2012 US Open Week 2 Men’s Preview
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
An exciting week of high intensity tennis has finished up at the final slam of the year and it is time for the business end of the tournament with just 16 men left vying for the title. The top four seeds have all generally advanced with ease, but the big story is Andy Roddick, who announced he will retire from Tennis after the Open in a impromptu press conference the day before his 2nd round match.
Roddick has made it to the round of 16 and will play Del Potro Tuesday, so he will carry the torch of American tennis at least a few hours longer.
Here is a breakdown of the eight round of 16 match ups.
Roger Federer vs. Mardy Fish
Federer is looking sharp and rolled in straights over Donald Young and Bjorn Phau, then dispatched Fernando Verdasco in the same fashion in what was a disappointing performance from Fernando. Fish beat Go Soeda in straights, came back from 2 sets down to defeat Nikolay Davydenko, who ran out of gas the last 3 sets, and thumped Gilles Simon in 4 sets.
Fish will likely have the crowd behind him in this match, but that is about the only thing going for him as Federer looks confident and cunning and should get another solid win.
Nicolas Almagro vs. Tomas Berdych
Nico and TBerd will meet again for the 4th time this year and they have a habit of being irritants to one another going back to this year’s Australian Open.
Almagro beat a Statue-of-Liberty-shirt-sporting Radek Stepanek in 4, Phillip Petzschner in 5 long heavy ball striking sets and young American Jack Sock, who did well to reach the 3rd round, in 4 sets. Berdych beat David Goffin and Jurgen Zopp in straights, then got past Sam Querrey in 4 after dropping the 1st set.
This match leans Berdych as he has had an easier time so far but Almagro may be able to snatch a win.
Andy Murray vs. Milos Raonic
Milos Raonic survived a 1st round 5 setter against Santiago Giraldo, then beat Paul-Henri Mathieu and James Blake in straights. Blake had previously turned back the clock and dispatched Marcel Granollers in the 2nd round. Murray overcame a slow start to beat Alex Bogomolov in straights, then dispatched Ivan Dodig and needed 4 grueling sets and 3 tiebreaks to get past Feliciano Lopez, who threw everything he had into their 3rd round encounter on a hot Saturday afternoon.
This is an interesting match-up as Murray as struggled with his serve in his first 3 matches, while Raonic serves so well most of the time it could be close and possibly be a long match if Raonic is serving well and Murray isn’t.
Marin Cilic vs. Martin Klizan
Cilic won two 5 setters against Marinko Matosevic and Daniel Brands in the first 2 rounds, then got past Kei Nishikori in 4 sets in what was a bit of a surprising match. Klizan, probably the most unheralded name left in the draw, made his way by beating Alejandro Falla in straights then scored the biggest win of his promising career in 4 sets against 5 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who simply appeared wilted and worn out and could not get his game nor his shots together. Klizan kept his composure and his game together in gutting out the massive win. He followed that up by beating Jeremy Chardy in straights, making it look easy out there and proving he belongs.
Cilic will be a favorite here but the 23-year-old lefty Klizan, who will break into the top 50 after his run here is said and done, has the talent to get yet another upset. This could honestly go either way.
Janko Tipsarevic vs. Phillip Kohlschreiber
Tipsarevic survived an upset scare in the 1st round, clawing back from 2 sets down to defeat Guillaume Rufin in 5. He then took out Brian Baker and Grega Zemlja in straights. Peppo Kohlschreiber beat Michael Llodra in 4, won a testy 5 setter with Benoit Paire in which both players simply did not like each other and then upset John Isner in a late night 5 setter. It was a disappointing result from Isner, who had given his previous opponents Xaiver Malisse and Jarkko Nieminen their chances, winning both matches in 4 sets and it finally caught up to him against Kohlschreiber, who earned a well-deserved win.
Tipsarevic will be the favorite and you have to wonder if two 5 set battles in a row will take it out of Kohlschreiber, but it should be a fun match stylistically-speaking.
