The US Open always produces magical nights on the tennis court. Under floodlights at Flushing Meadows, the stars of the sport have illuminated the event with tennis of the highest caliber. Thanks to Pete Sampras and the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, Americans have had homegrown talent to cheer in recent years with the trio winning 13 titles between them. Serena’s six is a record she shares with fellow American Chris Evert.
The success of the female stars is perhaps why the US Open is unique amongst Grand Slams in that it often gets greater viewing figures for its women’s matches than its men’s. Serena Williams’ surprise defeat to Naomi Osaka in 2018 achieved 50% more viewers than the men’s event the following day, for example. At its peak, the match saw 3.1 million people watching on television.
But that’s nothing compared to the 10.3 million viewers who saw Serena take on her sister Venus in the 2001 final. The bookmakers had Venus as slight favorite as she had won the tournament the previous year and had the higher ranking of the two. But the odds for US Open tennis finals are understandably evenly matched. This was no different. A bet boost or free bet like the one offered today for new customers by Betfair might make a punt more attractive but it was difficult to pick a winner beforehand. It ended up being a memorable all-American tie with Venus taking the trophy.
Here are three more.
1980 Semi-Final – Jimmy Connors vs. John McEnroe
The larger-than-life John McEnroe came up against his great rival Jimmy Connors in 1980. The pair didn’t like each other which made the match even more spicy with McEnroe up to his usual antics berating the chair umpire over decisions he felt hadn’t gone his way. In a match that twisted and turned, McEnroe triumphed when he took the fifth set in a nail-biting tie-break. He won 6-4, 5-7, 0-6, 6-3, 7-6.
2001 Quarter-Final – Andre Agassi vs. Pete Sampras
Two contrasting styles went to battle in the 2001 quarter-final between Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. The pair had established a strong rivalry having shared 21 Grand Slam titles between them with the match-up living up to the billing. Each of the four sets went the distance with not a single service break in the match. Sampras eventually came out the victor, winning the fourth set at 12.14am in the morning.
2008 Final – Venus Williams v Serena Williams
The Williams sisters have enjoyed many duals throughout their career. Venus had the edge over her younger sibling in their early careers, but it was Serena who would go on to dominate the sport. In 2008, both at the peak of their powers, they went head-to-head in the US Open Final and produced an unforgettable evening of high-class tennis. The match was decided by the smallest of margins when Serena came out victorious 7-6, 7-6.
Great all-American matches
There have been some great all-American ties at the US Open over the years. Pete Sampras has unsurprisingly been involved in many of them. He contested enthralling finals in both 1995 and 2002 with Agassi, winning both, and got the better of Michael Chang in 1996.
Prior to that, he’d been defeated by his early-career rival Jim Courier in an entertaining 1991 match. The pair would meet twice more at the US Open and Sampras would win them both. Arguably the game’s greatest ever player would later beat the up-and-coming Andy Roddick on his way to his last tournament victory in 2002.
Elsewhere, Connors and McEnroe clashed on four occasions in total, while the Williams sisters were centre stage at Flushing Meadows six times, and Agassi and Chang would produce a wonderful five-set match in 1994.