A Night to Remember at the U.S. Open

A Night to Remember at the U.S. Open

The fans booed, chanted “Two-One” (the score before the game penalty) and threw cups and cans onto the court. Some even tried to storm the arena, until the police stepped in.

Nastase, his black, scraggly hair drenched with sweat, surveyed the scene, repeatedly shrugging his shoulders and protested that all the noise was preventing him from concentrating on his serve. McEnroe stood perched on the opposite baseline, twirling his racket and surveying the situation.

“I was amazed by John’s ability to thrive amid all that chaos,” said his brother Patrick, who was 13 at the time and sitting with his parents, Kay and John Sr.

Mark McEnroe, another brother, was 17 and sat with the model Cheryl Tiegs that night. He ended up writing his college admissions essay about the match and his seatmate.

“The crowd was out of control,” he said. “Ilie was clearly trying to get into his head, but John didn’t take the bait.”

Despite Hammond’s efforts, he was unable to quell the crowd. Mike Blanchard, the tournament referee, was no more successful. Even the tournament director, Bill Talbert, couldn’t get the mob to quiet down. At one point, Blanchard climbed a ladder up the side of the umpire’s chair and warned the crowd that the match would be suspended and resumed the next day. That only made things worse.

Finally, Hammond started the 30-second time clock on Nastase, demanding, and then pleading, that he serve. When the Romanian refused, Hammond announced, “Game, set and match McEnroe.”

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