Seven tennis players have triumphed at the tournament on three or more occasions, but who has won the most men’s US Open titles?
The US Open is one of the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world.
Founded in 1881, the event has been installed as the fourth and final grand slam on the tennis calendar since 1987, coming after the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.
The major in New York, played on hard courts since 1978, has proven more challenging than the other three for players in the men’s singles to rack up huge win totals.
No male players have won more than five US Open titles and it has also become the most difficult major tournament to defend in the modern era.
There have, however, still been some spectacular champions and they are all profiled in our list covering the tennis players with the most men’s US Open titles in the Open Era.
Roger Federer: 5 US Open Titles
Roger Federer is a five-time US Open champion, meaning he shares the record for the most men’s titles at the tournament.
In his prime, Federer was simply unstoppable in New York, sweeping five straight tournaments between 2004 and 2008.
Prior to that astounding run, despite going into the 2003 event as the Wimbledon champion and second seed, he had lost in the fourth round to David Nalbandian, allowing home hope Andy Roddick to go on and claim that year’s championship.
Under pressure, Federer bounced back in style. After emerging from a five-set thriller against Andre Agassi in the 2004 quarter-finals, he brushed aside Tim Henman before crushing Lleyton Hewitt 6-0 7-6 (7-3) 6-0 in the final to claim his first US Open triumph.
His second crown arrived courtesy of wins in the second week against Nalbandian, Hewitt and Agassi and a four-set victory over former champion Roddick in 2006 made it three in a row for the Swiss star.
Novak Djokovic was beaten comfortably as Federer claimed his fourth straight crown in 2007 – that was the first of five grand slam finals that would be played between the great rivals.
And the US Open was the only major he was able to win in 2008, with Djokovic beaten in a tight semi-final before a more straightforward victory in the final against Andy Murray.
It would have been a bold prediction at that time to say the win would be the last US Open title for Federer, who then beat Djokovic to reach the showpiece match once more in 2009. But a remarkable five-set effort from Juan Martín del Potro in the final stopped his streak, the Swiss number one seed having squandered a 2-1 advantage.
In the next two years Federer was competitive again and quite easily could have emerged triumphant had a handful of points gone the other way. But he was unable to convert match points in consecutive semi-final losses to Djokovic, who was beginning to turn the tables in the rivalry.
The second of those losses in the 2011 campaign meant it was the first year since 2002 where Federer did not win a major.
Federer only added one further grand slam in the following three seasons (Wimbledon in 2012) and he did not make the US Open final in that span.
But in 2015 it looked like he might claim the outright US Open record with a sixth title. He cruised his way through to the final without dropping a set and reached the showpiece match for the first time in six years, only to be beaten by Djokovic in a keenly fought four-set contest.
That was as close as Federer would get to number six, as he missed the 2016 event after having knee surgery and then suffered frustrating defeats (two QFs and one R4) in his final three appearances in the States.
Still, with five titles to his name and having reached seven finals and 10 semi-finals with 89 wins from 103 matches, Federer boasts a US Open record that is hard to rival.
Pete Sampras: 5 US Open Titles
Pete Sampras is the second player to have racked up five US Open titles, a feat made all the sweeter given this is his home grand slam event.
He had made his intentions clear as an 18-year-old in 1989, dumping out defending champion Mats Wilander in the second round of that tournament.
And Sampras would storm to his first major title by triumphing at Flushing Meadows the following year. Incredibly, the 12th seed knocked out Ivan Lendl – who had made the previous eight finals – in the quarters after a gruelling five-set battle, and then saw off John McEnroe and Andre Agassi to claim his first major. His success at just 19 years and 28 days old means he is still the youngest US Open champion in the men’s singles.
Pistol Pete shook off a quarter-final loss to Jim Courier in 1991 by bouncing back to reach two straight US Open finals.
A loss in the final to Stefan Edberg – which came despite winning the first set – meant Sampras had been unable to add a second grand slam title in the two years since winning his first.
But in 1993 he not only claimed his first of seven Wimbledon titles but also secured his second US Open crown, beating Cédric Pioline in straight sets.
A shock five-set loss to Peruvian Jaime Yzaga only briefly disrupted Sampras’ progress at the tournament, as he stormed back with two consecutive wins, meaning he had taken three US Open titles in four years.
