After the rough day of New Haven quarterfinals I decided to bypass the semifinals and take the train down to New York to get the lay of the land in Flushing Meadows and catch some qualie action. I rustled my way out of bed to hop on the 9am train with my iPod, journal, and horrible styrofoam cup full of something that Dunkin Donuts calls "coffee" but I'm not so sure. This is now that third or fourth time I've had DD coffee and the jury is officially in: It sucks. I'm sorry, New Englanders, it really really does.
Two and a half hours later, I had made it. My first Slam! To be honest, despite the fact that the USO is in my own country, it was always the last one I ever intended to visit. From everything I heard it just didn't sound like the tournament for me. Big, loud, crowded, and, well, overwhelming. I'm quite curious to see how I'll react come Monday when the tournament starts, but right now it's pretty perfect. But let's see if I have a nervous breakdown once the temperatures heat up and the vast space that is the BJKNTC gets crammed full of thousands of people.
After watching my raison d'etre of the day win her second qualifying match (more on that later), I went to the Grey Goose bar to celebrate with the famous Honey Deuce, a drink I blogged about years ago. It's steep at $13 (which includes a pretty nifty souvenir cup) but I have to say, it's totally worth it. Sitting and guzzling my drink I met a couple of FD readers (once again, my sultry voice gave me away) and I was having fun chilling out and taking in the sights and sounds.
After I was delightfully buzzed so as to not worry about credit card debt, I decided to do all my souvinir shopping now so as to avoid the crowds come Monday and to hopefully take advantage of the full stock. Most of the sponsors have their own booths or stores and Nike's is pretty solid. I piked up that white "Vamos Rafa" shirt and the "Ventaja Delpo" shirt, then walked over to Lacoste and got a t-shirt and some wristbands. Between those and my many, many, many commemorative cups, I think I'm pretty set.
I was given a proper head's up about the practice court access, or relative lack thereof, so I wasn't too surprised when I hit the practice courts and saw crowds of people with little chance you'd be able to see much. There are five courts next to each other in a row and three sides of the practice court area is completely blocked off by tarps and trees. One side as a direct view through a chain link fence. What does this all mean? Well, it means that you're shit out of luck for good pictures of video if your player is on any court other than the one next to the viewing area. And if your player is on that court but Rafa or Roger is on any of the other four? Yeah, no chance, as the viewing area will be packed full of people trying to see them. So it's pretty tough.
As for autographs and pictures with players, well, you have to want it to win it. This was taking while Rafa was signing and it was a lot of chaos and screaming. If you want the signatures and pictures, you need to stand not where these kids are standing, but towards the front, nearest the player entrance area.
All in all, it was a great first day at the Open. I got to tour the grounds while they were still relatively quiet and really, it was very relaxing day of tennis.
Of course, this being New York, the day wouldn't end in a tight little bow. I went out for dinner and drinks with some friends, got blitzed, stumbled my way onto the train at 1am, and proceeded to pass out, not waking until the conductor dude poked me to wake me up to get me off the train in New Haven. Thank God New Haven was the last stop. I very easily could have found myself across the border otherwise. But I found my way back to the hotel, crashed out at 4:30am, and woke up to do it all again.
Living the dream, kids.