By Richard Kent, Staff Reporter
NEW YORK — There may be no greater bargain in sports than the week before the US Open in Flushing Meadows. Yes, the week before. Starting this past Monday.
Take Thursday for example.
Besides the great qualifier matches, featuring such top players as Luke Rosol and Nicole Gibbs taking place on the men’s and women’s side, for 16 men’s and 16 women’s coveted spots in the US Open main draw,there are player practices all over the sprawling facility.
And the always popular US Open draw, expertly commented upon by ESPN tennis personalities, took place in the Plaza before a huge crowd.
You a Venus Williams fan? Well, if so you could have seen her bright and early in the morning in good form on the practice courts. Even at age 39, she is still playing at a very high level.
OK, we know you are a Roger Federer fan.
Well, how about Federer, seeded no. 3 at the Open playing no. 4 Dominic Thiem in the magnificent Grandstand. Federer, wearing Uniglo clothing, was in good spirits and both player put on a clinic for the throng of fans watching in awe.
You want more Federer. Well a select group got to see him play against no. 21 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina. Both played for separate teams in the Laver Cup this past September in Chicago.
How about defending champion and world no. 1 Novak Djokovic. He was in the Grandstand at 2 pm against Roberto Batista Agut of Spain, making his debut in the top in the world.
And Djokovic was generous with his time in signing autographs for young fans, especially on large tennis balls. There are concerts every day, featuring the likes of Leon Bridges.
Friday brings the tennis fan the last round of the qualifiers and players like Rafael Nadal, Federer, Serena Williams,Sloane Stephens, bad boy Greek Nick Kyrgios and Stan Wawrinka competing in practice matches.
Most of the restaurants and merchandise booths on premises are open and ready for action. The food isn’t inexpensive, but as usual, very good. The price is right and the tennis second to none.