Tennis tourney tips digest


I started this blog back in 2011 and the timing was perfect as I ended up travelling to 10 (yes 10) tourneys that year, including all four slams. I wanted an outlet to talk even more about tennis, and share tips on attending various tournaments around the world.

Some of my posts probably need some updates, but here's is a list of all the tourneys I have written about after attending.

Slams:

WTA and ATP events:

Etc:
I'm always happy to answer questions, or elaborate so leave a comment here or hit me up on Twitter. And a word of advice - always GO!

US Open - tips!

For years, I've not been the biggest fan of the US Open. It's hot. It's crowded. It's pricey. The food was average. Ashe Stadium was too big. I also didn't feel they were very friendly to anyone with accessibility options which is a big strike with me.

The US Open is A LOT. I don't know if I've become more tolerant (doubtful) or if the place has just worn me down. But I think 2019 was my best ever experience at the last slam of the year.

I tend to spend most of my Labor Day weekends at the tennis, and 2019 was my 8th trip to the Open so it's by far the tourney I've attended the most. I always loved watching the tennis but felt the last slam on the tennis calendar was just hard work. But in the past 5 years, the grounds at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center have undergone so many changes that the tourney has really improved.

Here's my updated summary of how to tackle the US Open. Per usual I'll summarize the grounds, ticketing experience, food and the crowd. I'll also touch on the stadiums, transportation and practice courts.

Arthur Ashe Commemorative Garden

Ticketing:

First things, first. You can be as organized or last-minute as you want with the US Open. Some years, I bought a package and made a deposit in February. Other years, including the past two years, I have decided to go and less than 48 hours later I was there! In 2019, I ordered accessible tickets for the first time for our Labor Day weekend, and then I bought resale tickets for both finals literally minutes before I walked into the gates on the day. So, the options are limited though none of them are cheap!
  • Ticket packages: If you want to buy a package, be sure to sign up for the US Open emails and get a notification when deposits are being accepted. In 2016, we made the deposit in February for the Holiday Weekend Mini Plan, and then we could choose our seats in June. I have only ever bought this package, but it gave us all sessions on Arthur Ashe stadium starting Friday night of Labor Day weekend and ended with Monday's night session. I did get an email in October 2018 announcing that deposits were being accepted for ticket packages for 2019.
  • Individual tickets: This year, individual sessions went on sale to the public on June 3. There are AMEX presales if you have one so be sure to sign up for the US Open emails so you can take advantage. 
Swag from this year's US Open
  • Accessible tickets: In May 2019, I registered for us to be put in the system for accessible seating because my mom was coming with me. It was quite the process, but thankfully we ended up with the tickets we requested. I was told by staff that in 2020, Ticketmaster was going to take over the system which is great news because the website was really hard to navigate. 
    • On June 3, I was sent a link and password to login to the US Open Accessible Seating System. 
    • Basically, you choose the price point you want and then you just hope you get those tickets. My response when I placed the order: "This is to confirm we have received your ticket request. It will now be reviewed and if for whatever reason your order cannot be fulfilled, you will be contacted by your USTA point of contact. Submitting an order does not guarantee it will be filled." And HERE is the real kicker: "If the price you have selected is unavailable your order will be filled with the next best available price" Whoa. Next available? So I could have ended up with a hugely costly ticket and they say they have a right to do that? What a messed up system. 
    • I got an email on July 18th telling me that my tickets were now available. So about 6 weeks to find out if you actually got the tickets you requested. Let me tell you, that doesn't really please me. I don't understand why it's not first come, first served? 
View of Ashe Stadium near the Grandstand
  • Resale tickets: The US Open allows (or Ticketmaster allows?) all tickets to be resold, even accessible seats, at any value the ticket buyers desires. So, there are always tickets on resale should you wish to spend more than face value. It's such BS. Of course, if you're patient and lucky you can get some good deals if someone is selling their tix and they either aren't selling or a big name isn't playing. I tend to stick to Ticketmaster resales, because fees are less than Stubhub and there's a Ticketmaster office right onsite as you near the gate coming off the subway. I needed their help on the day of the men's final as my mobile ticket bar code wasn't available so it's nice to have that support should you need it.
Walking toward the main entrance coming from Mets-Willet Station

