How To Bet On The US Open
The final Grand Slam tournament of the year comes around every September as the world’s best tennis players his the court in New York for the US Open. Grand Slam tennis provides bettors the chance to wager on tennis at its highest level. Our detailed guide to betting on the US Open provides everything you need to know, including tournament format, betting markets available, key US Open tennis betting strategies and much more.
Betting On The US Open: An Introduction
The US Open is played on virtually the same type of hard courts that make up the bulk of the ATP and WTA seasons, so players are more than accustomed to playing on that type of surface. Invariably, the best player in a particular season in both the men’s and women’s tours puts it all together and triumphs in New York.
It is customary for Americans to ensure that any major sporting event that take place on their home soil is just that little bit bigger, bolder, brasher and in many ways better than anyone else’s. The US Open, the fourth and final Grand Slam event of the year is no exception. Held at the vast Flushing Meadow tennis complex in New York City, the US Open is two weeks of high-octane entertainment starring the biggest names in tennis competing for arguably the most prestigious trophies in the sport – not to mention the most prizemoney, all watched by sell-out crowds, with matches often attended by Hollywood stars, sports celebrities and even the occasional politician.
US Open 2016 Dates
The 2016 US Open will be played from August 29th to September 11th.
- US Open Tournament Format And Seeding
- US Open Betting Odds Explained
- US Open Value Bets
- US Open Betting Explained
- US Open Betting Strategies
- US Open Bookmakers
- US Open Free Bets And Offers
- US Open Live Streaming
- US Open Betting Tips
- History Of The US Open
1 - US Open Tournament Format And Seeding
The US Open takes place during the American summer, and while the exact US Open tournament dates will vary slightly annually, it always kicks off on the final Monday in August and lasts for two weeks into September.
Like the other three Grand Slam events, the US Open schedule features a 128-player main draw for both the men’s and women’s singles competitions. Unlike Wimbledon, who relied on their own seeding committee for decades and still likes tweaking the seedings to benefit those players more proficient on grass, the US Open strictly adheres to the world rankings provided by the ATP for the men’s singles and doubles events, and the WTA for the women’s singles and doubles. The top-32 players in each draw of the singles competitions are seeded.
In any sport the object of seeding is to keep the best teams/players in the tournament for as long as possible, and tennis is no different. If players live up to their seedings, the top-eight players won’t face each other until the quarterfinals, the top-four players won’t meet until the semifinals, and the best two players in the world will get it on in the final. Originally only the top-16 players were seeded, but this was expanded to the top-32 in 2001.
Doubles, Mixed and Junior Events
While from a betting perspective the bulk of action will focus on the singles competitions, in any slam event there are a multitude of opportunities for outright bets. In addition to the men’s and women’s singles and doubles competitions, there is also the mixed doubles event, plus the two junior competitions for boys and girls of 18-years or under.
US Open Junior Champions who have gone on to lift the men’s singles include Stefan Edberg, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray, while recent winners who are now rising prospects include Borna Coric and US stars Jack Sock and Taylor Fritz. Winners of the girls competition include slam winners Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport, Marion Bartoli, Victoria Azarenka plus Britain’s Heather Watson.
There are Legends events for the over-40s that attract star-names of the recent past from both the men’s and women’s tours, and also both men’s and women’s wheelchair tennis singles and doubles competitions.
Watch Out for Upsets
Despite the best intentions of tournament organizers, seeding never goes 100% to plan, and there are plenty of casualties in the first week of the US Open, which translates to plenty of great sports betting opportunities to be had.
For example, in the men’s draw of the 2015 tournament, seven of the top-sixteen seeds failed to reach the last-16, only three of the world’s top-eight players reached the quarterfinals, and just two of the world’s top-four made the semis – the eventual finalist and world no’s 1 and 2 Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, with Djokovic living up to his top billing by taking the trophy.
Fourth seed Kei Nishikori of Japan fell at the first hurdle, the top-ten ranked trio of David Ferrer, Rafael Nadal and Milos Raonic all went out in the third round, while 3rd seed Andy Murray crashed out in the fourth round. Upsets happen in tennis all the time, and the bigger the upset, the better the odds and the more that can be made on a wager, as long as you are in on the action. With a sound knowledge of the sport of tennis, a handle on how the season has panned out, knowing the top player’s form on hardcourts, plus a little help from bettingexpert’s tennis tipsters, you will ready to make the most of these upsets when they occur.
