Top 8 US Open Champions

With 12 days to go before the 2009 US Open tennis tournament will begin at Flushing Meadows, New York, we take a look at the greatest champions of the tournament in the Open Era – the eight men who have won in New York more than once – From Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe in the 70’s and early 80’s to the kings of the 90’s – Sampras and Agassi, and the reigning king – Roger Federer.

Two Time Champions – Patrick Rafter (Australia), Stefan Edberg (Sweden) and Andre Agassi (United States)

Patrick RafterImage: Source

Patrick Rafter was a late bloomer in tennis, and really boomed into the scene in 1997, when he was already a six year tour veteran. After reaching the semi final in the French Open that year, he shocked the tennis world by winning the US Open, his first Grand Slam title and only second career singles title by that time. He beat Greg Rusedski in the final, after knocking out Andre Agassi and Michael Chang in the earlier rounds. In 1998 Rafter enjoyed his best career year, winning six tournaments, including his second consecutive US Open title, beating fellow Australian Mark Philippoussis.

Stefan EdbergImage: Source

A funny fact about Edberg’s six Grand Slam – He won them in turns – He won the Australian Open twice, in 1985 and 1987. He Moved on to dominate Wimbledon, winning twice there too, in 1988 and 1990. And then, it was the US Open turn, his final two singles grand slams – 1991 and 1992. In both finals he beat Americans – 1991 it was Jim Courier and in 1992 he beat Pete Sampras.

Andre AgassiImage: Source

Unlike Rafter and Edberg, Agassi didn’t win his two titles back to back. He also didn’t have a perfect US Open finals record. Agassi lost four times in the US Open final – Three times to Pete Sampras – in 1990, 1995 and 2002, and once to Roger Federer, in 2005. In 1994 Agassi became the unseeded player to win the US Open, beating Michael Stich in the final. In 1999, after winning the French Open, completing his career grand slam, and losing the Wimbledon Finals to Pete Sampras, he beat Todd Martin in the US Open final in a five setter. That Year Agassi finished as no.1 in the world, ending Sampras’ six year streak.

Three Wins – Ivan Lendl (Czech/United Stated)

Ivan LendlImage: Source

The best player in the world in the second half of the 1980’s, period. No Wimbledon titles in his career may dent his impressive resume, but Lendl was the best between 1985-1989. He won eight Grand Slams between 1984-1989, including three back to back to back US Open championships. In 1985 he beat John McEnroe in straight sets in the final. In 1986 it was fellow Czech Miroslav Mecir that he crushed in an easy straight sets win. In 1987 it was a lot harder, beating Mats Wilander in four sets, that included two tie breaks. Lendl reached the final of the US Open five more times.

Four Time Winner – John McEnroe (United States)

John McEnroeImage: Source

The guy who patented “you can’t be serious” and is remembered more for his on and off court behaviour than his actual tennis achievements, was a great player for those who forget – seven grand slam titles, three in Wimbledon and four at the US Open. He won his first US Open in 1979, becoming the youngest men’s player to do so, by beating Vitas Gerulaitis in the Final. Like Lendl, he also had a streak of three, and in 1980 he won it again, beating Bjorn Borg in five sets, getting revenge on Borg who beat him in a classic Wimbledon final a few months earlier. It was Borg again in 1981, both at the Wimbledon and US Open finals. McEnroe won them both. In 1984, after losing to Lendl in the French Open Final and beating Connors in the Wimbledon final, McEnroe beat Lendl in the US Open final in straight sets, his final singles grand slam title.

Five Time Champions – Jimmy Connors (United States), Pete Sampras (United States) and Roger Federer (Switzerland)

Jimmy ConnorsImage: Source

Jimmy Connors was the first man to win the US Open five times, his favorite venue during his career. He won his first US Open in 1974, beating Ken Rosewall at Wimbledon and in New York. Connors didn’t play in the French Open that year due to his refusal to join the ATP, and missed out on an opportunity to win all four grand slams that year (He also won the Australian Open). In 1976 he beat Borg and in 1978 continued his Home Soil domination over the Swede. In 1982 and 1983 Connors won the title back to back, beating Ivan Lendl twice in the final.

Pete SamprasImage: Source

Pete Sampras began his grand slam trophy cabinet with a 1990 US Open win over Andre Agassi, and sealed it with the US Open win over Agassi, in 2002. His usually remembered for his seven Wimbledon titles, but between 1990-1996 he won four US Open titles and was very hard to beat there in the first part of his career. 1990 – Sampras, at 19, became the youngest ever US Open champion, beating Agassi in straight sets. 1993 – Cedric Pioline of France also fell to Sampras in straight sets. 1995 – Andre Agassi again, this time in four sets. 1996 – Michael Chang lost to Sampras, straight sets. 2002 – Sampras won the US Open, beating Andre Agassi again, and never played in the tour again, leaving the game as the greatest player ever. Until Roger Federer broke out in 2003.

Roger FedererImage: Source

Now this is the greatest player ever. After his Roland Garros win this spring, completing his career grand slam, and after winning Wimbledon two months ago, grabbing his record 15th grand slam title, there’s no doubt. And he’s special at the US Open as well. Fed has won the US Open five times, back to back to back to back to back! He is the defending champion, with David Nalbandian the last man to beat him there, back in the fourth round of the 2003 US Open. 2004 – He beat Lleyton Hewitt. 2005 – Beat Andre Agassi, dropping only two sets through the whole tournament. 2006 – He beat Andy Roddick. 2007 – Novak Djokovic was the victim. 2008 – Andy Murray, in Federer’s only grand slam title that year.