The U.S. Open is one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world, and it has produced some of the greatest champions in history. Here is a look at 10 of the all-time greats, based on their number of titles, longevity, and overall dominance.
Greatest Men’s U.S. Open Champions
- Richard Sears (1881-87) – Sears was undefeated in the U.S. Championships, where he won the first of his seven consecutive titles in 1881 while still a student at Harvard. Starting in the 1881 first round, he went on an 18-match unbeaten streak that took him through the 1887 championships. After his final U.S. Open championship, Sears retired from tennis at the age of 26.
- Bill Larned (1901-02, 1907-11) – Bill Larned didn’t win his first major championship, the 1901 U.S. Open, until the advanced age of 28. Despite the late start, Larned went on to win a total of seven U.S. Open titles, tying him with Richard Sears and Bill Tilden.
- Bill Tilden (1920-25, 1929) – From 1918-1929, “Big” Bill Tilden appeared in 10 of 12 U.S. Open finals, winning seven. Also, Tilden’s success at the U.S. Open brought him a great deal of fame, both on and off the tennis court.
- Jimmy Connors (1974, 1976, 1978, 1982-83) – Connors is the only player in history to win the U.S. Open on all three surfaces, appear in seven finals (third best all-time), and play in an all-time best 12 semifinals. Additionally, Connors’ record 97 wins at Flushing Meadows is 18 wins better than his nearest competitor, Andre Agassi.
- Pete Sampras (1990, 1993, 1995-96, 2002) – In 1990, “Pistol” Pete Sampras became the youngest US Open men’s singles champion in history (19 years, 28 days), defeating career-rival Andre Agassi. In fact, Sampras would win his fifth and final U.S. Open twelve years later– against Agassi.
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- Roger Federer (2004-08) – Roger Federer’s five consecutive titles is an incredible feat, one unlikely to be matched in the foreseeable future. True, Richard Sears won seven in a row and Bill Tilden won six in a row; however, as defending champion, Sears had six automatic Finals entries and Tilden played prior to the Open era.
- Robert Wrenn (1893-94, 1896-97) – Richard Wrenn appeared in five consecutive finals, losing to Fred Hovey in 1895. After winning the title in 1897, Wrenn took on a different challenge: serving with Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in the Spanish–American War.
- John McEnroe (1979-81, 1984) – John McEnroe was always a fan favorite at the U.S. Open, and he responded with four titles. In particular, McEnroe’s 1984 victory was part of one of the greatest tennis seasons ever– he posted an 82-3 record that year (96.5%).
- Rafael Nadal (2010, 2013, 2017, 2019) – More known for his prowess at the French Open (14 singles titles), Rafael Nadal is nonetheless worthy to be mentioned among the all-time greats at the U.S. Open. If he can win one more singles title before he retires, he’d be tied for the most singles titles in the Open Era.
- Novak Dokovic , Malcolm Whitman, Oliver Campbell, Fred Perry, Ivan Lendl (tied with with three championships each)
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