In 1994 it was Agassi he defeated in four sets before a more comfortable win the following year against another American, Michael Chang.
Losses to Petr Korda and Patrick Rafter preceded Sampras having to miss the 1999 event through injury, with his fitness having hampered him in the semi-final defeat to Rafter.
But after that absence, Sampras finished his US Open career in supreme form, making three straight finals.
Marat Safin and Lleyton Hewitt denied him in the first two, but Sampras was not to be denied and he triumphed in 2002. Fittingly, what turned out to be his last match was against his great rival Agassi, who he had beaten in his first major final 12 years earlier. Sampras prevailed in four sets – reaching 14 major titles, at the time the leading mark in the Open Era – and, after some deliberation, decided he would retire on that great high.
Jimmy Connors: 5 US Open Titles
Another American, Jimmy Connors, was the first player to reach five US Open wins in the men’s singles.
Connors enjoyed magnificent success at the US Open, winning more than half of his eight overall major titles in New York.
It took him a bit of time to get going, but a quarter-final berth in his fourth main-draw appearance would set up a fantastic stretch for Connors.
From that point he made the semi-finals or better in a fantastic run of 12 consecutive years, reaching seven finals.
Connors made five consecutive finals to start that streak, winning three of them.
His first title in 1974, when the US Open was played on grass, capped his best year as a professional, as he also won the Australian Open and Wimbledon. He thumped Ken Rosewall 6-1 6-0 6-1 in a one-sided showpiece.
Connors beat Björn Borg to reach the final a year later, only to suffer a surprise defeat to Manuel Orantes. He did win the men’s doubles that year, though.
In 1976 he got the better of Borg again, this time in an entertaining four-set final to prevail at the tournament for a second time, with that event played on clay.
He avenged his defeat to Orantes by beating him en route to the 1977 final, only to lose to Guillermo Vilas. And Connors continued the pattern of alternating between winner and runner-up finishes by claiming his third crown in 1978 with a comprehensive win over Borg on a hard court. That win meant Connors was the only player to win the US Open on three different surfaces.
Semi-final losses to McEnroe (twice) and Borg frustrated Connors in the next three years, but he claimed consecutive titles in 1982 and 1983 to reach five championships, both times beating Ivan Lendl in four sets.
Like Federer, Connors pushed hard for a sixth title, reaching four further semi-finals. He lost two to Lendl, one to McEnroe and then made it all the way to the last four as a 39-year-old in 1991 in a stunning, unlikely run that later became the subject of a documentary. His fairytale tournament was stopped by Jim Courier.
Connors was a constant threat at the US Open, also losing two quarter-finals to Andre Agassi (1988 and 1989).
Rafael Nadal: 4 US Open Titles
Another great of the ATP Tour, Rafael Nadal, boasts an impressive record at the US Open. While he is best known for his phenomenal achievements on the clay at Roland-Garros, the Spaniard has four championships in the United States and a fantastic 4-1 record in the final.
By the time of his first success in 2010, he had already won the other three majors and had unsuccessfully attempted to win at Flushing Meadows on seven previous occasions, including semi-final losses to Andy Murray and Juan Martín del Potro.
But he then made up for lost time, making three US Open finals in as many appearances, all of them coming against Novak Djokovic. He won in 2010, lost in 2011 and triumphed once more in 2013 (he missed the 2012 event won by Murray through injury).
Injuries were hampering Nadal heavily towards the end of his career. He missed further US Open tournaments due to his fitness and was impacted by injury again in another last-four loss to Del Potro.
But he was still able to add to his major tally with two more US Open wins, defeating Kevin Anderson in straight sets to prevail in 2017 and producing an epic performance to see off Daniil Medvedev in 2019.
John McEnroe: 4 US Open Titles
John McEnroe is another of the great American players who thrived at his home major along with Sampras and Connors.
Like Nadal, he made five US Open finals and won four of them. His first four finals produced wins against Vitas Gerulaitis, fierce rival Björn Borg (twice) and Ivan Lendl, before Lendl turned the tables on him in 1985.
McEnroe also made three US Open semi-finals, appearing at the tournament a total of 16 times and racking up 65 match wins. He was also a four-time champion in the men’s doubles.
Novak Djokovic: 3 US Open Titles
Novak Djokovic has had some major ups and downs at the US Open. Given some of his phenomenal career statistics, it may be a surprise to learn he has so far taken just three men’s singles titles, even though most tennis players would love to come close to such a total.
