The US Open, the fourth and final Grand Slam event of the year, gets underway this week at Flushing Meadows, New York, where the singles competitors will be duking it out for a chance at the $3,850,000 prize pot.
The tournament has a rich history of stand-out moments, none more so than in 1992 when Stefan Edberg endured a behemoth run to his second New York title which amounted to a whopping 22 hours and 22 minutes of play, a record time spent on court.
In the second week of the tournament alone, Edberg recorded an incredible 18 hours over the course of four matches against top 15 seeded opponents. Amazingly, 13 of those hours were played over the final four consecutive days - a truly remarkable test of athletic ability for the Swede.
It was his semi-final with America’s Michael Chang that has gone down in tennis folklore and is undoubtedly one of, if not the, greatest US Open match of all-time.
The fourth of five career Grand Slam meeting between the two future Hall of Famers, it became the longest match in the tournament’s history, spanning five hours and 26 minutes and after rain interrupted Edberg’s quarter-final with Ivan Lendl, ensuring that the tie would spill into a second day, it meant that the six-time Grand Slam winner would have to play his third day of competition in a row.
Neither player could get a grip of a game that consistently went back-and-forth between the two before Edberg finally sealed the historic tie 6-7, 7-5, 7-6, 5-7, 6-4.
Next up on Edberg’s exhausting avenue to the US Open title was No. 3 seed Pete Sampras, the competition’s champion in 1990 - an already tough task made even tougher considering the five-hour marathon Edberg had just endured before it.
Nevertheless, Edberg seemed unfazed by the exhausting length of time he’d spent on the court.
Sampras started the final well and took the first set 6-3 before the Swede pulled it back in the second. In yet another topsy-turvy game, Edberg fell behind once again in the third, giving Sampras a chance to serve for the set at 5-4 but Edberg would come back to claim the set in a tiebreak before racing to a double-break lead in the fourth as Sampras’ energy began to wane.
Thankfully for Edberg, whose time on the court during the tournament was approaching a full day, there would be no comeback for Sampras and he closed out a 6-2 final set win.
The stunning victory would be Edberg’s sixth and final major title win and one that saw him capture the World’s No. 1 ranking. As fate would have it, the US Open would also be the site of his last Grand Slam appearance when he reached the quarter-finals in 1996, aged 30.
We may not be lucky enough to witness anything of Edberg’s magnitude in this month’s 139th iteration of the tournament but there’s still plenty for potential records out there to be broken and reason to be excited.
In the men’s singles, Roger Federer (coached by Edberg between 2014 and 2015) will be looking to win his sixth US Open title, which at 38, would make him the oldest men's Grand Slam singles champion in the Open era.
Meanwhile, in the women’s singles, Serena Williams will be hoping to equal the all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.