A brief history of the US Open


By winning the 2017 US Open, Rafael Nadal became the first Spanish man to win the championship thrice in the Open Era. Runner-up Kevin Anderson’s hopes of becoming the first South African to win the event were dashed.

Men from 79 different countries have competed in the US Open single’s championship since the start of the Open Era in 1968. Let’s look back at the tournament’s rich history to see the kaleidoscope of nations that have participated in it. Along the way, we’ll remember the Open’s most exciting stories and greatest champions.

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How to read this graphic

The graphic shows the number of players from every country in each year of the US Open men’s single’s draw since 1968.

Each country is represented as a “ribbon,” with each coloured according to the continent or region to which the country belongs. The thicker the ribbon, the more players from that country who played that year.

The white ribbon is India.

Some countries with more number of players are labelled along the way. You can hover/tap on a ribbon to view statistics for that country for the year closest to your mouse/finger.

The Open Era starts

“Rocket” Rod Laver from Australia completes his second calendar-year Grand Slam and remains the only man in the Open Era to achieve it.

Ken Rosewall from Australia defeated Tony Roche in the final. This was Roche’s second conseutive loss in the final.

It was the first Grand Slam tournament in which the tiebreak was introduced.

The USA’s Stan Smith won the final against Czech player Jan Kodes. This was his first of two Grand Slams.

The US Open was held on grass back then.

Arthur Ashe won his first and only US Open. He is still the only black man to win it.

Ninety-six players competed in the first US Open. 51 of them were from the USA.

Frank Parker, then 52, still holds the record for the oldest man to compete in a grand slam singles tournament.

Romanian Ilie Nastase defeated Arthur Ashe in the final, preventing the American from defending his title.

The Amritraj brothers played their first US Open.

John Newcombe from Australia defeated Arthur Ashe in the final, marking the second straight year in which Ashe was runner-up.

Vijay Amritraj’s run to the Quarter Final remains the best peformance by an Indian singles player at the US Open. He lost to Ken Rosewall.

American Jimmy Connors defeated Ken Rosewall in the shortest Grand Slam final ever played.

Vijay Amritraj reached his second consecutive Quarter Final and lost yet again to Rosewall.

Spain’s Manuel Orantes defeated Jimmy Connors in the final.

The surface was changed to green coloured clay after complaints from the players about the uneven bounce on grass.

Jimmy Connors defeated Sweden’s Bjorn Borg in the final.

This year marked the beginning of the USA’s domination at the US Open, both in terms of the number of Americans competing and the number of American champions.

Argentinian Guillermo Vilas defeated Connors in the final. Vilas went on to set the third longest winning streak — 46 matches — ending at the Paris Masters in 1977.

This was the last year the US Open was played on clay.

Jimmy Connors defeated Borg in a repeat of the 1976 final.

This was the first time the Open was played on hard courts at the legendary Flushing Meadows.

The fiery American John McEnroe defeated Vitas Gerulaitis in the final to win his first US Open.

During the second round match between Nastase and McEnroe, the umpire fouled Nastase a point in the third set and then a game in the fourth for arguing and stalling. A near riot ensued as the crowd showed its disagreement by throwing beer cans on court. The match was eventually restarted with a replacement umpire before McEnroe finally won.

McEnroe defeated Borg in the final in five sets in what is regarded as one of the greatest matches ever played. They were known as “Fire and Ice” due to their contrasting personalities on the court.

This was the 100th edition of the US Open.

McEnroe became the first male player since the 1920s to win three consecutive US Open titles. He defeated Borg in four sets in a repeat of the previous year’s final. This was Borg’s last Grand Slam match.

McEnroe also won the men’s doubles title with Peter Fleming.

This year also saw the beginning of the decline in India’s representation at major tennis tournaments. Only R Krishnan played from India, reaching the Quarter Finals.

Jimmy Connors defeated Czech Ivan Lendl in the final. It was Connors’s seventh career Grand Slam title and his fourth US Open title.

