In the second set, Lendl continued to misfire on his backhand. It cost him dearly as he lost his serve in the second game. Errors mounted on the Czech's side of the ledger. Finally Wilander went up 4-1 after saving five break points on his own serve.
When the chair umpire gave Wilander a warning for taking too much time before serving at 30-all in the seventh game, the Swede lost his concentration and promptly lost his serve. In fact, Wilander only won four more points and Lendl grabbed the second set 6-4.
In the third set, once again Wilander broke Lendl's serve in the second game on his way to securing another 4-1 advantage. This time, however, the Swede maintained his steely hold on the match and his own serve and seized the third set, 6-3.
The fourth set appeared to be heading for a tie break when Wilander unexpectedly broke the Czech's serve in game number seven. The big man had simply collapsed hitting back to back forehand errors. Wilander went up 4-3, but was unable to capitalize on his advantage.
Lendl broke back, leveling the set at 4-4. With Lendl up 6-5, Wilander fell behind 15-40 on his serve. Lendl wasted his first set point by powering a forehand into the net. But on the second set point, Lendl lunged and planted a forehand right on the line.
There had not been a fifth set at the U.S. Open since the Bjorn Borg vs. John McEnroe final of 1980. Wilander promptly broke Lendl's serve in the opening game, eventually securing a 2-0 lead in the final set after saving two break points on his own serve.
The Czech was not finished, however, and won the next three games to go up 3-2. They were back on serve. Wilander's break came in the seventh game when his constant presence at the net forced Lendl to spray his passing shots wide of the mark.
On break point, Wilander ripped a forehand winner down the line. Wilander came to the net 131 times during the match, winning 58 percent of those forays. By contrast, Lendl ventured into the net 77 times.
The end was nigh: Wilander served it out, saving two break points. The final point came when Lendl hit a backhand into the net. Mats Wilander won the U.S. Open 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in the longest match in U.S. Open history, lasting four hours and 54 minutes, or almost an hour per set.
In the finest year of his career, Mats Wilander became the No. 1 player in the world after winning this U.S. Open title. He won three of the four majors in 1988. This victory propelled him into the history books.
For highlights from the match in 1988 click here.