As far as televised sporting events, the NCAA Tournament is tops for me. But for many years now, my favorite event to see live in person has been the U.S. Open. It’s been that way ever since the day I saw a young Swiss named Roger Federer smash the ball around on the outer courts.
The U.S. Open is not my favorite live sporting event because I’m a huge tennis fan or anything. For me, it’s always been about the atmosphere. The electricity. When I’m in Flushing Meadows, I’m glad I’m nowhere else.
Tennis has a different feel here. It’s no Roland Garros, and it’s certainly no Wimbledon. Those places can feel stiff and staid. But there’s a perfection in the imperfection of playing the sport here.
This year, I saw Djokovic win in the 3rd round, his last full match before retiring in the middle of his 4th round match-up against Wawrinka. As Djokovic tossed the ball in the air for a first serve, someone from the stands yelled out, “C’mon Djokovic!” The joker had to refocus and retoss the ball for his serve. It was a moment where New York showed its true colors.
This would only happen in Flushing Meadows. I’d imagine you’d get a fine for doing something like that at Wimbledon. While this may be a refined sport, there is nothing refined about Grand Slam tennis inside Arthur Ashe, or in the entire Billy Jean King National Tennis Center, for that matter.
Fired up players. Heckling fans. Lack of manners. Roaring planes flying low over the skyline to and from LaGuardia. Bring it all on.
For many, this is not how tennis should be. But for me, this is how it should be. And then it occurs to me, maybe this is how much of New York City works and why we love it so much. We find perfection in the imperfection. The heaven in the hell.