Thursday, September 6, 2007

U.S. Open Labor Day weekend

Still recovering from the altitude sickness I sustained this weekend at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows. I was there both Sunday and Monday enjoying the fantastic weather. On Sunday, we had grounds passes, so we didn't even set foot in cavernous Arthur Ashe Stadium. We spent most of the day in the cozy confines of the Grandstand watching some of the mens' matches. We also wandered out to the practice courts and saw Federer and Blake among others. The matches in the Grandstand and Louis Armstrong stadium went so long that the day session ended well after the night session.

One of the new things at this year's Open was a perk for American Express cardholders. AmEx members could go to one of two booths and get a TV that showed action from five courts along with the network coverage. (It was free, although a $350 refundable deposit is put on the card.) We got there Sunday at 10:30 and waited between 20 and 25 minutes to get the TV. It was pretty neat to use to follow the action on Ashe and Armstrong from the Grandstand. But I found that it would regularly lose signals and the volume was very faint on my set. All in all, I don't think it was worth the long wait, so we skipped it on Monday, when we had tickets in Ashe stadium, and instead got a free radio from AmEx that broadcast the CBS coverage. Impressively, it synched up with the live action so it was enjoyable to listen in while watching the action from inside Ashe stadium.

Getting to our seats in Ashe was a little grueling, particularly since we lost our Sherpa halfway up. Our seats were in row Z in the promenade. For those who aren't alphabet-philes, Z is the last letter in the alphabet and, correspondingly, the last row in the stadium. Great views of Shea Stadium and the Manhattan skyline. Not so great for tennis. Also not great to watch Tomas Berdych pull out of his match with Andy Roddick after only a set and two games. But we did get to see Andy hit with Jimmy Connors on an outside court after the match as he tried to get some work in. Jimmy managed to keep his sweater vest on the entire time on the 85-degree afternoon. Impressive.

It was also fun listening to the other fans trying to identify the other players practicing on the court from 200 yards away. There was a young mens player out there with long hair and a muscle shirt. The fans around us were all psyched up to see Nadal warming up. "Who's that?" someone would ask. "It's Rafa," another fan would reply. "Wow, get a picture!" Didn't have the heart to tell them that since the guy was hitting with his right hand, chances were kind of slim it was Nadal.

Luckily, the Tommy Haas-James Blake match that followed more than made up for the previous match. Haas won in a fifth-set tiebreaker and the atmosphere was fantastic. If you were watching on TV, you know what I mean. Plus, I'm going to guess you had a closer seat than we did.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and guess which one of our friends happened to end up with courtside seats for the Federer/Lopez match? And by courtside, I mean literally front row...