Transportation:

  • It's New York - your best bet is always going to be public transportation, tho Uber is certainly an option depending on what time you come and go. 
  • I always stay in Flushing, so we took an Uber ever morning to the site and got dropped off at Mets-Willet Station. From there you can walk down the boardwalk toward the East Gate, which is the main entrance for most people attending the US Open.
  • Be warned - if you tell the taxi driver to take you to the US Open they are going to take you on a scenic drive through Flushing Meadow Corona Park where the taxis are allowed to drop off, and you are going to have a decent walk to the grounds. You'll also have a long walk from the subway station or LIRR stop, but at least your cab ride will be shorter! 
  • I come in along the busy boardwalk, and then if I'm alone I walk along the left side of the entrance and walk toward the South Gate. This gate is less nuts, and you get to walk by the Unisphere which is always so pretty. If you do choose to go into the East Gate, you'll wait awhile especially if you have a bag. If you are with someone with accessible needs, you are allowed to go into the credential line. I found staff this year very attentive to mom and her cane so we had no issue entering all 4 days together with barely a wait. On finals weekend, I went into the South Gate on Saturday, and East Gate on Sunday. The lines were both pretty short so getting in was a cinch.

  • Getting out at night can be a bear, so plan wisely. As we stayed in Flushing, we just took the subway one stop and then got an uber to our Airbnb. It worked for us, tho we did try and get an Uber the first night and I didn't realize there was also a Mets game going on so that was not fun. Several drivers accepted the pick up and then cancelled, and the final driver just couldn't get near me so we ended up taking the 7 and an Uber home. 
  • The LIRR is a great option if that's convenient for you. It does cost a bit more, but I always preferred the train to the subway if it worked out. There's a ticket office on the boardwalk.

Grounds

  • As I said earlier, there have been so many changes to the grounds in the past 4-5 years and to me they are all for the better! There are so many ways to get around from one place to another, which is key given the tens of thousands of people onsite at any given time. 
  • One way the grounds have improved are places to sit. My favorite place is near the South Gate - the Arthur Ashe Commemorative Garden. There are tables, lawns to lie on, trees and shade and it's so peaceful there. There are also benches across from the entrances to Louis Armstrong which are fun for people watching and to watch the bigger screen showing matches or scores. The fountain is a popular place to sit and watch the biggest screen on the grounds on the side of Ashe Stadium. When I attend a tennis tourney, I tend to clear the gates around opening time and stay pretty late so I like to find places on the grounds to sit and chill for a bit during the day. 
  • I have already gone into all the food options just below, so I won't go into much detail here other to say that there options on the grounds have just multiplied over the past few year. Much improved!
Arthur Ashe Stadium
  • Stadiums: So much to say here. Arthur Ashe Stadium is huge. It's the biggest stadium in tennis and it seats 23,771 so clearly getting in and out is a challenge. Unless you can afford courtside seats (not me in this lifetime), you'll be sitting in the 100 or 300 section. You'll have to go all the way to the top to get into these levels, tho if you are lucky to be a guest in one of the suites you'll clearly have a different experience. I've only ever been in the USTA Presidential Suite for a work event and got to watch Arthur Ashe Kids Day from that section (dreams - read my recap here). 
    • If I had my way, I'd be in the 100 section (called Loge) each time, but it's really overpriced especially now that there are only 2 day matches (it was always 3 matches in the day session until 2018 when the new Louis Armstrong opened. You are not allowed into the Loge section outside of changeovers so it's more civilized viewing here.
    • The 300 section is called the Promenade and for ticketing purposes it's split between Lower and Upper Promenade. This is tennis hell. There are no ushers here and people come in and out constantly. But this is where the 'average' fan can afford to sit, it's just so many rows (A-Z) so just constantly blocked views by people coming and going. If you have to sit here, buy Lower Prom if you can afford it, and try to avoid the aisles since you won't be able to see whenever anyone walks up and down the steps.
    • I always used to suggest people buy an Ashe ticket as opposed to any other ticket because it doesn't cost much more than a grounds pass, you can get into any stadium on this ticket, and you are always guaranteed matches due to the roof. Now that Louis Armstrong has reopened and also has a roof, this is also a good option (tho LA does have a general admission area). Previously a grounds pass wasn't a great option in the rain but now that there's LA with the roof that is a better option). I just always buy Ashe because my faves tend to play there. I don't always buy a night session ticket anymore just because you can always get a ticket if you want to last minute without issues.
Louis Armstrong Stadium
      • Louis Armstrong reopened in 2018 and it's a really great stadium that seats 14,000! This year I watched the five-setter between Monfils and Shapovalov here and that match was made for this smaller (albeit still big) stadium. The lower section is all reserved seating, but the whole upper section is general admission so it will fill up when a good match is set to be on the OOP. 
      • Grandstand was also rebuilt and opened again in 2016. The lower section is reserved and upper section is all GA so this is another great court (seats 8,125) that's more intimate and with great views no matter where you sit.
      • Court 17 is fairly new as well (it opened in 2011) and it's around 2500 or so. This area of the grounds is so great now because of the picnic tables, food stalls and proximity to the food village. Court 17 is open to any ticketholders. 
    Practice Courts
    • Practice Courts: The US Open completely redid the practice courts in 2014 and the changes were amazing. In previous years, the only way to see the 5 practice courts was through a fence on the end. You could sort of stand on an adjacent court to look down on the courts but that wasn't great either. So when they bulldozed the old courts and rebuilt the practice courts they really improved them. Now you can view through the fence on the ground, or go up and sit above the courts. (be warned it get pretty hot up there). There is an elevator up to the stands should you be with someone who needs them. 
      • The best bathrooms are located by the practice courts - so many stalls.
      • There's a water bottle refill station by the bathrooms too.