In a rematch of the previous year’s final, Jimmy Connors defeated Czech Ivan Lendl. It was Connors’s second consecutive and fifth overall US Open title.

This year marked the beginning of the return of European players at the US Open. Led by Sweden and France, many newer nations like Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic began producing great players.

McEnroe won his fourth US Open title, defeating Ivan Lendl, who suffered his third consecutive defeat in the final.

Finally a champion

In Lendl’s fourth consecutive final, the Czech finally won, beating McEnroe in three sets.

Vijay Amritraj (1R)

R Krishnan (1R)

Changing times

Lendl won his second consecutive US Open title, defeating compatriot Miloslav Mecir to win his second consecutive US Open title.

This was the first US Open where no American reached the semi finals. It was also the first time future all-time great Andre Agassi, an American, played in the main draw. He would go on to set a record of 21 consecutive appearances at the US Open until his retirement in 2006.

R Krishnan (3R)

Lendl defeated Sweden’s Mats Wilander to win his third consecutive US Open title. It would be his last US Open title win.

R Krishnan (QF)

Longest US Open final ever

Mats Wilander won the final against Ivan Lendl and became the first male player since Jimmy Connors in 1974 to win three Grand Slam titles in a year. At four hours and 54 minutes, it is still the longest final in US Open history, a record shared with the Djokovic-Murray final in 2012.

This was the first grand slam where future legends Pete Sampras and Jim Courier, both from USA, played in the main draw. They were defeated in the first and second rounds, respectively.

R Krishnan (2R)

A youngster’s championship

Germany’s Boris Becker won his first and only US Open title by defeating Ivan Lendl in the final.

This was Lendl’s fifth defeat in his yet unbroken record of eight consecutive US Open men’s singles finals appearances.

R Krishnan (1R)

The birth of “Pistol Pete”

In his first grand slam title, Pete Sampras defeated fellow American Andre Agassi in what was the start of a fierce rivalry.

Sampras also became the youngest US Open men’s singles champion at 19 years, 28 days.

R Krishnan (1R)

Stefan Edberg won his first US Open title by defeating Jim Courier in the final.

Jimmy Connors, at 39 years of age, entered the tournament as a wildcard and made it all the way to the semi finals.

R Krishnan (1R)

Champion again

Edberg won the final against Sampras to win his second consecutive US Open.

Edberg won the semi final against American Michael Chang in what was then the longest match in the Open Era. It lasted 5 hours and 26 minutes.

No Indian player qualified for the main draw.

Pete Sampras defeated France’s Cédric Pioline to win his second US Open title.

For the second consecutive year, no Indian player could make the main draw.

Agassi finally wins

Andre Agassi defeated Germany’s Michael Stich in the final. With this win, he became the first unseeded US Open champion in the Open Era.

This was the first tournament that India’s doubles legend Leander Paes played in the main draw. He was defeated in the first round.

L Paes (1R)

Sampras defeated Agassi in the final to win his 3rd US Open title.

Paes’s future doubles partner, Mahesh Bhupati, played in the main draw for the first time. He was defeated in the first round.

M Bhupati (1R)

Sampras won his second consecutive and overall fourth US Open, defeating Michael Chang in the final.

There was controversy in the draw, with accusations of American favouritism as some American players had been seeded above their world ranking. Germany’s Yevgeny Kafelnikov, world number four at the time, withdrew from the tournament in protest of his being seeded seventh.

L Paes (2R)

Australia’s Patrick Rafter won his first grand slam against Canadian Greg Rusedski.

Rafter’s victory marked the end of Australia’s 23-year drought in US Open titles. Australia's John Newcombe had last won it in 1973.

L Paes (3R)

Rafter defeated compatriot Mark Philippoussis to win his second consecutive US Open title.

L Paes (1R)

Agassi defeated fellow American Todd Martin in the final, earning the world number one ranking and ending Sampras’s streak of six year-end number one rankings.

