Andy Murray is on a proper roll. He made it look quite straightforward winning Wimbledon, then he achieved a Gold medal at the Olympics as well as carrying the flag. Maybe some of it has to do with him teaming back up with his former coach – Ivan Lendl. Sceptics will suggest that other Tennis stars Djokovic, Federer and Nadal are waining – or have slipped in form – but that’s what happens in sport and you can’t take anything away from the Scotsman. He is, quite frankly, world class. The U.S. Open is the fourth and final Grand Slam tournament of 2016 and we hope it will provide some vintage Murray Moments. With the dust barely having settled on the Olympics, here’s our look ahead to the contest along with a bit of US Open Tournament History…
The US Open was first staged in 1881 and initially held on grass courts at Newport Casino, Rhode Island. Around a 1911, a tussle ensued regarding the location for the Tournament. A group of players petitioned that as the majority of players, clubs and fans were based around the New York area, the tournament would be better held there. It was put to a vote and was quite a close run thing – 128/119 in favour of the move. The U.S. National Singles Championship for Men (as it was then) took place for the first time at the West Side Tennis Club, Forest Hills, Queens, New York in 1915.
The Tournament was temporarily relocated to Philadelphia’s Germantown Cricket Club for 1922 & 23 – whilst a new 14,000 seat stand was built at West Side. West Side held the tournament’s tenure until 1978 – when it was moved to present day home at Flushing Meadow, on Clay courts – which were changed to synthetic ‘DecoTurf’ hard courts in the late 70’s. The full ‘Open’ only came into existence as late as 1968 – when all 5 major events; Men’s Singles & Doubles, Women’s Singles & Doubles and Mixed Doubles were combined into one tournament.
The U.S. Open is the fourth of the four Grand Slams taking place over the year – the others being the Opens of Australia and France, plus of course The Championships, Wimbledon. The U.S. Open is unusual in that if a final set is tied, they continue to use a tie-break (as is customary in early sets) as the decider – in all other Grand Slams continue to score until an opponent is 2 full games clear. It was also the first Grand slam to introduce the tie-break in 1970.
Jimmy’s Grand ‘Surface’ Slam
Whilst many professional tennis stars have won tournaments on different surfaces – only one – Jimmy Connors – has won the same tournament on three different surfaces. On Grass at West Side, Forest Hills in 1974, then on Clay at the same venue in 1976, and finally at Flushing Meadows in 1978 (as well as 1982 & 83).
The total Prize Money for the tournament is $46,300,000 dollars. The US Open was the first to equalise the prize funds of men and women’s events – back in 1970. For 2016 each singles winner will net around $3.5 million dollars, whilst doubles champions will get in the region of $625,000 each.
It seems Wimbledon is not the only Grand Slam that is infamous for rain delays. Flushing Meadow is not a covered venue, so is at the mercy of the elements and from 2007 to 2012 every final was delayed to the Monday. That lead to organisers taking the decision to schedule the finals on the Monday in 2013 and 2014 – but was switched back to the standard pattern from 2015.
Who to watch?
In the men’s tournament our Mr Murray is the in-form man, but Novak Djokovic remains the world number one on points – by some margin (largely down to his dominant performances over the past 18 months). Roger Federer sits in third, but keep an eye on Stan Wawrinka, who moved up to fourth ahead of Rafa Nadal in late July. Any of them could do well – but there are also a couple of up-and-coming names to watch out for. Keep an eye on Sam Querrey – who defeated Djokovic at Wimbledon and Dominic Thiem who has twice beat Federer in a major Tournament over the past 12 months. In the Men’s doubles Frenchmen Mahut and Herbert dominated the wimbledon final.
In the women’s game the William’s sisters are sure to be home favourites, and Serena has to be at the top of the list for the Ladies Singles win after her dominant Wimbledon performance, and as ever the two of them together in the Ladies doubles will be a formidable proposition for anyone to overcome. Other names to watch on the Ladies tour include Wimbledon Runner-up Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep and Agnieszka Radwanska. UK interest rests with Heather Watson and she’s right up as a favourite in the Mixed doubles – having won the Wimbledon mixed doubles competition partnering Henri Kontinen.
Hopefully the tournament will spring a few surprises and stunning tennis. Maybe we’ll see some big names knocked out in the early rounds – as they did at Wimbledon. Perhaps we’ will even witness an all-time-great final that will be remembered as an epic. Fingers crossed we do and that it involves Heather Watson and/or Andy Murray winning.