John McEnroe, 1979 US Open

Extract from John McEnroe’s autobiography, Serious:

On the other side of the draw, Vitas was having a great run: he beat Clerc in the round of 16, Kriek in the quarterfinals, and in the semis, Tanner who had just gotten revenge on Borg for his Wimbledon loss. (It was funny how Vitas could beat guys who had beaten Borg, and yet, when it came down to it, couldn’t handle Borg himself. Tennis always works that way.)

But then in final, Vitas faced me.

I was coming off a year in which I had won three big victories over Connors: in the Masters, at Dallas (where I’d beaten Borg to win the tournament), and now here at the Open, in straight sets in the semis. There’s no other way to say it – I felt it was my time. I was a little uncomfortable about having to play my buddy Vitas in a big match – but not uncomfortable enough to lose.
In the end, it wasn’t even a particularly close match – I won in straight sets 7-5 6-3 and 6-3. In fact, I think that Vitas was more uncomfortable than I was. People were booing because they were angry that Connors and Borg weren’t playing. At that moment they were still the real stars – here we were just two guys from Queens! But I thought it was miraculous: two guys from Queens in the final of the US Open! I was convinced it was never going to happen again (I’m still convinced).

For a couple of years, I’d been working to hang out with Vitas, wondering if I could keep up with him off the court. I’d be trying to be his friend. I looked up to him. And now that I’d blown by him, the victory felt hollow. I had taken something from him. He was still a legitimate number four in the world, but now he was off the mountaintop. Now it was Borg, Connors and me .
Things were never quite the same between Vitas and me after that.

John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase, 1979 US Open

From John McEnroe‘s autobiography, Serious:

In the second round at the 1979 US Open, I faced Ilie Nastase. Nasty, who had won the tournament in 1972, was thirty-three and long past his prime, but he hadn’t mellowed with age – if anything, he was crazier than ever. And the big New York crowd at the Open always got him going.

Our night match drew a big crowd, eager to see Super Brat face down the aging enfant terrible of tennis. Frank Hammond was officiating the match. Of all the umpires out there, Frank – fat, bald, and dark-mustached, with a deep voice and a no-nonsense manner – was one of the few I liked. I always thought of him as a player’s umpire: he knew everyone by name, he treated you like a person.
Frank was known as an umpire who could control the crowd and the players in a difficult match, but that night he didn’t have a chance. There was a lot of drinking going on in the stands, and Nasty was on his worst behavior – stalling, arguing, cursing the officials, and generally trying to provoke me into going off the rails. Remarkably – and all too unusually – I kept it together. By the third set, Frank had had it: he lost his composure and ranted away at Nasty, docking him a penalty point. The crowd decided then and there that Frank couldn’t do anything right.

I was rattled myself, but then, at one set all and down a break, I began to pull it together, and won the third set 6-3. I was serving at 2-1, 15-love in the fourth set, when Nasty began arguing about another line call. He sat down in a linesman’s chair and refused to play. Frank literally begged him to go on, but Nasty wouldn’t stand up. It was clear that Nastase knew he was going to lose, and was simply looking to prolong everyone’s agony. ‘Game penalty, Nastase‘, Frank said. ‘McEnroe leads, three games to one‘.
Nasty stood up from the chair with his hands on his hips, screaming such vile obscenities at Frank that Frank, after further pleading, defaulted him. Now the crowd really went nuts, thowing paper cups and beer cans onto the court.

Mike Blanchard, the tournament referee, then came onto the court, and talked with Nasty and me. Figuring I was going to win anyway, and wanting to avoid a riot, I agreed to play on. Blanchard told the crowd that if things didn’t quiet down, the match would be discontinued.
Still, as soon as Frank tried to start play again, the crowd started chanting ‘Two to one, two to one‘ – the score before the game penalty. The chanting got louder and louder. I had never seen such pandemonium in a tennis match, and never would again, even in our wildest South American Davis Cup ties. Finally, Bill Talbert, the tournament director, decided to take Frank out of the match and put Blanchard in the chair. I felt terrible for Frank as he climbed down and walked off the court, the crowd pelting him with garbage. He had lost all credibility. What I found out only later was that the match had essentially destroyed his career. When the ATP decided to hire a group of full-time traveling officials, they didn’t choose Frank.

Once Frank was out off the court, I knew the air had gone out of Nasty, and ran out the rest of the match easily. Even the crowd seemed spent now. It was finally over at twelve thirty in the morning. Afte the match, I was somewhat astonished when Nastase came up to me and said ‘Hey, let’s go to dinner‘. Here was another lesson: business and pleasure must always be separated. ‘Sure‘, I said.

Strange things happen every day, and when you put professional athletes and tens of thousands of fans in the hot August sun in Queens, New York, weirdness is bound to follow. Here are some of the more interesting things that have happened over the years at the US Open.

Most of you still remember the 2009 US Open when Serena Williams lost her cool. She was playing Kim Clijsters in the semi-final. The linesman foot-faulted Serena on her second serve. Serena then let loose one of the most shocking rants in the history of professional tennis (giving many spectators fearsome flashbacks of John McEnroe). Apparently Serena said, “If I could, I would take this ******* ball and shove it down your ******* throat.” The linesman told the chair umpire who called the tournament referee. A disgraced Serena lost a point and lost the match.

oh serena

Tennis isn’t usually thought of as a dangerous sport. But, in 1983, 70-year old linesman Dick Wertheim was fatally injured. Stefan Edberg was playing Patrick McEnroe. Edberg’s serve sent a speeding ball straight into Wertheim’s groin. Wertheim fell, hitting his head on the hard court and fracturing his skull. He died from blunt cranial trauma, a direct result of his injury. Edberg, only seventeen at the time, went on to win six Grand Slams.

