Sunday, October 31, 2021

US Open 2021, Day 1

[Composed 9/3/2021]

Let's Tennis

By all indications, today was supposed to be anything but a normal day at the US Open. We've got a pandemic going on, there's a new vaccination requirement to get access to the grounds, earlier in the week attendees waited for hours in a chaotic line to access the stadium and last night a deadly storm careened through the area.

And yet, our US Open experience was essentially normal. Yes, we flashed our vaccine cards to get into the stadium, and yes we wore masks when sitting adjacent to strangers. But other than that, the day felt essentially normal. We watched a whole lot of tennis with a whole lot of tennis fans.

We arrived at the South Gate an hour before the grounds opened. We waited with some equally excited fans, and 2 minutes after they started letting folks in, we were through the gates.

We made our way immediately to Louis Armstrong stadium where we hoped to catch our first few matches of the day. We kicked back and watched Medvedev and his team do a practice session and eat fresh baked goods from Iris Bakery. What more could I ask for?

Simona Halep vs Elana Rybakina

Our first match of the day was Halep vs. Rybakina. Ever since the 'Hi Simona' incident, we've been fans of Halep. This match was a slow start for Halep who was down 0-3 as the match began. Ultimately, Halep took the first set to a tie breaker which she won 13-11. Rybakina took the second set, and Halep the third. It was a delightful match to start the day.

Daniil Medvedev vs Pablo Andujar

The Medvedev vs Andujar match was pretty much what you'd expect in a #2 vs #92 matchup. Medvedev cruised by Andujar as though he were continuing his practice session from earlier in the day.

Sam Stosur / Zhang Shuai vs Miyu Kato / Sabrina Santamaria

On paper, the Stosur / Zhang vs Kato / Santamaria matchup doesn't look like much. But factor in that it was played on a side court that put us just feet from the action and that we recently followed Stosur / Zhang at the Western & Southern Open and we knew we wanted to take in this match. And it didn't disappoint. Doubles action is always fast, and even though Kato and Santamaria ended up losing pretty definitively, they gave off remarkably happy vibes.

It was fun to watch Stosur and Zhang continue their team dominance.

Sloane Stephens vs Angelique Kerber

After watching doubles we made our way back to Louis Armstrong stadium to take in Stephens vs Kerber. Like most of the attendees, we cheered on our fellow countrywoman, Stephens.

Kerber started off slow, giving Sloane the first set. But she found her game in the second and third sets, beating Sloane without much difficulty. It was sad to see an American lose. Though, I don't feel too bad for Sloane, as Kerber hadn't won a set from Sloane in their last 5 meetings.

At this point, Shira ducked out to pick up snacks and came back with a couple of eggplant topped Chinese buns and a bubble tea. The food was OK, but it lost points when I learned how much the "meal" had cost us: $25.00. I get that stadium food is going to be overpriced, but seriously? I'm so over this.

At least the US Open bag policy allows you to bring in food. Between the fresh bakery items we picked up during our walk to the stadium in the morning and the mystery snacks from yesterday, we were essentially all set for provisions. So that's my unsolicited advice to future US Open attendees: bring in food and have low expectations for the vendors in the stadium.

Felix Auger-Aliassime vs Roberto Bautista Agut

Our final match of the day was FAA vs Agut. Felix is another player we watched recently at the Western & Southern Open. We get the sense that we're watching a player break through and that this season will be a major part of his career. Felix continued that trend by triumphing in a five setter against Bautista Agut.

And we're done. Exhausted. I feel like I've more than made up for any tennis debt I may have had from the previous year. And yet, we'll be back in line at 9:00am sharp tomorrow morning to do this all over again.