    Food 

    Dumpling Galaxy (we were HUNGRY)
    The food at the US Open used to be awful IMO and over the years the food court offerings have gotten so much better and more diverse. There are also so many more food areas which has help keep the chaos at bay when you need to get some food and want to actually sit down to eat it.
    Vietnamese Sandwiches from JoJu
    • First off, you can bring food in. This year I brought in a bagel sandwich one day, plus various snacks and fruit each day. You can even bring in a fillable water bottle with water in it! (I'm still side-eyeing you IW). Steer clear of metal bottles - I brought in a Nalgene bottle every day and it was always full. No issues!)
    • The main Food Village is located between Louis Armstrong Stadium and Court 17. There are about 10-12 different booths selling everything from pizza and curry to Korean rice bowls (my fave) and ice cream. This is the biggest seating area on the grounds and it can get nuts here. 
    • Arthur Ashe Stadium - most fans go all the way up in Ashe to their seats and there are food options all the way around the stadium concourse. The variety has increased here too. We had Vietnamese sandwiches, burgers, chicken tenders and more. The usual suspects too - pizza, sandwiches, wraps, plus snacks like pretzels, popcorn, etc.
    • Louis Armstrong is a good option as there are two sets of food vendors here. Go up the escalator one floor from the grounds and you'll see 3-4 vendors on your left. On the opposite side of the stadiums are another 3-4. 
    • Grandstand Food Village - this is a hidden gem area with seating that is a new addition when the new Grandstand debuted in 2016. The food area here is maybe 4-5 vendors and there are plenty of tables. It's a nice chilled area though the food offerings aren't my personal fave - it's mostly chicken sandwiches, burgers, tacos etc. Still. 
    • Backyard x17 - I don't remember many vendors over here but now there are 3-4 options and some new picnic tables. I got some very overpriced dumplings here this year, and meant to try the crepes here. Again, a nice change of pace from the crowded food village. 
    Picnic area with shade at the Backyard x17
    • There are also some food options close to the South Gate entrance - I didn't try it but Wichcraft looked good and busy. The tourney calls this the South Plaza Food area.
    • Coffee: Lavazza is the coffee of the US Open, and I saw two places to buy it on the grounds (one bigger booth just past the food village and a smaller stall back toward courts 4-6) and a few vendors inside Louis Armstrong also sold it.
    • Booze: No problems here! There are endless bars, stalls and booths inside the stadiums selling beer and the famous Honey Deuce. I usually visit the Honey Deuce stands or grab a drink at the cocktail bars outside Ashe, but there are lots of more upscale (well, sit-down) restaurants and bars should that be what you are after. 
    Seating area by the Food Village

