MY FAVORITE COURTS AT U.S. OPEN
|Roddick at his last Open. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)|
I'm not a huge tennis fan, but I love the sport enough to appreciate the excitement that the U.S. Open brings to every tail end of summer. I especially love watching opponents gut out extended baseline rallies, and I'm in awe just about every time I see a return winner - off either the first or second serve. But for me, venue ambience is also a very big deal. These are my favorite courts and situations to catch the action:
Outer courts 6, 8, 10, 13 | Early rounds
There's something really indulgent about attending the day sessions in Rounds 1 and 2. You get to see a buttload of tennis, and it can become a tennis geek's paradise as you hop around from court to court. The outer courts, in particular, offer a lot: glimpses of up-and-comers and chances to see the elder statesmen up close as they earn their paychecks despite declining rank. I love courts 6, 8, 10, and 13 especially because of their intimate one-sided stadium seating. You get an awesome view and the tennis ball flies out there. I saw a young, rising Roger Federer play on one of these courts many, many years ago, and I would rank that as one of my favorite matches.
Louis Armstrong Stadium | Daybreak
The intimacy of Louis Armstrong cannot be denied. There isn't a bad seat in the house. Louis Armstrong won't always attract the marquee match-ups, but there's plenty of excellent tennis to watch here involving high-seeded players. My favorite time to catch tennis here is during the final match of a day session that goes long. The stadium's low height affords a breathtaking and expansive sunset. I've seen several of these over the years while guys like Ljubicic, Hewitt, and Nadal smashed the ball around under a red sky.
Arthur Ashe Stadium | At night
A night match at Arthur Ashe compared to daytime literally is a night and day difference. Under the lights, the tension is higher. And the energy emanating from the crowd of 23,000 is unbelievable. A night match just feels like a much bigger deal for some reason. Of all the ways you could spend your evening, it feels like you're in the right place in those seats. Arthur Ashe at night is also where competitors often ride overwhelming home court advantages into the next round. This is where almost any significant American player - be it Roddick, the Williams sisters, even James Blake - used the crowd to conquer opponents. The post-match interview over the loud speakers is just icing on the cake.