David Ferrer vs. Richard Gasquet
Ferrer beat Kevin Anderson and Igor Sijsling in straights, then played 4 gladiator sets of tennis with Lleyton Hewitt in which two of the greatest grinding road runners in the game were both trying to outwit, outhit and outrun one another. The 1st and 2nd sets were great but then Ferrer pulled away over an exasperated Hewitt, who had played a 5 setter with Gilles Muller the previous round. It was Hewitt’s 25th career 5 setter.
Gasquet beat Albert Montanes in 4, then Americans Bradley Klahn and Steve Johnson in straights to advance. Klahn had played a crowd fueled 5 setter against Jurgen Melzer in the 1st round, notching the upset, while Johnson knocked off Ernests Gulbis in the 2nd round (who had come back from 2 sets down and beaten Tommy Haas in the opening round).
Ferrer is a favorite against Gasquet, but both guys have a great shot at the quarterfinals in this match up that will be the grit and substance of Ferrer vs. the style and flash of Gasquet.
Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Andy Roddick
Former US Open champion Del Potro will try to send Roddick into retirement Tuesday night on Ashe. So far he has beaten lucky loser Florent Serra in straights (who replaced David Nalbandian who withdrew with injury), Ryan Harrison in 4 and countryman Leonardo Mayer in straights in what was a very close match between friends. Roddick has kept his career alive dispatching Rhyne Williams and Bernard Tomic in straights and then scoring a 4 set win over Fabio Fognini, who was simply too inconsistent to capitalize on the chances he had.
The road for Roddick likely ends here as Del Po has played strong and his wrist has looked fine in the 3 matches he has played. Barring some magic from Roddick or Del Potro coming out flat, this could be Andy’s curtain call.
Stanislas Wawrinka vs. Novak Djokovic
Wawrinka has struggled to shut the door in the 3 matches he has played, beating Sergiy Stakhovsky in 4, Steve Darcis in 5 intriguing sets (in which Darcis was hurting for most of the final 2 sets but still managed to get the 5th to 7-5) and Alexandr Dologopolov, who he beat in straights but not without struggling to convert break points. Dolgo beat Baghdatis in the previous round in what was an exciting display of baseline rallies and aggressive tennis. Djokovic, on the other hand, has shown no weakness and has only dropped 15 games in 9 sets of tennis. He beat up on Paolo Lorenzi, Rogerio Dutra Silva and Julien Benneteau. Benneteau had previously beaten surprising American Dennis Novikov in 4.
Djokovic will be a heavy favorite against Wawrinka and should calmly notch another victory.
Federer d. Berdych
Murray d. Cilic
Tipsarevic d. Ferrer
Djokovic d. Del Potro
Any of these matches could easily go 5 sets.
Federer d. Murray
Djokovic d. Tipsarevic
Federer d. Djokovic
Sloane Stephens rocked. Kalamazoo winner Dennis Novikov got by Jerzy Janowicz. Querrey won as expected. Roddick, Venus and Serena won, but they took out Americans Rhyne Williams, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Coco Vandeweghe respectively in the process. Jesse Levine let a two-set-and-a-break lead slip away in five. Vania King and Irina Falconi were upset. Thank god for the doubles victories yesterday.
Christina McHale was the saddest story of the day for the US, though. Although her match was announced as a possible move to Arthur Ashe stadium and it was available, they made McHale wait seemingly forever on Grandstand. She was ready to play by noon but wasn’t able to get on Grandstand until evening. After her three-set loss, a USOpen.org contributor gave her a parting kidney punch with the headline, “No. 21 seed crashes in first round McFail”. That’s right! The USTA’s own tournament website insults one of their own marquee trainees!
So, American tennis had a middling day at best. Caroline Wozniacki’s was worse. She looked bothered from the outset of her match against Irina Camelia-Begu. Begu won her first Grand Slam match in nearly five years. After Wozniacki’s 2011 semifinal appearance at the Open, she’s poised to drop out of the top ten with a Bartoli victory. I suspect the Danish press will be less harsh on her than their New York counterparts are on McHale.
