Organized by the United States Tennis Association (USTA), the US Open Tennis Championships is one of two hard court tennis majors, the Australian Open Tennis Championships being the other one. While the Australian Open is played to start each year's Grand Slam season, the US Open has been the last grand slam tournament of each year since 1987, making it a crucial determinant of who will end up as the year end #1 player. Thus, in late August and early September, over a two-week period, the top tennis players from around the world, converge in New York to contest the tournament's five event championships: (1) men's singles, (2) women's singles, (3) men's doubles, (4) women's doubles, and (5) mixed doubles, with senior, junior, and wheelchair events being considered secondary competitions.
The men's singles final will be played on a Monday night in 2013 and 2014, but will move back to a Sunday night schedule beginning 2015.
It is also noteworthy that while the three other majors don't play tiebreaks in deciding sets (5th set for men, 3rd set for women), US Open matches feature tiebreaks even in deciding sets, thereby significantly limiting the maximum amount of time it will take for deciding sets to be played.
The US Open Tennis Championships used to be played on grass, but today, it uses a DecoTurf surface, currently the fastest surface among the four Grand Slam tournaments. This surface has slightly less friction than most other hard courts, and as a result, it causes the ball to bounce lower, making it the best opportunity for players to find success using the serve and volley style of tennis. Thus, players that serve hard and can end points early theoretically have the best chance at performing strongly in the US Open.
The US Open features 4 show courts and 13 other competition courts, all lighting-enabled to allow for play to continue through the night. The main court is the enormous Arthur Ashe stadium that can seat more than 22,000 fans, while the Louis Armstrong Stadium, the Grandstand Stadium, and Court 17 are the 3 other show courts where the Hawk-Eye challenge system for disputed calls are also in play. Unfortunately, none of these courts have roofs, making the US Open Tennis Championships the only tennis major where play stops completely if the weather doesn't permit.
What cannot be denied about the atmosphere at the US Open is that it's uniquely US Open. The tournament's rock and roll feel is evident right from the opening ceremony where pop artists perform, and extends to the playing court where fans are boisterous and loud music is played on breaks which is in huge contrast to the traditional Wimbledon Championships. While popular with New Yorkers, the atmosphere has received criticism from purists who feel that the event lacks class.
This atmosphere can affect players, as those who have trouble keeping their concentration can be distracted by everything going on around them. However, players who run on adrenaline, especially American players, are likely to be enlivened by the bustling atmosphere.
Players with high enough rankings, as well as wild card entrants and successful qualifiers, can participate in the US Open main draw.
The most successful men's players in the open era are Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, and Roger Federer with 5 singles championships each. Federer, however, won his 5 championships consecutively from 2004 to 2008. Aside from Federer, today's active players who have won the US Open men's singles title are Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro, and Andy Murray, each having won once before.
On the women's side, Chris Evert is the most successful open era player with 6 singles championships, while Serena Williams has the most titles among active players with 4. Other active players who have won the US Open women's singles title are Samantha Stosur, Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Venus Williams.