These are a Bit Late, but Sometimes Life Gets in the Way of My Tennis Writing
In Case You Missed Part – 1 As a reminder, I put in place a no Jimmy Connors rule as I have written quite a bit about Connors and the US Open over the years.
3. 1996 Steffi Graf d. Monica Seles 7-5, 6-4
Steffi Graf won a tense match with Monica Seles to decide the 1995 US Open. That match had so much emotional content it was hard to enjoy. Seles was coming back from the worst incident in tennis history. Graf was trying to show that the previous 2 seasons of tennis had not been a complete sham without Seles. This time around, Seles had won the 1996 Australian Open and Graf had won the 1996 French Open and Wimbledon Championships. If Seles won, she’d have tied Graf’s major total in 1996, but won their head-to-head match in a Grand Slam final. The match was quite even. Graf held an early break in the first set, but Seles rallied for 5-5. Graf then went on a 4 game run to lead 7-5, 2-0. That lead would hold for the rest of the match as Graf won the title with a semi-shaky volley. It was the happiest I had ever seen Graf on court prior to her improbable 1999 French Open win.
2. 1992 Stefan Edberg d. Michael Chang 6-7, 7-5, 7-6, 5-7, 6-4
This was a classic match-up of a serve and volleyer who didn’t blow people off of the court with his serve versus a counter-puncher who didn’t crush every ground stroke. They were both also among the top 5 fastest guys on tour so many extended points resulted from this contrast in styles. Edberg rallied from a break down in the 5th to reach his second consecutive US Open final which he would win over Pete Sampras in 4 sets.
Number 1 – 1988 Steffi Graf d. Gabriella Sabatini 6-3, 3-6, 6-1
I became a big Steffi Graf fan in 1986 when she lost to Martina Navratilova 1-6, 7-6, 6-7 in the semifinal of the US Open. I became a tennis fan in 1985 after Becker won Wimbledon. I was not thrilled with two players dominating the women’s tour so a 3rd contender immediately became my favorite. Graf won Wimbledon in 1988 after overcoming a 5-7, 0-2 deficit to Martina Navratilova by winning 12 of the match’s 13 final games. Once Graf had conquered grass, she held the first 3 majors of 1988. While the 1988 Olympic Games would add another chapter to Graf’s quest, there was a huge build-up to her taking her first US Open crown. Her 1986 semifinal and 1987 runner-up finishes seemed like a distant memory when she took the trophy. I remember the flags present as she was awarded THE Grand Slam. Has there been a bigger or more historically significant match at the US Open since?
Other Matches on Armstrong I Liked:
Lendl d. Wilander 1987 Men’s Final
Sampras d. Chang 1993 Men’s Quarterfinal
Edberg d. Chang 1991 Men’s Round of 16
Graf d. Navratilova 1989 Women’s Final
Courier d. Agassi 1992 Men’s Quarterfinal