Carly Rae Jepsen was a huge crowd pleaser performing her sensation, “Call me Maybe” during Arthur Ashe Kids Day at the US Open this weekend, but she knows less about pro tennis than I do about camera work in our brief encounter:
TV’s Matthew Morrison, who plays a teacher on the hit series “Glee”, is obviously a bit of a tennis historian in real life. He confidently declared that he missed the “old fights of Agassi and McEnroe” and says Billie Jean King was his All Time Favorite women’s competitor.
Winner: Morrison in a walkover. Sorry, Carly. He gets to hang with Missy Franklin and her Olympic Gold. Morrison should offer Jepsen a few educator tips on how to study up for the next exam.
2012 US Open Week 1 Men’s Preview
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
July 27-August 9, 2012
The final slam of the year and the conclusion to the American summer hard court series begins Monday and it will a chance for a 2nd slam this year for Federer or defending champion Djokovic and another chance for Murray to earn his first slam. While they are the most likely contenders, someone else could very well break through like Del Potro did at the ’09 Open.
Top 8 seeds
1: Roger Federer
2: Novak Djokovic
3: Andy Murray
4: David Ferrer
5: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
6: Tomas Berdych
7: Juan Martin Del Potro
8: Janko Tipsarevic
The only players from the top 50 missing from the Open are the obvious big one Nadal, and a habitually injured Gael Monfils.
1st round matchups to watch:
Michael Russell vs. Gilles Simon
Muscles Russell has had a good summer hard court season as the tested 34-year-old veteran made the quarters in both Atlanta and LA. He also qualified in DC and he has had some memorable matches at the US Open, including taking Andy Roddick to four sets in a thriller at last year’s US Open.
He will take on Simon, who has struggled mightily ever since the French Open. While Simon remains in the top 20, he had to pull out of Cincy with a shoulder injury and lost his 1st round match to Tommy Haas in Toronto, his only two results on hard court this summer. This match is ripe for an upset if the right Russell shows up and Simon continues his well below average level of play.
Jack Sock vs. Florian Mayer
Sock, one of the main draw wild card recipients, has been a stalwart of the of the US Open series this summer and all three of his ATP wins this year have come in the past couple of months. The 19-year-old will take on German Florian Mayer, who is probably the least heralded top 30 player on the tour. That being said, he does his best on clay and hasn’t made an impression on the hard courts this summer, so it is an interesting matchup and will show whether Sock can make an impact at the Open.
David Goffin vs. Tomas Berdych
Goffin and Berdych are a couple of players who have had a rollercoaster of a year. Both started off great and did well in the spring, slumped through the summer, and now may be coming back when the time is right as both have scored solid wins and are still in contention for the title in Winston-Salem. Berdych, the 7 seed, is a heavy favorite but Goffin is a dangerous player. Depending on which Tomas shows up, this one could be very close.
Grigor Dimitrov vs. Benoit Paire
Dimitrov and Paire are two of the more interesting characters on the tour and both are young at 21 and 23. Neither are in form even though they have talent to spare and this matchup is mainly interesting from a fitness perspective as both guys have had issues keeping in shape. Expect a lot of cramping and complaining and probably some fireworks in this one, especially if it is a day match in the heat.
Ernests Gulbis vs. Tommy Haas
Tommy Haas remains one the hottest players on the tour going into the US Open. He made the final in DC, the quarters in Toronto (pushing Djokovic to three), and lost to Del Potro in the 2nd round of Cincinnati. All of this fine play has continued to propel his ranking higher and he is now in the top 25.
Gulbis is well known as one of the streakiest players on the tour and another with talent to spare if he can keep his game together. Gulbis recently dropped a three-setter to Marcel Granollers in Winston-Salem in what was a bit of a choke, so this match could either be a brisk one or a competitive one.
