SETTING THE SCENE: The key facts and figures ahead of next week’s showdown at Flushing Meadows.
Novak Djokovic is bidding for his fourth US Open title next week, but victory would still leave him one behind Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors, who share the honour of most men’s singles titles in the Open Era.
All five of Federer’s titles came in an exceptional period of dominance from 2004 to 2008, before the rise of his great rivals Rafael Nadal and Djokovic.
Serena Williams recently withdrew from this year’s tournament meaning she won’t yet have the chance to surpass Chris Evert’s record of six women’s single titles in New York.
Evert was 20 years old when lifting her first US Open, while Williams was only 17 when winning a first Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows in 1999. However, the youngest female winner is Tracy Austin, who won in 1979 when aged just 16.
While Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors were both in their 20s when lifting their first trophy in the Arthur Ashe Stadium, Pete Sampras did so at 19, when defeating Andre Agassi in straight sets in 1990.
The Arthur Ashe Stadium holds 23,771 spectators making it the largest tennis stadium in the world and is named after the first winner of the tournament in the professional era. Arthur Ashe went on to win Wimbledon and the Australian Open, but tragically died prematurely from AIDS in 1993.
Ashe triumphed in the 1968 US Open Final but lost out in the quarter-finals two years later when Australian Ken Rosewall enjoyed a late renaissance in his career, becoming the oldest US Open winner, aged 35.
In the 2015 US Open, Flavia Pennetta won a surprise maiden Grand Slam, becoming the first woman over 30 to do so, as the 33-year-old Italian swept aside her fellow country woman Roberta Vinci in a straight sets victory.
It wasn’t such plain-sailing for Stefan Edberg when he took on Michael Chang in the 1992 semi-final in a marathon match that lasted 5 hours and 26 minutes, and still holds the record as the longest in US Open history. Edberg eventually won 6-4 in the final set and despite that bruising encounter went on to defeat Pete Sampras in the final.
With play due to get underway next week, you may be relishing the thought of Djokovic’s triumph or Naomi Osaka’s winning return, but spare a thought for the ball boys and girls. 70,000 tennis balls will be used over the duration of the two-week tournament in New York – just imagine collecting all those up!