AHAHAHAAA THIS ENTRY. I went to the US Open on September 4th 2010 or something, started writing the friggin entry on the 27th, got back to it on like... February 2011 and variously after that. I AM GOING TO FINISH IT TODAY. I've already been to the US Open again in the meantime but tomorrow is my approximately one-year anniversary because once again I will be back at the US Open for the first Saturday of the tournament. Having this entry in between my 2011 write-ups won't be confusing, right?

I knew... so much less about tennis. And sadly, we only have a couple camera-phone pictures this time. And I didn't know very many players and I was much more into Rafa than I am now and it's all quite strange. This is why you should write stuff within 2 months of what you're writing about, ha. I'm sorry because it's probably really hard to follow what was written when and how I felt about tennis/tennis players at whatever time I was writing. XD

As I said at some point in the writing process:


OK so my trip to the US Open was 23 days ago... from when I started writing this dang thing. Now it's been months and months and another Grand Slam and it's a totally different season and I've learned an incredibly lot more about tennis. BUT I still want to write it up and I'd written about bits of it before and I think I'll remember all the highlights. The vast majority of it was written within two months of the event, I promise! XD

It was, in a word, AWESOME. We got day tickets for the Saturday session - so that means that we had all day and could run around going anywhere we wanted except Arthur Ashe. This was perfect. As was the weather! I was with my twin sister Katie, her fiance David, and his sister Steph. We were meeting up with Brian, a friend of David's, whose family goes every year. One of his brothers was a competitive junior tennis player and is now playing for Stanford or something, so they're a big tennis family.

Generally we were watching the third round of the singles matches, I believe. Definitely for the singles matches.


Summary of the day:
1) Arrive via bus, not crowded at all! Had to walk a ways to get to the tennis, especially as they were charging admission to the Botanic Gardens. XP No big deal, though - passed some youth soccer games and a bunch of people in jerseys!

2) Security is easier than expected, and we're in. Preppiness abounds! I ogle the posters of past winners, Katie and I get excited about the giant tennis balls you're supposed to have people sign. Katie goes on to count their presence in the various courts - they look hilarious sitting next to people or on their laps. We also note that many people appear to be wearing tennis ball-colored shirts.

3) Schedules cost money, so we kinda fake it til we make it using the overhead screens and our keen tracking abilities. When we arrive, Soderling v de Bakker is happening in Louis Armstrong and Monfils v Tipsarevic is happening in the Grandstand. We were going through Louis Armstrong to get to the Grandstand anyway, so we sit for a bit in there before heading into the Gael-Janko match.

4) I get antsy, but wait until everyone is ready to head to the Grandstand. Hahahaaa. Gael and Janko are having an AWESOME MATCH and the place is utterly packed. You can't even stand at the balcony. We give up.

5) I get even more antsy sitting watching Soderling dismantle de Bakker, so I keep trying to find a spot in the Grandstand where I can see something. End up squatting down peering between people's legs. Far better than any of the spots I'd found while standing. Wish I'd worn shorts instead of a skirt, but whatever.

6) Sated and worried about my sunscreen situation, I head back into Louis Armstrong.

7) Time to meet Brian's family. However, they are in a smaller court and we are left waiting until the changeover [when I initially wrote this entry I didn't know what a changeover was and I wrote "until the current game ends". Awwwww 2010 Laura, so cute.]. I realize I don't know Brian's family nor do I particularly care about the match going on. I have a US Open to explore!

8) Having been instructed to stalk the practice courts, I bring Katie and Steph with me. After some initial confusion, we figure out how things work - and just in time for RAFAEL NADAL TO SHOW UP TO PRACTICE. HE IS SHORTLY JOINED BY FERNANDO VERDASCO, THEY ARE HITTING TOGETHER.

9) We lose our shit.

10) Lunch! Takes forever. I debate leaving my "holding down the table" position to see if anyone else has shown up at the practice courts but man up instead and make small talk with Brian.

11) Have been attempting to find out when Tommy Robredo's doubles match is occurring. Call dad, try to direct him to a schedule online, am told it was at 11. Shrug this off because the day is already awesome.

