clay) was Chris Evert.
The only Grand Slam tournament that has been played every year since its inception is the US Open. In the 2006 edition, the complex began to be called the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, to honor Billie Jean King, who was a four-time champion in the women’s singles category of the United States Open, in addition to being a pioneer of women’s tennis.
Billie Jean King
The US Open changed the traditional practices regarding the programming of tennis tournaments between the years 1984 and 2015 with the concept of “Super Saturday”. This meant that the women’s finals were played on the last Saturday of the tournament, while the men’s finals were played on the last Sunday, with the respective semifinals being held a day earlier. Originally the women’s final was held between the two matches of the men’s semifinals, but in 2001 the women’s final was moved to the night to be able to present it on prime time television, in this way a great growth was achieved between viewers of the popularity of women’s tennis. This scheduling pattern was very helpful in building TV viewership, but it somehow caused divisions among players as they were given less than a day.
Between 2008 and 2012 the men’s final was postponed for five consecutive tournaments due to weather, while for 2013 and 2014 the USTA intentionally scheduled the men’s final for Monday, this move was praised for allowing players to an extra day to rest after the semi-finals, but this caused some anger from the ATP for deviating from the structure of the other Grand Slams. The concept of Super Saturday was eliminated in 2015 and the US Open returned to a format similar to that of the other Grand Slams, with the women’s finals on Saturday and the men’s on Sunday. However, both sets of semi-finals due to weather delays were forced to be held on Friday of that year.
The US Open was the first Grand Slam tournament that in 2018 began to control the time of the players between points, since it introduced the shot clock and in this way the rhythm of the game is increased, the clock is placed in a place Visible to both the players, the chair umpire and the fans, now in all Grand Slams, WTA and ATP tournaments they apply this technology since 2020.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 event was held without spectators and it was announced that the wheelchair tennis competition would not take place, this caused excessive controversy as the USTA took the measure without consulting the disabled athletes, as it had done with non-disabled competition organizations. She was later accused of discrimination and the USTA had to reverse this measure, in addition to admitting that it should have discussed this decision with the disabled competitors and offered them $150,000 to divide among themselves, as opposed to the $3.3 million they were given. Affected players were offered to split among themselves for the cancellation of the women’s qualifying competition, men’s qualifying competition and reductions in mixed doubles pools, as part of the Open a competition with 95% of the 2019 prize funds or a competition that would take place at the USTA in Florida.
Arthur Ashe Stadium in 2010¶
The field of play of the US Open is developed with 22 outdoor courts and outside the East Gate there are 12 more practice courts, they consist of four exhibition courts that are the Arthur Ashe Stadium, the Grandstand, the Louis Armstrong Stadium and Court 17, 13 are field courts and five of them are practice courts.
The Arthur Ashe Stadium on the main court opened in 1997 and has a capacity of 23,771 seats, in addition to a retractable roof that cost 180 million dollars and where its construction was completed in 2016. The stadium is called Arthur Ashe in honor the tennis player who won the men’s singles at the inaugural US Open in 1968, but also won the Australian Open in 1970, the Wimbledon championship in 1975 and is a character who was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985 International.
Arthur Ashe Stadium photo taken by slgckgc taken from flickr
The Louis Armstrong Stadium is the next largest field in the complex and has a capacity to hold 14,061 people, it was inaugurated in 2008 and its construction cost 200 million dollars; this court is divided into a lower level consisting of 6,400 seats and its tickets are sold separately as they are reserved seats, while admission seats for the general public is located on the upper level and has 7,661 seats. On the other hand, in the southwest corner of the complex, the third largest court was inaugurated in 2016, it is a grandstand with a capacity of 8,125 seats. Also in the southeast corner of the complex is court 17, which is the fourth largest stadium, it was inaugurated in 2011 with temporary seats, however, the following year it received its permanent seats and has a capacity of 2,800 seats where all they are of general admission and it is called by all as “The Pit”, since the playing surface is sunk eight feet into the ground. For the practice courts that go from P1 to P5 they have a total capacity of 672 seats, while the competition fields that go from 4 to 16 have 12,656 seats, broken down as follows:
- Courts 11 and 12 have a capacity of 1,704 seats each.
