When we started planning our big OE we came up with the idea of going to all the tennis grand slams in one year. So we got the yearly planner out and blocked the relevant dates out and started planning our journey around those.
It all started with the sexy six in Melbourne in January where we had four fabulous days at the Australian Open. It was hot and we saw some great tennis. Next up was Roland Garros in Paris – the only major on clay. Paris is one of my favourite cities so it provided a perfect back drop for our second grand slam. It was a freezing cold day but we saw some good tennis. Next up was the getting up at 3.30am to join the queue at 4.30am in order to secure a seat at Wimbledon. The whole experience was well worth it and we had another wonderful tennis experience basking in the London sun.
Last but definitely not least was the US Open in New York…..
We arrived in New York on Saturday night from London. I think our taxi driver was either a stunt double in the Fast & Furious movie or thought he was on the Nascar set. We had been warned that New Yorkers do everything at a furious pace. We used Sunday as an orientation day to check out how to get to the tennis, visit Times Square and to experience a New York thunderstorm first hand. The weather was hot and sticky but I wasn’t complaining after being in the Baltic’s for the two weeks prior where it was a little chilly.
Monday morning we jumped on the subway and headed for Flushing Meadows – it was all fairly straight forward really. It was another steamy day with the temperature reaching 31 degrees. We had seats in the Louis Armstrong stadium and it had some great games that day.
First up we saw a third round men’s double match between the top seeded Bryan brothers and another American pairing. The Bryan brothers, Mike and Bob are twins and at 36 years old are quite an institution in the tennis world. They turned professional in 1998 when they were 20 years old. There opponents were 24 year old Bradley Klahn and 27 year old Tim Smychez also from the USA. It was a good game which the Bryan brothers won in two sets.
Next up was world number one Novak Djokovic from Serbia playing Philipp Kohlschreiber from Germany who has a current ranking of 25. This was the fourth round of the men’s singles. Novak won in three but the last two sets were more evenly matched. Novak even gave the crowd a little dance at the end after his post match interview. He has won 45 singles titles in his career including 7 grand slams. His total career earnings to date are a cool USD65 million.
We then watched the young Canadian sensation Eugenie Bouchard play Ekaterina Makaroa from Russia. Eugenie is only 20 years old and has only being playing professionally for the last couple of years – she has a current ranking of 8. We saw her play in Australia where she played really well. Unfortunately it wasn’t her day today and she ended up having a medical timeout – they were taking her temperature and icing her down – it was hot out there. Ekaterina was too strong winning in two sets. Ekaterina is 26 years old and has a current ranking of 18.
The last game of the day was another fourth round men’s singles match between Stan Wawrinka from our adopted home Switzerland and Tommy Robredo from Spain. We also saw Stan play in Australia where he ended up winning the Australian Open – his current ranking is 4 although he ranked 3rd for this tournament due to Rafa Nadal being injured. Tommy Robredo is 32 years old and has a current ranking of 18 but that doesn’t stop him although he is more of a clay court player than a hard court player. It was a great game that went to four sets.
Tuesday was going to be even hotter than Monday and in fact it turned out to be the hottest day that New York as seen this summer. It was 34 degrees with 96% humidity. You broke out in a sweat just thinking about it.
We had tickets to Arthur Ashe but could also go into the general seats on other courts. I hadn’t seen Serena play in the flesh and her and Venus were playing doubles on Louis Armstrong so that was the first stop of the day. They were playing Ekaterina Makarova who we had seen play singles the day before and Elena Venina, both from Russia. Elena had knocked our own Marina Erakovic out in the second round. The Russians were the fourth seeds and won the match in two sets.
Serena is certainly a good player and played some great shots but she just doesn’t do it for me in the friendly stakes. The Williams sisters come across a little bit like spoilt princesses. If Venus served into the net instead of flicking the ball to the ball boy, Serena would just step over it and let the ball boy run and get it. In the other doubles matches we watched generally the players would flick it to the ball boy to speed the game up.
