The last 25 years of the U.S. Open have given us some very significant moments and some seismic shifts of power at the top of the men’s game.
Very often when a No. 1 fell at the U.S. Open, he lost his ranking. Or by winning, some pretender to the throne waiting in the wings actually made his break through at the USTA in Flushing Meadows.
Surprisingly over the past 25 years, there have been few five-set finals––only three matches have gone the distance. Nine finals have been extended to four while thirteen finals have been decided in straight sets.
That probably has much to do with the fact that the finalists must get back on court––many times less than 24 hours after often debilitating semifinal contests.
Many times, the combatants had nothing left in the tank for the last match. It is too bad for us all that players were not able to deliver their best tennis on the biggest tennis stage in New York during the U.S. Open finals.
Beginning in 1985, ranking the past 25 men’s finals, the criteria will be based on the entertainment quality of the match (three sets, four sets, or five sets), plus its overall significance in the career of the players and in the U.S. Open Tournament itself.
All of the matches are important, regardless of their ranking, because making it to the final of the U.S. Open is very difficult. Sometimes the path making it to the final is the real story––not the final itself.
Keep in mind that ranking is all about perspective.