Recent US Open Winners
|2015||Novak Djokovic||Flavia Pennetta|
|2014||Marin Cilic||Serena Williams|
|2013||Rafael Nadal||Serena Williams|
|2012||Andy Murray||Serena Williams|
|2011||Novak Djokovic||Samantha Stosur|
|2010||Rafael Nadal||Kim Clijsters|
|2009||Juan Martin del Potro||Kim Clijsters|
|2008||Roger Federer||Serena Williams|
|2007||Roger Federer||Justine Henin|
|2006||Roger Federer||Maria Sharapova|
|2005||Roger Federer||Kim Clijsters|
|2004||Roger Federer||Svetlana Kuznetsova|
|2003||Andy Roddick||Justine Henin|
|2002||Pete Sampras||Serena Williams|
|2001||Lleyton Hewitt||Venus Williams|
|2000||Marat Safin||Venus Williams|
|1999||Andre Agassi||Serena Williams|
|1998||Pat Rafter||Lindsay Davenport|
|1997||Pat Rafter||Martini Hingis|
|1996||Pete Sampras||Steffi Graf|
2 - US Open Betting Odds Explained
If you want to be a profitable sports bettor, you must understand what betting odds are and the probabilities that they represent. Betting odds reflect the probability of a given outcome occurring. This probability is often referred to as the 'implied probability'. For example, let's say that Novak Djokovic is at odds of 1.50 to win an upcoming US Open match. According to the bookmakers, at these odds, Djokovic is regarded as a 66.7% chance of winning the match. The implied probability can be calculated as:
|Implied probability||=||1 / decimal odds|
Understanding betting odds is important to betting on US Open tennis or any sport.
For more advice on betting odds and what they mean take a look at these articles:
3 - US Open Value Bets
If you have serious ambitions to be a successful sports bettor on the US Open or any other tennis tournament, then you must only place a bet when you genuinely believe there is betting value available. What is betting value? A value opportunity is when you consider the chances of a given outcome to be greater than the probability implied by the bookmaker's odds.
Determining betting value requires a simple calculation:
|Value||=||(Decimal Odds * Your Assessed Probability) - 1|
So as an example, if we are offered odds of 1.50 (with an implied probability of 66.7%) for Novak Djokovic to win an upcoming US Open match and we consider the likelihood that Djokovic will win to be 80%, then we have a value betting opportunity. Why is this a value bet? Simply because our assessed likelihood of Djokovic winning the match is greater than that implied in the bookmaker's odds.
For more information on betting value and tennis staking strategies, read the following articles.
4 - US Open Betting Explained
One of the key reasons why tennis has taken off so spectacularly among bettors is the amount of betting options it offers. Few sports have more betting markets than tennis, and even the most complex betting options are straightforward and easy to understand. Because of the nature of a tennis - with its division of sets and games within the frame of an individual match – the majority of its betting markets are self-explanatory, for example; Set 1 Score, Set 1 Tiebreak? Set 2 Score After 6 Games and Set 2 Score After 4 Games are just some of the markets offered by many of the major online bookmakers. Here is a summary of the most popular tennis betting markets that you are likely to use during the US Open.
US Open Outright Bets
When you make an outright bet, you are wagering on who you think will win an event, competition or tournament. There are a multitude of outright options to be had at the US Open, but the big-five would be the men’s and women’s singles competitions, the men’s and women’s doubles events and the mixed doubles. If you have a good knowledge of the junior side of tennis, you might also have outright bets on the winners of the boys and girls junior events.
The US Open is preceded by what is known as the “US Open Series”, which is the name given to the series of North American hardcourt tournaments that take place in the weeks leading up to the US Open. These include the Masters Series events in Montreal/Toronto and Cincinnati. By monitoring these events one can get a clear picture of who is playing well on hard courts – and who isn’t. Historically, US Open champions tend to have won at least one US Open Series event prior to their success in New York.
The most straightforward and popular form of tennis betting is to back one player to defeat the other in a match.
A tennis tournament offers multiple opportunities for match betting, and a slam event like the US Open even more so, with seven rounds of matches over two weeks.
With 32 players seeded in the men’s and women’s draws – many of whom won’t survive the opening week or live up to their seeding – there will be scope for some upset wins. Whether you choose to back the favorite or the long-shot in a match, always look for a valid reason for making a bet as well as value in the bet. If in doubt, consult bettingexpert’s tipsters.
