Fan StoriesGrand SlamsRoger FedererUS Open

US Open Fan Story 2018: The Zoo

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.

Ashe from Grandstand

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

Federer Interview USO 18

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.

Federer Nishioka Sue US Open 2018

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

Sign for Bouchard
A Sign for Bouchard

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.

Rolex Uniqlo

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?

Federer Uniqlo Store

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.



Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or writing about tennis I play regularly myself and have a keen interest in tactics, equipment and technicalties of the sport.

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    1. This is rigged! Absolutely rigged! Now we need to trace the emails and communications to find out if a precise date and time was figured out! This people is NOT a coincidence! This is SAD! This blog has now proceeded to levels of cheating not seen before! We have to punish those guilty! This is not a conspiracy this is the truth! We should impeach Jonathan!

  1. Brilliant write up Sue thanks so much & glad Baryshnikov turned up. All sounds exciting & torturous at the same time as the senses assaulted!
    Hope you are well now, wonder if Fed had a touch of it too and that there is an upside once he gets lightweight Uniqlo sorted too!

    Love these fan stories

  2. Great write up, totally nailed it associating it to a Zoo. Yeap NY crowd are just too noisy, talking and drinking. Sometimes I wonder are they there to watch tennis or to be seen watching tennis? Weather probably made it worse. Should have given those people who took your seats a Serena- you thief!! Ha ha ha

    Thanks for a sharing your experience, hope it will be better experience for you at other tournaments.

  3. Your opening day experience at this year’s USO was very different than mine. I saw the first set of Halep’s upset in the new Armstrong and portions of Stan and Venus in Ashe, both sitting in the shade; the end of Isner’s win in the Grandstand, Barty on Court 5 and Tsitsipas on Court 11. Plus, I made it to a book signing, enjoyed a chance chat with Arab #1 Malek Jaziri of Tunisia, and made time for shopping – all in 10 hours. Yes, there were record crowds on a very hot day, but I think it’s unfair to comapare the USO to IW – different footprint and one’s a grand slam. There’s plenty of great food choices in the Food Village beyond a hot dog and fries. Knowing what you can and can’t bring past security makes a big difference. Hope you won’t give up on the USO. Each Grand Slam is a different experience and the USO in NYC is a different vibe than the AO, Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Embrace it!

    1. @Michael, I’m guessing you are a New Yorker? Upstate? Wow, you had a busy day. I suppose you are one who can handle the heat. I envy that! Sorry, but had a bad meal in the Village too, bad luck for me. I don’t understand why it’s not fair to compare. I like IW better. As my mother said…”to each his own.”

  4. Thanks for your fan story, Sue (and for the pictures).
    While watching the USO on TV, I also thought the crowd was very  noisy. I admire players who can keep their concentration at the top. And the fact a good portion of watchers are rather interested in the content of their phone than in the game in front of them (which they paid to see) makes me sad ! Would they do the same at the cinema or at the theatre ?

    Have a fine day with vegetables and fruit, a glorious weather, a peRFect health, and some nicer animals in your own garden, maybe ?!

    I love the Baryshnikovian comment.  It reminds me of the text below written by a Canadian journalist in 2017 :

  5. A great experience vividly recounted,excellent pictures.How many times have you seen Fed play live?
    I agree about the mobile phones,people don’t seem able to exist without checking them every few seconds.Also people who take small children ,even babies to these events.They are often in the very best seats as well.Strange.

    1. Annie, I’ve seen Roger play about a dozen times. It started as a one time bucket list item but now people at work call me a stalker. One week to recover thinking I never want to travel again and then last night booked a flight to Palm Springs in March. Perhaps I need counselling.

      1. Hi Sue,
        Lucky you to have seen the maestro play so many times.I read years ago about a female fan who attended every Fed match!To be honest this is bordering on obsession so not a good thing.I have seen him play live Four times.What would you say is the best/most exciting Fed match you have seen?

      2. If you need counselling, come to here, Sue. Welcome to the club!
        Yeah, I thought myself that I had to see him live just once then I would die happily. But watching Fed is addictive. I must admit I’ve booked a trip to Basel. Dude, better make to the weekend 😆
        @ Annie, the Laver cup vs NK last year was the best Fed match for me as well as a whole event 🙂

      3. Hahaha! I have a friend who also calls me a stalker. I”ve only seen Fed 3 times though…flew from Bali to London (ATP finals), Bali to California (Indian wells and Hawaii to Perth (Hopman Cup). I prefer to only go to exos where I am guaranteed to see Federer though. Real tourneys are too nerve wracking.
        Wish I could go to IW this year…will be with you in spirit Sue!