    Crowds


    • The US Open crowds got quite a lot of criticism this year, especially due to the very frequent views of tennis fans walking to their courtside seats as play was mean to to be starting. It did seem to be more problematic this year, and you really can't place every bit of blame on the usher/stand control. I am not sure if the USTA pays them (I tend to ask - Miami pays their ushers, whereas other tourneys, such as Auckland, use volunteers). 
    • This year, since we had accessible seats we were seated right where people entered for the 100 section. The ushers were roping off the entrances, but some people just truly don't care and do what they want, and from what I experienced the ushers tried their best. I saw many people verbally attack the ushers for not letting them in, and talked to one usher who had had enough. She said people were just so rude to her and I believe her. 
    • I did stand control in 2011 at the Auckland men's and women's tourneys and people definitely got mouthy with me when I explained they were only allowed in during changeovers. Many casual tennis fans just don't understand the rules, the etiquette, etc. And they tend to not care or be in the mood so they don't like being told what to do.
    Just one in a crowd
    • I do think that the first 90-second changeover in a set needs to be longer than 90 seconds. So many fans need to be let in after those first three games that I think we need a bit of flexibility. 
    • I think many tourneys need to put signs at the entrances explaining that they are only allowed in when the players get a 90-second break. I think it would help a lot. 
    • I also think they need two people per entrance in Ashe Stadium so that they can actually help direct people to their seats. This is especially helpful for the Promenade because once you go up the stairs you can no longer see the section numbers so it can be really confusing, even if you are going to your 8th US Open like me!
    • The men's final - I have to say, the men's final was incredible but that crowd was LOUD! So many people near me were screaming (and I mean SCREAMING) out during play. I plugged my ears a few times because drunken men were incredibly annoying near me and it was really a drag. 
      • I hear people complain about tennis in that fans are told to be quiet, that in any other sport you can be as loud as you want. Well, good for those sports! Tennis doesn't need to be like any other sport, and to me a reason why people coming in and out of their seats at all times bothers me is because they make me MISS PART OF THE MATCH! It's not all about players being disturbed. I get disturbed when people are standing in front of me when the match is going on. It's annoying to have to stand up again and again during play because someone in your row frequently comes in and out. So, when I can, I will pay more money to be in sections where people are only allowed in during changeovers. It's just a better experience for me when I have paid a lot of money to be there live. 
    Okay, that's enough. I hope this blog post is helpful for anyone considering a trip to the US Open. If you have additional questions or comments, leave a note here or tweet me at @StephintheUS

    Oh yeah look Rafa won this year! #Vamos




    Guest blog: Lowdown on the Miami Open

    Note: I have asked my lovely friend @angs2014 for permission to share her wonderful blog post on the 'new' Miami Open which changed from its longtime home in Key Biscayne to the Hard Rock Stadium in 2019. Here's Ange's great summary of her tourney experience there this year which I know will be useful for anyone considering attending. Thanks Ange!


    LOWDOWN ON MIAMI OPEN
    Before I get into everything, let me introduce myself a bit. My name is Angie Saint-Yl and this is my fifth consecutive year going to the Miami Open. I went for the first time in 2011 for one session (Night). Then went for the second time in 2015 for a full day. And it’s been the case for the last four years that I have gone opening weekend and go for what I deem “bonus” days depending on how the OOP shakes out. This post is in reaction to all the news and such I have heard from journalists harping on a lot of negatives and being very vague about what the tournament actually offers. Now I’m not saying I won’t talk about the negatives (there are a lot of things that need to improve for next year no doubt) but I’m also here to give insights about the host of great things the tournament brought and how this really can be a great event for years to come.


