The U.S. Open has been broadcast on CBS for the last 47 years and the tradition that began in 1968 will come to an end at the conclusion of this year’s tournament in Flushing, Queens.
It all started with Arthur Ashe defeating Tom Okker 14-12 (no tiebreakers back then), 5-7,6-3, 3-6, and 6-3 in the first U.S. Open of the open tennis era. Since then we’ve been treated to some of the most memorable moments in tennis history, and some of the most forgettable.
Overall it’s been a lot of fun for tennis fans from all over the world, especially those lucky enough to attend a match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Their crown court, Arthur Ashe Stadium, is the largest tennis venue in the world with a listed capacity of 23,200.
While there have been some amazing matches filled with historical moments, I thought it would be fun to list some of the more…extraordinarily crazy memories that the New York venue has provided us. Most of them involve players getting involved with officials, but that’s always amusing to watch. In no particular order, here are the Top 5 Ridiculous U.S. Open Moments.
Jimmy Connors goes off on his 39th birthday
Connors entered the 1991 U.S. Open as a wild card and went on one of the better runs that you’ll see from a veteran, cruising to the Round of 16. That’s where he met Aaron Krickstein on Labor Day, and Connors fell behind early two sets to one. It was during the second set tiebreaker that our first ridiculous moment takes place.
Connors didn’t care for the chair umpire’s out call on a long shot that appeared to brush the line, and he let his opinion be known for all the world to hear. His tirade may have been for the best as he ended up coming back to win the four hour and 49 minute match in five sets.
Serena Williams threatens a linewoman during ’09 semi-finals
You don’t often see a match end on a foot-fault, but that’s what happened during the 2009 U.S. Open women’s semi-finals. Trailing Kim Clijsters 6-4, 6-5 and down 30-15, Williams, after faulting on her first serve, appeared to commit a foot-fault that was called by a lineswoman to her left, setting up match point for Clijsters. Williams then approached the official and dropped several f-bombs, saying, “I swear to God I’m [expletive] going to take this [expletive] ball and shove it down your [expletive] throat, you hear that? I swear to God.”
The lineswoman was called over to the chair umpire and Williams joined the conversation, saying to the line judge, “Sorry, but there are a lot of people who’ve said way worse.” The lineswoman then said something to the chair umpire to which Williams responded, “I didn’t say I would kill you. Are you serious? I didn’t say that.” The lineswoman replied by nodding her head and saying, “Yes.”
Williams had earlier been given a code violation for breaking her racquet after losing the first set, so after this latest incident the chair umpire awarded Clijsters a penalty point, ending the match.
Roger Federer loses his cool, curses at chair umpire in ’09 finals
In a moment somewhat uncharacteristic of his normal on-court persona, Roger Federer showed his displeasure regarding his opponent, Juan Martin del Potro, taking too long to decide whether he was going to challenge a call or not.
Federer’s anger grew when the chair umpire appeared to suggest that he stop complaining. That led to Federer telling the official, “Don’t tell me to be quiet, okay? When I want to talk, I’ll talk. I don’t give an [expletive] what he said. I’m just saying he’s waiting too long. Don’t [expletive] tell me the rules.”
Chaos ensues during McEnroe-Nastase match in ‘79
It was an overall crazy time during a match between John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase at the 1979 U.S. Open. Rather than go through the play-by-play of the chaotic events that made this infamous match memorable, let’s just look on the surface.
McEnroe was being very deliberate in-between points and the constant delays incensed Nastase to the point where the Romanian laid down on the court and pretended to sleep, using his racquet as a pillow. Following a warning by the chair umpire, Nastase was docked a penalty point. He then appeared to refuse to continue playing the match which led to the official announcing “Default Mr. Nastase. Game, set and match, Mr. McEnroe.
Nastase was eventually reinstated and the umpire was ordered from the chair. All this delay did not go over well with the crowd, who began throwing beer cans and other items on to the court. Overall it was an 18-minute delay as New York Police Officers had to step out on the playing surface to ensure the safety of the players and officials.
Roger Federer hits greatest shot of all time in ’09, then does it again the following year
During the third set of the 2009 U.S. Open semifinal match between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, Federer was closing in on a straight set victory when he hit one of the best shots ever seen. It happened during the final game of Federer’s win, making it all the more impressive.
Federer crashed the net to return a drop shot by Djokovic, after which Novak sent a lob over Federer’s head that looked to be extremely difficult to send back over the net. In an almost casual fashion and with his back to the net, Federer blindly hit the ball between his legs and past Djokovic to set up a match point.
A year later in 2010, Federer did it again in a match against Argentina’s Brian Dabul. Just like in the previous year, Dabul sent a lob shot over Federer’s head that looked near impossible to return. Once again with his back to the net, Federer hustled towards the backstop of Arthur Ashe Stadium and made a remarkable shot by hitting the ball between his legs and past Dabul.