  6. Thanks Sue – a live story very alive, and describing the good reason never to attend US Open. I enjoyed your light but precise sarcasm as always, now with photos and longer comments.

  7. Great that you saw Roger winning and loved your Zoo comment. As someone
    who has watched tennis for years I still can’t get used to the noise not only
    from the stands but sometimes the constant monologue from some players
    to their box.

  8. Fab that you enjoyed the trip Sue. Such an entertaining writing for a tedious slam. Glad Naomi and you saved us all. So thank you. Take care!

  9. Thank you Sue, I really enjoyed your story and photos. As soon as I realized how hot and humid it was I knew I would’ve never survived. But of course getting to see Roger… well that’s something else. Maybe Wimbledon next year? Cross fingers.

  10. Thank you Sue for the write up. I may try to get to Indian Wells next year, sounds like it is a well run tournament. I am an American living in Japan, I will make it to the Tokyo Open (Rakuten) next month but alas no Fed playing there. My only other pro events have been Doha, very well run, although it is only a 250 and the Citi Open in DC, which was OK. From watching all the tournaments on TV, the ones I would like to attend are Wimbledon, the Australian, Cincinnati, Indian Wells, Basel, and Halle. To the collective, are there any others that are a must go to?

  11. Thanks, Sue, that was so interesting. You really gave a good insight into the atmosphere of the US Open and thanks for the photos too. It sounded incredibly noisy on TV. I heard other spectators saying how airless it was and how they felt ill which must have been awful. I wonder how the players got through it (or not). I can’t even begin to imagine seeing Fed in Real Life, it would be so surreal.

  12. “Roger’s gear would be good in the Swiss Alps in January. So thick and not breathable. Partially to blame for his overheating?”

    I’d wondered that, too. But OTOH they made kit for Novak for years, and he doesn’t do well in hot and muggy conditions. Surely they must have got the breathability problem sorted by now?

  13. Such a crisp, lovely write-up and I loved that final observation! Federer means so much to so many of us. Thank you.

  14. Nice account, Sue. I think I would have found it hard to be there if I had been courtsidecfor the Millman match. You were fortunate you weren’t in attendance for the women’s final. Would have been awful, and the crowd was appalling. I tend to think the thickest and most fanatical fans are in the stadiums – especially in NY – unless they are Roger fans, like your good self. Class attracts class. The other players get the fans they deserve. Serena fans – ugh! More like a mob.

  15. Thanks for a fun write up Sue!!!

    Curious if anyone has any thoughts on the Serena incident? (Sorry if it’s already been discussed earlier)

  16. Thanks Sue for sharing the story. Reminds me of my own AO experience this year watching Roger’s first round match. Literally bumped into Boris Becker and found him really rude. Then after Roger’s match again bumped into…this again Mr and Mrs Federer Senior on my way to the toilet. I was too shy to ask for a photo. Saw a lot of top players practice and Sascha and Djoker seemed to be the most friendly with fans. Anyway AO is just such a pleasure to go to. Easy to get to, great atmosphere. The wierdest thing I saw was middle aged women bothering to come all the way but sitting there looking at their phones or chatting with their friends the whole time.

    1. F**k people who attend a match or a practice but do nothing but stare at their phones. Need to give up the place for people who really want to watch the game.

  17. Wonderful story Sue! I almost feel like I was there..but without the crowds and sweating part. Your thoughts on the Uniqlo outfit seeming hot is very dismaying…OMG that’s going to haunt me..

  18. Thanks for taking the time to write about this Sue! So… did the people in your seats finalive over?

    Love your closing Barishnikov quote (like everybody else!)

  19. So basically you read none of the many many write-ups giving 1st timers guidance on how experience the Open and you paid the price it. Boo hoo. And yes…I am a NYer and have gone to the Open for 41 of their 50 years. Live and learn. And happy comes to those who learn to adapt.

    1. Sandi, I really don’t understand why people feel the need or better yet, the freedom, to be mean on social media. Sue’s comments about the tournament were not personal and don’t deserve your response.

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