Benjamin Becker vs. Ryan Harrison
Benjamin Becker made a memorable run at the 2006 US Open, reaching the 4th round as a qualifier, while Harrison is always well hyped but has struggled this year. He lost in the first round of both Atlanta and Cincy and is only .500 on the year overall. While Becker hasn’t done anything of note recently besides a quarter in Newport on grass and a semi in Memphis all the way back in February, he still seems to have something in the tank. If Harrison comes out cold, Benni Becker, one of the nice guys on the tour, could be ripe to pull off the upset.
Wimbledon and Cincy champ Federer opens his bid for another slam against Donald Young, who just broke his 17 match losing streak in Winston-Salem but lost in the next round. After that, Fed will face Bjorn Phau or a qualifier, and then in the 3rd round likely faces Fernando Verdasco. Verdasco is just coming back on the tour after being sidelined by injury. It will be interesting to see what type of form Nando is in. Albert Ramos, a qualifier or Robby Ginepri are also options. This is a superb early draw for Federer.
Mardy Fish, the 23 seed, who appears to be in form as he reached the DC Semis and Toronto and Cincy quarters, opens up against Go Soeda and then could see Nikolay Davydenko or a qualifier. In the 3rd round, he could get the winner of Simon/Russell, big serving Ivo Karlovic or a qualifier. Another pretty good early draw.
Nicolas Almagro, the 11 seed, who has been out with injury, opens up against Radek Stepanek in an interesting match and the winner will face either Nicolas Mahut or Phillip Petzschner. In the 3rd round, the winner will square off against the winner of Mayer/Sock, Flavio Cipolla or Blaz Kavic.
Sam Querrey, the 27 seed, who is in the running for the US Open series bonus title and is still playing in Winston-Salem, opens up against Yen Hsun-Lu and then faces Somdev Devvarman or Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo. In the 3rd round, he will meet the Berdych/Goffin winner or Denis Istomin or Jurgen Zopp. A Berdych vs. Querrey 3rd round match up would be a good one and Querrey is playing above his ranking right now.
Olympic Gold Medalist Andy Murray, who has had less than impressive performances in Toronto and Cincinnati, starts off against a continually struggling Alex Bogomolov. Even though these two have some history, Murray will pull it out. Then he will meet either Ivan Dodig or a qualifier. In the 3rd round, Murray could tangle with 30 seed Feliciano Lopez, Robin Haase, Thomaz Bellucci or Pablo Andujar. This isn’t a bad early bracket for Murray.
24 seed Marcel Granollers, still in the running in Winston-Salem, will take on American wild card Denis Kudla and then will face either Lukas Lacko or more likely James Blake in the 2nd round. If he can undo Blake, he will likely face Milos Raonic, the 15 seed, who starts against Santiago Giraldo and will face the winner of the wily vets, Paul-Henri Mathieu vs. Igor Andreev.
12 seed Marin Cilic will face fellow lanky big man Marinko Matosevic then Adrian Ungur or a qualifier and in the 3rd round likely faces 17 seed Kei Nishikori (who will take on a pair of qualifiers in his first two matches).
5 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, also still in the running in Winston-Salem, will face a qualifier and then Martin Klizan or Alejandro Falla. He is expected to face fellow Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the 3rd round.
David Ferrer is the 4 seed, but likely isn’t the favorite in this quarter. He will open against a slumping Kevin Anderson, who just lost another early round match to Ernests Gulbis in Winston Salem, then face a qualifier or countryman Daniel Gimeno-Traver. In the 3rd round, he could meet 28 seed Mikhail Youzhny, Atlanta finalist Gilles Muller, Tobias Kamke or the wild card Lleyton Hewitt (who just beat Youzhny in Cincy a couple of weeks ago).
13 seed Richard Gasquet, the Toronto finalist, will take on Albert Montanes and then a struggling Jurgen Melzer or a qualifier in the 2nd round. After that, he likely draws the dangerous 21 seed Haas in what would be a thriller. Also in this part of the draw are two wild cards, Americans Steve Johnson and Rajeev Ram. Also worth a mention is…Haas plays Gulbis.
