It's Been Three Decades Since a Few Far-Sighted Officials Rocked the Staid Amateur Tennis Establishment and Jolted the Game into the Modern Era
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1974--Aussie veteran Ken Rosewall, 39, is blown out in the final, 6-1, 6-0, 6-1, by 22-year-old Jimmy Connors, who takes the first of his five U.S. Open crowns.
1975--Manuel Orantes makes a miraculous recovery in the semifinals, saving five match points and coming back from being down two sets to one and 0-5 in the fourth set to beat Guillermo Vilas, 4-6, 1-6, 6-2, 7-5, 6-4. The next day, he upsets top-seeded Connors, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, to win the title.
1976--In back-to-back fourth-round five-set thrillers, Bjorn Borg rallies from two sets down to beat Brian Gottfried, as defending champion Orantes does the same against Stan Smith. In the final, Borg loses to Connors, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4; three subsequent trips to the championship round yield the same result for the Swede.
1978--Chris Evert wins her fourth straight title, holding off 16-year-old Pam Shriver, 7-5, 6-4, at the inaugural tournament at Flushing Meadow. Connors beats Borg, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, securing the unusual status of being the only player to win the Open on three different surfaces: grass, clay and hard court.
1980--John McEnroe survives a five-set shootout against Borg to capture the second of his four championships, 7-6, 6-1, 6-7, 5-7, 6-4. The match followed their Wimbledon classic, when McEnroe won a fourth-set tie-break, 18-16, before Borg wrapped up the match by winning the fifth set, 8-6.
1983--Restaging their 1982 final, Connors bests Ivan Lendl, 6-3, 6-7, 7-5, 6-0, to win his fifth title, the most U.S. men's singles championships since Bill Tilden won seven (1920-25, '29).
1984--On the day known in Open lore as Super Saturday, all four matches on the stadium court go the distance. After Smith defeats John Newcombe in a senior men's semi, Lendl saves a match point to beat Pat Cash in the men's semis, Martina avratilova ousts Evert to take the women's title and McEnroe, the eventual champ, outlasts Connors in the nightcap.
1988--Steffi Graf joins Connolly and Court in the record books by capturing the Grand Slam with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 conquest of Gabriela Sabatini, then adds the "Golden Slam" to her collection by winning the Olympic gold medal in Seoul.
1990--Pete Sampras becomes the youngest men's champion at 19 years and 28 days with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 pasting of Andre Agassi.
1991--Seventeen years after he embarrasses Rosewall, Connors, then 39 himself, falls to Jim Courier in the semifinals, but not before mesmerizing Open crowds with come-from-behind victories over Patrick McEnroe and Aaron Krickstein.
1994--Agassi becomes the first unseeded player in the Open era to claim the title, knocking off five seeded foes, including No. 4 Michael Stich in the final, 6-1, 7-6, 7-5.
1995--Monica Seles reaches the final in only her second tournament since being stabbed in the back nearly two and a half years earlier, falling to Graf, 7-6, 6-0, 6-3.
1996--Sampras survives fatigue and stomach pains in pulling out a dramatic, five-set quarterfinal victory over Alex Corretja, then goes on to record his fourth U.S. title with a 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 triumph over Michael Chang.