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The United States Open tennis tournament, commonly referred to as the US Open, is the fourth and final event of the Grand Slam tennis tournaments. It is held annually in August and September over a two week period (the weeks prior to and following Labor Day weekend). The main tournament consists of five championships: men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles, and mixed doubles, with additional tournaments for senior, junior, and wheelchair players. Since 1978, the tournament has been played on acrylic hard court at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in the Queens borough of New York City. The complex was renamed after King during the 2006 US Open. King is a pioneer in women's tennis and the founder of the Women's Tennis Association(WTA), the Women's Sports Foundation and World Team Tennis (WTT), which she founded with her former husband, Larry King.

The US Open is different from the other 3 Grand Slam tournaments in that there are final set tiebreaks. In the other three majors, the fifth set for the men and the third set for the women continues until someone wins by two games.

In 2006, the US Open became the first Grand Slam tournament to implement instant replay review of calls, using Hawk-Eye. Available only on the stadium courts (Ashe and Armstrong), each player is allowed two challenges per set plus one additional challenge during a tiebreak, but is not penalized with the loss of a challenge if the challenge turns out to be correct. Once the challenge is made, the official review (a 3D computer simulation based on multiple high-speed video cameras) is shown to the players, umpires, and audience on the stadium video boards and to the television audience at the same time. The system is said to be accurate to within 5 millimeters. During the 2006 US Open, 30.5% of men's challenges were upheld and 35.85% of women's challenges were upheld.

History

The US Open grew from an exclusive entertainment event for high society to a $17 million prize money championship (about $1 million for winner of the singles tournaments) for over 600 male and female professional players. The US Open originated from two separate tournaments: the men's tournament and the women's tournament. The event was first held in August 1881 and staged at the Newport Casino,(men's singles only). The championships were known as the U.S. National Singles Championship for men. Only clubs that were members of the United States National Lawn Tennis Association were permitted to enter. From 1884 until 1911 the US Open used a challenge system whereby the defending champion automatically qualified for the next year's final. The Newport Casino hosted the men's singles tournament until 1915 when it moved to the West Side Tennis Club at Forest Hills, New York. From 1921 until 1923 it was played at the Germantown Cricket Club in Philadelphia and returned to Forest Hills in 1924. Six years after the men's nationals were held, the first official U.S. Women's National Singles Championship was held at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in 1887, followed by the U.S. Women's National Doubles Championship in 1889. The first U.S. Mixed Doubles Championship was held alongside the women's singles and doubles. In 1900, the U.S. National Men's Doubles Championship was held for the first time. Tournaments were held in the east and the west of the country to determine the best two teams (sectional winners). These then competed in a play-off - the winner played the defending champions in the challenge round. The open era began in 1968 when all five events were merged into the newly named US Open at the West Side Tennis Club in, Queens. Notably, the 1968 combined tournament was opened to professionals; none of the predecessor tournaments allowed professionals to compete. That year, 96 men and 63 women entered the event with prize money amounting to $100,000. In 1970 the US Open was the first of the Grand Slam tournaments to introduce the tie-break at the end of a set. The US Open was originally played on until Forest Hills switched to Har-Tru 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 man to have won the US Open on more than one surface; in fact, he won it on all three surfaces.)



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