US Open Tennis 2011: Top 10 Night Matches in Open History

John Bain@John_BainCorrespondent IISeptember 13, 2011

US Open Tennis 2011: Top 10 Night Matches in Open History

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    If there is one thing that is synonymous with the US Open, it is the night matches. All of the marquee matches of the day are usually scheduled in the early evening. The matches under the lights also seem to be the best matches in general regardless of who is involved.

    Another thing that makes the night matches so intriguing is that there is seemingly no time limit under the lights. Plenty of matches have extended into the early hours of the morning that have started hours in advance.

    Coming off Novak Djokovic's defeat of Rafael Nadal for the 2011 US Open title under the lights, we are going to recap the best night matches in US Open history.

    The night match is a sort of thing tennis players dream of playing in. Under the lights at Arthur Ashe in September at the US Open, night matches make and break dreams. 

10. Onny Parun Defeats Stan Smith (1975)

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    The very first night match in US Open history occurred in 1975 between Onny Parun and Stan Smith. Though it wasn't like most of the matches on this list in duration, the first night match has to be significant enough to be on this list. The final result was a 6-4 6-2 victory for the winner from New Zealand, Onny Parun.

9. Mats Wilander Defeats Mikael Pernfors (1993)

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    The longest night match in the history of the US Open, Mats Wilander and Mikael Pernfors battled it out until 2:26 AM. The four hour long, five set marathon saw Wilander and Pernfors trade the first two sets before Pernfors eventually won the third set easily 6-1.

    Wilander was not willing to let fatigue and the marathon be the cause of his demise and battled back to win the fourth set in a tiebreak 7-6 after facing match point. Wilander eventually went on to win the fifth set and finally put an end to the marathon 6-4 making it the longest night match in Open history.

8. James Blake Defeats Stefan Koubek (2007)

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    When Stefan Koubek and James Blake met in the third round of the 2007 US Open in a match that didn't start until 10 PM, it was expected that most fans would have gone home. Much to everyone watching at homes surprise, not a soul left. 

    Blake and Koubek battled it out in four sets with Blake eventually winning over the unseeded Koubek 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 6-1. The match finally ended just after 1 AM with Blake applauding the crowd for sticking around. 

    “There is a lot of exciting stuff to do on a Saturday night at the Flushing Meadows, therefore for every one of you who came here and stay until 1 a.m, I am really thankful as it means a lot to me,” Blake thanked the crowd afterwards. “I feel like being in a party.” 

    Blake's comment especially stood out as he was one of the American favorites in the tournament and it was a true US Open moment.

7. Justine Henin Defeats Jennifer Capriati (2003)

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    The first women's match on the list, Justine Henin met Jennifer Capriati in the semifinals of the 2003 US Open under the lights. Henin would have to face the challenge of denying Capriati a trip to her home grand slam final. 

    The match that was one of the tightest, most draining matches in women's tennis history saw the two battle til their bodies could no longer take it.

    Henin won the match 4-6, 7-5, 7-6, after three hours and saw Capriati collapse over the net at the end of the match and forced Henin to the Billie Jean King Tennis Centers infirmary where she was forced to be put on an IV drip afterwards due to severe dehydration.

    What makes this match more amazing is that just 24 hours later, Justine Henin went on to win the 2003 US Open over Kim Clijsters.

6. Gilles Muller Defeats Andy Roddick (2005)

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    When fourth seeded Andy Roddick met Gilles Muller on his 23rd birthday, he thought he would take the cake and walk away with a win, that was not the case.

    In an amazing match that saw all three sets decided by tie breaks, Muller walked away with the victory winning 7-6(4), 7-6(8), 7-6(1) under the lights at center court much to the dismay of the fans who had come out to cheer their American on.

5. John McEnroe Defeats Ilie Nastase (1979)

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    This match was more entertaining for the evening faithful at Flushing Meadows more for the antics than the play itself. John McEnroe met Illie Nastase in the second round of the US Open under the lights. The match eventually was played to the point where Nastase was defaulted by chair umpire Frank Hammond. 

    The chaos that ensued following included an 18 minute free for all where the crowd lost control and pleaded that Nastase be re-instated and the match go on. Eventually tournament referee Mike Blanchard sided with the fans and re-instated Nastase. 

    Unfortunately the re-instatement didn't change Nastase's fortunes as he went on to lose the match in four sets to McEnroe 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

4. Serena Williams Defeats Venus Williams (2008)

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    In yet another instant classic between the Williams sisters, Serena took on older sister Venus under the night sky in the quarterfinals of the 2008 US Open. Though the match only went two sets, it could hardly be considered a breeze.

    After coming back from a 5-3 deficit in the first set to win in a tiebreak 7-6, Serena had to again come back from 5-3 down in the second set and would go on to shock older sister Venus again winning 7-6 and the match in a tie break. In total, the fans saw Serena battle back from 10 of Venus' set points to win the match and move onto the semifinals.

3. John McEnroe Defeats Jimmy Connors (1984)

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    The 1984 semifinal match between storied rivals John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors was the final match in the historic "Super Saturday" at the US Open. On Super Saturday every single match played went the distance whether it was three sets on the women's side or five on the men's, every match was a full blown marathon.

    McEnroe and Connors met under the lights and played the days last five setter the fans would see, and it was a nail-biter. McEnroe and Connors traded victories in the first two sets before McEnroe eventually won the third set 7-5. Connors came back to tie the match at two sets a piece when he took the fourth set 6-4. 

    For the fourth time in the day the match would go to a fifth and deciding set. Under the lights of Louis Armstrong Stadium, McEnroe would outlast Connors and win the set 6-3. The victory paved the way for McEnroe to win his seventh and final grand slam title the next day.

2. Pete Sampras Defeats Andre Aggasi (2001)

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    It was one of the most hyped up US Open matches in history, and it delivered. When American tennis heroes Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras met in the quarterfinals of the 2001 US Open all eyes were on their match under the lights in New York.

    The match saw the two never break serve throughout all 48 games of the match. Eventually Sampras went on to win in five sets just past midnight, 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-5), after three-and-a-half hours of tennis.

    After the match Sampras commented that the battle was "probably about as good as it gets, playing the very best in a night match at the U.S. Open", "the atmosphere was phenomenal, and it was so close."

    Agassi on the other hand embraced Sampras at the net giving him one piece of advice: "win the thing." 

1. Andre Agassi Defeats James Blake (2005)

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    This match could possibly be one of the greatest matches in US Open history, and the fact that it happened at night makes it that much more special. An aging Andre Agassi met James Blake in the quarterfinals of the 2005 US Open. The match is almost indescribable. 

    Blake quickly took a two sets to none lead up 6-3, 6-3, when in the third set Agassi just turned everything around. Coming back from two sets down to win the match 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6).

    To add to it all the match didn't even begin until 10:16 PM, and it completely exceeded the expectations of the 20,000 plus people that stayed around to watch the match until just past 1 in the morning.

    Blake, although suffering the defeat said "it couldn't have been more fun" prompting Agassi to proclaim "I wasn't the winner, tennis was."

    Boy was he right, fans of tennis across the world witnessed one of the most exciting and mesmerizing matches they had ever seen. The match benefited tennis' success worldwide for several months following.

    Hands down, the best night match in US Open history.