Handicap betting is a great way to back the favorite in a match yet still get good value from the bet. In the opening week at the US Open, players as adept on hardcourts as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will most likely blow their rivals off the court one-sidedly. For example, in the first round of the 2015 US Open, Djokovic conceded just three games in total over three sets against Joao Souza, while Federer conceded just five against Leonardo Mayer.
If you could have taken a peek into the future, using handicap betting you could have wagered that Federer would lose no more than five games in his match vs Mayer, which means you would back Federer at -5, which mean you are predicting he will lose five games or even less. You also could also have backed Souza to win at least four games in the match, which translates into Souza +4. In both cases you would have won your bet, although the odds on Federer losing so few games would have been the more favorable.
Another great option for when you want to back the favorite - but a regular bet has no value - is set betting. Set betting is simply predicting how convincingly a player will win a match in terms of sets won and lost. In a men’s singles match at the US Open, you are predicting whether the final scoreline will be 3-0, 3-1 or 3-2 in sets to the winner. If it’s an early round match for Novak Djokovic or Serena Williams you would likely back them to win in straight sets – 3-0 and 2-0 respectively. The odds on such a specific result will be significantly better that if you’d just backed them to win – period, and yet you are still getting to back the tournament favorite in an early round match.
A correct score bet is when you wager on the exact outcome game-wise of a particular set, no matter who wins it (although normally you would be taking the players in the match into account.) Correct score betting works well when two players have a history, and you can see how their sets tend to go. If both players are huge servers with little else to their games, you can guarantee there’s going to be some tiebreak sets.
For example, 6’11” Ivo Karlovic and John Isner – a mere pipsqueak at 6’10” – have played each other five times. Of the twelve completed sets they’ve played, nine ended in tie breaks, with three of their five matches featuring nothing but tiebreak sets.
Clearly not all sets will be as easy to predict as they are between those two, but a quick check of the head-to-head between the two players in a match on the ATP or WTA websites will give you an indication of how a set might pan out.
5 - US Open Betting Strategies
When wagering on tennis it makes sense to have a solid betting strategy in place. The beauty of tennis is there are plenty of stats and facts available with just a couple of clicks of a mouse, thanks to the excellent official ATP and WTA websites, plus sites like ESPN that cover tennis in depth. Also, if it’s quality tennis predictions you are after, you cannot go wrong with the top tipsters at bettingexpert. Here are just some of the factors you should take into account when compiling your US Open betting strategy:
Past Record At The US Open
The U.S. Open might just be the toughest slam of all to win. Unlike Wimbledon – where Boris Becker won aged just 17 and the did it again following year, or the French Open – where Mats Wilander and Michael Chang both won aged 17, where Bjorn Borg won aged 18 and Rafael Nadal was triumphant on his very first appearance at 19 , it takes even the greatest champions multiple attempts before they are victorious in New York. A prime example is Ivan Lendl who was a beaten finalist for three straight years before finally lifting the trophy in 1985.
Do a little research and check out how the favorites have performed at the US Open. Have they been victorious in the past? Maybe they have reached the finals or semifinals, and showed the potential for one day lifting the trophy themselves. Spot the next Lendl and you will be onto a winner!
How Well Did A Player Perform In The US Series?
The US Series alludes to the series of ATP and WTA hard court events played out in North America in the weeks leading up to the U.S. Open. These include the Masters Series events in Toronto/Montreal and in Cincinnati which are open to both the men’s and women’s tours. A good insight into how well players have adjusted from the grass courts of Wimbledon to US hard courts can be gained from watching these events unfold.
Traditionally, the winner in New York will have previously been triumphant in one of the Masters Series events. However, as always there are exceptions to this rule, and none more so Brad Gilbert in 1989. Brad Gilbert is known the world over as the coach to some of the biggest stars of the modern era including Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori and the author of the best-selling book Winning Ugly. Back in the 1980s and early 90s Gilbert was also player on the ATP tour who was good enough to climb as high as no.4 on the world rankings.
In 1989, Gilbert had an amazing sequence of hard court victories leading up to the US Open. In successive weeks he triumphed in Washington, Stratton Mountain, Livingston and Cincinnati, where he defeated Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg.
Needless to say, Brad Gilbert entered the US Open full of confidence and the bookmakers had him as one of the US Open odds-on winners. The outcome? He was beaten in the very first round by world no. 63 Todd Witsken!
Which Seeds Are Vulnerable On Hard Courts?
