A Not-So-American U.S. Open: Pretty Awesome
It was a little before six o’clock when I saw my friend’s facebook post announcing that he had 3 pairs of tickets to the U.S. Open that he was willing to sell for cheap. Besides for the fact that the U.S. Open is a world-renowned event, I had recently submitted my previous article about tennis to The Commentator, so I was in the mood. By 7:00 I was on the way to Flushing Meadows with three friends, and planned on meeting some more at the stadium.
Top ranked Caroline Wozniacki, whom ChaCha informed me was not actually born on my birthday (contrary to what I stated in my article in the previous edition of The Comentator), was facing off against 15th ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova. Apparently, in some horribly backwards countries the date 11/7 is July 11th (for those of you who picked up on the fact that my birthday is 11/7 feel free to send me presents – it will prove that people actually read my articles). My dismay at the discovery that Caroline and I did not in fact share a birthday with was tempered by the fact that she was born on free slurpee day.
We walked into a stadium of twenty-two thousand people, but it was silent. We couldn’t get to our seats right away because we had to wait until the point being played was finished. In between points people would clap, cheer, and talk with their outside voices, but while the ball was in play people talked in subdued voices, and didn’t make any noise outside of the occasional collective intake of breath on a close play. If the announcer felt that the crowd was getting too loud, she would say, “thank you,” and everyone would quiet down. That’s right, the announcer would thank the people for being loud and then they would be quiet.
It was the quietest crowd of twenty-two thousand I’d ever been a part of. At one point during the match someone broke the silence by expressing his excitement for the upcoming match of Roger Federer vs. Juan Monaco and yelling, “Let’s go Roger!” and the entire stadium laughed.
The match between Wozniacki and Kuznetova was riveting. The first set went into a tie-breaker (tennis-speak for overtime). Later on, Wozniacki came within a point of losing the match, but the tide turned once she started making a sound that sounded like Princess Peach from Super Smash Bros. Melee every time she hit the ball (“Hwuuuuh-aah” – the best transliteration I could come up with). But she came back and displayed why she is the top ranked women’s player in the world.
The crowd at the match was surprisingly fickle. When Svetlana Kuznetsova was winning and it looked like she was about to pull off an upset, the crowd clapped extra loud when she won a point, and there was only polite applause when Wozniacki scored. Besides for the occasional call of, “Let’s go, Caroline!” and my enthusiastic clapping and cheering throughout, there were very few hard core Wozniacki fans (I figured that our birthday buddy-hood, albeit brief and largely fictional, combined with the fact that she was born on free slurpee day was reason enough for me to be a hard core fan). But as Wozniacki battled back everyone started cheering for her, and it seemed that the only actual fans of Svetlana Kuznetsova were these guys sitting two rows in front of us who were acting as if the world was coming to an end.
The long tradition of late-night tennis at the U.S. Open continued when the first match ended just before 12:00 A.M. Roger Federer, arguably the greatest grand slam contender of all time, squared off against Juan Monaco. The play in the Federer-Monaco match was much more fast-paced than the previous one. He won five games in the first twelve minutes. For those of you not familiar with tennis, that’s quite dominant.
All in all, despite the fact that I didn’t see any Americans play, being at the U.S. Open was a remarkable experience. Everywhere I turned people were speaking another language, and it was great to witness and be a part of a sporting event that was refined and classy. Whomever it was that I heard about on the shuttle who had front row seats to the final on Sunday and didn’t go...wow. Amazing opportunity squandered.