    FIRST THINGS FIRST:
    PARKING
    Although it is a big improvement (compared to having to take a shuttle down to the site in Crandon) to have all parking on-site and within walking distance of the entrance gates, it is a major pain to have parking be so expensive.


    The parking prices are as follows:
    • $40 on the day
    • $30 if you buy online 
    • $30 if you have a SunPass

    The tournament was really bad about being explicit to people about the discounted price of the parking tickets and it took them forever to put a link for the parking tickets on their site. My recommendation: When they start releasing information about ticket sales and all, look for any information about the prices for parking tickets or inquire about it with an agent.


    What is Sunpass you may ask? SunPass is a system used by the state of Florida for the collection of tolls you go through on many a highway here. For any Hard Rock event, it is the case that you can get $10 off your parking pass if you have a SunPass transponder. You can buy SunPass transponders at almost any store. The SunPass mini is about $5 + tax (can only be used in one car) and the big transponder (which can be transferred among multiple cars) is $20-$25 + tax. If you are going to be driving down to SoFlo from wherever you are, it would be worth your while to get a SunPass for your travels around (if you want to go down to Miami, up to the Palm Beaches, etc. when not at the tennis) and also when you leave Florida (the alternative to getting your toll collected is toll-by-plate and that will cost you a lot more than if you just loaded money on a SunPass)


    It’s best if you can get to the site within the first hour or so of parking access being granted. The traffic wasn’t too crazy, it was easy for me to park, and I was able to chill and eat my breakfast before proceeding into the grounds. When I went the second Monday and Wednesday around 2ish, it was more hectic and I had to drive around for a bit before I got a spot.


    In terms of the parking personnel, I really do hope they either train the personnel better or get a new group next year. The people they tasked with managing the parking lot seemed to be novices to put it mildly. There was a lot of talking going on between the workers instead of stopping traffic and letting people turn into the parking lot when I went this second Wednesday, the workers were not the best with directing me where to go and where to park, and getting out Wednesday night was pretty nightmarish. 


    Moreover, there are various lot colors allocated for the parking area. The general admission lot is designated as the ORANGE LOT. When you go on Ticketmaster to buy a parking pass, this is the color lot that will come up for you. This is the cheapest lot at $30. Then there is the BLUE LOT which costs a bit more money (don’t know the exact price) but it’s really not that special. The ORANGE and BLUE lots are right next to each other and you are parking in the grass for both so. If you want to be in an actual paved lot with a designated spot, the BLACK lot is for you but it requires you to shell out even more money. I saw in a recent article that the tournament set the prices as they did because that’s what it normally is for Hard Rock events. Most of the events that happen at Hard Rock stadium are one day events. The Miami Open is a two-week event and you can’t compare apples with oranges. I really do hope they bring down the prices for parking next year because it’s ridiculous when you factor in tickets, food, any merch you want to buy, and wanting to go to the event multiple days.

    Views from my BLUE parking spot area 


    TICKETING
    If you want to get the most bang for your buck, I always recommend to do a mini Opening Weekend Package. The package I specifically opt for is the Opening Weekend Flex Four. With this package, you are allowed to pick any four sessions of the six offered up for the Opening Weekend (Friday-Sunday). Days I have gone with mostly: Friday (Day), Saturday (Day and Night), and Sunday (Day). All the big name players will most likely be scheduled to play during the weekend so your chances of seeing a top fave of yours is high. Additionally, there is so much on tap from both tours (opening weekend is the second round action for the men, third round action for the ladies) so it really is a fabulous value. It usually goes for around $200 some and if you decide you don’t want to go one of the days (usually Sunday is the most lax schedule day of the opening weekend), you can always resell your ticket.


    And something that really came to forefront this year and not so much in Key Biscayne: GROUNDS PASSES


    My first day at the Miami Open this year was the first Friday on a grounds pass. Such bang for my buck. Because of the rains that had hit earlier in the week, the scheduled matches on the outside courts were LIT and there were so many people you could watch practice as well. The grounds passes vary in price (I believe the reached their peak of about 60ish dollars or so that first Friday and Saturday) but it really is worth it. I went on Stadium mostly to see Roger but really enjoyed being at one of the various outside courts. Especially when you are on Cts. 1-8, it gets to be so intimate and can really allow for some spectacular atmospheres. 