12) I take a quick detour to the practice courts, but then rejoin everyone back at Louis Armstrong, where Mardy Fish is taking on Arnaud Clement. The first game is still happening when I get there, a 10-minute exchange of deuces. Admire Clement's head accessories.

13) Mardy Fish appears to have lost some weight!

14) Katie and I get the urge to roam. Unfortunately, Brian (who had been on a plane all night to get to NY) has fallen asleep in the aisle seat. Gentle nudging accomplishes nothing. We wait out another game and are able to escape.

15) We wander around the smaller courts. A doubles match catches our eye, it's great fun to watch! The results of another doubles match pop up on screen. It's Robredo!! The match is one court over! A quick scurrying and we are feasting our eyes on his fine, white-clad Spanish hiney.

16) The way we end up sitting and the way the players arrange themselves, Robredo is never quite as close to us as he could be. This is probably for the best, and we both fall in love with him anyway.

17) Both David and I want to see Juan Carlos Ferrero's match. Me because he's a delicious Spanish Armada member, and David because he's interested in him and Jugen Melzer as dark horses. Katie heads home, I meet David at the Grandstand so we can watch some women's tennis and be ready for the imminent Juanqui.

18) As though haunted by the Grandstand's earlier 4-set epic between Monfils and Tipsarevic, Patty Schnyder and Yanina Wickmayer end up fighting it out to a third set tie-breaker. Fun to watch, but less so after a long day when it's keeping you from Juan Carlos Ferrero!

19) It might be the result of the impatient waiting, but I declare Juanqui to be the least attractive of the Armada members I'm familiar with. Still, cute - and I like that he has left long tails where he ties off his headband.

20) We don't stay long, and get home in time for dinner! I spend the night at Katie's, we watch Crackovia and the video of Rafa and Roger giggling for 15 minutes, and uproarious good times are had by all. Well, mostly at that point we're very sleepy, but it was still fun.


Further details, as required-
[see, I cleverly got the top part down so I'd be able to remember everything! Most of these details were also filled in very quickly as well, but I only got up to item 12 so after that it's written in 2011 and pieced together from memories and pictures and comments I left at ontd_tennis at the time.]

5) On attempting to see Tipsarevic-Monfils.
I don't know if anyone remembers Tipsy-Monfils but it was quite a good match! If I remember correctly (which is becoming increasingly unlikely as I delay this entry more and more), Tispy had just defeated Andy Roddick - at the US OPEN!! bum bum BUM and so on. So anyway they're both interesting players to watch and the place was fucking packed. I remember feeling quite frustrated because there were a lot of cases where if one person had shifted slightly we both would have been able to see?

But yeah I ended up on the balcony that attaches the two courts, peering between people's legs. I could see most of the action except that which was happening on the side near us - sort of under the balcony, you know. It was ok, I didn't know that much about tennis at that point anyway and I was just happy to get to watch Gael jumping around. However - the skirt I was wearing did make the experience somewhat interesting, being a tad on the short side. I don't think there are likely to be any exciting photos of me popping up somewhere, as I was slightly back, but you never know. Luckily I never go commando. (Again, the people in front of me were not sympathetic about the concept of noticing there was someone squatting behind them and trying to arrange their legs in a helpful way. In-person tennis fans are not always the most kind and generous of folk, it seems, although my experiences online have been very satisfying.) [Wednesday 2011 people were nicer! The weekend thing probably doesn't help at all.]

9) Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco - HOLY SHIT. HOOOOOLY SHIIIIIIIT. We show up at the practice courts and there's fence all round, most of which is either inaccessible or covered with mesh that makes it very difficult to see through. But there's a little space set up where you can see one of the courts and there's benches and stuff. And right next to that is the place where the players come and go but there's security and little bike rack barriers (whatever those are called) so that people can be let in to get autographs, but in a controlled amount.

This is a lot to take in for the very clueless, so we spend a little time orienting ourselves and trying to figure out if anything exciting is happening. There was kind of a fuss by the entrance so we're like what? what?? And then it's like. . . OH HEY RAFAEL NADAL IS SHOWING UP.

RAFAEL NADAL.

