New York, New York
Each Grand Slam possesses its own unique attributes. While I'm sure everyone has different reasons, what makes the US Open special to me is the energy that surrounds the tournament.
It starts right within the Big Apple, in downtown Manhattan to be exact, where many of the tournament hotels are situated. New York is one of the most important cities in the world and when walking down 5th Avenue or within Times Square there is simply no mistaking where you are.
It's a 20 to 45 minute ride to the courts, depending on the proverbial NYC traffic. When us players reach our destination, we are greeted by one of the spectacles of our sport - Arthur Ashe Stadium.
It's hard to imagine such a structure built entirely for the viewing pleasure of one court. Below, at court level, the hustle and noise of thousands of eager fans fill up the enormous complex.
People have come from far and wide to be here, and are often just as excited as the players themselves that the US Open has commenced. It's been said when it comes to value for money it's tough to beat a grounds ticket at the US Open during the first week of play.
The hottest player on the men’s tour right now, Rafael Nadal, showed his class by taking out young American Ryan Harrison in straight-sets in the first round on Monday.
On the outside courts, however, there were several matches that went the full five sets, which again showcased the depth and level of the men's game.
First rounds at the US Open, like the French Open, are played over three days. My campaign kicks off later today (5pm SA time). I’m up against German Daniel Brands in the first round. Daniel is enjoying his best year on tour so far, highlighted by a win over Roger Federer a few weeks back.
I really enjoy playing here in New York. It's a great end to the US Open Series that has been going on all summer, which I started with some good results.
While I experienced a couple tough weeks during the Masters Series in Montreal and Cincinnati, I’m feeling confident with my game and am eager to get back on court.
I’m first up on Grandstand Stadium today. It's always nice playing first as there is no waiting around. Playing third or fourth, especially at Grand Slams, can leave a player with a big window of time. Thus knowing when to start getting ready can prove tricky.
I will warm up from 9.30am to 10am (US time). That leaves me with an hour to prepare for my match. That amount of time is put aside to get my rackets ready and make sure that I have everything I need equipment-wise, before consuming a light snack about 30 minutes before hitting the court.
My final 10 minutes before a big match are spent mentally relaxing and also include a few physical exercises so as to feel ready to go to work from the very first point.
The nutrition involved during tennis matches is especially important during five-setters. It’s really important to not only stay hydrated but to keep replenishing one’s energy supplies.
Many on tour consume energy gels. Some players, myself included, prefer this to actually eating ‘real’ food. If a match goes the distance, I might eat a banana but, for the most part, I stick with the gels.
Next time you watch Nadal you will notice he takes one immediately before the match begins… The last thing you want to do is just drink water for the match’s entire duration.
2013 promises to be a very exciting US Open. Personally, I’m looking to further my best results in Grand Slams – that’s the goal.
As always, there are no easy matches. The best you can do is to put yourself in the finest position before each match and compete your hardest. May the best man win!
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