    My recommendations: If you want to do a la carte tickets (for mid-part of the first week or Monday-Wednesday of the second week), do a grounds pass. If you have a big time favorite (i.e. Rog, Rafa, Serena, Juan Martin, etc.) and you see their name released for whatever day on Stadium, buy those stadium tickets early because the prices for tickets in Miami can fluctuate depending on the player.


    From Roger’s practice that First Friday. Had never seen him practice at Miami until this year. The increase in the number of practice courts at the new venue has been a big plus for players and fans alike

    FURTHER INFORMATION IN TERMS OF PRICE FLUCTUATIONS AND SUCH

    • Prices can go up quite substantially depending on the player
      • When it was announced that Rog was going to play day session on March 23rd, the lowest resale price for a day session ticket was around $120 + fees. And the standard ticket selling price (from the tournament) was $180 + fees. And mind you, these were seats in the 300s section.
    • If you can get a resale ticket, that’s a better deal than getting a standard ticket because the fees are going to be less. Instead of the $18 or so fee that will be tacked on with the standard ticket, the fee for resales are $5 or so
    • It is also possible to avoid fees all together and buy at the box office on site but I did see long queues for it so go for it if you have a good amount of patience (or get to the campus early)

    ACCOMODATIONS AND TRANSPORT
    There is an area designated for Rideshare (Uber, Lyft, etc.) on the grounds. HOWEVER, I would highly recommend renting a car and driving for however long you are here for. It’s a pain in the ass having to wait for a car to come pick you up if you are planning on going to tournament multiple days and your tab will really start getting expensive if you want to venture down to Miami Beach, the Palm Beaches, etc. It is also the case (from what I read) that the tournament does not readily provide shuttle buses anymore from their partner hotels to the site being that everybody is able to park on site now. So when you are getting things ready with your accoms and all, definitely budget for a car.


    Speaking of accomodations, I would also Highly Recommend staying in the Miramar/Pembroke Pines areas if you can. It is really to get to the tournament from either of these areas (no need to get on the highway and deal with a bunch of crazies) and you can find a lot of reasonably priced Airbnbs and hotel rooms. If you want to venture out some, places like Hollywood or Fort Lauderdale aren’t too shabby either. If you’re really wanting to stay in Miami, you’ll want to book your place early because the reasonable stuff sells very quickly and prices for Airbnbs/hotels get very expensive. Also, the traffic coming up and back down from the tournament can get very crazy as well so be prepared.


    ENTERING THE GROUNDS
    It is the case that there is a clear bag policy in effect for entrance in the grounds. Below is the bag I got (I wanted something that would be functional on the whole not just for this tournament) but you can find a whole host of clear bags online. If you’re not going to generally bring a lot of stuff with you on the grounds, you can also get some clear baggies from the security detail/staff onsite (not sure if they charge you [if any at all]) so I just brought my own bag. And the security check wasn’t too invasive. I did put a few small snacks in my phone camera lens bag and you are allowed to one bottle (up to a liter) of water in so that’s something at least ;P




    Once you go through the security line, you then self-scan yourself at one of the ticket reader setups. You are able to scan either mobile or physical tickets. After scanning, you walk around the corner and then you will officially be in the tennis campus. 




    VARIOUS VIEWS ON THE GROUND

    There were really a whole host of Instagram worthy spots around the grounds. This picture of me was taken near one of the biggest food and drink setups on site called Kiki On the River. As you will see in the subsequent pictures, the tournament really made a concerted effort to create a wonderfully chill and tropical environment that was a lot better than Key Biscayne IMHO




    This was one of the many food and drink set ups in the area they called the West Lawn. Bluestone Lane is an Australian inspired coffee shop and cafe. They are supposed to be opening a location in the Wynwood area in the near future and their setup at the Miami Open was the first SoFlo outing. They had a variety of coffee, teas, sparkling drinks, alcoholic beverages, and food on tap. The prices ranged from $4 (for vegemite toast) to $14-$15 give or take (for the alcoholic beverages) I’ll show more of the food later on.