Historically, players who thrived on clay-courts tended to struggle on US hard courts, but this is less the case today. The modern player is such a super athlete, they can pretty much adapt to any surface. While it’s normal for players raised on a particular surface to feel at home there, today’s top pros adjust quickly and can be almost as dangerous on any surface. A perfect example is Spain’s David Ferrer who was raised on clay but has adapted his game to all surfaces, especially hardcourts, and has actually won more tournaments on that surface than clay, and twice made the semifinals in New York.
That said, take a moment to check the US Open draw; if a player who has earned his high seeding primarily from his success on clay is due to come up against a hungry young pro with a big serve and massive groundstrokes in the first week, an upset could well be on the cards.
Check Head-to-Head Matchups
A great habit to get into when betting on tennis is checking the head-to-head matchups of players that are set to face each other. To do this you’ll simply need to log on to the ATP site if it’s a men’s match or the WTA website if it’s women’s, enter the name of one of the players, then when their profile page appears scroll down to the head-to-head option and add the name of the second player.
If these players have met before, their past results will appear instantly, giving you the results, scorelines and stats of their previous matches. You can see when and where those matches took place and what surfaces they were played on.
If it is a long, evenly balanced rivalry, you can still see which player got the better on what surface. If you were to look at the head-to-head of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal for example, you will see that Nadal has won more of their clay-court encounters, while Djokovic has generally gotten the better of their hardcourt matches.
Further examination could even reveal if two players have faced-off previously in New York, and how those encounters played out. Few players packed the crowds into the Arthur Ashe Stadium like Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras in the 1990s and early 2000s, but while their head-to-head rivalry was pretty close, when it came to their US Open results there was only one winner; Pete Sampras led that particular head-to-head 4-0!
Best Tennis Stats Sites
If you're looking for tennis stats to help your US Open tennis betting analysis, here's our top five sites for tennis betting stats:
2016 US Open Schedule
|29/8||1||Men's/Women's First Round|
|29/8||2||Men's/Women's First Round|
|30/8||3||Men's/Women's First Round|
|30/8||4||Men's/Women's First Round|
|31/8||5||Men's/Women's Second Round|
|31/8||6||Men's/Women's Second Round|
|1/9||7||Men's/Women's Second Round|
|1/9||8||Men's/Women's Second Round|
|2/9||9||Men's/Women's Third Round|
|2/9||10||Men's/Women's Third Round|
|3/9||11||Men's/Women's Third Round|
|3/9||12||Men's/Women's Third Round|
|4/9||13||Men's/Women's Round of 16|
|4/9||14||Men's/Women's Round of 16|
|5/9||15||Men's/Women's Round of 16|
|5/9||16||Men's/Women's Round of 16|
|6/9||17||Men's/Women's Quarter Finals|
|6/9||18||Men's/Women's Quarter Finals|
|7/9||19||Men's/Women's Quarter Finals|
|7/9||20||Men's/Women's Quarter Finals|
|9/9||22||Mixed Doubles Final/Men's Semi-Finals|
|10/9||23||Men's Doubles Final/Women's Final|
|11/9||24||Women's Doubles Final/Men's Final|
6 - US Open Bookmakers
To make the most of your tennis betting during the two weeks of the US Open you will need to align yourself with a bookmaker that takes their coverage of tennis very seriously. Here’s what you’ll need to look for:
Choose A Reputable Bookmaker
Just because it’s the US Open doesn’t mean you should seek out a US bookmaker, even if they offer more betting markets and superior US Open betting odds than their European counterparts. Online betting is completely illegal in the US, so any American bookmakers you come across are unauthorized and answer to no national licensing authorities. This means if you win big on a bet and they decide not to pay you, there’s nothing much you can do about it.
All of the top UK and European based bookmakers that are featured on bettingexpert and oddschecker.com are liable to stringent, government enforced rules and regulations that they must comply with, so when it comes to betting US Open tennis, keep your betting British and European!
Tennis Betting Markets
When wagering on the US Open be sure to sign up with an online bookmaker that will provide you with all of the betting markets you will require, for the most popular betting markets or some that are more specific. All of the top online bookmakers should have a good range of tennis betting markets, but some really go the extra yard. For example, William Hill are tough to beat because they cover all of the most popular tennis markets, offer solid betting odds for US Open tennis, plus they have an excellent in-play service and during the US Open, live stream for free more matches than anyone else.