Rafter lost in the first round to Cédric Pioline after suffering from shoulder tendinitis.

Roddick and Federer make an entry

Russia’s Marat Safin won his first Grand Slam by defeating Sampras in the final.

This was Roger Federer’s first US Open and Andy Roddick’s first Grand Slam appearance. They lost in the third and first rounds, respectively.

Twenty-year-old Lleyton Hewitt from Australia defeated Sampras in the final. He became the youngest male player ever to be ranked world number one.

The US Open increased the number of seeds from 16 to 32 to spread the higher ranked players across the draw and prevent early round upsets.

One last time

Sampras defeated Agassi in the final of what was to be his last appearance in any ATP tournament. He won his fifth US Open, a record he shares with Roger Federer and Ivan Lendl.

Vijay Amritraj’s son, Prakash Amritraj, played in his first US Open. He lost in the first round.

P Amritraj (1R)

The King of Clay is here

Andy Roddick defeated Spain’s Juan Carlos Ferrero in the final to win his first and only Grand Slam title. No American man has won a Grand Slam title since.

This was the first time Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Czech player Tomáš Berdych played in the US Open main draw. They both lost in the second round.

No Indian player qualified for the main draw, a drought that would last until 2009.

Beginning of a legendary run

Roger Federer defeated Hewitt in the final to win his first US Open. This was his third Grand Slam title in a year, making him the tenth man to achieve the feat.

This was the start of a dominance at Grand Slams by Federer and Nadal unlike any seen before.

Start of the Big 4 era

Federer defeated Agassi in the latter’s last appearance at a grand slam to win his second consecutive US Open.

This was the first time Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, all future champions, competed in the main draw. This makes it the first time all the “Big 4” competed at the same time in the main draw.

Third time”s the charm

Federer defeated Rodick win his third consecutive US Open. Federer, in a repeat of his 2004 performance, won three Grand Slams that year, making him the first male player to do so on two occasions.

Federer’s final appearance also made him the second man to appear in all four grand slam finals in a year since Rod Laver.

Andre Agassi played his last match against Germany’s Benjamin Becker and retired after the US Open.

This was the first time future champion Juan Martin del Potro played in the US Open main draw.

Federer became the first man in the Open Era to win four straight US Open titles, defeating Novak Djokovic in the final.

Federer’s US Open win marked his third overall and second consecutive time he won three Grand Slams in a year. He is the only male player to do so.

The dominance continues

Federer defeated Andy Murray in the final and won his fifth straight US Open title. He is the only person to do so in the Open Era.

This was the first time future champion Marin Cilic played in the main draw.

The king is dethroned

Federer was defeated by del Potro in the final. It was del Potro’s first and, as of yet, only grand slam title.

For the first time in US Open history, no American player reached the quarter finals.

In a return of Indian players at Grand Slams, Somdev Devvarman played in the main draw and was defeated in the second round

S Devvarman (2R)

Nadal defeated Djokovic and became the first Spanish male player to win the US Open since Manuel Santana in 1965. Nadal became the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open in the same calendar year, and became the first male player in history to win Grand Slams on clay, hard court and grass in the same calendar year.

Roger Federer was defeated by Novak Djokovic in the semi final. Federer held a match point in the fifth set but Djokovic came back to win the match, thus ending hopes of a Federer-Nadal final at the US Open. The two greats have not yet met at the US Open.

S Devvarman (1R)

Djokovic defeated Nadal in the final, winning his third Grand Slam of the year to become the fifth man in the Open Era to do so. He would repeat the feat in 2015.

The semi final between Djokovic and Federer was a repeat of previous year’s semi final, with Djokovic again saving match points and coming back to win the match.

S Devvarman (1R)

Andy Murray defeated Novak Djokovic in the final to win his first grand slam, beccoming the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win one of tennis’s four biggest tournaments.