John Isner, the 10 seed who is still in the running to defend his title in Winston-Salem and was a Toronto and Atlanta semi finalist, opens against veteran Belgian Xaiver Malisse, who still has moments of brilliance at times. Big John would then will see either Mikhail Kukushkin or a struggling Jarkko Nieminen in the 2nd round. Peering into the 3rd round, Isner could draw the man he beat in Toronto, Phillip Kohlschreiber. Kohlschreiber plays Michael Llodra in the 1st round and the winner of Paire/Dimitrov.
29 seed Viktor Troicki opens against young German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, who we haven’t heard much from in a while, and then he’ll face a qualifier. He would then battle the likely favorite in this quarter, 8 seed and Toronto semi-finalist Janko Tipsarevic, who opens up against wild card Guillaume Rufin of France and then a streaky Brian Baker or Jan Hajek.
Toronto champ and Cincy finalist Novak Djokovic will face Paolo Lorenzi in the 1st round, then Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil or a qualifier. For the third course, he’ll be expecting 31 seed Julien Benneteau on the menu. Also in this section is Jerzy Janowicz of Poland, who is a player to watch. He will face wild card Dennis Novikov in the 1st round. Djokovic should cruise through the first three rounds.
18 seed Stan Wawrinka, a Cincy semifinalist, will face Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine and then the winner of Steve Darcis vs Malek Janziri. Darcis just beat Roddick in Winston Salem but fell to Berdych thereafter. If Wawrinka gets through, he could face 14 seed
Alexandr Dolgopolov. The DC champion appears to have his act together and is still in the running for the Winston-Salem title. Dolgo will face Jesse Levine and then Marcos Baghdatis or a qualifier. If he and Wawrinka meet in the 3rd round, it will be a match you’ll want to see.
10 seed Juan Monaco faces Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and then either Edouard Roger-Vasselin or Fabio Fognini. Monaco has been slightly disappointing on the hard courts this summer and could use a good run here. He should tangle with 20 seed Andy Roddick, who just lost to Darcis in Winston Salem-and has been up and down. Roddick will face a qualifier and then Carlos Berlocq or Bernard Tomic. This could be the most open part of the draw.
7 seed Juan Martin Del Potro, one of the favorites outside the top three, faces countryman David Nalbandian, who has struggled mightily, and then will face the winner of Becker/Harrison. Del Po could then see 26 seed Andreas Seppi of Italy, who has disapponted on hard courts or Lukasz Kubot, who plays Leonardo Mayer.
Dark Horses (1 for each quarter of the draw): Sam Querrey, Marcel Granollers, Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic
Querrey is an in form player who faces a struggling seed in Berdych and has an easy 1st and 2nd round match up, then likely gets Stepanek or Almagro in the 4th round.
Granollers has been pretty solid this summer, and while he likely faces Murray in the 4th round, if he can get through Blake and Raonic and if Murray has any sort of moody collapse, Granollers is talented enough to capitalize. It isn’t highly likely, but he has a chance.
Hewitt continues to grind his way around the tour and seems to do his best at the slams. Kamke is a good match up (just beat Youhzny). Hewitt would then see Ferrer in the 3rd round (who hasn’t been very sharp on the hard courts this summer). Anything is possible with a guy as tenacious as Rusty.
Tomic isn’t playing that well, but he did beat Harrison in Cincinnati and has a good 1st round match up style-wise with Berlocq. Tomic avoids the most dangerous seeds in this section as Roddick is struggling and Monaco has been off.
Week 1 Predictions (4th round matchups)
Federer vs. Fish
Stepanek vs. Querrey
Murray vs. Granollers
Nishikori vs. Tsonga
Tipsarevic vs. Isner
Haas vs. Ferrer
Del Potro vs. Tomic
Wawrinka vs. Djokovic
Federer d. Querrey
Murray d. Tsonga
Tipsarevic d. Haas
Djokovic d. Del Potro
Tsonga will have a shot against Murray. Haas and Del Po will also have chances, but the higher seeds should advance.