However, if you wanted some more extreme betting tips for tennis markets like “Set 2, Race To 4 Games” or “Set 2 Score After 6 Games” you might need to venture to another bookie like Paddy Power, Bwin or Coral.
Quality of Odds
It goes without saying that you will need to use a bookmaker that consistently supplies you with US Open betting odds that are among the best on offer. The US Open tennis odds in a bet will ultimately determine how much you will win from a successful wager. A quick check of the US Open tennis betting odds for any match using oddschecker will show instantly which bookmakers are giving the better odds. When it comes to betting on tennis, always having the very best odds is not as important as other features like a great choice in markets, in-play betting and live-streaming but you still want a bookie that supplies odds that are consistently competitive.
Part of tennis’s massive popularity comes from the way it lends itself to In-Play betting. The games in a tennis match last on average 3-5 minutes each, and there at least six games in a set, and at least twelve in any match. In-play betting allows you to bet on the outcome of each game – whether you think the server will hold, or the returner will break. It’s even more fun if you know the protagonists in the match and are familiar with their playing styles, i.e. who is the better server and who has the more effective return. If you are following the match on TV or via live-streaming it is even more involving.
Live-betting on tennis is a lot of fun, and if you know your players, you can be in the black in a matter of minutes.
For detailed bookmaker reviews please visit our Bookmaker Review list.
7 - US Open Free Bets & Offers
Tennis accounts for a huge part of all of the major European based sportsbooks annual turnover, with the Masters Series events, the ATP World Tour Finals and the Grand Slams in particular generating enormous betting interest. While Wimbledon remains the slam that attracts the most attention, the US Open isn’t far behind in the no.2 spot.
Flushing Meadow was the setting for Andy Murray’s first slam victory in 2012, and the British no.1 has often stated that the US Open is his favorite event of the year, and he remains a big favorite among sports bettors when he is in New York.
In the days leading up to the US Open and during its two-week duration you will see online bookmaker adds enticing you to “Sign up to our Mobile App today and get a £50 Free US Open Bet!“ or “Sign up for £20 and get £50 in Free US Open Bets!”. As the tournament reaches its business stage with the quarterfinals, semis and final, matches involving the Big Guns like Djokovic, Federer, Nadal and Murray will come with some spectacular deals imploring you to
“Get Enhanced Odds of 10/1 on Murray to beat Nadal!” etc., etc.
These offers A) are a lot of fun, and B) should be taken advantage of whenever possible. If you have done your research and you think Murray will beat Nadal, why not take advantage of those enhanced odds? If you were going to bet at least £50 on the US Open anyway, why not sign for £50 in free bets?
Always remember to stick to reputable bookmakers, read the small print and if in doubt ask bettingexpert’s opinion.
For a full listing of US Open free bet offers, please visit our Free Bets page.
8 - US Open Live Streaming
Between them, Eurosport and Sky Sports provide excellent coverage of the US Open, which is great as long as you live in the UK and have the Sky Sports package.
Outside of the UK, you can pick up Europsport’s US Open coverage with several satellite providers, or sign up for Canal + and receive the commentary in French or Spanish.
Or, you could receive outstanding US Open tennis live-streaming delivered for free to your smart TV, PC, laptop or device courtesy of anz reputable bookmakers who provide a live-streaming service. This is a HD standard free US Open live stream, and the major matches come with expert commentary. As long as your account has some credit, you can watch unlimited hours of US Open tennis absolutely free. You can enjoy your US open live stream in the UK, or in any country that qualifies for an account.
One of the ways that US Open tennis live-streaming trumps regular TV coverage is that you can keep up with the action no matter where you might be. When used in conjunction with in-play betting, live-streaming allows you to wager on the game-by-game action in a match on your device while travelling on a train or bus, working late at the office or wherever you might be.
For more information on how to access bookmaker live streams, please read our guide to bookmaker live streaming.
9 - US Open Betting Tips
If you pride yourself on being something of a tennis aficionado - and also consider yourself a serious and experienced sports bettor - the thought of using a tennis tipster and their US Open betting predictions - however lauded they may be - might seem abhorrent to you.
You could be right, and you might consistently pick winners, and if that’s the case, maybe you can become part of the bettingexpert tipster team and wow us with your own US Open betting tips. However, if no matter how much tennis knowledge you gain your US Open betting picks keep losing, maybe it’s time you got some help.
ausinformer.com is famous for having the best team of tennis tipsters found anywhere online, and they love nothing more than picking winners and delivering handicaps during the slams. See for yourself how consistent our tennis tipsters are by going to the Tennis Tips page on ausinformer.com and then scrolling down to the Tennis Tipster League. There you can see stats for each tipster’s total bets made, profitability and yield margin, and it makes for impressive reading.
