US Open Tennis Grand Slam
Yami & Nizwer in Flushing, New York August 29-30, 2008

New York city is a busy place with parking challenges. Not exactly my favorite city to visit, but for the love of tennis I did this. Joe arranged day passes for us through his contacts on Friday August 29 and Saturday August 30 day sessions. Thank you Joe. Naru gave me the opportunity to see matches of Federer and Djokovic and an inside look into Arthur Ashe stadium. Thank you Naru from bottom of heart. Ravi Metre offered his apartment while he was away in India. Thank you Ravi, we missed seeing you though.

Joe and Nizwer atop Armstrong stadium

After all the research into subways and connections, a detailed plan was developed. Problem was with execution. We reached La Guardia a bit late due to a flight delay. Airport information desk told us our best option was to take a cab instead of public transport. Since it was night time and we had carryon baggage with us we took a cab from La Guardia to Jersey, City (Newport). The cab driver appeared to have great difficulty understanding where we wanted to go. As we got into some really slow traffic, I got off at a stop light, retrieved my portable GPS from the trunk, got into the front passenger seat, programmed the GPS and thats how we got to Ravi Metre's apartment in Newport. Great view of the Manhattan skyline from there. The cabby was from Guinea, which has been under military rule for 20 years, he informed me. However everyone does not have to be in the miltary, and therefore running off to Manhattan to drive a cab is not considered desertion.

Next morning we were off to PATH station following the detailed public transportation plan. The map at the PATH ticket purchase point in Pavonia/Newport, did not match the map that I had researched. so we got help from a kind stranger who sent us on our way to 33rd St. The subway line had letters marked Q, R, N, W. We were to take the N / W line and change at Queensboro to the 7 line that would take us directly to the Shea Stadium stop. The Q train arrived. We had some doubts so I got into the train to ask one lady inside if this would take us to Queensboro. She was a little distraught about boyfriend separation or something so she did not respond. The door closed and the train took off with Yami left standing on the platform. We frantically tried to communicate through cell phones. Fat luck, they don't work in subways. I get off at the next stop take the Q train going back to 33rd St. To my relief Yami is still waiting at the same spot. We ask one guy getting into the Q train if this was going to Queensboro. He says "yes" so we get in. We could have asked him anything he would have said "yes", thats how much English he knew. A couple of stops later the Q train stops, we wonder why stopped for so long, so we get out and subway map once more and notice that the 7 line to the US Open starts from 42nd street so we get back to 42nd St by Q train. A subway employee directs us to line 7. Moral of the story? don't take the Q train and if you ever need to ask questions stand outside on platform. The subway to Flushing is not the express train but it travels mostly in the open so we contact Naru by cell and inform him of the delay. Backpacks are not allowed into the stadium so we have to get in line to check it into a locker. We are inside the US Open grounds nearly an hour late.

Once inside we head to Court #6 to watch Leander Paes play doubles. They are tied one set a piece. There is an announcement that Venus Williams is signing autographs in USTA customer appreciation tent. For some reason the tent is outside the gate so you have to get your hand stamped. When I reach there folks are taking pictures with a US Open trophy. I hoist trophy smile and have my picture taken. Venus Williams is not in sight, too many people surround her.

Naru invites me to Arthur Ashe stadium. Federer easily wins over an unknown Brazilian player who worked really hard to produce some interesting points. Seeing Djokovic for the first time was great. Arthur Ashe stadium is huge. McEnroe could be seen in the announcer's box most of the time.

Naru leaves with family to French restaurant get together. Ashe stadium about to clear for night session, so Yami and Nizwer head over to Armstrong stadium. We watch one set of Safin vs Robredo match, Safin is impressive. We leave before the end of the second set when rain stops play. When play resumes we are at the Grand Stand to catch the end of the first set between Carlos Moya and Wilfred Tsonga. Light rain stops play again so we call it a day and take the Long Island Rail Road to Penn Station, then a taxi to French restaurant at 180 Spring Street at Thompson. Shanks, Nanu, Naru .and family, and Naru's friend and his wife nearly done with dinner. Yami wanted to see pic of Nanu, Naru, Nunu . We hang around there until well after midnight and then take the subway and PATH back to Newport arriving after 2am. Later we learn that play continued and Safin fizzled out but Tsonga came back from a set down to win over Carlos Moya.

Next day, August 30th we get out of Newport early to get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty from the ferry near Battery Park. Visibility was poor and the statue quite far away so not really worth the hassle. We stopped to take a picture of the site of the World Trade Center where construction of a memorial continues.

We arrive at the US Open in good time and watch several players. Joe joins us at Armstrong stadium when Ivo Karlovic and Sam Querrey were trading aces. We then walk out to see Tursunov's doubles played on court #7. In the meantime, Wawrinka's match is heading for 5 sets. Wawrinka won but his opponent, Cippolla, did not shake hands at the end. We did not see what led to that behavior since we missed the first 4 sets. The entire match was about Wawrinka's errors and winners. Nothing inspirational came from the opponent, just steady play.

The evening brought on some of the closest matches. Most exciting was Juan Del Potro vs Gilles Simon at the Grand Stand which ended in 5 sets and battle to the end. Great baseline rallies, thundering serves. Adjacent Armstrong stadium was another huge upset brewing. Nishikori barely edged out David Ferrer after converting his 4th match point. Standing ovations in both these matches. We could not catch Andy Murray's 5 set match that was happening earlier in the afternoon. It was late night but a match between wildcard Severine Bremond and a higher ranked player from Italy was about to begin and we had front seats with noses partly in playing area space. Garbin made some horrible sounds, so we instantly cheered for Severine. She had beautiful eyes too. We helped Severine win in 3 sets. James Blake's upset was in progress at Ashe stadium when we finally called it a night with parting pic and headed home.

We are in the flight and I download all the pictures from my camera. The picture with me holding up the trophy looks cool. Holy crap look what it says on the trophy !!