10SBALLS SHARES RICKY DIMON “@DIMONATOR” FIRST-HAND OBSERVATIONS FROM THE NEW-LOOK • 2017 U.S. OPEN TENNIS

Written by: on 6th September 2017
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USA TENNIS US OPEN 2017
10SBALLS SHARES RICKY DIMON "@DIMONATOR" FIRST-HAND OBSERVATIONS FROM THE NEW-LOOK • 2017 U.S. OPEN TENNIS

epa06188576 Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts after defeating Andrey Rublev of Russia during their US Open Tennis Championships quarterfinals round match at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, 06 September 2017. The US Open runs through September 10. EPA-EFE/JUSTIN LANE  |

Ricky’s first-hand observations from the new-look U.S. Open

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

The U.S. Open is still my favorite. Always has been. Probably always will be.

 

You just can’t beat the atmosphere in New York. The night-session crowds in Arthur Ashe Stadium (Kevin Anderson vs. Sam Querrey ended at 1:50 a.m. last night and the lower deck was still packed and rocking!). The relatively level playing fields; even in years when the top players are healthy, there are no foregone conclusions (like Roger Federer winning Wimbledon, Rafael Nadal winning the French Open, Novak Djokovic winning the Australian Open, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, or Petra Kvitova winning Wimbledon, etc., etc., etc.). Nothing beats the intensity at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

 

That being said, it’s also not the same at the BJKNTC anymore. The old Grandstand, in my opinion, was the best tennis court on planet Earth. I know countless other people share the same opinion. And this year there is not even a Louis Armstrong Stadium, which is also a pretty darn good setting at which to watch tennis.

 

Armstrong is being renovated and will be ready in 2018. The old Grandstand is not being renovated and won’t be ready in 2018. It simply got torn down. A new one is up on the opposite end of the grounds. The especially unfortunate part of this is that the Grandstand and Armstrong are no longer connected like they used to be in the past. In the old setup, you could walk back and forth as you pleased from the top of Armstrong to a balcony overlooking the Grandstand. In essence, you could basically watch two matches at the same time. You could also walk up the stairs in between the two courts whenever you wanted, so there was never any waiting for changeovers.

 

Which brings me to perhaps the most redeeming quality of Grandstand 2.0. You don’t have to wait for changeovers. [Insert first pump here!] You can walk up a few stairs onto a balcony that goes around the whole stadium. Just like that, you’re watching tennis. No waiting whatsoever.

 

The worst quality of the new Grandstand, of course, is that is has reserved seating down low. At the old Grandstand, almost the entire thing was general admission–including the best seats in the house behind both baselines. Only the sideline behind the chair umpire (not a spectacular seat anyway) was reserved for media and player boxes. The new Grandstand is also much bigger. It’s not as intimate. The atmospheres will never be like they were at the one that is now but dust.

 

That is not to say, however, that the new one is hopeless. Au contraire, mon frere. Juan Martin Del Potro baptized the court in its second year of existence on Monday, storming back from two sets down to beat Dominic Thiem in what has been by far the most memorable match in the brief history of the Grandstand. And the atomosphere was straight up bananas. It was like Davis Cup meets the U.S. Open. Del Potro even said afterward that he would have retired in the second set due to illness if not for the love he was getting from the fans–many of which were fellow Argentines. He did not want to disappoint them.

 

And he didn’t. The 2009 U.S. Open champion eventually triumphed 1-6, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(1), 6-4 in a shocking, incredible, bizarre, and whatever-adjective-you-want-to-use comeback.

 

Del Potro used the word “epic” twice during his post-match press conference. And that would be accurate.

 

But I’m afraid those epics will be fewer and farther between now that old Grandstand is gone. Still, I won’t let the disappearance of the best court in the business put a damper on things. The U.S. Open still rocks. Arthur Ashe’s roof is a massive (literally!) improvement. It has already saved several days–including today–at this year’s U.S. Open. Rain has got nothing on this monstrosity of a roof! New Grandstand is good, just not compared to the old one. Court 17, which is almost all general admission, has been a great spot every year since its arrival in 2011.

 

And, perhaps most importantly, you can still get chicken fingers and fries for 11 dollars. It’s by far the best deal on the grounds. Heck, a chicken caesar wrap by itself costs the same!

 

Some things change. Some things stay the same. All in all, it’s still awesome!

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

 

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