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Top 4 US Open men's finals in the Open Era

Arthur Ashe Stadium - the venue of many epic battles over the years
Arthur Ashe Stadium - the venue of many epic battles over the years
Arjun

The US Open is the second oldest Grand Slam tournament after the Wimbledon Championships. It is also the most watched tennis tournament in the world.

The sponsorship money, TV rights and also the prize money awarded to the athletes at the US Open are the highest among all tennis tournaments. The tournament is played on acrylic hard courts at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in Flushing Meadows, New York.

The only Grand Slam tournament to have been played on three different surfaces - grass, clay and hard courts - the US Open has seen many epic battles between legends over the course of over a century of tennis action. The Arthur Ashe Stadium, the largest tennis venue in the world, has played host to several electrifying US Open finals match-ups over the years.

The kind of crowd involvement at Arthur Ashe is unlike any other in the tennis world. That makes US Open finals just that little bit more dramatic and memorable.

Here, we take a look back at some of the greatest finals played at the US Open in the Open Era:

#4 Jimmy Connors vs Bjorn Borg (1976)

Jimmy Connors at the 1976 US US Open
Jimmy Connors at the 1976 US US Open

Coming into the 1976 US Open, American Jimmy Connors was the top seed but hadn't won a Grand Slam title since beating Ken Rosewall in the final of the same event in 1974. 1974 was also the last year that the tournament was played on grass; the 1976 US Open was played on the gray-green Har-Tru clay.

Borg was considered the best clay court player at the time, and had won the French Open on two consecutive occasions in addition to his back-to-back Wimbledon triumphs. But Connors had gotten the better of Borg in all five previous match-ups that year.

All things said, the match was an even contest and could have easily gone either way.

The third set made this match truly special, and proved to be the pivotal phase. The two rivals had split the first two sets, and Connors took the lead in the third set; he was serving at 4-2, 40-0, a point away from taking a huge 5-2 lead.

But Borg then won five consecutive points to take the game, and later had double set point at 6-4 in the tiebreaker. Connors hit two magnificent forehand winners to even the tiebreak, then let a set point of his own slip away at 7-6. He then saved two more set points at 8-7 and 9-8, before unloading on a crosscourt backhand winner to level the score at 9-9.

After having saved four set points, Connors eventually took the tiebreaker 11-9 for a two sets to one lea.

The American had his first match point opportunity while serving at 5-4 in the fourth. Borg stayed in contention with a brilliant forehand, and he saved another match point after that. But Connors took the third, and won the match 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (11-9), 6-4.

#3 Andy Murray vs Novak Djokovic (2012)

Andy Murray with the 2012 US Open Trophy
Andy Murray with the 2012 US Open Trophy

Andy Murray, the golden boy of British tennis, had come to the 2012 US Open having endured a tough loss to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final. Murray had finished runner-up in all four of his previous Grand Slam finals appearances, but he was determined to come up trumps this time.

Novak Djokovic was the defending champion and top seed. He had already won the Australian Open that year and was the strong favorite to lift his second consecutive US Open trophy.

But it turned out to be a special moment for the Scot, as he prevailed in an epic five-set clash.

At first it seemed like deja-vu for Murray as he let a two-set lead slip, allowing Djokovic to level the match at two sets all. The wind also played a big part in the proceedings, frequently throwing the players' shots off-course and in general causing them both a lot of frustration.

But the Scot showed remarkable poise in the deciding set, and he managed to outlast Djokovic. Murray finally shed the underdog tag as he took his maiden Grand Slam trophy, winning the match 7-6 (12-10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2.

#2 Mats Wilander vs Ivan Lendl (1988)

1988 US Open champion Mats Wilander
1988 US Open champion Mats Wilander

The 1988 US Open was a landmark Grand Slam as it marked the debut of two American greats - Pete Sampras and Jim Courier. Czech Ivan Lendl was the top seed, and he was followed in the seedings by the Swedish pair of Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg.

Both Lendl and Wilander were challenged quite a few times during their march to the final. Lendl was two sets to one down in his very fist match of the tournament, and Wilander had to beat American Kevin Curren the hard way, in five sets.

Lendl was chasing his 4th US Open crown while Wilander was looking for his maiden win at Flushing Meadows. Very little separated the two men as Wilander took the first set 6-4 with a single break of the Lendl serve.

But Lendl returned the favor in the second set, winning it 6-4 to level the match. Wilander took a two sets to one lead, and then Lendl broke Wilander in the penultimate game of the 4th set and later served it out at 6-5 to take the match to a deciding set.

After a marathon four hour, 54 minute encounter (the longest ever final - a feat that was later matched by Murray and Djokovic in 2012), Wilander won 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to become the first Swede to lift the US Open trophy.

#1 Juan Martin Del Potro vs Roger Federer (2009)

US Open 2009 Champion Juan Martin Del Potro
US Open 2009 Champion Juan Martin Del Potro

Roger Federer had faced two tough defeats at the hands of his great rival Rafael Nadal - in the 2008 Wimbledon final and the 2009 Australian Open final. But the suave Swiss won a record 15th Grand Slam title by beating Andy Roddick in an equally pulsating 5-set encounter at Wimbledon 2009.

Going into the 2009 US Open, Federer was looking to lift the trophy for a 6th straight time - a feat no man had achieved.

On the other side of the draw was a 21-year-old Argentine - Juan Martin Del Potro, whose stock had begun to rise from 2008. Del Potro was the 6th seed, and had taken out the mighty Nadal in straight sets in the semi-final.

Federer, the World No. 1 and top seed, began the final in fine form and took the first set 6-3. But Del Potro refused to hand the match to Federer so easily, as he held on and continued to push in the second set to ensure a tie-break, which he eventually won.

A single break of the Del Potro serve gave Federer the bragging rights in the third as he edged his nose ahead yet again. But the Argentine again got the better of Federer in a tiebreaker, taking the fourth set and going into the fifth riding a huge wave of momentum.

Federer looked out of sorts in the decider as he dropped his serve twice to allow the young Argentine to win his maiden Grand Slam title. The final score read 3-6, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 in Del Potro's favor.

Edited by Musab Abid

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