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The US Open Trophy

Infographic of US Open Tennis Trophy

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The last of tennis’ four Grand Slams, some argue the steamy summer air in Flushing Meadows, New York provides the toughest test for the sport’s best players – but one will find it all worth the trouble when he gets his hands on the polished silver of the US Open Trophy.  Contested since 1881, the tournament has a reputation for being the most fan-friendly of the majors, as players often stick around for on-court interviews in front of the crowd.  And, thanks to a series of floodlights, matches can run late into the evening – even past midnight on a few occasions.

History

The US Open Trophy is an elegant tribute to the history of the tournament, far more imposing as a prize than those from the other three majors.  Slightly taller and quite a bit wider from the edge of one handle to the other, the wide silver expanse across the front of the cup features some of the most famous names in tennis history.  Among the traditions associated with the tournament, the most revered is a trip for the champion around the landmarks of New York City – a picture holding the prize on the closed observation deck of the Empire State Building on a clear Manhattan morning is the highlight for many champions.

Best Players

Roger Federer (5 wins)

Across the history of the US Open Trophy, few men have been able to dominate the field from year to year – and none quite like Federer.  As part of a long streak of championships in all the non-clay majors, the Swiss master made six straight finals from 2004 to 2009, winning all but the last one.  His power serve and precise ground shots seemed made for the hard court, as he often breezed through opponents well into the late rounds.  But for a masterful performance from Juan Martin del Potro, Federer would be far the most successful player since the Open Era began in 1968.

Pete Sampras (5 wins)

Famous for his quiet confidence and picture-perfect playing style, only Wimbledon could be considered more of a home for Sampras.  Beginning with his first triumph in 1990, when he and future rival Andre Agassi burst onto the scene as fresh-faced Americans and gave the world a glimpse of what much of the next decade would hold in world tennis.  The youngest-ever to lift the US Open Trophy at just 19 years and 255 days when he beat Agassi then, he went on to make seven more finals between 1992 and 2002, winning four and cementing himself as one of the most popular players ever to step onto the courts at Flushing Meadows.  In many ways, Sampras is the last to play a “conventional” game, as the advent of new racket technology changed the sport near the twilight of his career.

Jimmy Connors (5 wins)

In the late 1970s, many changes were afoot at the National Tennis Center, not least of which was a shift from the original surface, grass, to clay and eventually the hard courts there today.  Only one man managed to win the title on the three: the fiery Connors.  Known for an all-action approach to the game, Connors beat opponents by covering a lot of ground with a classic serve-and-volley style that often saw him close to the net at the end of a point.  Fearless and expressive, he remained a crowd favorite through his triumphs in 1974, 1976, 1978 and 1982-83.  Nearly a decade after his last win, the undersized Connors defied Mother Nature and ignited the crowd with an unlikely run to the semifinals of the 1991 tournament at the age of 39.

John McEnroe (4 wins)

Though Connors could rightly be said to have captivated the crowd, no player received quite the crowd support as he battled for the US Open Trophy that McEnroe did.  A native New Yorker, he won three consecutive titles from 1979-81 and returned to the top in 1984.  Most would call him a beneficiary of a great rivalry, as he and Bjorn Borg were often matched against each other in Wimbledon and at the US Open – each winning on his home continent throughout the series.  Though traditionalists often frowned on his loud protests to the referees and occasional meltdowns when things didn’t go well, the left-hander took on the mantle of high-energy competitor after Connors – with whom he played several tough matches during both players’ prime.

Recent Winners

Stan Wawrinka (2016)

Novak Djokovic (2015)

Marin Čilić (2014)

Rafael Nadal (2013)

Andy Murray (2012)

Novak Djokovic (2011)

Rafael Nadal (2010)

Juan Martin del Potro (2009)

Roger Federer (2004-08)

Andy Roddick (2003)

Pete Sampras (2002)

Lleyton Hewitt (2001)

Marat Safin (2000)