We're like "aaaagh what do we do let's get closer" so for no reason at all me and Steph get ourselves let behind the barrier. This means you're next to the mesh rather than actually able to see so if you don't want an autograph it's a little pointless, except we were in the area that was right next to the bench where Rafa sat down on to get himself together, so we could see him there through the mesh and I could have reached out and just poked him. I mean. He was right there, sitting on a bench. AHHHHHHHH. Uncle Toni was next to him and one of the fans said hey and Uncle Toni said hey XDD

But finally we realize that we should go back to the bench, where Katie had already secured us perfect seats!! And while we were doing this. . .

FERNANDO VERDASCO SHOWED UP. BEAUTIFUL, NAKED, UNDERWEAR MODEL, CUDDLY, TWEETS IN ENGLISH, FLIRTS WITH FELI LOPEZ FERNANDO VERDASCO. HE WAS THERE TO PRACTICE WITH RAFA.

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At first, Rafa was in the side of the court next to the viewing area, and Fer was behind the mesh. I love them both so I kept leaning forwards to see Fer.

Rafa was wearing reasonably tight clothes. Enough to cause a visceral physical reaction from this young lady. XD Shorts were above the knee - visible thigh! He looked gorgeous.

Not that you can tell from our phone camera photos. XD


The overwhelming impression was. . . health. It wasn't shocking or excessive, he just looked like an incredibly healthy, athletic guy - tall, but not looming. Ohhhh swooooon. *_*


Rafa was quite serious - although of course, all the damn conversation was in Spanish. Curse my lack of comprehension! Then again even if they were speaking French, which I ostensibly actually speak a bit, I would probably not do much better. But anyway, yes, he seemed quite intense - whereas Fer was much more light-hearted and smiley, joking around, very VERY adorable!! (of course when they played each other a few days later Rafa pretty much took Fer apart, but hey I guess Fer had a better time getting there!)

So at first Rafa was in the part of the court in front of the benches and Fer was over behind the mesh but I love them both

10) On lunch taking forever.
Apparently the US Open does not have a good system set up for this. I was lucky that I just had to wait while other people were fetching the food but I have a niggling feeling that Feli was on the practice courts around this time. It's hard to be dissatisfied about anything about my day but I do kind of wish I'd seen him. I just. . . can't imagine him actually existing in person! XD [I saw Feli in 2011! :D And we brought sandwiches!]

11) On being told Tommy's match was at 11.
I later realized that to someone not used to reading tennis schedules (which, honestly, is still me as well) it looks like everything starts at 11, and I'm not really sure what I was expecting from my dad. XD They just give the games that are scheduled to occur in each court in the order in which they will happen. Then you sort of guestimate based on how long games take when you need to be where.

But I felt ok when he said 11 because we had just arrived and didn't have everything under our belts well enough to seek out a doubles match on a smaller court, it's not like I was sitting idly watching something less interesting or whatever. Of course, I'm even happier that we ended up catching it!

12) On the Fish v Clement match.
A definite highlight was the phrase "Advantage Fish." Ahhhh Katie and I still say that to each other sometimes. The chair ump had a good accent, too. And, according to a comment I left in _tennis at the time and saved as a reference for this post, there was a woman sitting behind us who kept encouraging Mardy to go on the offense and giving him advice and said he was driving her to drink. XD At that point I was too young and innocent to be bothered by pro-American bias and it also really wasn't bad.

15) On finding Tommy Robredo.
YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!! This was the start of a love affair that persists to this day [because this is getting written September 2011 so that phrase is actually meaningful - although his appearance singing Jingle Bells in an ATP video helped as well] and when Katie and I were back at the US Open on Wednesday (August 31, 2011) we missed Tommy dearly!! *___________* We declared him to have "dashing, Three Musketeers good looks."

::swoon:: Tommy is so flawless!! Even crappy cell phone pictures cannot fail to display his beauty. And incredible tan lines. Watching hot guys play doubles is just so super fun because of all the bending over while they wait for their partner to serve. And on Tommy this is all "hello, ladies. How do you like my thighs? I worked extra hard on these tan lines just for you <333" and of course we were all crying and pulling our hair like that girl at the Beatles concert at the end of Hard Day's Night.


Honestly, Tommy Robredo waiting for serve is just one of the most rewarding sites in tennis. Sometimes he wiggles!! That's when he's waiting for his opponent to serve. Ugh, he is the best.


