The US Open
The US Open, like the other annual Grand Slams with the exception of Wimbledon, is a hardcourt tournament. These games are the modern version of the US National Championship, which is one of the oldest racquet competitions in the world. It has been the last Grand Slam of the year since 1987, giving it an even greater sense of import.
The games are held over 2 weeks and always begin on the last Monday in August so that the middle weekend falls over the American holiday of Labour Day. The Open is the only major that uses tiebreakers in every set of a match rather than just in the final set, and the only one that has been played every year since its inception. There are 5 events in the main tournament, namely men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles, with extra tournaments for senior, junior and wheelchair-bound athletes attached to the game. It is owned and organised by the United States Tennis Association, or USTA. With this being a not-for-profit-organisation, all ticket sales proceeds are used to promote racquet sport development across North America.
History of the Championships
The competition was first held in 1881 on the Newport Casino’s grass courts in Rhode Island, under the title of the US National Singles Championships for Men. In the first year only clubs that were United States National Lawn Tennis Association were allowed to enter. Richard Sears won the first edition and went on to win 7 consecutive Singles titles. Until 1911, the defending champion didn’t have to play in any other games except the final.
The Championships were relocated to the West Side Tennis Club at Forest Hills in New York in 1915, following a petition that was signed by about 100 players. It was played at the Germantown Cricket Club in Philadelphia from 1921 to 1923, and retuned to Forest Hills in 1924. This was also the year the games were officially designated a major tournament by the International Lawn Tennis Federation, although it was already unofficially regarded as such by many.
After 6 years of exclusively men’s singles games, a sister US National Singles Championships for omen was launched, soon fooled by the Women’s National Doubles Championship and the US Mixed Doubles Championship. All events were merged together into the US Open in 1968, and the tournament was open to professional players for the first time. The tournament became the first Grand Slam to award men and women equal prize money in 1873, and the first to use floodlights to enable night games in 1975. The US Open moved to its current location of the USTA National Tennis Centre in Flushing Meadows, Queens in 1978 and switched to a harder surface at the same time.
The US Open Today
The US Open continues to foster development of players across the country, and has produced some exceptional matches over the years. Unlike other Grand Slams, it does not allow video watching on demand, though live coverage is available via radio and streaming video is available via the website along with the usual television coverage. For new players, seasoned record-holders and avid spectators, the Championship is the perfect way to end the Tennis season.