A fan story from Sue who attended this year's US Open to see Federer against Nishioka…
In 2011, I was standing in a car rental line-up at the Palm Springs airport. Ahead of me was a guy with tennis gear. We struck up a conversation about tennis and Indian Wells. It was my first time seeing Roger live. The guy gave me lots of great tips of the ins and outs of Indian Wells. I asked about the other events and he said Miami was poorly run and the US Open was a zoo.
Well, my first experience at the Open will be my last! It is a zoo and the whole experience of Indian Wells is so much better.
To start with, we had a lot of transportation issues this trip. Uber constantly canceling, weekly transit passes not working and invalid after one day.
There is a train from Manhattan Grand Central Station straight to Flushing Meadows. Super easy and air-conditioned. Citi Field is right there as well, where the Mets play baseball.
We flew in on the Sunday with round one being played on Monday. Why oh why are both Serena and Venus on Ashe every time until they lose? Where is the woman's #1 playing, court 17? Serena commercials, billboards everywhere. Quick, where is the gravol?
We had seats in Ashe in the South West corner, always the best spot in the northern hemisphere, sun-wise. Loge level. First up were Stan and Dimi. Oh no, the court looks slow and gritty! Grigor handed Stan the match by losing the big points.
Then we watched the Venus vs Kuznetsova match and then headed to Grandstand to watch Shapovalov against Felix Auger-Aliassime. A very exciting match with two teenage best friends battling on a big stage. A sad ending with Felix retiring in tears with tachycardia.
A huge hug at the net left me teary-eyed. Meanwhile, over on Ashe, the opening ceremony was underway with Kelly Clarkson headlining. Oh well, enjoyed Grandstand. Nice little stadium but uncomfortable bench seats. Never did get into Armstrong.
Back to Ashe to see the tutu-clad player and then Nadal play Ferrer. Poor Ferrer had to retire but by then we were on our way with the masses to the train. I felt like I was in a movie heading to the mothership.
Tuesday – Federer Time
Tuesday, Fed plays opening night match! On the train again to Flushing Meadows with the crowds. At least we know the ropes now. Did I mention the food at the stadium was awful? If you like cracker jacks, pretzels, and fries, you are good to go. No salads, decent wraps, etc. And if you go, no backpacks, aerosol sunscreens, glass or metal bottles, flags, signs or open umbrellas. Saw a guy at the table of the confiscated sunscreens trying them all!
The first match of the day was Wozniacki vs Stosur, then Djoker. Not thrilled but too damn hot and humid to move around the grounds and sit in the sun to see other matches. At this point, we started on the Powerade for the electrolytes. Sweating like a pig. Not feeling well at all. Will I make it for the Fed match? Time to get out and get some air.
Getting close to 7 pm, go time! Back in the stadium with salty chips, water, cooling towel (the best thing ever), fan and spray bottle. Here comes Roger, the crowd roars, I get to see him live one more time.
No need to explain the match. Jonathan does that so well. I thought Fed looked great, moved well, etc. Enjoyed the match so much. Little did I know, the heat would take him out later in the week.
Thoughts on the US Open
The crowd is loud, there is a buzz all the time. People just don't shut up. Otherwise, the cell phone addiction is in full swing. We had people sitting in our seats and they didn't want to move because they didn't want to sit in the sun in their seats. Are you kidding me? Ok, this is New York. So many things I could talk about.
The people we saw…
Well, somehow we ended up in a VIP area and I literally bumped into Carlos Moya. Sure enough, Rafa was right there! It happened all too fast to get a photo. Man, is Rafa tanned or what. Next, we were in the elevator and ran into the Nadal family and team. Mom, girlfriend, etc. Too bad it wasn't Roger and family.
Saw lots of celebrities in the stadium and in the grounds. Watched John and Patrick McEnroe commentating, not far away. Fed once again had Anna Wintour there. Wonder if she wears sunglasses in the shower?
Back at the hotel, NYPD everywhere with assault rifles. Wonder who was there? We ran into a chair umpire in the foyer at the hotel. It was Alison Hughes, a gold badge umpire. Only 26 or so in the world. She was very friendly but offered no dirt on Roger. She was the one who officiated the Fed Millman match. Not an easy job.
We went into the Uniqlo store on 5th Ave. Roger's gear would be good in the Swiss Alps in January. So thick and not breathable. Partially to blame for his overheating?
Spent the rest of the trip seeing the city and then getting so sick with some sort of nasty virus. Never so happy to be home in the cooler fresh air with trees and mountains.
You know the most striking image I have of the trip is a man in a wheelchair. I was standing near him on the way out after the Fed match. He said:
I came to watch Baryshnikov play and I did. Now I can go home happy.