We were sitting next to these ladies from down country who had binoculars – they were checking out the William’s players box and giving us the low down on who was who. Apparently the mother and sister had bought their little dogs in their handbags and I did spot one little dog poking it’s head out of a bag. Poor little mites in the heat. They also said that rumour has it that Serena’s coach is also her boyfriend.
We then went across to Arthur Ashe – it is huge! It can hold a capacity crowd of 24,000. It wasn’t full by any stretch of the imagination so we sat down in the second tier. There were lots of spare seats so we thought if the ticket holders came along we would just shift elsewhere. Fortunately that didn’t happen so we had good seats to watch the fourth round men’s singles match between Gael Monfils from France and Grigor Dimitrov from Bulgaria.
We have seen Gael Monfils play a number of times in NZ, Australia and France. He has become a bit of a favourite of ours as he is such an entertaining player who can go from moments of brilliance to complete brain explosions. He has made a bit of a come back over the last couple of years and is currently ranked ay number 24. He is also currently without a coach which he seems pretty happy with – he just does his own thing and says he is quite happy that way.
Grigor Dimitrov is currently ranked at number 8 and has been rising quickly through the ranks this last year – he is only 23 and is Maria Sharapova’s latest squeeze, so they say.
It was damn hot by the time this match was played and Gael really struggled. He would stand with his hands on his knees in between points. The match went game for game on serve and Gael appeared to do just what he needed to when Dimitrov served saving his energy for his service games. His strategy worked as he won the first set on a couple of Grigor’s mistakes. The second set went to a tie break which again Gael capitalised on Grigor’s errors. In the third set, Grigor’s shoes broke so he had to run off in his socks to get another pair – he came back with two spare pairs. The commentators were laughing saying that his feet were on fire and the soles had melted – not surprising given the heat.
The third set was similar to the first and Gael broke serve when Grigor double faulted on match point. We were pleased Gale won but were probably surprised that he did it in three sets. He will now play Roger Federer in the quarters – we love Roger so our loyalty will be tested given our growing affinity with the lanky Frenchman!
We had an absolute blast at the tennis and enjoyed every minute of all four grand slams. The US Open had a similar atmosphere to the Australian Open made all the more similar with the hot temperatures. We were pretty zapped after spending two days in the heat so we were asleep fairly early on Tuesday night. It seems quite surreal to have ticked that part of our journey off. We’ll enjoy watching the rest of the US open play out on TV as we continue our journey in the US of A : )
The United States Open Tennis Championships is a hardcourt tennis tournament which is the modern iteration of one of the oldest tennis championships in the world, the U.S. National Championship, for which men’s singles was first contested in 1881. Since 1987, the US Open has been chronologically the fourth and final tennis major comprising the Grand Slam each year; the other three are the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.
The tournament was first held in August 1881 on the grass courts at the Newport Casino, Newport, Rhode Island and in that first year only clubs that were members of the United States National Lawn Tennis Association (USNLTA) were permitted to enter. In 1915 the national championship was relocated from Newport, Rhode Island to the West Side Tennis Club at Forest Hills, New York. A From 1921 through 1923, the tournament was played at the Germantown Cricket Club in Philadelphia and it returned to Forest Hills in 1924.
Since 1978, the tournament has been played on acrylic hard courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at New York City, New York, United States.
In 1973 the US Open became the first Grand Slam tournament to award equal prize money to men and women with that year’s singles champions John Newcombe and Margaret Court both receiving $25,000. The winners in 2013 each received $1,900,000. In 1978 the tournament moved from the West Side Tennis Club, Forest Hills, Queens to the larger USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens, in the process switching the surface from clay, used in the last three years at Forest Hills, to hard courts. Jimmy Connors is the only individual to have won US Open singles titles on all three surfaces (grass, clay, hardcourt), while Chris Evert is the only woman to win on two surfaces (clay, hardcourt).
The main court is located at the 22,547-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium, opened in 1997. It is named after Arthur Ashe, the African American tennis player who won the men’s final of the inaugural US Open in 1968. The next largest court is the Louis Armstrong Stadium, opened in 1978, extensively renovated from the Singer Bowl, which was built for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. It has a capacity of 10,200. The globe pictured above was also built for the 1964 New York World’s Fair.