The US Open, from an Aussie's perspectiveJuly 06, 2016
The 136th edition of the United States Open will begin on August 29. It may be too early to talk about it, as the big names are competing in Wimbledon. And then they must travel to Brazil (for the Olympics). But this will be the right time to look back at past results. Australia has a remarkable record in this Grand Slam tournament, some of which become special for a number of reasons.
Let's have a look:
Patrick Rafter reached the pinnacle of his career in Flushing Meadows. Rafter, who hailed from Mount Isa, Queensland, wasn't the first Aussie who won back-to-back titles. Frank Sedgman did it in 1951-52, and he would be the first player from Oz to raise the trophy. Neale Fraser achieved the same feat in 1959-60, but the Queenslander's would be more memorable. The men's tour reached a high during the 1990s with Pete Sampras dominating the major events. Andre Agassi wasn't far behind. Jim Courier, Boris Becker, and Stefan Edberg have their moments of success. It could be the golden age until Roger Federer came along. Sampras was tipped to win the 1997 US Open, but Petr Korda knocked him off in the fourth round. Michael Chang, the second seed, became the favourite to win his second major title. Rafter, who was the 13th seed, peaked at the right time. The Aussie would be in a better form the following year as he defeated Sampras in the semifinals in five sets. If not for these (back-to-back) titles, Rafter wouldn't be considered for the Hall of Fame.
Margaret Court owned Forest Hills. The US Open was played on the grass courts of Forest Hills back then, and Margaret Court was too good for the rest of the field. She won five times, which was an impressive record in the Open Era. (Chris Evert and Serena Williams won more.) The native of Perth could have won more titles if the surface didn't switch from grass to clay (in 1975). She became the only Aussie player to win the women's singles title until the finals of the 2011 US Open.
No one bet on Sam Stosur, and fans would regret it. Stosur, a native of Gold Coast, reached the finals of the 2010 French Open. Those who followed the game weren't surprised at her performance, as she honed her game (in the slow courts) in Spain. She was an accomplished doubles player, winning four major titles in women's doubles and mixed doubles. It would be foolish to bet against Serena Williams in the finals of a Grand Slam tournament, but Stosur beat her convincingly. There were days when the American wasn't at her best form, but she would prevail over her opponents. But Stosur believed she could do it.
Lleyton Hewitt made his breakthrough in New York. Beating Sampras would be a big deal regardless of the score. In Lleyton Hewitt's case, he won his first Grand Slam title by defeating Sampras in straight sets. The seeding may have told a different story, which would suggest the American struggling with a burnout. A win was still a win, though.
No one could beat the Woodies during the 1990s. The men's doubles may not be getting more television coverage as it should, but the hardcore fans don't mind at all. It could be entertaining at times, and then there were instances when certain players were able to do it all. Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge were unstoppable during the middle of the 1990s, reaching the finals of the US Open for three straight years. They also won the Olympic gold medal in Atlanta. They thought that the Indian pair of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes would succeed them, and they were right. But something came up.
If you think that the upcoming US Open will be the year of the bad boys, then tell us more about it.
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