The US Open Fan Week, featuring the qualifying tournament (3 rounds), freebies from sponsors and the opportunity to watch the brightest tennis stars practice super close, is one of the best kept secret in sporting events. And the full week, preceding the main draw, is all free. (The Kids Day, the Saturday in between, is fun too, but it might get a little overly crowded.)
For those of us who may not have the luxury to go to the Fan Week a couple of times, or more, these screenshots below will help you plan for the future US Open Fan Week visits. (For example, Roger Federer only appeared once in a stadium court. Another time he practiced at P1, it was impossible to get up to the bleacher seating area at all.) If you could grab a day with an exhibition match starring retired champions, even better. This year, it was Thursday Aug. 22, featuring Andy Roddick and James Blake. Tap on dates below for practice schedules:
Ticket buyers: sessions featuring GOAT(s), or hugely sought after stars, will probably become best sellers in a matter of a few hours, when the draw is announced or schedule for certain GOAT(s) or stars is available. This year was the case when I wanted to grab three tickets for my family (3) to watch Roger Federer’s first round. On Thursday, when the draw was announced showing Federer’s top half collision with Novak Djokovic, I was not sure which session to buy as I’d imagined either one of them could land the night match on Monday. I quickly checked the US Open app and the tickets for the night session at Arthur Ashe on Monday had gone up from $30 to $50 immediately. Guess I wasn’t alone in trying to snap up a ticket to watch Federer, possibly the last appearance at the US Open. I almost wanted to grab the $50 opportunity but chose to wait just to be sure Federer was scheduled to play at night indeed. Late afternoon on Friday, I checked the US Open app again and confirmed that Federer is indeed going to play on Monday night, by this time the ticket had gone up to $80. (If I’d choose 3 tickets, the price would be over $100. To that, I’d say “No, thank you $300!”) In the end, I did figure out a way to keep the damage down by ordering three individual tickets, which might be separated but we’ll deal when we get in there. And it rounded up to $60 or so per ticket. (With a $10 fee, it would be $210 in total.)
Hobbyist photographers: be prepared to part ways with your excited long lens and good camera. Sometimes the gatekeepers are really serious about the rules of forbidden items. Three-inch rule is for the lens you could bring inside. I just got my 70-200mm sent away to the bag check depot. My suggestion is, if you aren’t one of those guys with a lanyard earning a 4-figure paycheck a day, or more, doing this, try to just enjoy the game.