Federer d. Murray
Djokovic d. Tipsarevic
Murray doesn’t seem trustworthy enough at the moment to beat Federer again and Djokovic handled Tipsarevic in Toronto.
Federer d. Djokovic
It will likely be closer than their encounter in Cincy, but Federer is on his game and appears ready to take home another title in a 1 vs. 2 battle.
NCAA Champion Nicole Gibbs already has a wild card to the main draw at Flushing Meadows next week, thanks to her stellar season at Stanford. The best way to warm up for a Slam is to win in a WTA main draw. She did just that on Monday against Alexa Glatch. As a result of that debut main draw win, she’s earned the right to face 2011 Wimbledon Champion and world #5 Petra Kvitova tonight under the lights of Stadium Court at New Haven for a place in the quarterfinals.
I spoke with her on Monday about the Open, the NCAA rule change proposals, her decision to stay in school and what keeps her motivated. I’d tell you what she said, but you’ll have to watch the video as I am horribly late for the ITF matches in College Park, Maryland this morning. Let’s just say that the NCAA protest movement has found its new leader!
US REPRESENTATIVE RACHEL LIM TO COMPETE AT LONGINES FUTURE TENNIS ACES TOURNAMENT AT ROLAND GARROS, JUNE 7-9, 2012
Lim to Compete for a Chance to Play with Tennis Legend
Stephanie Graf Prior to the French Open Final
WEEHAWKEN, NJ – May 30, 2012 – Rachel Lim, the United States representative for the ‘Longines Future Tennis Aces’ is on the road to the French Open tournament at Roland Garros, and is currently training near her home in Briarcliff Manor, NY in preparation for her first International tournament. Lim qualified for the all-expense-paid trip to Paris following a victory at last month’s Future Tennis Aces U.S. qualifying event at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, site of the U.S. Open, in Flushing Meadows, NY. Ranked No. 22 nationally in the 12-and-under division, Lim will compete against 15 finalists from around the world during the final weekend of the French Open.
In addition to winning an all-expense paid trip to Roland Garros, Lim will compete for a chance to play with former world No. 1 and Longines Ambassador of Elegance Stefanie Graf and member of the Longines Rising Tennis Stars Sabine Lisicki (ranked 12th at the WTA) in an exhibition match prior to the French Open Women’s Final, and financing for her tennis equipment until her 16th birthday, courtesy of Longines.
“I’m very excited to meet and play against other players from around the world,” said Lim. “I can’t wait to experience their different styles of play. This will be my first trip overseas to play a tennis tournament. I am very excited to finally be able to visit the Eiffel tower, learn about the French culture and go to the French Open at Roland Garros and have the chance of a lifetime to play on the brick clay.”
Lim started playing tennis at 5 years of age and appeared in her first national competition at age 8. Last November, she won her first USTA National Open in the 12-and-under singles division and most recently captured her second national title at the USTA National Open at Owning Mills, MD. She also placed 3rd in doubles at the same tournament.
Longines Future Tennis Aces is part of the brand’s global commitment to support and develop tennis’ superstars of tomorrow. All the players who qualified for the World Final event in Paris will have the opportunity to attend the French Open Women’s Final on June 9.
Longines is the official timekeeper of the French Open of Roland Garros. Countries competing at the Longines Future Tennis Aces World Final include: Australia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italia, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom and the United States.
A complete schedule of events follows:
Longines Future Tennis Aces World Championship Tournament
Date: Thursday and Friday, June 7-8
Time: 10 am – 6 p.m. local time Paris
Location: Roland Garros Courts 14 & 16
Longines Future Tennis Aces World FINAL
Date: Saturday, June 9
Time: 10:15 am local time
Paris Location: Roland Garros Court 7
Stefanie Graf Exhibition Match featuring finalists from Longines Future Tennis Aces
Tournament Date: Saturday, June 9
Time: 11:15 am local Paris time
Location: Roland Garros Court 7
Other than league play, the greatest benefit of being a USTA member is the ability to purchase US Open tickets before they go on sale to the public. But don’t fool yourself. You’re not really competing against the general public. You’re competing against your fellow members in a chance to snap up the most-coveted tickets in all of American tennis.
