Beginners Guide to the US Open
This year is the 50th anniversary of the US Open. The present event is the modern version of one of the oldest tennis tournaments in the world. The US National Championships have taken place since 1881; the former amateur event was opened up to pro players in 1968, hence the current competition’s name.
Like all things American, the US Open is a big deal. The tournament boasts the biggest winner’s purse in tennis, is the largest attended annual sporting event in the world (it attracts over 700,000 spectators each year) and the Arthur Ashe stadium is the biggest tennis venue on earth (it holds over 8,000 more people than Wimbledon’s Centre Court).
Here’s everything you need to know about US Open 2018 tennis.
When is the 2018 US Open?
The US Open is traditionally the final tennis Grand Slam of the year. The other Slams are the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the French Open. The US major has been the last one of the calendar year since the Australian version was moved from November to January in 1987.
This year, the tournament runs from August 27th to September 9th and the US Open’s middle weekend falls on the Labor Day public holiday. The competition really begins to hot up over the long weekend and huge crowds descend on New York to take in the action.
Where is the US Open Played?
The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center has been the venue for the US Open since 1978. The complex stands in New York’s Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
Flushing Meadows used to be a marshy swamp and was filled in over several decades as various uses for the land were mooted and abandoned. In 1935, the area was selected to be the venue for the 1939 World’s Fair and the reclaimed site was developed into parkland afterwards.
Today’s tennis facility, which sits in the middle of the 900-acre park, houses 33 courts and three stadiums. Each hard court uses a DecoTurf surface which is constructed from layers of acrylic and other materials on top of an asphalt base.
The Arthur Ashe amphitheatre is the showpiece venue of the centre and will be joined this year by a rebuilt 14,000-capacity Louis Armstrong stadium. Both arenas now have retractable roofs after years of the tournament being disrupted during heavy downpours. Various show courts complete the impressive complex, including the Grandstand and Court 17.
How the US Open Tournament Plays Out
Matches are in six categories: men's singles and doubles, women's singles and doubles, mixed doubles and wheelchair events.
The US Open is the only Grand Slam that has tiebreakers in every set of the match. The other Slams conclude their final set by playing on until a winner emerges by two clear games.
There are seven rounds in the single’s tournament, one fewer in the Doubles and two less in the Mixed Doubles. In the men’s tournament each match is the best of five sets and in the women’s it’s best of three. Check out Bet UK's predictions for the Men's US Open Favourites and Women's US Open Favourites.
US Open 2018: What’s New This Year?
In an age of shortening viewer attention spans and a demand for lightning-quick sport, this year US Open tennis fans will be kept on the edge of their seats with a host of new rules.
US Open 2018 will be the first Grand Slam to feature a time clock for serves, though it’s still not entirely clear what the punishment will be for failing to serve within the allotted 25 seconds.
This year will also see warm-ups restricted to seven minutes and a fine for any player who dares to spend more than 60 seconds making his way from the dressing room to the pre-match coin toss.
If all that seems a little nit-picky, then the introduction of towel racks takes the quibbling to new heights. Players will no longer be handed a towel by ball boys and girls, instead they’ll have to get their own from the laundry-like equipment which will be positioned behind their seat.
Legendary figures of the US Open
Tennis legend and humanitarian Arthur Ashe lends his name to the cavernous stadium which hosts the US Open final each year. Ashe won the first open event in 1968 as an amateur.
The site’s newest stadium is named after noted jazz musician Louis Armstrong. The arena is built in the footprint of the old stadium which was also named after the R&B legend. Armstrong lived nearby until his death in 1971.
In the women’s game, Molla Bjurstedt Mallory holds the record for most wins with eight in the period from 1915 to 1926. Martina Navratilova is the most successful female of the open era with four titles. Billie Jean King, Chris Evert and Steffi Graf can also lay claim to legendary status in US Open history.
The tournament has been a passionate, boisterous explosion of tennis since the late 1970s and early 80s when John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors played out their annual battle for supremacy at Flushing Meadows.
Other notable male figures in the tournament’s history include Pete Sampras who won the title five times and Roger Federer who will be aiming to go one better with a sixth win this year.
Why is the US Open a Big Deal?
There’s something uniquely chic and flamboyant about the US Open. What better setting for a global sporting event than New York City? From the editor of Vogue to supermodels to Hollywood A list, the tournament attracts the glamorous and the famous.
Wimbledon may boast the tag of “most prestigious” when it comes to the Grand Slams, but the US Open attracts a bigger worldwide TV audience, huge crowds and simply brings a great deal more razzmatazz.
The recent investment in the stadia and facilities at the Billie Jean Center has really elevated the American major to become arguably tennis’ biggest deal.
Head back to our dedicated 2018 US Open News page for the latest updates from the world famous event.