This marked the first time since the 2004 French Open that neither Roger Federer nor Rafael Nadal reached the semifinals of a grand slam event.

S Devvarman (1R)

Nadal defeated Djokovic in the final, winning his second US Open.

S Devvarman (2R)

A new champion

Marin Cilic won the final against Kei Nishikori. They defeated Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, respectively, in their semi final matches.

It was the first time since the 2005 Australian Open where none of the Big 4 reached the final.

Djokovic defeated Federer in the final to become the third man after Federer and Laver to reach all four Grand Slam finals in a year, of which he won three.

Djokovic was defeated by Stan Wawrinka in the final.

It was the first time since 1999 that Federer did not play in the US Open due to a knee injury.

USA

USA

France

48 players

47 players

France

USA: 51 players

Australia

Australia

18 players

16 players

Australia: 13 players

Czech Republic

Australia: 13 players

Great Britain

Great Britain

Great Britain

Chile

Great Britain

Spain

South Africa

Japan

Chile

Australia

South Africa

Chile

Australia

Argentina

France

Australia

France

USA

USA

USA

USA

USA

USA

USA

USA

France

France

USA

France

France

France

France

France

USA

France

Spain

Spain

France

Spain

Spain

Spain

Spain

Spain

Spain

USA

USA

France

Germany

Germany

Germany

Germany

Germany

Germany

Germany

Spain

Germany

Argentina

Argentina

Argentina

Argentina

Argentina

France

Australia

Australia

Spain

Germany

Germany

France

Argentina

Australia

Australia

Argentina

Russia

Russia

Argentina

Russia

Argentina

Russia

Italy

Italy

Russia

Australia

Italy

Belgium

Great Britain

Russia

Italy

Italy

Australia

Italy

Russia

Italy

Australia

Czech Republic

Belgium

Czech Republic

Czech Republic

Brazil

Italy

Brazil

Serbia

Italy

Italy

Czech Republic

France

Russia

Serbia

Brazil

Great Britain

Czech Republic

Australia

Czech Republic

Croatia

Czech Republic

Switzerland

Great Britain

Canada

Brazil

Canada

Netherlands

Netherlands

Switzerland

Netherlands

Netherlands

Slovakia

South Africa

Netherlands

Sweden

Sweden

Sweden

Sweden

Sweden

Sweden

Sweden

Sweden

Sweden

P Lall (2R)

J Mukherjea (1R)

J Singh (2R)

P Lall(1R)

R Krishnan (2R)

A Amritraj (2R)

J Mukherjea (1R)

S Menon (1R)

V Amritraj (1R)

P Lall (2R)

J Singh (1R)

P Lall (1R)

J Mukherjea (2R)

S Menon (1R)

V Amritraj (QF)

A Amritaj (2R)

J Singh (1R)

V Amritraj (QF)

A Amritaj (3R)

J Singh (1R)

V Amritraj (2R)

A Amritaj (1R)

S Menon (1R)

S Menon (2R)

V Amritraj (1R)

A Amritaj (2R)

S Menon (2R)

V Amritraj (1R)

J Singh (1R)

A Amritaj (1R)

S Menon (1R)

V Amritraj (1R)

V Amritaj (2R)

R Krishnan (2R)

A Amritraj (1R)

V Amritaj (3R)

R Krishnan (2R)

S Menon(1R)

R Krishnan (QF)

R Krishnan (1R)

R Krishnan (1R)

V Amritaj (2R)

R Krishnan (2R)

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

India

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2017

USA still has the most players of any country in the main draw, with 19 out of 128, closely followed by France, with 13. Spain is third with 9 players followed by Germany with 8.

There was only one player from South Africa — Kevin Anderson — this year. He lost in the final against a spaniard — Rafael Nadal.

One of these finalists is from Europe and the other from Africa, continents which did not even figure near the top when we started in 1968. A lot has changed since the near total domination of the USA at the US Open.

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