So if you have tried your very best to be a successful tennis bettor but still keep losing, or if you simply want to wager on the US Open but would rather let the experts do all the “leg work”, out tipsters will be working hard throughout the US Open fortnight picking US Open tennis winners and providing US Open betting tips just for you, leaving you free to kick back, place some bets and enjoy the US Open action!
For the latest free tennis tips, please visit the bettingexpert tennis betting tips page.
10 - History Of The US Open
The US Open - known as the US National Championships until 1968 – was first played in 1881, with the first women’s competition taking place six years later. The first seven men’s singles titles were won by a Harvard student named Richard Sears. As with all of the slam events in those early years, the Challenge Round was in effect, meaning that the previous year’s winner didn’t have to play until the final itself, where they would take on the winner of the All Comers tournament. The US Championships was played on grass, as it would be until 1975, when it switched to clay for three years. In 1978 the US Open moved to its current home of Flushing Meadow in New York, and switched to the hard courts which remain its surface to this day.
The First Golden Era Of Tennis
The challenge round system was abolished in 1912, a full decade ahead of Wimbledon, and in 1920 the US Nationals got their first great player in Big Bill Tilden, whose seven titles between 1920 and 1929 remains a record. The 1920s and 30s was the first Golden Era for men’s tennis, and like Wimbledon, the US Championship’s list of winners during the years leading up to WW2 featured names that remain famous even today, including the French “Musketeers” Henri Cochet and Renee Lacoste, British great Fred Perry, and American icons Ellsworth Vines and Don Budge – who became the first player ever to win the Grand Slam of all four majors in one season.
The women also had their share of great champions. Molla Mallory won eight titles from 1915-1926, still a record. Helen Wills-Moody succeeded Mallory and would fall one short of that tally with seven. There were more fine champions in the 1930s and 40s - Helen Jacobs, Alice Marble and Pauline Betz all won four US Championships each, while Margaret Osbourne DuPont of the mega-rich DuPont family won three.
Kramer, Gonzalez, Gibson and Connelly Change Tennis Forever
The immediate post-WW2 years saw two legendary US players that would help shape the modern game. Jack Kramer was champion in 1946 and ‘47 and an excellent player, but it was as a trailblazing entrepreneur that he really excelled. Kramer set up his own professional tour in the 1950s and 60s, and was the strongest advocate for bringing the game into the open era. Kramer’s dream came true in 1968, and in 1972 he was one of the founders of the ATP tour that governs the men’s pro tour to this day.
Pancho Gonzalez was a Mexican-American who went from poverty to become tennis’s no.1 attraction for 20 years. At 6’2” with a massive serve and a game years ahead of its time, Gonzalez shook up the genteel “country club” image of tennis with his anti-establishment attitude, and became one of Jack Kramer’s first recruits on his traveling professional circus. Gonzalez brought an edge to tennis it had never previously had, suddenly making it cool to be a tennis player like Pancho.
From the early 1950s until the early 70s, the dominant nation in the men’s game at the US Championships was Australia. Ken Rosewall, Frank Sedgman, Neale Fraser, Rod Laver and John Newcombe were all multiple US champions during that era. Although Rod Laver only won the event twice – in 1962 and 1969 – those victories coincided with him twice winning the coveted Grand Slam of all four majors in a calendar year. Laver remains the last male player to achieve the Grand Slam.
By the 1950s the female competitors were becoming more athletic, and the decade produced two iconic stars who are still spoken of with reverence to this day. Teen sensation Maureen “Little Mo” Connolly was the prototype fast-moving baseline hitter whose style would be replicated in the 1970s by Chris Evert and Tracey Austin. She won three US Championships between 1951 and 1953. In 1953 Connelly became the first female winner of the Grand Slam, but her career would be cut short the following year when she shattered her fibula falling from a horse. She was just 19. America’s Althea Gibson became the first black tennis player to win a slam at the French Open in 1956, and she won the American Championships in 1957 and 58. At 5’11”, Gibson was the most powerful and athletic female player yet seen in the sport. Between them, Connelly and Gibson would lay the foundations of how women’s tennis would be played for decades to come.
