Changes of crowns and games of thrones across the Atlantic
Well, the last thing I should have thought was that the 2022 US Open might be another predictable chapter in the game’s history. Too many...
The US Open was formerly contested on the genteel grass courts of the Forest Hills Tennis Club. In 1978 the tournament relocated to the bustling, boisterous United States Tennis Association Centre in Flushing Meadows in the borough of Queens on New York’s Long Island and is now played on a hardcourt surface. John McEnroe once famously yelled “Shut Up” to planes passing over the stadium to land at La Guardia airport. The tournament is played in the enervating humidity of a New York summer in late August and is the final tournament to be won by those seeking the elusive calendar year Grand Slam of tennis, last achieved by Steffi Graf in 1988 and, before that, by Margaret Court in 1970.
Bjorn Borg is probably the greatest male player never to win a US Open title, whilst Australia’s Evonne Goolagong lost four successive finals from 1973-1976. From 1974-1984 all its Men’s champions were left-handed! In 1984, the US Open wrote its most famous chapter when ‘Super Saturday’ was played. The three matches on Arthur Ashe stadium lasted for a combined total of close to 12 hours: Ivan Lendl edge past Pat Cash in five sets in the first of the Men’s semi-finals; Martina Navratilova then won her second US title by beating perennial rival Chris Evert 4-6 6-4 6-4 and John McEnroe then defeated Jimmy Connors in another five set semi-final. Andy Murray won his first Grand Slam title in New York in 2012 and the Williams sisters have won eight titles between them, with Serena claiming six which equals the Open era record of Chris Evert. For many years the US Open was the only Grand Slam tournament that played a deciding set tiebreaker at 6-6 in the final set of matches. It was only in 2019 that Wimbledon introduced fifth set breaks at 12-12 in the fifth set. The Australian Open has a “first to 10” tiebreak at 6-6 in the deciding set. The French Open is alone in not having final set tie-breaks.
The last Australian to win the title was Lleyton Hewitt in 2001, defeating Pete Sampras days before the 9/11attacks. Samantha Stosur is Australia’s last female champion, upsetting Serena Williams to win her only Grand Slam singles title in 2011.
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