    And the next smattering of pictures are showcasing more of that West Lawn area. I absolutely LOVED LOVED LOVED being in that area. So many setups there, lots of couches, tables, and bean bags (!!!!) you could hang with your party people at, and just overall good vibes out in that area.






    The next few pictures coming up highlight courtyard type areas. Compared to the Key Biscayne site, there is a ton more space available at Hard Rock Stadium. Another nice and much needed aspect of the new venue: MUCH IMPROVED BATHROOMS (Will not miss those summer camp bathroom areas and trailer porta-potty setups they had at Crandon D:)








    Was able to catch the last point of Serena’s match on the big screen TV in the main courtyard area


    PRACTICE COURTS
    I’m not really much of a practice court titan when I go to tournaments. I’m more for looking through the OOP and heading to the first match court that peaks my interest the most when I get on site. For the first time in all my years of going to the Miami Open, I carved out a good chunk of time to watch what was going on at the practice courts. As I mentioned previously, I had never seen a live Roger practice session in Miami because he wouldn’t readily practice on site in Crandon Park besides the light hits he would have on Stadium when he would arrive here. Bar a couple days or so (because of rain and to give his body an extra bit of rest), he was on the practice schedule almost every day. And that was the case with a good amount of other players as well. The amount of practice courts available on the Hard Rock campus is double the amount of what was present at Crandon park. And the thing I love most: All the practice courts are concentrated in one general area. I don’t have to run 10 corners to watch a player practice anymore. I can see a whole smattering of players in front of me and can view others practicing (or playing matches) from the top of the stands at the practice courts.

    Denis Bb and Bops

    Rog Babe

    Petra

    Sloane

    Views from one row of the practice court area

    One pet peeve of mine with the practice area: You see that empty, black paved part in between the courts in this picture? Only media can occupy that area. Fans are not allowed to be there. That’s another thing I hope that changes for next year because if you are not able to get a seat in the stands (due to a big name player practicing on one of those courts, you either have to deal with being squished on the steps of whatever court you are trying to watch said player, stand in an open platform type area and try to get of glimpse of the action, or try to watch what you can of them through the fences located under the bleachers.


    For the Denis/Bops picture: I was squished on the stairs for a good while and had to contour my body some to see the practice sesh and get some snaps.


    For the purple shirt/teal short Rog picture: I was standing in the open platform area. Still had to improvise my height some to get pictures but was finally able to get myself to the front of the area and snap better pictures


    For the second Rog, Petra, and Sloane snaps, I was seated in the top row of Ct. 26


    Said open platform area



    Always good to have friends with you especially when waiting for a certain 37-year-old Dweeb ;P :*

    ACTUAL MATCHES
    I went for a total of five days and I saw great matches all five days.
    It’s a good day anytime I see Roger but the draw of both sides really did offer up a lot of interesting matchups. As far as quantity of good shit happening, I would have to say Friday was the best day but finals Sunday was probably my most favorite day of the tournament because Rog ended up being the victor <3 Going to show a smattering of pictures I took at the various matches I saw below.

    Kenin vs Bibi Fave on Ct 2

    King Flexxxxxx against Marton on Ct 8

    Marton (or Marti as the Hungarian lady next to me called him) against Flexxxx on Ct 8

    Sloane vs Jabeur on Grandstand

    Dom vs. Hubi on Grandstand

    Simona serving it up against Taylor Townsend on Ct 1

    Taylor Townsend ripping a forehand against Simona on Ct 1

    Denis Bb and Bops talking strategy in their dubs match against Sitak/Krajicek on Ct 2

    Su-Wei serving it up en route to a 3-set win over Naomi on Stadium

    That awkward bit of sun did make for pretty pictures yet :PPP. Rog against Radu on Stadium