Because women’s tennis lacked a strong pro tour, the top stars of the 1960s like Billie Jean King, Margaret Court and Maria Bueno – all of whom would win four US Championships/Opens - stayed amateur until the advent of the open era in 1968. Court remains the most successful female player of all time with 192 singles titles, 24 of them slams, and also achieved the Grand Slam in 1970. King – like Jack Kramer in men’s tennis – would go on to shape the modern women’s game, and is the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
The US Championships Goes “Open”
After years of pressure, the four slam events opened their doors to professionals in 1968, and the first winner of the US Open was also its only male black champion, the late Arthur Ashe, who now has the Center Court at Flushing Meadow named after him. Rod Laver would win the following year en-route to his second Grand Slam, and the evergreen Ken Rosewall won in 1970.
For many fans and experts alike, the 1970s is where the modern game of tennis that we see played today really begins. Once tennis became a professional sport and its most high profile events like the slams included prize money, it opened up the game’s appeal globally, ushering in supreme foreign talents like Romania’s Ilie Nastase, US Open champion in 1972, Spain’s Manolo Orates, winner in 1975 and Argentina’s Guillermo Vilas, who took the title in 1977.
The US and Australia continued to produce great players, but at a reduced rate while the rest of the world caught up.
“Jimbo” and “Mac the Mouth” Divide And Conquer in New York
Two of America’s greatest ever players appeared in the 1970s; 22-year old Jimmy Connors won the first of his five US Opens in 1974, crushing 39-year old Ken Rosewall 6-1, 6-0, 6-1 with a hard-hitting aggressive baseline game that featured one of the first high-profile two-handed backhands. Connors was a divisive figure, anti-establishment with a street-fighter mentality who became arguably the most popular player ever at the US Open. Connors is the only player to have won the US Open on all three surfaces it has been played on, grass, clay and cement and he proved his longevity in the event by reaching the semifinals in 1991 aged 39.
In 1979 John McEnroe won the first of four US Opens, and with his often brash, boorish on-court antics proved to be even more divisive than Connors. Possibly the greatest player of this era was Sweden’s brilliant Bjorn Borg, who would win six French Opens and five Wimbledons, yet Borg goes down in history as the “Greatest Player Never To Win The US Open”, losing twice each in finals against Connors and McEnroe.
Chrissie, Martina, Steffi and Serena take turns ruling New York
In the women’s game, the 70s saw the era of Court and King eventually give way to another all-time-great in Chris Evert, who would win the first of a record six US Opens in 1975. Tracey Austin became the youngest ever women’s champion in 1979 aged 16. The 80s saw the beginning of a period of European domination among the ladies in New York, with Martina Navratilova winning four titles, while Steffi Graf’s first of five US Opens in 1988 resulted in the Grand Slam.
European domination continued into the 90s with Monica Seles, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and later Martina Hingis all victorious, but Lindsay Davenport’s win in 1998 began a five-year stretch of US success, with American sensations Venus and Serena Williams taking four consecutive titles.
Despite her talent and athleticism, Venus would tap out at just two wins, while Serena would go on to become the outstanding player of her era, and would eventually go on to equal Chris Evert’s record haul of six US Opens.
In the men’s, the 1980s saw Czech Iron-Man Ivan Lendl reach a record eight consecutive finals from 1982-89, winning three. Great players like Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Mats Wilander and Andre Agassi would all become US Open winners during the late-80s and 90s.
Sampras and Federer set new standards
The standout player of the 1990s was Pete Sampras of the US, whose fearsome serve, vicious forehand and cat-like agility around the court powered him to a record-equaling five US Opens and a then-record 14 slams in total. The era of Sampras was superseded by that of arguably the greatest player of all – 17-time slam winner Roger Federer – who won five-straight US Opens from 2004 to 2008. Federer didn’t drop a set on the way to the 2004 final, where he defeated former champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-0, 7-6, 6-0 in what might have been the Swiss star’s greatest ever display.
In recent years, modern greats Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have achieved multiple success in New York, while Andy Murray’s triumph in 2012 was the first slam success by a British male since Fred Perry in 1936. There were also shock wins for Juan Martin Del Potro in 2009 and Marin Cilic in 2014. Both men are tall (6’6”), very powerful with massive serves, big forehands and good mobility, all of which can go a long way on the fast courts in New York.
However history shows that more than any other slam, the US Open is a barometer of a season, and the winners of the men’s and women’s singles events are invariably also the year-end no.1s.