The five most memorable US Open moments of the past 15 years
hat makes a tennis match indelible years after it’s over? Could it be a famous face-off, combatants going to a fifth set, an outpouring of emotion from a triumphant player or all of the above? Well, any one of these factors can make a match unforgettable. We’ve challenged ourselves to select the top five US Open moments of the past 15 years, and our picks are listed below in chronological order.
Arthur Ashe Stadium, part of the USTA tennis center in New York City and home of the US Open, casts an inviting glow
THE WILLIAMS SISTERS FACE OFF IN THE WOMEN’S FINAL, 2001
This match was a historic occasion for three reasons: It was the first Grand Slam final between siblings in more than a century, the first major women’s final televised during prime time and the first Grand Slam singles final between two black players. Unfortunately, the match was a bit of a snoozer, ending in just 69 minutes with Venus winning 6-2, 6-4. Both women racked up an unusually high amount of errors—Venus had 19, and Serena had 36. It was sloppy but memorable stuff.
ANDRE AGASSI’S LAST STAND, 2006
Tired of suffering through match after match with searing back pain, Andre Agassi decided to call it quits after the 2006 US Open. It would be his last hurrah, so to speak. Unfortunately, the then 36-year-old was defeated by then 25-year-old Benjamin Becker in the third round (7-5, 6-7, 6-4, 7-5) in an effort that was seriously hampered by Agassi’s inflamed sciatic nerve. After the match, however, Agassi solidified his legendary status by leaving nary a dry eye in his farewell to the crowd: “The scoreboard said I lost today, but what the scoreboard doesn’t say is what it is I’ve found,” he said. “Over the last 21 years, I have found loyalty…. You have given me your shoulders to stand on to reach for my dreams.”
KIM CLIJSTERS’ MOMMY MOMENT, 2009
Kim “Comeback” Clijsters called it quits in 2007. But in 2009, after getting married and having a daughter, she returned to the hard court. Three tournaments in, she captured her second US Open title, becoming the first unseeded woman to win the championship and only the second mother to win a major. Upon claiming the match point that sealed her defeat of Caroline Wozniacki (7-5, 6-3), Clijsters dropped to her knees with emotion. “I can’t believe this happened,” she said. “It still seems so surreal. I just wanted to come back here [and] get a feel for it.” Get a feel for it she did, and so did her then 18-month-old daughter, Jada. When Clijsters was awarded her trophy, she placed the cup on the court for her waddling toddler to touch in a moment that melted the hearts of fans all over the world.
A full crowd gathers to watch Andy Murray of Great Britain and Novak Djokovic of Serbia play the men’s singles final match of the 2012 US Open
DEL POTRO VERSUS FEDERER: A FOUR-HOUR FIVE-SETTER, 2009
This one is all about the match play. Juan Martin del Potro defeated the heavily favored Roger Federer in the first five-setter to occur in a US Open final in 10 years. The exhausting match lasted four hours and six minutes and is widely considered to be one of the greatest displays of tennis in US Open history. It had a little bit of everything, including stellar play and umpire controversy.
MURRAY’S GOLDEN RUN: DJOKOVIC AND MURRAY GO FIVE HOURS, 2012
Andy Murray took the gold medal at the 2012 London-hosted Olympic Games just weeks earlier, and all eyes were on the young Scot to see if he could finally end his losing streak against defending champ Novak Djokovic. Up to that point, he had lost four straight Grand Slam final matches, a run of futility at the outset of a career matched only by that of his coach, Ivan Lendl. Murray survived an epic opening-set tiebreak and gained a quick two-set lead before Djokovic battled back in splendid fashion to force a fifth set. The match featured tremendous play and several extended volleys that resulted in a standing ovation from the crowd. But in the end, Murray pulled through and broke his streak by winning what is currently tied for the longest match in US Open history. It was one for the ages.