- Court 5 with 1148 seats
- Court 7 has 1494 seats
- Courts 10 and 13 have 1,104 seats each
- Court 4 with 1,066 seats
- Court 6 has 1,032
- Court 9 has 624
- Courts 14 and 15 have 502 seats each
- Courts 8 and 16 have 336 seats each
What allows television coverage and matches to extend into prime time is that all the courts used by the US Open are fully lit. The women’s singles final was intentionally scheduled in prime time for the first time in 2001. This happened because Sean McManus, the president of CBS Sports, was interested in the great interest of the viewers in the players Serena Williams and Venus Williams, in addition to of the increased ratings performance seen in the 1999 women’s singles finals, which due to rain delays had to be held in prime time.
The US Open was played between 1978 and 2019 on a surface called Pro DecoTurf hard court, being a multi-layer padded surface that was classified as medium fast by the International Tennis Federation. It is important to note that the courts are resurfaced every August just before the start of the tournament. However, the USTA decided that Laykold would be the new supplier of court surfaces, beginning in March 2020. Every single US Open tennis court since 2005 is painted blue within the lines, so that it is easier for players, spectators and viewers to see the ball, to the point that it is already a registered trademark as “US Open Blue”, while the area outside the lines It is still green, to increase visibility due to the difference in colors.
Challenges in the player line¶
Instant replay checks made on the so-called line were introduced by the US Open in 2006 using a computer system called Hawk-Eye, the first Grand Slam tournament to use this system. The organization felt the need to use the system due to the controversy that arose between Serena Williams and Jennifer Capriati in the quarterfinals of the 2004 edition, given that important line calls against Serena Williams occurred in that game and instant replay were only available on the Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong stadium courts until the 2008 tournament. However, on the Grandstand court the system was installed for 2009. It should be noted that all competition courts are already equipped with the Hawk-Eye as of 2018 and in all matches of the main draws, both singles, men’s doubles and women’s, the same procedure is followed: each player is allowed three incorrect challenges per set and one more in a tiebreaker.
In the year 2021 the player challenges were removed and it was then the second Grand Slam to use the Hawk-Eye Live in an absolute way, that is, from then on all line calls are executed electronically. In the previous year’s edition, Hawk-Eye Live had already been incorporated for all fields, except in the main Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong stadiums, in order to reduce personnel during the pandemic.
JP Morgan Chase renewed its sponsorship of the US Open in 2007 and part of the deal was that the replay system should be called “Chase Review” on both video and television in the stadium.
The best games of the US Open¶
Manuel Orantes vs. Guillermo Vilas in the 1975 Semifinals¶
Manuel Orantes had an amazing comeback in his win over Guillermo Vilas, when he won the 1975 semi-finals with a score of 4-6, 1-6, 6-2, 7-5, 6-4. Very few people watched the match because it took place without television coverage and late at night, in fact it is extremely difficult to find a video of this match online. Both players were the best on clay in the world at the time, and yet it was a match that didn’t get the attention it needed. It was even the first time that a Grand Slam tournament had night sessions, Vilas was the number 2 seed, while Orantes was the number 3 seed. While it is true that the match featured long exchanges between both players, everything indicated that the match would end at a reasonable time since Vilas won the first two sets, later maintaining a 5-0 lead in the fourth, however Orantes impacted the Argentine when playing that point with a serve and volley , thus achieving his first volley in order to stay alive. Then Vilas with his serve had two more match points reaching 5-1, but again Orantes not only saved both points but also in the fourth set he managed to save five match points and then won seven straight games to win the set with a score of 7-5.
