U.S. Open Tennis 2010: The 10 Best Night Matches in Tournament History

Jordan Schwartz@jordanharrisonSenior Writer IAugust 31, 2010

U.S. Open Tennis 2010: The 10 Best Night Matches in Tournament History

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    One of the things that makes the U.S. Open stand out from the other three tennis majors during the calendar year is its long history of dramatic night matches.

    The excitement of moving down to the lower levels in Ashe Stadium at 11 p.m. to cheer on your favorite player with a few thousand of your closest friends is unmatched in the sport.

    Long five-setters have often been known to go on until the wee hours of the morning, forcing those in attendance to forget that they have to be at work in the morning.

    Let's take a look at the 10 best night matches in tournament history.

James Blake Def. Stefan Koubek, Sept. 1, 2007

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    James Blake and Stefan Koubek didn't get on the court to start their match on Sept. 1, 2007 until after 10 p.m. because the women's match between Nicole Vaidisova and Shahar Peer that was on before them took more than two and a half hours to complete.

    Blake wound up defeating the Austrian, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, in a contest that did not end until after 1 a.m.

    “There are a million things to do on a Saturday night in New York, so for you guys to stay out here until 1 a.m. really means a lot to me,” Blake told the crowd after the match. “I feel like I’m at a party here.”

James Blake Def. Donald Young, Aug. 25, 2008

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    On Opening Night 2008, the U.S. Open celebrated 40 years of Open Tennis with musical performances and appearances by several past champions.

    The long night concluded with two Americans taking center stage, as James Blake defeated 19-year-old Donald Young, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.

Onny Parun Def. Stan Smith, Aug. 27, 1975

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    The first-ever night match played at the U.S. Open took place in front of 4,949 fans at the West Side Tennis Club, where Onny Parun of New Zealand beat Stan Smith, 6-4, 6-2.

Andre Agassi Def. Andrei Pavel, Aug. 28, 2006

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    On Aug. 28, 2006, the U.S. Open became the first major to institute instant replay. Mardy Fish was the first to use the system when he challenged a call in his match against Simon Greul.

    A night-match record 23,736 were in attendance to see the USTA National Tennis Center renamed in honor of Billie Jean King, followed by the first match of Andre Agassi's last U.S. Open. Agassi excited the home crowd by playing three tiebreakers in a 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 6-2 win over Andrei Pavel.

John McEnroe Def. Ilie Nastase, Aug. 30, 1979

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    Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

    In one of the craziest matches ever played in Flushing Meadows, American John McEnroe beat Ilie Nastase, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, in a night match that included Nastase being defaulted by chair umpire Frank Hammond.

    For the following 18 minutes, fans went nuts and Nastase was allowed to keep playing by tournament referee Mike Blanchard, who then took Hammond's place as the chair umpire.

Gilles Muller Def. Andy Roddick, Aug. 30, 2005

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Fourth-seeded American Andy Roddick fell in three dramatic tiebreakers during his opening round match versus No. 68 Gilles Muller, 7-6(4), 7-6(8), 7-6(1), on Roddick's 23rd birthday during the night session.

James Blake Def. Fabrice Santoro, Aug. 30, 2007

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    In yet another James Blake classic, the American collected his first career five-set victory by defeating Fabrice Santoro, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, in the second round.

    Both players got a standing ovation from the raucous crowd, which remained until the late conclusion. It was the first featured night match of the 2007 U.S. Open to go past midnight, and only the 19th match since Arthur Ashe Stadium opened in 1997 to close the session with a five-setter.

Serena Williams Def. Venus Williams, Sept. 3, 2008

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    In a classic quarterfinal between sisters Venus and Serena Williams, the younger Serena fought off 10 set points in the match, coming back from 6-3 down in the second-set tiebreaker to win, 7-6(6), 7-6(7).

    The match went so long that it took until 2:11 a.m. for Rafael Nadal to finally beat American Mardy Fish for the third-latest finish in US Open history, just 15 minutes shy of the record set by Mats Wilander and Mikael Pernfors in 1993. Nadal and Fish didn't go on the court until 11:30 p.m.

John McEnroe Def. Jimmy Connors, Sept. 6, 1980

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    In maybe their best U.S. Open battle, John McEnroe outlasted fellow American Jimmy Connors, 6-4, 5-7, 0-6, 6-3, 7-6(3), in the semifinals. 

    John Feinstein of The Washington Post wrote about the duel, "Time and again the match turned around as the two protagonists kept the enthralled 20,086 fans in Louis Armstrong Stadium not just on the edge of their seats but leaping out of them as the battle went into the night."

Andre Agassi Def. James Blake, Sept. 7, 2005

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    In possibly the greatest night match in the history of the U.S. Open, Andre Agassi came back from down two sets to none to defeat fellow American James Blake, 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (6). 

    The match did not begin until 10:16 p.m. and afterwards, Agassi told the crowd, "1:15 in the morning, 20,000 people still here. I wasn't the winner, tennis was."