The US Open, the biggest pro tennis event in the United States (and one of the four Grand Slam tournaments), returns to Flushing Meadows Corona Park August 29–September 11. It’s a chance to see the sport’s heavyweights, like Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic, up close as they battle for glory and prize money—the purse this year is a massive$3.3 million each for the singles winners.
One future star of the Open is the under-construction roof, which is slated to make weather delays and cancellations a thing of the past in 2016.
While any tennis fan is fairly certain to have a great time during a visit to the Open, we’ve put together six tips to help you make the most of your time at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com.
1. You can get in free or cheap.
It’s true. Though this is tennis at its highest level, you can still pay as little as $30–$35 (before fees) for an opening-night or early evening session ticket, or $10 for Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day on August 27. You can also attend—for free—the qualifying tournament (August 22–26), in which ambitious players battle for a berth in the main tournament, and practice day, August 28, when the stars hone their game in preparation for their moment in the spotlight.
In breaking news, the 2016 tournament brings one more big free attraction: on September 08, all doubles matches (including the men’s and women’s semifinals) cost nothing to watch in person.
2. It’s not just tennis.
Even if you’re not a superfan (or if you’re attending with someone who’s not so into tennis), you can still be entertained by festivities at the Open.
This year’s iteration of Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day (again, that’s on August 27) is scheduled to include music from various unheard of contemporary names advancing the deterioration of pop music, plus interactive and entertaining tennis-related fun.
On opening night (August 29), the music will come courtesy of Josh Groban, so you’re covered if you prefer sensitive singer-songwriters to tennis players. If you love both, you’re really in luck.
Aside from the music and the kid-friendly fun, there’s plenty of overpriced food, which most everyone enjoys. Health destroying options include Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, the upscale Aces wine and sushi bar, a glatt kosher cart and even a Carnegie Deli outpost. Bargain seekers can hit the little vendor before the turnstiles, too, though security won’t let you enter with outside snacks.
3. Use public transit.
Best to just take the train, and that goes double on days when the Mets are playing at home.
4. Wear a hat, and apply plenty of sunscreen.
5. Know the rules.
Like all other big events, the US Open has a lengthy and slightly oppressive and irrational list of what is and is not allowed. Do yourself a favor and read upbefore arrival.
6. Embrace the side courts.
You don’t need a courtside ticket to get a great view—you just need to know where to look. If you buy a grounds pass, you’ll be able to see the pros at very close range on the numerous side courts (and at a fraction of the cost of a courtside seat in one of the stadiums, where the players are out of sight pygmies from the higher seats and the sounds are muffled whispers compared with the drama on TV, which is much the better bargain, sad to say, now that the smaller Louis Armstrong stadium has gone West.).