By the time the Spaniard managed to finish the fifth set which was when he was able to get to his room, it was already two in the morning and after his grueling semi-final match, Manuel Orantes returned to the court approximately 18 hours later to play Jimmy Connors. However, Orantes showed no signs of emotional or physical fatigue, to the point that he outscored Connors 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 to claim his first and only Grand Slam title.
Photo of Manuel Orantes taken by Tennis Buzz and extracted from flickr
Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in the 2011 Semifinals**¶
Novak Djokovic in beating Roger Federer 6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5, produced one of the greatest shots in history in the 2011 US Open semifinals.
Djokovic saved two match points in the US Open semifinals by beating Federer for two years in a row. In the 2010 fifth set he had battled back two match points while trailing 5-4, but the 2011 effort was much more dramatic.
After losing the first two sets Djokovic recovered to force a fifth set. However Federer managed to break Djokovic in the 8th game, the score was 5-3 and Federer was serving having a double match point at 40-15. At that point, Djokovic hit a forehand crosscourt return, saving the first match point, to such an extent that John McEnroe said, according to The Guardian, that it was “one of the greatest shots of all time.” Later he managed to save the second match point and also managed to win four consecutive games, thus being able to win the match with a flourish.
Bjorn Borg vs. Jimmy Connors in the 1976 Final¶
Although Jimmy Connors was ranked No. 1, he hadn’t won a single Grand Slam event since his triumph in the 1974 US Open final, when he beat Ken Rosewall. The 1976 US Open was played on a gray-green clay court (Har-Tru) and Borg had already won the French Open in 1974 and 1975 on clay, and had also won the first of five consecutive titles two months earlier. would get at Wimbledon. But Connors before the 1976 final had managed to beat Borg five times in a row. Connors’ aggressive drives towards the net, flat and hard groundstrokes seemed to wear the Swede down.
The turning point turned out to be the third set that made the match really special, this happened after each player managed to win one of the first two sets. Connors began leading the third set 4-2 and found himself serving at 40-0, just one point away from a commanding 5-2 lead. However, Borg managed to win five straight points to win the game and subsequently earned a double set point in the tie break. Connors then hit two game winners to equalize the tie break but let a set point slip away at 7-6, subsequently saving two points when the score was against him at 8-7 and 9-8. The game was too exciting when the last point managed to tie the tiebreaker at 9-9. At that moment Borg was ready to serve when a ball boy informed the referee that the players had to change sides again, since in the midst of the intensity of the match both the referee and the players had forgotten that they had to change sides. .
The next two points were won by Connors after he battled through four set points to put the score in his favor at 11-9 and win the set. In the fourth set while serving at 5-4 he had his first match point, when Borg managed to save the situation with a difficult forehand and subsequently saved another point, before Connors ended up winning the title with a score of 6-4. , 3-6, 7-6 (11-9), 6-4.
Connors expressed in his book The Outsider that some of the shots they both played that day, Borg with his little wooden racket and him with his Wilson T-2000, were just plain crazy.
Jimmy Connors vs. John McEnroe in the 1980 Semifinals¶
Both players were American stars with a lot of attitude and they didn’t like each other. The day of the match saw several tirades between McEnroe and the chair umpire, which somewhat added flavor to that 1980 semi-final. McEnroe won the match 6-4, 5-7, 0-6, 6. -3, 7-6 (7-3), but not before putting on a very entertaining show.
McEnroe took the lead 6-4, 5-4 and it was when Connors took control winning 11 consecutive games, to lead 2 sets to 1 winning the third set to love, it was precisely in that set that McEnroe argued with the judge of chair calling him among other things “Mr. Incompetent”. Connors for his part, placed himself on the wall during the outburst to avoid the argument.
In the fourth set McEnroe recovered and led 5-4 in the fifth set, however Connors hit two great winners breaking his opponent’s serve and managing to tie the match. At that point McEnroe lost control of his racket which traveled the length of the court where he just barely missed Connors, which cost McEnroe a $250 fine.
