The name on the outside says Arthur Ashe Stadium. It really belongs to Patrick Rafter.
Since the stadium opened a year ago, Rafter hasn't lost at the National Tennis Center, winning 14 consecutive matches and two U.S. Open titles.The second came at the expense Sunday of fellow Australian Mark Philippoussis.
"Now I feel year last wasn't such a fluke," Rafter said after his 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 victory in 2 hours, 6 minutes. "Now I can look at people and think I have done it again."
He did it with almost perfect serve-and-volley tennis, making only five unforced errors and finishing with a flourish, capturing the final 10 games.
While Rafter was winning the second Grand Slam singles title of his career, it was the first time Philippoussis had reached the final of any of the game's four majors.
"This is just the start for everything," Philippoussis said, "just the start for me."
Lindsay Davenport, also making her first title match appearance, won the women's singles Saturday, beating defending champion Martina Hingis 6-3, 7-5.
"The sight at the end of the tunnel of winning the Grand Slam was what kept me going," said Davenport, the first American-born woman to win the U.S. Open since Chris Evert in 1982.
Rafter, who had to rally from a two-set deficit in the first round, pocketed $700,000 and moved up to No. 2 in the world rankings - just behind Sampras, whom he defeated Saturday in the semifinals.
Davenport also won $700,000 - the U.S. Open is the only Grand Slam tournament that pays equal prize money - and moved to No. 2 in the world rankings behind Hingis.
Both Rafter and Davenport dominated the hardcourt circuit this summer, each winning three tournaments before coming to Flushing Meadows.
With Rafter and Philippoussis almost matching point for point through the first 21/2 sets, Rafter began his winning run in the fifth game of the third set after blowing a 40-0 lead.
When Philippoussis pulled to deuce, Rafter slammed his racket to the ground in disgust. On the next point, Philippoussis found an opening down the line, but instead slammed a forehand into the net. When Philippoussis netted a backhand service return on the next point, Rafter had held.
The missed opportunity might have been on Philippoussis' mind in the next game when he dropped serve for only the second time in the match.
It was a long game - 10 points - as games on this day went - but it included one of the best exchanges of the match.
Out of position, Rafter hit a backhand lob, a shot that had worked for him the entire day. This time, Philippoussis backpedaled and hit a smash.
Rafter, though, was able to get it back, and Philippoussis responded with a forehand crosscourt. Again Rafter got there. With both at the net, they traded forehand volleys before Philip-poussis netted the ball.
That gave Rafter the ad, and he closed out the break when Philippoussis failed to get a half-volley over the net.
Philippoussis didn't win another game.
"After the 2-all game, I think I just showed a bit of emotion there, I was a bit frustrated," Rafter said. "I just loosened up, and from there I just gained more and more confidence."
One of the biggest servers in tennis, Philippoussis powered his way to the final. But the power was no match for the speed of Rafter, who has won all three of their career matches. The second set was the first Rafter ever lost in their rivalry.