Although tennis fans and players are currently focused on London with the tennis double-whammy of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships and the London Olympics, come August there will be one tournament that players and fans alike will be clamouring to get to – The US Open. Held in the magnificent Arthur Ashe Stadium at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in New York, this final Grand Slam event of the season provide real tennis entertainment on a truly grand scale.
A Brief Bit of History
Formally known as the United States Open Tennis Championships, the US Open is a hardcourt tournament and its current incarnation is almost unrecognisable from the event that it was back in 1881. One of the oldest tennis championships in the world, the US Open was initially a men-only event with singles and doubles titles on offer and women’s and doubles matches were contested under separate competitions. The open era began when all the events were merged into the combined tournament that we known today, with titles available for men’s and women’s singles and doubles, mixed doubles, senior players, junior players and wheelchair players.
In a similarity to our very own Wimbledon event, the US Open was largely contested by amateur players in its early days, until the dawn of the open era brought professional tennis to a new level. In fact, the stadium’s namesake – Arthur Ashe – as well as being a trailblazer for African-American players was himself an amateur when he won the men’s singles title back in 1968. Two years after Ashe’s groundbreaking win, another precedent was set when the US open officially became the only Grand Slam tournament to use a tiebreak at the end of the set, instead of letting service games play out into a fifth set.
In addition to being pretty much a tennis extravaganza, the US Open also has a unique entry system via its National Playoffs. These playoffs consist of a series of tournaments, which run between April and July and are open to players of 14 years or above provided they meet the required eligibility, giving them the chance to qualify for entry into the US Open in that year. What is unique about these playoffs however is that they are open to both professional players and amateurs, creating real opportunities for promising tennis talent to compete at such a high level. Draw maximums for the qualifiers are also fairly high – a maximum of 256 singles and 128 mixed doubles – and the format itself is also very simple, players compete to best of three tiebreak sets.
US Open 2012 Schedule
This year, the US Open is set to take place between Monday 27th August and Sunday 9th September. As well as scintillating tennis action, visitors to the tournament will also be treated to plenty of live music and entertainment and the final weekend will see those much anticipated Men’s and Women’s Singles finals. Doubles finals are due to take place on Thursday 6th September (mixed) Friday 7th September (men’s) and Sunday 9th September (women’s).