With Marcel Granollers! Who we have since become fond of as well - and we thought he was ADORABLE at the time, too... it was funny, because I'd heard of Tommy but not Marcel, and we thought Marcel was just this total random kid who was playing with Tommy. To this day I think of him as being at least 3 years younger than he is. He's so tall and awkward. :333 He served great and Tommy was returning beautifully. ::sigh:: I miss him.


As I said in the _tennis comment where I originally posted these pictures - "Amazing cell phone action shot!"

This match also created our little special relationship with Rajeev Ram (but not Lipsky! Where was Lispky in 2010??). We were there rooting for Tommy and Marcel but felt slightly like bad Americans, especially since the little stands were full of people saying "Come on Raj!" and "Let's go Raj!!" I'm pretty sure Raj lost but we loved the enthusiasm of his fans. We stopped by another match of his yesterday and heard the same cheering! It was like the months just melted away...

18) On Yanina Wickmayer.
Even a year later, I have a joke grudge against her for how long this match took. I've forgiven Patty Schnyder - I think Wickmayer had more chances to close it out so I resented her more?

19) On my foolish youth.
I don't know - Juan Carlos Ferrero in person didn't impress me the way Tommy did, or Fer giggling away on the practice courts, but having seen him much more since this day, in videos and interviews and cuddling ridiculous dogs, he's just so elegant and dignified and sexy - it's hard to imagine myself ever thinking he was funny looking. A lesson on judging from appearances alone, before you hear someone's smooth, sex-on-a-plate voice and see their fabulous purple hotel.

[And there you have it! So 12-19 were written just now, the rest at various times between September 27, 2010 and probably like... April or May of 2011? Ahhh, the days when I kind of only knew the Armada. :3 What a good starting point! The following summary was written back in 2010, by the way.]


Overall thoughts!
Strangely enough, I highly recommend going to the US Open on a day when you're not too stressed about seeing any particular matches. Going in with an attitude of "whatever I end up seeing is cool" is a lot more fun and less stressful. I mean, there were a few things I wanted to catch and I think it's pretty feasible to see at least a glimpse of whatever you wanted, but yeah. It was just less stressful this way.

[2011 note: on Wednesday I had about 20 matches that I wanted to see and that kind of works good too, because when you see that many matches it's hard to be dissatisfied if you miss one. XD It did lead to me spending a lot of time tracking the scores and thinking about our scheduling, but not to the inhibition of my enjoyment. But I'm sure some people would hate that... Anyway I guess my advice for going to a slam would be to have a bajillion players that you love and then you'll be excited no matter who you see, even if the matches themselves end up being less good or something.]

I also recommend moving around a bit. I did a bit more roaming than most of my companions and I ended the day with less of a headache, because I spent less time sitting in the sun. However, probably more serious tennis fans than I would be more interested in catching an entire match, or at least an entire set. . . or at least not slipping out of every match right before the end because you don't want to get caught in a crowd.

But for me, hopping from court to court and match to match worked out great! Louis Armstrong was kind of our home base, and it's definitely my favorite court - the seats all have backs, instead of just being benches. Maybe I got spoiled but I ended up in the Grandstand at the end of the day and it was kind of rough on my back. But yeah, I also went and explored the smaller courts and popped in and out of the Grandstand throughout the day and saw some good stuff. Also, Louis Armstrong lets you come and go during the match, for some reason. I mean, not just in between games. Obviously you're not supposed to and we generally waited to leave, but it was nice not to have to wait to enter.

My other advice for the US Open is to go on a day with perfect weather. My god, did we luck out. Beautiful, sunny, not too hot - it was starting to get windy, which would end up causing a lot of problems for the players, but for us sitting in the stands it was very sweet. Also I was apparently the only one of my group to adequately apply sunscreen! Although most people just got a couple of little patchy burns. I actually ended up squatting in the sun early on and got paranoid so I applied another layer, so yeah.
[Apparently this is key, because I did it again this year and was fine, whereas Katie waited until lunch at 1-ish and got burnt. Apply sunscreen before you go and then touch it up between 11:30 and 12 and then you're probably good - although if you feel hot any time later, add more sunscreen!]
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