Structure of the Grand Slams
As one of the Grand Slam events, the US Open follows a similar structure to the three other Grand Slam tournaments. There are a total of 5 separate tournaments played in the US Open, the men's singles, the women's singles, the men's doubles, the women's doubles and the mixed doubles. The Grand Slam also includes events for the senior, junior and wheelchair players. The tournaments that offer the highest prizes, both in money and in points that count towards the world rankings, are the men's and women's singles tournaments.
Singles Tournaments Structure
The men's singles tournaments follow the best of five sets format, whilst the women's uses the best of three sets format. Apart from that, both tournaments follow the same rules and have the same number of stages and entries. Both of these tournaments start with the qualification round. To qualify for a Grand Slam, players either need to be amongst the top 104 who sign up for the Grand Slam, win three rounds in the qualifying, or receive a wild card. All of the players in the top 104 places in the rankings can qualify, but should one player pull out for injury or any other reason, that means that the 105th ranking player will be able to sign up, and if two players within the top 104 pull out then the 105th and 106th ranking players will be able to sign up, and so on.
The qualifying rounds can be quite gruelling as they feature 128 players and each one needs to win 3 rounds to proceed to the competition proper. After the top 104, or the first 104 ranking players who sign up, have secured their places, the following 119 next best players will be able to sign up for a place in the qualifying rounds. Of course this works the same way as the places for the competition proper, if a player ranking within the next 119 pulls out then the 120th next best ranking player will be able to sign up and so on. The players will have to play three rounds against fellow potential qualifiers to try to reach one of the 16 coveted places. This can be gruelling and so far in the history of the US Open no player that had to play the qualifying rounds has ever won the title.
Wild cards are given to players to avoid the qualification process, and these are usually given to local players, young players with potential or top players who fell down the rankings after recovering from injuries after lengthy periods of time. There are up to 9 wild cards given to players in those scenarios, and the governing body of the Grand Slams, the International Tennis Federation or ITF, have the final say on which players are offered wild cards.
The US Open singles starts when 128 players are seeded into 8 different groups, based on rank and how they qualified for the competition. The players who qualified for the competition through the qualification rounds are placed in each group and the players who are at the top of the world rankings are put into the first group. The players then have to face opponents from their group in a knockout round where the winners advance to the next round. The second, third and fourth rounds are played between players paired against opponents within their group, and the winners proceed to the quarter finals. The quarter finals are followed by the semi-finals and then lastly the finals, where the two tennis players who won 6 games (or if they started in the qualification rounds then won 9 games) will play one final game to determine which player becomes the champion.
Doubles Tournaments Structure
The doubles tournaments do not have qualification rounds, they only consist of 64 doubles teams. The top players who sign up for the doubles competition will be able to play in the tournament, as well as a number of wild cards, who will be chosen by the ITF. Many of the top players chose not to play in the doubles tournaments simply because the physical strain of playing in both the singles and the doubles would be quite overwhelming, but some tennis players elect to play in the doubles alone as they may feel they have a better chance at winning a doubles tournament than a singles.
Matches in the doubles tournaments are played in a best of three sets series, and there are 64 doubles partners who are split into four groups of 16 doubles partners. The doubles partners are paired and play against opponents in the same group in an elimination round, and afterwards the winners proceed to the quarter finals. The winners of the quarterfinals advance to the semi-finals and the winners of that round then go to the finals.
Money Prizes and Point Distribution
Depending on how far they reach in the tournaments, tennis players receive cash prizes and points that push them further up the world tennis rankings. Winning one of the tournaments can put players right at the top of the rankings, whilst falling out early in the competition may have dire consequences for players at the top who want to keep their positions. As a Grand Slam, the players who perform well in the competition will receive significantly higher points than other tournaments they may participate in during the course of a season, meaning that the US Open is always a tense and competitive event.
Point and Money Distribution:
1st Qualification round - 2 points for women’s singles and $20,000 for both singles tournaments
2nd Qualification round - 8 points for men’s singles, 20 points for women’s singles and €32,000 for both singles tournaments
3rd Qualification round - 16 points for men’s singles and 30 points for women’s singles and $42,000 for both singles tournaments
Qualification round winner - 25 points for men’s singles and 40 points for women’s singles
Round of 128 - 10 points for both singles tournaments and $75,000 for both singles tournaments
Round of 64 - 45 points for men’s singles and 70 points for women’s singles 0 points for men’s doubles and 10 points for women’s doubles, and $115,000 for both singles and €20,00 for all doubles tournaments
Round of 32 - 90 points for men’s singles and doubles, 130 points for women’s singles and doubles and $180,000 for both singles tournaments and $34,500 for men’s and women’s doubles and $7,800 for mixed doubles
Round of 16 - 180 points for men’s singles and doubles, 240 points for women’s singles and doubles, and $265,000 for both singles and $54,000 for men’s and women’s doubles and $13,400 for mixed doubles
Quarterfinals - 360 points for men’s singles and doubles and 430 for women’s singles and doubles, and $425,000 for both singles, $93,000 for men’s and women’s doubles and $22,000 for mixed doubles
Semi-finals - 720 points for men’s singles and doubles, 780 points for women’s singles and doubles, and $675,000 for both singles, $164,000 for men’s and women’s doubles, and $40,000 for mixed doubles
Finals - 1,200 points for men’s singles and doubles, 1300 points for women’s singles and doubles, and $1,250,000 for both singles, $330,000 for doubles, $78,000 for mixed doubles
Winner - 2,000 points for all tournaments and $2,500,000 for singles, $660,000 for doubles, and $160,000 for mixed doubles.
With so much to play for, the US Open offers tennis players a great stage to showcase their abilities and a win will definitely secure their place amongst the tennis greats. It is a highly anticipated tournament that attracts huge audiences from around the world and is usually packed with enthralling matches.