At the 1979 US Open John McEnroe was playing Ilie Nastase. It was the fourth set. McEnroe was serving. Nastase held up his hand to signal that he wasn’t ready. McEnroe, never known for his patience, served anyway and the umpire gave him the point. Natase started complaining, 10,000 yelling fans joined him. Natase wouldn’t shut up and was docked the game. The crowd went crazy. People started throwing stuff onto the court (mostly trash). The cops were called to restore order. Seventeen minutes later Nastase was asked to resume the game. The one-minute service time period went by and still he refused. Unsurprisingly, he was disqualified. The crowd was still going nuts; fearing an all-out riot, the umpire was replaced and the match was continued. Not that it mattered, McEnroe won anyway.

In 1977, during the match of John McEnroe and Eddie Dibbs, a gun went off. James Reilly, a 33-year-old fan innocently watching the match in the stands, was shot in the thigh by a .38 caliber gun. Turns out Reilly was hit by a stray bullet fired from a gun outside the stadium in Queens, NY. The game was delayed while Reilly was taken out of the stands and out of the stadium. When McEnroe and Dibbs were told why the game was delayed, Dibbs is reported to have said: “I’m out of here.” To keep the players from leaving and the game from suddenly ending, the umpire lied and told them that a fan was in shock. McEnroe won the match. Afterwards, the umpire confessed that he was correct the first time, and that a fan was shot, not in shock.

The 1977 US Open must have been an exciting tournament. Renee Richards made her debut in the women’s singles, against Virginia Wade. Seventeen years earlier, at the 1960 US Open, Renee made her debut in the men’s singles, as Richard H. Raskind. After a sex-change operation, and a ruling by the New York State Superior Court, Richard/Renee was allowed to come back to the US Open, the same tournament, different division. When she played as Richard Raskind he lost his first-round match. When she played as Renee Richards, she also lost her first-round match.

2011 US OPEN TENNIS TOURNAMENT   /     ROGER FEDERER       -     Arthur Ashe Stadium Court, Flushing  NYC      -      09/03/11

All US Open 2012 posts are tagged US Open and are listed up below:

10 tips for your day at the US Open
US Open trivia

Fashion and gear:

adidas players outfits
Andy Murray adidas outfit
Ana Ivanovic adidas outfit
Fernando Verdasco adidas outfit
Maria Kirilenko adidas outfit
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga adidas outfit
Caroline Wozniacki adidas outfit
Kim Clijsters Fila outfit
Roger Federer Nike outfit
Maria Sharapova Nike outfit
Serena Williams Nike outfit
Victoria Azarenka Nike outfit
Petra Kvitova Nike outfit
Li Na Nike outfit
Sam Stosur asics outfit
Novak Djokovic Uniqlo outfit

A trip down memory lane:

Top 5 strange events at the US Open
US Open biggest upsets
1970 US Open: Margaret Court completes the Grand Slam
1971 US Open: Chris Evert becomes the “It Girl”
79 US Open 2nd round: McEnroe vs Nastase, chaos on court
1979 US Open: John McEnroe defeats Vitas Gerulaitis
1980 US Open: John McEnroe defeats Bjorn Borg
1981 US Open: Tracy Austin defeats Martina Navratilova
1981 US Open: John McEnroe defeats Bjorn Borg: Borg’s last Grand Slam match
Back in 1990: Sabatini and Sampras win their first GS title: part 1part 2
1991 US Open: Connors, 39 qualifies for the semifinals
1991 US Open: Seles and Capriati introduce power in womens tennis
1991 US Open: Stefan Edberg defeats Jim Courier
1992: Stefan Edberg defeats Pete Sampras
1994 US Open 4th round: Jaime Yzaga defeats Pete Sampras
2000 US Open: Marat Safin defeats Pete Sampras
2001 US Open: Venus defeats sister Serena
2001 US Open QF: Andre Agassi – Pete Sampras
2001 US Open: Lleyton Hewitt defeats Pete Sampras
2002 US Open: last Grand Slam title for Pete Sampras
2003 US Open: Roddick wins his first (and only) Grand Slam title
2004 US Open: First time to NYC for a French fan of Agassi
Andre Agassi gives the Open crowd one more thrill ride, August 31st, 2006
2011 US Open by the numbers

Recap and analysis:

Tennis’ Big Three at the US Open
The 2012 US Open favorites and their racquet
First week recap

Polls:

Who will win the 2012 US Open?

  • Roger Federer (39%, 73 Votes)
  • Andy Murray (29%, 54 Votes)
  • Novak Djokovic (23%, 42 Votes)
  • Tomas Berdych (4%, 7 Votes)
  • Juan Martin del Potro (3%, 5 Votes)
  • David Ferrer (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Other (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (1%, 1 Votes)
  • John Isner (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 186

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Who will win the 2012 US Open?

  • Serena Williams (35%, 39 Votes)
  • Maria Sharapova (23%, 25 Votes)
  • Petra Kvitova (14%, 15 Votes)
  • Victoria Azarenka (11%, 12 Votes)
  • Agnieszka Radwanska (6%, 7 Votes)
  • Other (5%, 5 Votes)
  • Kim Clijsters (3%, 3 Votes)
  • Caroline Wozniacki (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Sam Stosur (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Angelique Kerber (1%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 111

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Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe reminded everyone of their extraordinary rivalry in a special match on Saturday.

John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg from Tennis Buzz on Vimeo.

Bjorn Borg

Bjorn Borg

John McEnroe

John McEnroe

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Read part 1 of my recap here.

A few pics of John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg, more coming soon.

John McEnroe

John McEnroe

John McEnroe

Bjorn Borg

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