1968-1979 (UO summary)

Jimmy Connors is undoubtedly the biggest legend in the US Open history as far as the Open era is concerned. His career was extended onto three different successful decades in New York, he collected his first US Open title in 1974 and reached semifinals 17 years later! Australian Open switched from connors_uo78grass to hardcourts in 1988, the US Open underwent two transitions in the 70s: from grass- to clay-courts in 1975 and three years later to hardcourts – Connors triumphed on each surface which makes him the only man in the entire history of tennis to win the same major on three different surfaces! He did it in two-year intervals, the third title we may actually consider as the peak of his phenomenally long career. In the 1978 final he faced Bjorn Borg, who was on a record 49-match winning streak, but ‘Jimbo’ displaying extraordinary form beat the Swede in straight sets not being even forced to save a break point! Three rounds earlier, Connors was almost eliminated by Adriano Panatta. He escaped from a 3:5 rosewall_uo70deficit in the final set, winning at the end one of the most spectacular points in the tournament history. Prior to the Connors’ reign (played in finals five years in a row), a different player triumphed every year, among those who won, only Ken Rosewall managed to get another final, and it occurred in the first year of Connors’ domination. I guess it’s worth mentioning that Connors outplayed 18 years older Rosewall in the biggest beat-down given all Grand Slam finals: 6-1 6-0 6-1 (two games dropped also Fred Perry to Gottfried von Cramm in the Wimbledon final of 1936)… The most amazing Grand Slam recovery in the 5th set took place at the US Open (1993), the greatest and almost unimaginable recovery in the 4th set occurred in New York too – in the 1975 semifinal, in which Manuel Orantes stormed back from a 0:5 deficit against Guillemo Vilas saving five match points in the process (three on serve at 0:5, another two at 1:5, 15/40); and what’s more impressive – he saved all those match points with winners (three volleys, an overhead and backhand down the line)!

Champions (1968-1979):
3 – Jimmy Connors (1974, 76, 78)
1 – Arthur Ashe (1968), Rod Laver (1969), Ken Rosewall (1970), Stan Smith (1971), Ilie Nastase (1972), John Newcombe (1973), Manuel Orantes (1975), Guillermo Vilas (1977), John McEnroe (1979)
Curiosities (1968-1979):
* till 1974 the tournament held on grass, in years 1975-77 on clay, since 1978 on hardcourts
* first major allowing night sessions (1975); at the Australian Open those sessions were possible for the first time 13 years later
* unseeded finalist: Jan Kodes (1971)
* longest match: 4 hours 10 minutes – J.Newcombe d. M.Riessen 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 25-23 (1969)
* In the first round of 1969, Frank Robbins defeated Dick Dell 22-20, 9-7, 6-8, 8-10, 6-4 in just 1 out of 3 Open era matches consisted of 100 games or more
* in years 1975-78 the first three rounds were played in “the best of three” format (in 1977 also fourth round!)
* first major with tie-breaks (‘sudden-death’ tie-breaks to be precise) that were introduced in 1970, from the inception also in the 5th set, in contrary to other three majors
* in years 1970-74 the ‘sudden-death’ tie-breaks obligated
* longest 5th set in terms of games:
J.Newcombe d. F.Stolle 7-9, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 13-11 [1969]
* longest set in terms of games before the tie-break introduction:
J.Newcombe d. M.Riessen 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 25-23 [1969]
* youngest player to participate: Billy Martin, 15 years 8 months [1972]
* oldest player to participate: Frank Parker, 52 years 6 months [1968]