If you follow this site, it’s no secret that I love tennis. My visits to DC, Cincinnati and New York all involve an exploring of the main stadium, grounds and then enjoying a match. Since I’ve been to Flushing twice with some deep explorations of Ashe, Armstrong and Grandstand, today’s trip was about enjoying as much tennis as I could.
It was a perfect day with low humidity and temperatures in the 70s to low 80s with a breeze. I don’t think I could just bake in the sun all afternoon, so the glorious weather was a perfect opportunity to attend. Thankfully I bought a Grounds Pass five days earlier at $130 as prices soared to $280 the day of. My ideal day is the Friday of the 3rd Round as crowds are a bit less than the weekend (though likely not this year) and there are great matches on paper with enough spread to get intimate with them on smaller courts. Thus, I started with Court 17, a 2,800-seat bowl tucked in a corner of the grounds. It’s the first time I’ve watched a match here and it quickly became my favorite place to watch. I saw the 11 AM battle between qualifier Daniel Galan (Columbia) and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (Spain). I loved this place because it’s so close to the court and the fans create an electric atmosphere. Plus, those that don’t have a rooting interest are focused on the match, as opposed to the two other main courts where I see half the fans twiddling on their phones or trying to get selfies for their Instagram. At Court 17, I got there early and sat courtside, in front of the players box. Too bad they were speaking Spanish, because I badly wanted to eavesdrop on the conversations. This match had a little bit of everything, including animosity as Fokina easily plays (and looks like) the villain. He won and there was some conversation at the net afterwards, though it appeared with some apologizing from him.
What’s interesting about the US Open (and most other tennis events) is that outside of the main stadium, all the seating is first-come, first-served. Length of matches means that you probably won’t be sitting the entire time, so the return back into the stadium is always a mad rush to quickly get in and find a seat (or have someone save it if you left). It’s an interesting dynamic.
With that mind, after the 3+ hour Galan-Fokina match ended, I wanted to walk the grounds a bit, but saw that the Casper Ruud – Tommy Paul match was about to complete their first set tiebreak over at Armstrong. Perfect! That means many would get up and leave or use the bathroom at the end of the set, so I took the opportunity to grab a seat in the upper deck to watch this one. It was an insane battle, 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 5-7 and then Ruud was ridiculously flawless in the fifth set as he bageled Paul. Casper is one of my favorite (and nicest) guys on tour and I wanted him to win, even if it meant beating an American. That match went 4:23! Halfway through, I went and got a Honey Deuce the famous drink at the US Open. It was really good, but that’s the last time you’ll ever see me drop $22 on a drink. Mind-blowing how it expensive this place is (I later spent $25 on a steak sandwich). I just wanted to try the drink once, but I couldn’t believe (well, yeah I could) how many people I saw with stacks of the cups that come with the Honey Deuce. Nearly $100 worth. I’m just as content making Kool-Aid and bringing it in with a container from home.
Those ridiculously long matches brought the time to 6:30 PM and that meant a jam of people, who were getting ready to enter Arthur Ashe Stadium to watch Serena. I did not have (nor want) a Night Session ticket, so after taking a little break inside an empty side court to eat, I decided to head to Grandstand for the Pablo Carreno Busta – Alex de Minaur match. Both players are seeded (12 and 18 respectively) and PCB just won Montreal, which is a Masters event, one step below a major. I didn’t think I’d be here long as he took the first two sets 6-1, 6-1. However, de Minaur won the third and one of my overrated players showed himself well with impressive hitting in the fourth. This was an enjoyable atmosphere, despite the smaller crowd because of what was going in Ashe. Those that were there were treated to perhaps the greatest match point of all time. I was blown away by it with both arms raised and lots of “wooo’s” as I was on my feet towards the end of the point. Just a phenomenal finish and a great reaction by both players. Man, I love sports! I thought that would be a perfect end to the night as it was 8:15 PM. It takes a couple hours to get home (LIRR to Penn Station, then NJ Transit to Secaucus, followed by an hour drive) though I considered sticking around for Kyrgios-Wolf. I ended up passing on it, which was a good move because it was a straight-set, straight-forward win for Kyrgios with none of his antics. However, as an added treat, I had a little time before the 9:06 PM train left and I finished back where it all started in the morning: Court 17 with the tail end of a match. There, Alison Riske kept her nice run going and she won 6-4 in the third over Xiyu Wang. There were dueling U-S-A….Ch – Ina chants and it was all respectful as the wave even got going late in the match. You could tell by the smile that Riske had both in moments during the match and at the end, how much fun it was playing there. What a day!