They eventually reached a tie break in the fifth set and Connors committed two serious fouls giving McEnroe an insurmountable 4-1 lead and winning the match.
Photo of John McEnroe taken by Rob Rudloff Foundy from flickr
Venus Williams vs. Serena Williams, 2008 quarterfinals¶
Sisters Venus and Serena Williams had had 16 meetings, each winning eight of them before meeting in the 2008 US Open quarterfinals, this match being the most compelling of all their 24 meetings.
Serena reached the semifinals with a 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (9-7) victory and according to the Associated Press it was very hard to imagine that any of those encounters could be even close to the quality of the competition run in 2008 by sisters who grew up together perfecting their shots on the same court in Compton, California. Venus hit serves up to 125 miles per hour, while Serena hit up to 115 miles per hour, landing groundstrokes and volleys that were ultimately the envy of all the women on tour.
Venus led the first set 5-3, but Serena forced the tie break and then earned a double set point while trailing 6-4 and won the first set. In the second set Venus had the advantage at 5-3, but saved three points and another one at 6-5. Venus with another triple set point led the tiebreaker 6-3, however, Serena not only saved all three set points but she won the tiebreaker 9-7, winning the match.
Photo of Serena and Venus Williams taken by Universal Tennis taken from flickr
Steffi Graf vs. Monica Seles in the 1995 Finals¶
Both players had major mishaps while preparing for the 1995 US Open final. After an absence of two years and several months, as Monica Seles, who had been out of the game since April 1993, was stabbed by a Steffi Graf fan in Hamburg, by a German who wanted Graf to regain supremacy over Seles.
Steffi Graf, for her part, spent much of the competition dodging the German press, since her father Peter was in jail in Germany at the time, for failing to pay income tax on his daughter’s earnings for more than of 1.5 million dollars. The night before the final, Graf even had an MRI for a sore foot.
In the first set Monica Seles thought she had won it with an ace at 6-5, however the ball was disallowed and Graf managed to save set point, later winning the tiebreak. The second set was completely dominated by Seles, winning it to love and in just 27 minutes.
Steffi Graf was serving up a 5-3 lead at 40-15 in the third set, when Seles landed a smashing forehand to stay alive, however, she erred on the second match point and Steffi Graf achieved victory.
Andre Agassi vs. Pete Sampras in the 2001 quarterfinals¶
Although it is true that this match between Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras was not exactly a final, in these quarterfinals of the US Open in 2001 it was a sample of what any tennis fan could wish for.
These two American stars, who already owned 21 Grand Slam singles titles between them, met for the 32nd time in their careers having developed a great rivalry between them, each with their contrasting styles and personalities.
Sampras held a slim 17-14 advantage in match wins, including wins in the 1990 and 1995 US Open finals. The excessive crowd that attended the night session of the US Open, in addition the audience was openly known for its raucous participation in the matches. The crowd in New York had their sentimental favorites and every one of them, both 30-year-old Sampras and 31-year-old Agassi, had his fan base.
The match was characterized by being a close contest at all times, to the point that there was not even a single break of service during the entire match. The atmosphere created by the crowd of fans was simply phenomenal.
Sampras conquered the victory with a score of 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-5), but the curious thing was that they were 12:14 a.m. and almost all of the 23,033 spectators who attended Arthur Ashe Stadium that night were still present.
Agassi had to fight off a triple match point when they were in the first set tie-break and came back from a score down 6-3 to reach a score of 9-7. In the second set, Sampras volleyed skillfully to win the tiebreak, before finishing off with back-to-back aces in the third set tiebreak.
In the fourth set Sampras hit two more aces and had a triple match point to leave the score at 6-3. But the suspense increased when Sampras double faulted, missing a volley to make the score 6-5, however Agassi on the third match point missed a forehand, which Sampras knew how to take advantage of very well to take the victory match victory.
Photo of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi taken by Tennis Buzz from flickr