He has lost six of his nine finals, to Rafael Nadal (twice), Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Daniil Medvedev, the last of which denied him a calendar Grand Slam in 2021.
But final wins over Nadal (2011), Federer (2014) and Juan Martín del Potro (2018) ensure the star from Serbia has won every grand slam tournament at least three times.
As well as losing finals, there have, of course, been other complicating factors behind Djokovic not having more USA wins.
Playing as the top seed in 2020, he was disqualified from the tournament for hitting the ball at a lineswoman during his fourth-round match, while he missed the 2022 event due to the United States’ travel laws around the coronavirus vaccine.
Djokovic also lost semi-finals to Federer twice during the Swiss star’s prime and rued a missed opportunity in 2014 as he suffered a shock last-four loss to Kei Nishikori. The Japanese player would go on to lose against Marin Cilic in that year’s final. Djokovic also missed the 2017 tournament with an elbow injury.
He will hope to improve on his record in the 2023 event.
Other Multiple Men’s US Open Champions
Ivan Lendl won three US Open titles in a row between 1985 and 1987, while Andre Agassi came out on top in his home grand slam on two occasions, tasting glory in 1994 and 1999.
Stefan Edberg won back-to-back titles at Flushing Meadows in the early 1990s, a feat which was repeated by Pat Rafter towards the end of the decade.
Rafter was not the only Australian to enjoy success in New York, as Aussie trio Rod Laver, John Newcombe and Ken Rosewall were all two-time men’s singles champions.
Most All-Time Wins
Three American players top the all-time list, having won seven US Open titles each – all in the amateur era.
Richard Sears was the first to hit the landmark, his opening championship coming way back in 1881.
Twenty years later William Larned won the first of his seven US Open crowns, while Bill Tilden also claimed seven in an impressive period of results between 1920 and 1929.
Robert Wrenn (four titles) was another notable champion of that era, as was Briton Fred Perry, who won the tournament three times.
Most Men’s US Open Final Appearances
With nine appearances in the US Open final, Novak Djokovic is the men’s singles player to reach the most showpiece matches at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Djokovic has a disappointing 3-6 record in the US Open final, but has shown superb consistency in reaching the latter stages on so many occasions. Between 2007 and 2018 there were 11 Djokovic appearances at the tournament and he made the semi-finals or better every time.
Interestingly, the man with the second-most US Open final appearances, Ivan Lendl, also has a losing record in the showpiece match.
Lendl won just three of his eight trips to the final, all of which remarkably came in consecutive years.
He had lost three finals to Jimmy Connors (twice) and John McEnroe before reversing his fortunes by winning three in a row. Lendl beat McEnroe, Miloslav Mečíř and Mats Wilander but then he suffered defeat in two more finals, with Wilander getting revenge in 1988 before Boris Becker triumphed a year later.
Pete Sampras is tied with Lendl on eight US Open men’s singles finals, and is the only male player in the top three to have a winning record in such matches (5-3).
Connors and Roger Federer come next with seven final appearances apiece, with Andre Agassi also prolific, reaching six finals at the major.
Björn Borg made four US Open finals but lost all of them, two each against Connors and McEnroe.
Most Consecutive US Open Titles and Finals
Roger Federer has won the most consecutive US Open titles in the professional era, claiming five straight successes between 2004 and 2008.
The Swiss star set the record during his remarkable spell of men’s tennis dominance. He was a near-permanent fixture at the top of the rankings and had a similar streak of consecutive championships at Wimbledon during the same period.
Federer has a big lead because the next two players on the list won three US Open titles in a row.
Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe each won three straight titles. For 11 straight tournaments between 1979 and 1989 the US Open final included one of Lendl and McEnroe, though incredibly they were opponents just twice in that span (1-1).
The remarkable stretch that saw Lendl reach eight finals in as many years is unsurprisingly a US Open record for most consecutive finals in the men’s singles.
Federer’s run of six between 2004 and 2009 puts him in second place, while Connors – who made five in a row – and Novak Djokovic (four straight finals between 2010 and 2013) also had notable streaks in reaching the championship match.
No man has successfully defended the US Open title since Federer’s last victory in 2008, a statistic current champion Carlos Alcaraz will be hoping to change in 2023 after his recent triumph at Wimbledon.