Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The US Open

The US Open is the last Grand Slam tennis tournament of the season, held at the end of August and the beginning of September at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York. However, this has not always been its location.

The first edition was organised in 1881 as the US National Singles Championship at the Newport Casino in Newport, Rhode Island. Singles and doubles were held, but only men were allowed to participate.
In 1887, the first US Women’s National Singles Championship was held at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. Two years later, women’s doubles were organised for the first time, followed by the US Mixed Doubles Championship in 1892.

When the Open Era, the moment that professional tennis players could take part in the competitions, began in 1968, the five events of the US National Championships (men’s and women’s singles and doubles plus mixed doubles) merged into the US Open. From then onwards, the tournament was organised at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, New York. In 1978, the event moved to its current location, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows.

Until 1975, the US Open was played on grass. Then, the surface changed to Har-Tru clay for three years. Since 1978, when the tournament moved to Flushing Meadows, the surface has been DecoTurf.
Jimmy Connors is the only player to have won singles titles on all three surfaces; Chris Evert has won singles titles on two different surfaces (Har-Tru clay and Deco-Turf).

Jimmy Connors

The tournament’s main court is the Arthur Ashe Stadium (see picture), opened in 1997. Arthur Ashe was an African American player who won the initial US Open in 1968. The second largest court is the Louis Armstrong Stadium, which was opened in 1978 and until 1996 the main court.

The US Open has been the first Grand Slam tennis tournament that introduced a tiebreak in the decisive set. In all three other Grand Slam tournaments (Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon), the players play until there is a difference of two games in the final set.

Regarding singles titles after 1968, Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer are the male record-holders with five titles each; with six victories, Chris Evert is the female record-holder. The US Open was won four times by a Belgian: Justine Henin triumphed in 2003 and 2007, Kim Clijsters in 2005 and 2009.

In 2009, Kim Clijsters touched the world when she took her daughter Jada on the court after her victory.