Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Five Most Memorable US Open Moments

Every sport has its legendary moments (okay, maybe not curling). For fans of baseball lore, there are few greater stories than Willie Mays no look catch deep in center field during game one of the 1954 World Series. Or how bout Bobby Thompson’s shot heard ‘round the world? Many basketball fans still talk about Grant Hill’s lob to Christian Laettner and Laettner’s subsequent haphazard, but successful shot to win a final four appearance back in 1992. There are few more miraculous moments in football history (or any kind of history for that matter), than David Tyree’s awkward catch on top of his helmet that led his New York Giants to a Super Bowl victory in 2008. There are plenty of these outrageous and thrilling moments in non-team sports as well, including tennis. And if you want historic tennis moments, look no further than US Open, one of the most important tennis tournaments played during the calendar year.

1968 was the first US Open of the open era, and therefore was the first time the tournament welcomed professionals for the first time in its over 80 year history. Of course, many of the professionals flourished over the amateurs, but there was one amateur who refused to be shown up. His name was Arthur Ashe. Ashe, an Army lieutenant who was getting by on only $20 a day, ended winning the tournament pretty handily. By winning this tournament, Ashe became the first African-American to win a Grand Slam tournament, which marked a watershed moment in the civil rights fight, of which Ashe was an active participant. Ashe would go on to have a remarkable career, including two more Grand Slam wins.

John McEnroe gave tennis fans as many memorable moments off the court as he did on it. He was known for his hot temper, which translated to many violent confrontations with line judges and meltdowns. However, McEnroe is a legend of his game because he channeled that same energy into some of the most ferocious play the game has ever known. There’s no better example of this than his five set thriller with heated rival Bjorn Borg for the 1980 championship. Four of the five sets were played until the better end, but McEnroe, who had another exhaustive five set match just the previous day with Jimmy Connors, established his legacy as one of the great players of his era with his win here, his second consecutive.

Andre Agassi had a career’s worth of stunning matches at the US Open, including several with friendly rival Pete Sampras that many tennis experts analyze to this day. Even at the end of his career, against all odds, Agassi took on and beat some of the world’s best and far younger players such as James Blake and Roger Federer. So it’s fitting that a man who played some of the best tennis the tournament had ever seen gave his retirement speech at the same tournament. In 2006, after losing in the third round to Boris Becker, a very emotional Agassi had audience members rubbing their watery eyes on their sleeves, thanking fans for their loyalty and commitment to him. In contrast to previous mention McEnroe, the game has rarely seen such a class act.

2009 brought one of the greatest upsets Open watchers had ever seen. Roger Federer was looking for his sixth consecutive title. All he had to do was beat relative newcomer Juan Martin del Potro in the final match. Federer easily dismantled previous opponents in the tournament, and the general consensus was that del Potro was the next victim. The young Argentinian had other plans. In a five set stunner, del Potrol unseated the US Open king. Even though Federer had two chances to put him away, del Potrol showed unrivaled resiliency and won his first, and only, Grand Slam title.

Not to be outdone, the women’s final from the same year produced an equally incredible moment in tennis history. Kim Clijsters was one of the best players of the sport in the early part of the decade, but she hung up the racket in 2007 due to injuries. A year later, she gave birth to her first child. Needless to say, the tennis world was stunned when she announced in 2009 that she wanted to give tennis another go. But Clijster turned out to have enough surprise under her sleeve; after receiving only a wildcard bid, she won the 2009 US Open. She became the first mother to do so since 1980, and the first wildcard to do so ever. With this tournament, Clijsters cemented her legacy as not only the “comeback queen,” but also one of the greatest players in the game’s history.

In the tournament’s rich, 130+ year history, the US Open has provided tennis fans a surplus of wonderful memories, and shows no signs of letting up soon.

Author bio: Jerome Manson is a sports enthusiast who enjoys both watching games and writing about them. When he is not cheering on his team from the stands, Jerome is blogging about 2012 US Open tennis for

No comments:

Post a Comment welcomes your comments and lively debates. All we ask is that you keep your comments civil.

Please Note: When commenting on posts, it is prohibited to post links that are deemed to be spam or advertising.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.