The pre-sale begins in just twelve days, on 9:00 am EDT Tuesday, April 24, 2012 and ends Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 11:59 pm EST. Forget the end date. You will want to purchase on the very first day and maybe in the first five minutes.
Fans may remember the Tennis East Coast editorial about Arthur Ashe last year. Although I’m not espousing that you ever buy tickets in the Ashe upper promenade, how else are you getting into the men’s or women’s final?
What not to buy: Grounds passes and early round sessions generally do not sell out, and never during a member pre-sale. If you wait until July or August, you can score the same seats to the early rounds for less online. You can even get court side Armstrong box seats for less than the face value of a reserved (upper) seat in that stadium. Although the night session at Ashe is not a particularly good value in terms of time or money for a die-hard fan, the USTA’s buy-one-get-one-free deals may make it worth your consideration.
Here are the top five tickets to purchase quickly at presale:
1. Men’s Final: It has been a hot ticket for a long time, but in the last two years, you can’t find a pair on Ticketmaster after the member pre-sale. In fact, you might miss out if you don’t buy within the first half-hour.
2. Women’s final: Although you may still find a pair a couple of days into the pre-sale, don’t expect them available to the general public on Ticketmaster.
3. Men’s semis: Held on the same Saturday as the women’s final, availability for these tickets will also not survive the pre-sale.
4. Super Saturday/Labor Day weekend: The hierarchy goes like this–Saturday and Sunday are hot, hot, hot and Monday usually has more availability.
5. Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day: Since you think you already knew everything I’ve told you above, I’ve saved the best for last. With Courtside Ashe tickets going for $800 and up, this is the sweetest pre-sale secret of all. For $40, you get a Courtside box seat for Kids’ Day, with up-close views of music and exhibition tennis. While you can purchase a reasonable ticket upstairs to Kids’ Day well into August, the courtside tickets are open to all and sell out within an hour. No little ones? No worries. There’s no rule that you need to bring a child to the event. With these seats, even a kid at heart will enjoy the view.
Tennis Maryland wants to preface everything we say with the acknowledgment that we love the US Open, and we want to assist, in some small way, in its constant evolution and development.
The Open experience for the average fan at Arthur Ashe Stadium has become somewhat unpleasant. It didn’t feel quite like this ten years ago. But, with the growing popularity of the event, the US Open is starting to smell. If you attend the later rounds of the tournament, it can even constitute a total disappointment. We know of only one way for a fan to beat them at their own game, and it doesn’t involve a major-league boycott.
You pay well over a hundred bucks to sit in seats which might be best suited for an NFL game, which has a much larger playing field. You deal with the machinations of Wall Street-style arbitrageurs who determine that if they stop and start play over many hours and squeeze in a single match on Arthur Ashe before nightfall hits, that you don’t get your money back. Never mind that you paid to see a full day’s worth of matches.
Then, there’s the $20 glasses of sparkling wine, $14 mixed drinks, the long lines for over-priced cafeteria food, the $40 T-shirts and the booths which give away useless junk while requiring your most personal information, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a festival of fan abuse. (Disclosure: Tennis Maryland does buy a $10 beer, but that’s about it)
The Open is even located in one of the most traffic-congested, culture-voided wastelands of an otherwise Great City of the World. It is in an area in which the New York Mets play. Further, it is in an area in which, we are sad to report, there is nothing but a giant cluster of auto-repair shops and landfills and yet still manages to charge $20 and up for daily parking. (We’ll tell you where to park for FREE in the neighborhood in a later post)
There’s been lots of spirited discussion about the lack of a roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium for years. It is the only major tennis tournament in the world without such a contingency plan in effect. For the fourth straight year, the Men’s final was not held as originally scheduled for yesterday. If you’re from out-of-town, you spend money and time to get to New York, to get out the Grand Central Parkway to Timbuktu, on a Manhattan hotel room (or take your chances on a dicey motel in a nearby Queens neighborhood), feeding your family, and then getting to watch a little tennis before they cancel the entertainment portion of your vacation.
