Yesterday evening, The Observer trekked out to Flushing to see the US Open, a long an daunting journey but well worth it to see our favorite player, Rafa Nadal, show off his moves at center court.
Arriving at the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, every possible variety of tennis lover was passing through, making their way to the stadium. Foreign visitors, country club families, diehard aficionados decked out in USTA gear and literally legions of bankers headed to their corporate suites all discussed the upcoming match as they walked down the ramp from the subway stop to the stadium.
We made our way through the crowded mini-city set up for the occasion. Countless souvenir stands hawked Open hats, shirts and windbreakers, while an army of food carts and restaurants catered to every possible tennis-induced craving.
Taking our seat, we prepared for the main event. Rafael Nadal played animated Kazakhstani Andrey Golubev in the first round match. Our neck bobbed back and forth for three sets, watching the two square off. While Golubev gave Rafa a run for his money, the defending champ was simply too good, defeating the young player.
At times throughout the evening, the European referees did little to hide their frustration with the rowdy American crowd. Don’t they play Devo anthem “Whip It” between sets at Wimbledon?
Serena Williams was up next, playing nineteen-year-old Bojana Jovanovski. Although we expected something more outlandish than her plain blue Nike tennis dress, Serena didn’t fail to make a statement: she played the entire match with giant chandelier diamond earrings dripping from her lobes. Poor Bojana was dwarfed by Serena both in stature and skill, and the veteran tennis star defeated her handily.
Leaving the stadium, a mad dash was made toward the Manhattan bound 7 express. Noticeably tipsy guests crammed into the subway car and recounted the evening’s highlights. It looks like we can expect much more from both Rafa and Serena this Open.