It was all smiles for my dad and I today as we marched into The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center with our grounds passes for Day 2 of the US Open! He let out a few childish giggles as he relished in what truly is his favorite holiday.
That’s right. Christmas is to small children as the US Open is to my father.
A lot of that rubbed off on me, I have to say. It was fantastic getting an up close and personal look at what I’ve been writing about for two months now. And let me just say – we got a LOT of good looks out of those grounds passes.
As I’ve said before, (“You Don’t Have $350 For a Seat at Arthur Ashe??”) you don’t need those fancy, shmancy tickets to see some of your favorite players on the court and off, (as was the case today – I’ll get to that in a minute).
We saw two fantastic matches at The Grandstand. The first was twelfth-seeded Ana Ivonovic versus 17 year old Ukrainian qualifier, Elina Svitolina. Svitolina put up a good fight and was exciting to watch, but Ivonovic and her powerful, two-handed grip took the match at 6-3, 6-2.
Check out our awesome seats!
It was GREAT because moments later all of those empties were filled for the next match, which was Jo Wilfried Tsonga, fifth seeded, (who I listed as someone to keep a close eye on in “What Will Rafa’s Withdrawal Mean?“) versus Slovakian qualifier, Karol Beck. It was an exciting match. Tsonga took the first two pretty easily at 6-3, 6-1, but the their set got pretty thrilling when it went into a tiebreak at 6-6, Tsonga eventually taking it 7-6 (2), (when he did the “Jo Willie” signature victory dance).
Beck had a bad habit throughout the match of letting game after game after game get to deuce and have the advantage bounced back forth before letting it go to Tsonga. It seemed like it was always slipping through his hands – which it did entirely in the third set tiebreak.
Tsonga on the other hand was on fire, with one serve that clocked 137 mph. The most fantastic thing about his serve, however, is the fact that he throws it up so high and so far behind him, that you almost think he might collapse backwards at any moment while trying to strike the ball. Instead he does the opposite and manages to slam it with incredible force.
After the match, we strolled around the food court and eventually made our way over to the practice courts. For those of you who have never been, there are five practice courts way in the back corner of Billie Jean, behind Arthur Ashe. Three sides are lined with incredibly tall shrubbery making it impossible to see through, the other has a small opening with a few bleachers set up. If you get to that opening at just the right time, you can see all the biggest names of the tourney practice only feet from you.
Well. This is where I must disclose some personal information. I do not mind admitting that I have developed quite the crush on Novak Djokovic over the course of this blog journey, (See my profile on him at “Djokovic the Djoker“).
Here’s some proof of my crush.
It is love.
Okay, not literally. BUT I had absolutely no expectation of seeing him in person, (hence this photo) even though I knew he was playing at Ashe at 7PM. However, fate, (which is trying to force us together) led me straight to the practice courts just half an hour before he was scheduled to arrive. The word hadn’t quite gotten out yet, so I got a great spot up against the fence, and watched at 4:45 as he entered the court.
Unfortunately, the players practicing at the time were running late, so he didn’t stay long. But he did take the time to stand behind Caroline Wozniacki and act as her ball boy. I don’t mean he just threw some balls back to her hitter – he fully took on ball boy mode, with the straight back, open palms, then hands behind his back. He winked, (right at me) the crowd let out a hearty laugh, and I sighed thinking, “What a Djoker”.
We got to see Andy Murray come by the practice courts as well, (his hair is WAY redder in person). Serena was set to come on at 4:45 but by 5:45 when we left, she still hadn’t appeared. Bummer.
Practice courts are definitely the way to go after you’ve seen the best matches of the day, (if you only have a grounds pass). I’m not sure everyone would agree with this, but it’s really thrilling to see the big names so close! I loved it.
Anyway – I had a fantastic time. For those of you headed out to Flushing in the next two weeks, have a blast. For those of you watching at home – get ready, because I’m betting that the men’s singles will be a fight to the death this year.
Signing off for now. Thank you to everyone who read, commented and shared this blog. It’s been an honor to “Prepare” you for this great tourney.
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