Over the years New York has given us some incredible memories, some first big breakthroughs have come at Flushing Meadows with many players winning their first major final here but will it happen this year?
A breakthrough in New York always seems extra special but what firsts have been some of the best at the US Open?
1999 – Serena Williams 6-3 7-6 Martina Hingis
20 years on from her first major title back in 1999 against Martina Hingis. It was the big break through in her career at her home major at the age of 18. Who’d have thought we would be where we are now?
Incredible what she has done on and off the court. That 1999 win didn’t kick start a period of domination as it was almost three years before she won another major!
1968 – Virginia Wade 6-4 6-2 Billie Jean King
British player Virginia Wade was the first winner of the US Open when it was first in the Open Era and it was Virginia’s first and only Grand Slam title with a win against one of the best of all time.
2003 – Andy Roddick 6-3 7-6 6-3 Juan Carlos Ferrero
One of the players I miss the most on the tour. I don’t think you’d find anyone who doesn’t like Andy Roddick. He had a couple of difficult starts to the tournament against Henman and Ljubicic but then found his groove. Fair to say best player over the last 20 years to not have won a Wimbledon final?
2001 – Lleyton Hewitt 7-6 6-1 6-1 Pete Sampras
One of tennis’ hardest workers. This was his first major and her only won two in his career. I kind of fell in love with Lleyton due to his relentless work and that never give up attitude which in sport and in life is something to look up to.
Lleyton did retire in 2016 but someone with his commitment and love for what he does is still playing the odd doubles as well as coaching Australian players and their Davis Cup team.
1968 – Arthur Ashe 14-12 5-7 6-3 3-6 6-3 Tom Okker
First player to win the US Open in the Open Era. Arthur Ashe changed tennis and sport on another level. He became the first black player to win The Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open and was also the first player in the American Davis Cup team. A true icon of the game who made his first big stand in New York.
1979 – John McEnroe 7-5 6-3 6-3 Vitas Gerulaitis
John’s first title came in New York. I think it was quite fitting, the player who brought soo much to do the court and entertainment wise was second to none to win his first major in New York. John went onto win three more times in New York including the following two years in 1980 and 1981.
2009 – Juan Martin Del Potro 3-6 7-6 4-6 7-6 6-2 Roger Federer
How can you not like Juan Martin Del Potro?
What he did in 2009 was simply incredible, it is a shame there hasn’t been a big win since for the gentle giant. His career has been fantastic despite the injuries and it is a shame he looks like not being here this year as he recovers from another knee problem sustained at Queens Club.
2014 – Marin Cilic 6-3 6-3 6-3 Kei Nishikori
This was meant to be the breakthrough and it hasn’t been.
Neither Marin or Kei have won a major since this final. It is a shame but it was still a big breakthrough and something to look back on when their careers are done.
1979 – Tracey Austin 6-4 6-3 Chris Evert
Tracey didn’t win many majors but she did win the US Open at 16 and a serious motorbike accident cut her career short and became the youngest person at 30 years old to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Despite a short career she still did soo much backing up her title in 1981 once again in New York and was a world number one with 30 career titles.
2005 – Kim Clijsters 6-3 6-1 Mary Pierce
Kim had a thing for New York. One of my favourite players to watch. Her story is a great one and she gave everything but had incredible tough times which included a two year break from the tour. She had her break, had a kid and came back and won three Grand Slam titles.
2011 – Sam Stosur 6-2 6-3 Serena Williams
This was her first and only major title. That’s fine. I’ve heard people say before she has underachieved and I hate that. If I had played over 1600 matches, over 1000 wins, 35 career titles and Grand Slam mixed and doubles titles I’d be over the moon. Sam has already stayed humble and this was an incredible win for her but she deserved it.
2015 – Flavia Pennetta 7-5 6-2 Roberta Vinci
The final which none of us expected. I remember it vividly. Both were major outsiders. Never even been to a semi-final before but then battled out in a Grand Slam final.
One of those finals where it is a genuine shame someone had to go home without a title.
2017 – Sloane Stephens 6-3 6-0 Madison Keys
What a story this was. Two Americans in their first major final. 6 months before Sloane Stephens didn’t have a ranking after a torrid time with injury and blew everyone away with her fearless tennis.
2018 – Naomi Osaka 6-2 6-4 Serena Williams
Controversy aside this was the start of something special. Naomi Osaka’s first Grand Slam title, no one expected it but it was oh so good! Earlier on in the year she won at Indian Wells but this is still so fresh and could be the start of something incredible.
2012 – Andy Murray 7-6 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2 Novak Djokovic
I may be biased but saving the best to last.
I will never forget Mark Petcheys commentary on match-point for Sky Sports;
“History is made at the US Open”
It sent shivers down my spine. The match was intense, I never felt so emotionally attached to a match until this and I remember going into school the next day and fall of joy.
This was an incredible milestone in Andy’s career and British tennis as a whole.
New York has an act for being the beginning of incredible stories in tennis over the last 50 years. Ashe, Del Potro, Kim, Serena, Naomi, Andy and many others have won their first big title here maybe in 2019 we could be in for another?