The US Open has seen its fair share of great matches over the years, and a few memorable finals too. This is a list of the greatest matches in terms of the quality of play, not the ones that had the maximum impact. If it was a list of the latter, it would have been ‘Borg vs McEnroe (1981) for it forever left Borg bereft of the US Open and such was its impact, that he retired. Borg was the greatest of his time, leaving many to rue the early death of a star that shone the brightest.
These finals were utterly nail-biting and there was nothing to choose between the players in their respective matches.
Jimmy Connors vs Bjorn Borg(1976)
Connors won 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(11-9), 6-4
The American was at the peak of his career in the mid 70s. With his Brooklyn Bomber-like persona, he used to swat every opponent away. After a great 1974 season, he had a poor ‘75 and ‘76. Bjorn Borg was a rising star back then, having claimed the 1974 and ‘75 French Open. But, he was almost always at his wits’ end when coming up against Connors. He couldn’t find a way past those fast groundstrokes and the net play. But the US Open that year was being contested on a special kind of clay. Like all great matches, this one too had a roller coaster of a tie-break, which went straight into the Tie Break Hall of Fame.
Borg led 6-4, then Connors stormed back to 7-6, then again Borg 9-8, then 9-9. At one point, a ball boy had to remind the Chair Umpire that the players need to change sides. Such was the passion and madness, that the Umpire as well as the players had forgotten that. Connors then took it 11-9 and with that Borg mentally faded away. The home favourite then took the next set 6-4 to claim victory in one of the all time great finals.
Connors remembers that final fondly in his autobiography. Watching it today, even when you know the result, it is clear why.