The US Open is the final Grand Slam of the year and in turn is the last opportunity to claim a grand slam crown in the calendar year. The surface at Flushing Meadows is notoriously the fastest playing surface of all the Grand Slams and generally favours the bigger serving, harder hitting player. The fanatical support in New York always makes for a fantastic atmosphere during the tournament, adored by players and fans alike.
The format of the US Open is the same as the other three Grand Slams throughout the year. The draws for the men’s and ladies’ singles both have 128 participants and are played over a 2 week period. For men the matches are best of 5 sets (as opposed to the best of three set matches they play on the ATP tour) and as always, the matches in the women’s tournament are best of 3 sets. The US Open has tiebreaks in every set, including the final set. In comparison, the other three Grand Slam tournaments have tiebreaks in every set other than the last set (i.e. the fifth set for men and third set for women), and therefore their last set continues indefinitely until a two-game lead is reached. This results in crucial matches and period of matches often adding to the tension and drama at the US Open with tournament progress, money and ranking points all being decided by a couple of points rather than games.
The US Open progressed into the open era (turned from amateur to professional) along with the majority of the other Grand Slam events in 1968. The US Open trophy is one of the most sought after in the calendar for both men and women and the huge amount at stake for players, is reflected in the roll call of past winners of the tournament. Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer have all won the men’s competition on 5 occasions. 2012 saw the end of a torturous period for British tennis fans with Andy Murray getting his hands on the trophy at Flushing Meadows and appeasing a success deprived nation in doing so. History suggests that not many winners from outside the established seeding and ranking order manage to upset the odds and win the US Open, in both the female and male competitions the US Open however, is an event that all tennis fans simply cannot miss.
While the other Grand Slams were originally against the idea, the U.S. Open was the first of the four majors to introduce equal prize money for men and women in 1973. The decision to enforce equality followed a long campaign by women’s tennis legend Billie Jean King, who the Flushing Meadows complex, is now named after. Not only do the winners receive the same amount of prize money in the men’s and women’s draw, they also pick up exactly the same trophy and both pick up the richest individual prizes in world sport.