1978 was the first year the US Open was played at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows after having been organized at the West Side Tennis Club venue in Forest Hill since 1915. It was also the first time the tournament was played on hard courts: it was originally played on grass until Forest Hills switched to Har-Tru clay courts in 1975. Jimmy Connors is the only player to have won the US Open on all three surfaces.
Extract from Inside tennis – a season on the pro tour by Peter Bodo and June Harrison:
By late August, summer weighs heavily on the city of New York; each day seems like one long tepid breath drawn until dusk, then exhaled slowly through the night. The US Open is about to begin.
The USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow, Queens, has been completed just in time to host the tournament that will henceforth call it home. A boardwalk leads from the subway to the new facility, which is adjacent to Shea Stadium, the sprawling home of the New York Mets and Jets. This boardwalk crosses over a subway yard, where hundreds of cars sit idle, covered with graffiti. The walk is lined with flags: American flags. Over seventy of them, counting those on top of the new Louis Armstrong Stadium. There isn’t a foreign standard in sight, because the USTA is bullish on the American role in international tennis.
The Americans leaped on the treadmill of professionalism faster than their international counterparts. As part of its massive attempt to popularize the sport, the USTA abandoned the West Side Tennis Club in nearby Forest Hills, a site redolent of tradition and all the genteel qualities associated with tennis. Although the stadium at Forest Hills held 13,500, the USTA deemed it to small. The hordes that descended on the 10.5 acres of the West Side Tennis Club created impossibly crowded conditions. Besides, parking facilities were inadequate, and this meant a great deal to some people. When the club rejected expansion proposals in 1977, USTA president Slew Hester decided to move the tournament to a newer, bigger home.
Louis Armstrong Stadium, the centerpiece of the National Tennis Center, is a bowl of epic proportions; its sheer sides give over 20,000 spectators a dizzying view of the main court. But the finest court at the site is in the grandstand, which nestles against one side of the stadium in much the same way that the Number One Court nestles against the Centre Court at Wimbledon. Sunken about ten feet below ground level, the court is surrounded on three sides by seats for about 6,000 spectators, who lean in over the players like aficionados around a bullring.
– The US Open has been played on 3 different surfaces: it was originally played on grass until Forest Hills switched to Har-Tru clay courts in 1975. In 1978, the event moved from Forest Hills to its current home at Flushing Meadows, and the surface changed again, to the current DecoTurf.
Jimmy Connors is the only player to have won the US Open on all three surfaces.
– The main court is located at the 24,000-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium, named after Arthur Ashe, the African American tennis player who won the inaugural men’s final of the US Open in 1968.
Court Number 2 is Louis Armstrong Stadium, which stood as the main stadium until the completion of Ashe stadium. Court Number 3 is the Grandstand Stadium, which is attached to the Louis Armstrong Stadium.
-In 1970, the US Open was the first Grand Slam tournament to use the tie breaker. At the time, it was a 9 point playoff with the first player to 5 winning. The US Open is still the only Grand Slam tournament to use tie breakers in the third set for women and the fifth set for men.
-In 1975, the US Open became the first Grand Slam tournament to hold matches at night. Fewer than 5,000 fans turned out to watch the very first night match
– Tracy Austin is the youngest singles champion. She was 16 years 8 months and 28 days when she won in 1979. Besides Austin, Maureen Connolly and Martina Hingis also won the women’s singles title before their 17th birthdays.
– Pete Sampras is the male youngest singles champion. He was 19 years and 28 days when he beat Andre Agassi in 1990.
– The longest match on record in the history of the U.S. Championships came on Sept. 12, 1992, when Stefan Edberg and Michael Chang played for five hours and 26 minutes in the men’s singles semifinals, before Edberg won 6-7(3), 7-5, 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-4.
– In 2006, the US Open became the first Grand Slam tournament to implement instant replay reviews of calls, using Hawk-Eye.
– In 2007, Roger Federer became the first men’s singles player to win 4 consecutive US Open.