Every calendar year, tennis aficionados are treated to four Grand Slam tournaments; starting with the season opener Down Under at the Australian Open in January, the French Open's 'dirt' in May-June before crossing the English channel for Wimbledon at SW19's grass in June-July, and finally across the Atlantic Ocean for the season finale at the sprawling Flushing Meadows in August-September.
Unlike the other three Slams, US Open has established itself as the ultimate fan favorite – no shrills, no frills. Come as you may, win hearts and enjoy the best tennis!
Here are five differentiating factors that make tennis at the Flushing Meadows one of its kind. By the way, it was first played in Newport, Rhode Island in August 1881.
The 'tie-breaker' rule
The US Open is the only Grand Slam tournament to offer a tiebreaker (or play-off) in every set, which differs from the other three majors. At the Australian Open, the French Open, or Wimbledon, it is only employed in the final set at a 6-6 tie (third set for women's singles, fifth set for men's singles) and the match continues until one player wins by two games. The previous sets played before the decider always have tiebreakers, like the US Open.
No gender bias
US Open is the only Grand Slam to offer the same trophy to women's and men's singles champions and was the first major tournament to promote equal pay. Unlike other majors, both the women's and men's singles champions receive the US Open trophy. In 1973, both the singles champions – John Newcombe and Margaret Court – received USD 25,000 each, thus making US Open the first Major to offer equal prize money irrespective of the players' gender.
Iconic stadium names
Talking about equality, year's final Grand Slam includes matches played in stadiums dedicated to two black trendsetters. The Arthur Ashe Stadium is dedicated to Arthur Ashe, the first black player to represent the United States in the Davis Cup and the inaugural champion of the US Open in 1968. It replaced the Louis Armstrong Stadium as the main stadium of the US Open in 1997. The Louis Armstrong Stadium was named after the famous jazz musician, Louis Armstrong. Stachmo probably made himself a means for desegregation. Both the stadiums are part of USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows.
Tennis under floodlights
In 1975, the US Open became the first Grand Slam tournament to be played at night, following the trend set by other popular outdoor sports like football (both the American and soccer), cricket and rugby. And under the artificial lights, the US Open trophy was for the first time lifted by two new players – Spaniard Manuel Orantes after winning men's singles event, and American Chris Evert after winning women's singles event. Orantes never won another major, but Evert went to become a legend – winning another five US Open titles in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980 and 1982.
Different surfaces and a certain Connors
It's the only Grand Slam tournament to have been conducted on three different playing surfaces. It started as a grass-court tournament in a garden (1881–1974), then moved on to clay surface (1975–1977), before finally switching to a hard court (1978 to Present). American legend Jimmy Connors is the only player to win the tournament on those three different surfaces. He won the US Open five times in 1974, 1976, 1978, 1982 and 1983.