“I hate summer, to be honest. I hate dressing. I hate the heat. I hate sweaty people getting aggressively close to you when you’re walking down the street.” –Johnny Weir
Taking the 7-train in Queens, from the 90th Street station in Elmhurst to the last stop, Flushing-Main Street, is agonizing nowadays. Once inside, there are very few seats on the 11-car train and I’m forced to stand during the four station ride. Why? The 2018 US Open.
The annual grand slam tennis tournament attracts tourists from as far away as Europe, all boarding the train for the Mets-Willets Point station, which is three stations away (or a 15 to 20 minute walk) from where I stay.
It is because of the summer heat, I have to take the train if I want to catch the matches; walking is possible, but only during the other seasons of the year. The heat this year has been such a problem lately, last Tuesday, it was reported Novak Djokovic and his opponent used ice baths to cool down during their opening match. In addition, both Ričardas Berankis and Leonardo Mayer dropped out in the middle of their respective first round matches due to the heat, while Stefano Travaglia also forfeited in the middle of his match against Hubert Hurkacz reporting cramps.
Most tourists stay in Manhattan, which requires them to take the 7 if they want to visit Queens.
Besides tennis, the station is also where baseball fans get off to visit Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, which is adjacent to where the US Open is being held.
There are currently seven former US Open men’s singles champions still active on the circuit and they are all participating in this year’s tournament, meaning, there is an abundance of star power on tap for this year’s competition.
Rafael Nadal, the current world number one, has collected five ATP titles this year, including the French Open. This year’s US Open offers an opportunity to win both grand slam tournaments in a single season for a second consecutive year.
Roger Federer, who won the US Open from 2004 to 2008, has yet to reclaim the title, despite two subsequent appearances in the finals and three in the semifinals. Like Nadal, he has only played one hardcourt tournament this summer, but it would appear the defending Australian Open champion, at 37 years old, has perfected the art of peaking at the right time.
Djokovic comes in with this year’s Wimbledon trophy. He also won the Cincinnati Masters earlier this month, beating Federer in the finals, making him the first man to win all nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments.
He also carries a 19-2 record in his past four tournament appearances.
The US Open runs until September 9./WDJ