The United States Open is a hardcourt tennis tournament that takes place every summer in New York City. The venue, now known as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, has hosted the tournament since 1978 after moving from the West Side Tennis Club.
The grounds include 22 different courts, with four “show courts” included. The main court is called Arthur Ashe Stadium, which holds more than 22,000 seats. The Louis Armstrong Stadium is the second-largest venue on the grounds, and it holds over 10,000. The Grandstand and Court 17 are the other smaller venues.
The US Open is considered to be one of the four “Grand Slam” events on the annual professional tennis circuit, along with the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. This one and the Australian Open take place on hardcourts, the French Open takes place on clay and Wimbledon uses grass courts.
Starting in 2006, the US Open became the first of the aforementioned Grand Slam events to introduce instant replay reviews. Review capabilities only exist on the Ashe, Armstrong and Grandstand courts as of now.
In 2008, the International Tennis Federation, Women’s Tennis Association, Association of Tennis Professionals and Grand Slam Committee agreed to bring instant replay to all events. If a player disagrees with an umpire’s call, each player in a given match is granted up to three unsuccessful challenges per set. If the set goes to a tiebreak, a player may use a fourth challenge.
The US Open also has fairly relaxed rules for crowd noise. While Wimbledon has strict rules in place to keep crowds from making too much noise and potentially distracting the players, this event has no such restrictions. While Wimbledon is steeped in such traditions, fans are free to cheer, clap and yell as much as they want during a given match.
Some players, such as Novak Djokovic, tend to feed off the more raucous crowd offered at the US Open. Others, such as Thomas Berdych, prefer the quieter, more traditional audience offered at Wimbledon and other stops on tour.
Arthur Ashe Stadium is also the largest show court in the world, so playing on that big a stage certainly brings an element of grandeur to the spectacle of playing at the Open.
The main draw for this event consists of the highest-ranked players in the world. The likes of Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have no problem making into the tournament on an annual basis.
The US Open also offers semi-pros and non-pro players to earn the chance to play in the main event. Prior to the beginning of the tournament, the US Open National playoffs are held in men’s singles and doubles, women’s singles and doubles and mixed doubles. Any player 14 years or older that meets certain eligibility requirements may participate in the qualification tournament.
There are several Sectional Qualifying Tournaments hosted all over the country, with a maximum of 256 men’s and women’s singles entrants, as well as 128 doubles teams. The winners of those respective tournaments will then be invited to play in the National Playoff. Men’s and women’s singles champions then receive an invite to play in the Qualifying Tournament. Men’s, women’s and mixed doubles champs receive a wild card entry into the main draw of the Open itself.
The winners of the singles events of the Qualifying Tournament are then entered into the 128-player field at the Open.
Since the Open Era (when tennis allowed professionals to face amateurs in Grand Slam events) began in 1968, we have seen a number of dominant individual runs. Americans Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras along with Swiss legend Roger Federer have each won the US Open men’s singles title five times, which is a record.
Federer’s five US Open championships came in consecutive years from 2004 until 2008. This, of course, is also a record for the event.
On the women’s side, Americans Serena Williams and Chris Evert have both won the singles event six times. Four of Evert’s six wins came in consecutive years from 1975 until 1978.
As for men’s doubles, American brothers Mike and Bob Bryan have claimed five titles. Martina Navratilova won a whopping nine women’s doubles titles alongside five different partners.
As for active players outside of Federer and Williams, both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have won the men’s singles title twice. Williams is the only active female player to have won multiple singles titles at the US Open. She has also won a pair of doubles championships alongside her sister, Venus.
The 1980s were dominated by a heated rivalry between Americans Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe. The two faced-off 34 times between 1977 and 1991 against one another, with several of their showdowns coming in high-stakes Grand Slam events. McEnroe got the better of Connors in three of their four meetings at the US Open during this span, and he holds a 20-14 all-time head-to-head edge.
Between 1974 and 1984, Connors and McEnroe combined to win nine US Open crowns, though they never squared-off against one another in the championship round of the tournament.
Another pair of Americans engaged in a rivalry in the next decade, though the bad blood wasn’t nearly as pronounced. Pete Sampras most often got the better of Andre Agassi, as he also owned a 20-14 advantage in their 34 professional meetings.
Four of those showdowns came at the US Open, and Sampras was the victor in all of them. Agassi, however, is the owner of one of the most memorable moments of the tournament’s recent history. After nearly leaving the sport altogether in the years prior, Agassi returned looking like a different person altogether and enjoyed a stellar run during the 1999 season. After winning the French Open, Agassi endured a grueling five-set match against fellow American Todd Martin to claim his second US Open title.
In all, American men have won 19 US Open singles titles in the Open Era, while 23 American women have won the top prize. Australia and Switzerland are tied for second among men with six apiece, while German women rank second with six of their own.
Arthur Ashe won the first US Open of the Open Era back in 1968 when he defeated Dutchman Tom Okker in the final. It was the first of Ashe’s three Grand Slam titles and his only US Open championship. He was the runner-up in the event in 1972 when he fell at the hands of Romanian Ilie Nastase.
Steffi Graf had accounted for all five German women singles titles before Angelique Kerber won the event in 2016. Graf is one of the most decorated individual athletes in the history of sport as a whole, as she won a then-record 22 Grand Slam titles over the course of her career. She won the US Open five times, the Australian Open four times, the French Open six times and Wimbledon seven times.
Her Open Era record of 22 Grand Slam championships was recently broken by Serena Williams, who won her 23rd at the 2017 Australian Open. Williams also has another 14 doubles titles and two mixed doubles titles.