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The United States Open Tennis Championships take place every year during the dog days of summer. The most brutal of all tennis tournaments is held long after the Australian Open in January, the French Open's red clay matches at Roland Garros and the tradition-rich tourneys at Wimbledon. The U.S. Open is played at the very end of the season, when every player is nursing an injury or has a score to settle.
From its roots as an elegant amusement for the upper-crust of society, the U.S. Open Series has grown into a true tennis monster. With over $21 million in prize money, the U.S. Open is big business that attracts the best tennis players in the world to New York City. For two weeks surrounding Labor Day, Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and the Flushing Meadows area of Queens focus exclusively on tennis, tennis and more tennis. From the first U.S. Open in 1881 until 1974, the event was held on grass. From 1975 to 1977, it was played on clay. In 1978, the clay was replaced with DecoTurf, a fast, hard court surface with a low rebound.
The U.S. Open hosts five different competitions for men and women in singles, doubles, senior, junior and wheelchair classifications. Because it's played on a hard court, the action is fast, favoring the new breed of power players. Matches are typified by hard, accurate serves and long baseline rallies. Gone are the days of serve-and-volley players. The new champions are well-versed in the two-handed backhand and an aggressive attitude toward the game. The U.S. Open is the only Grand Slam event that uses a tiebreak for each set. All the other Grand Slam tournaments continue playing games after the final set until one player gets ahead by two games. The U.S. Open is known for the raucous nature of the fans, who tend to voice their opinions frequently. It is easily the rowdiest of the four Grand Slam events.