The only fans who benefit from the lack of a roof on Arthur Ashe are local New Yorkers who can swoop in and pick up cheap tickets from prior canceled sessions. The rest of us, who New Yorkers derisively refer to as hailing from “the provinces”, foot the bill and get very little in return for our financial support.
We can’t promise perfection, but the only way a real tennis fan with a net worth of less than 3 million dollars can have a satisfactory experience at the Open is to buy a grounds pass for the first few days of the tournament. Do not buy a ticket to Arthur Ashe Stadium, which temptingly costs only a few dollars more. The cheaper grounds pass entitles you to see, for example, 47 of the 49 singles day matches held during the day sessions on the first two days of the tournament. By not buying a ticket to Arthur Ashe, you will miss the terribly disappointing views, and more importantly, the wasted time of two or three terribly lopsided matches, if you’re lucky.
Imagine that your kids think they’ll actually get to see Roger Federer or Serena Williams play. Well, they won’t. They’ll see an ant playing tennis, and you’ll assure them that the ant is, in fact, Roger Federer or Serena Williams. You’ll confirm the ant is indeed the player by pointing the little ones to the Jumbotron. The Jumbotron at which you’re all gazing that happens to carry the same feed delivered to your home and on the Jumbotron affixed to the front of Arthur Ashe Stadium itself. Which you can see with a grounds pass.
Whatever you do, do not make the mistake of attending a night session. For the aforementioned sub-standard, nose-bleed experience, you’ll only get two scheduled matches on Ashe (at best) and nothing else. The real excitement, the excitement that happens everywhere but Ashe, will have quit for the day. Once the day session wraps up around 7:30, the only tennis to see at the National Tennis Center is the tennis you can’t see. At least if you were naive enough to buy day session tickets at Ashe, you could still wander off and see a perfectly good match in the front row on the outer courts, if only by accident.
In summary, our advice is this: Don’t buy a ticket to Arthur Ashe, well, ever, until they fix Ashe. Buy an early rounds grounds pass and see competitive world-class tennis up close and personal. You’ll still deal with the over-priced food, souvenirs, beverages and depressing surroundings of Flushing Meadows. But, this way, you will definitely send them a message. Fix Ashe. Tear it down if necessary. Make it smaller if needed. But, please, let the fans SEE the players. And let’s guarantee tennis is played there every day and evening during the US Open.
If you’ve been to smaller tournaments, then you know it doesn’t have to be this way. We only expect the Slams to operate with a roof. We don’t expect it from everyone else. At ATP and WTA tournaments all over the country, you get a far more intimate, fan-friendly experience for a fraction of the price. At these smaller events, the winner doesn’t get a $1 million check. But if you can’t even read the words on that giant check from where you’re sitting at the Open, you might as well just watch it on television. What’s worse is that you can’t even read that giant check from your seats and you helped pay for the prize money. And if there’s a monsoon and there’s no roof, then it is a waste of everyone’s time. And money.
On this one issue alone, it’s hard to get an informed opinion from credentialed media, who, although they are highly respectable and independent professionals, don’t feel the full pain of the average fan during the tournament because they are not in the exact same boat.
In closing, we urge readers to get out and see the rest of the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center. See Armstrong. See Grandstand. A grounds pass will get you an amazing view without a reserved seat. They’re likely going to tear those stadia down soon. See the new Court 17, the classic Court 13 and the much smaller courts. You’ll be very glad that you did. There have been audible grumblings during this very Open by players and officials as to the US Open management’s bottom-line, my-way-or-the-highway mentality. Sadly for them, only the collective power of the fans and their wallets can improve this priceless American tennis experience.