    Denis Bb vs Rublev on Grandstand

    Bob Bryan serving to Nicolas Jarry in the super breaker of Butch Buchholz Court

    Rog looking cool and relaxed as you’d like on Finals Sunday

    SOME WORDS ABOUT BEING ON STADIUM


    It was the case that I mostly went on Stadium for Rog’s matches. The view from my seat was good (was in section 347, Row 2) but I much prefer to be watching matches on the outside courts. I thought Rog was losing it some when he said it but it really is the case that you can hear a bit of a buzz around the stadium when sitting in the temporary setup. Because the temporary part isn’t fully enclosed, the amount of people walking by (whether it is to come in and find their seats, exiting to the grounds, etc.) creates a residual type noise. The other bad thing about the temporary setup not being fully enclosed is the fact that it creates a lot of obstructed view seats in the lower sections. Who wants to sit somewhere that is close to the court yet has an obstructed view? Nobody. And that camera angles continually showing those empty seats isn’t the best publicity for the tournament either. I hope either next year or in the coming years, they can develop a way to enclose the temporary structure more for better optics and to create even more of an intimate and great experience for the fans.


    Recommendations for seating:
    • If you are going to sit in the 300s section, try to sit in sections 345-347 and get a seat within the first 10 rows of the sections. When you start going beyond the 10th row or so, the court does start to feel quite far away.
    • If you are going to sit in the 200s sections, try to sit in sections 201-202 or 215-216. Great views and you are pretty much going to be in the shade. There were quite a few days where the FL sun was brutal so to be shielded from the sun’s wrath while watching your favorite is a blessing!

    Vee vs. Simona on Stadium. View from Section 215

    SOME WORDS ABOUT THE OUTSIDE COURTS


    Ct 1 and Ct 2: Both of these courts are situated close to the highway. I heard some cars racing by while watching Bibi Fave during Day Session of Friday so I would just be aware that there could be an extra bit of noise from the highway at peak driving hours


    Ct 8: There are a bunch of bar and food setups up around the grounds and there happens to be a Stella Artois beer garden setup near Ct 8. Found it amazing John Millman nor Federico Delbonis didn’t complain about the music but Marton Fucsovics did complain to the umpire about the music blaring from the speakers at said setup. And it really was blasting. I know the tournament wants to keep fans and patrons alike entertained but they also have to remember that these players have to be able to focus well too. After that day, they did keep the music to a reasonable level the other days when I was there so they learned quick ;D


    An overall fact about the outside match courts: There was basically a queue to get in every where. Grandstand and Butch Buchholz weren’t too bad because those are still sizable stadiums. Courts 1-8 though are smaller and not everyone can be put on the bigger courts so be prepared to queue at some point.

    • Example: I had to wait 30 minutes or so to watch the Flexxxxx/Marton match on Ct 8. Was worth it in the end because it was a greatly contested match and Marton was cracking me up. But the length of that wait (((((((:


    EATS TIME!
    **The prices reflected for all the food and drink on site have taxes included in the price**


    As I have alluded to some throughout, there are an increased amount of food and drink setups at the new venue compared to the venue at Key Biscayne. There isn’t a whole lot of great places to eat the Miami Gardens area so the tournament made a concerted effort to bring some of the best of Miami to the venue at Hard Rock Stadium. They had Mexican, Peruvian, Italian, Mediterranean/Greek, Argentinian, American, French, etc. The cheapest thing I bought on site that was good and nicely filling was a slice of pepperoni pizza from one of the food trucks. A slice of cheese or pepperoni pizza from said food truck was $6.


    Best cheap dish that I found that was very filling: A Chicken Chalupa platter from one of the Mexican food trucks. $13 for two chalupas with your choice of meat, toppings, and chips.


    Place I went to most: Bourbon Steak. The food here was a bit pricer ($16 for a steak Caesar salad and $14 for a steak sandwich) but it was good quality steak served. Flavor was great, good tenderness, and that Caesar dressing was heavenly. I’m not a super Caesar dressing girl but I would totally buy a bottle of their Caesar if I could!



    Pro tip: My friend Tracy got the Caesar Salad in the evening around 7ish or so and they gave her a lot more steak so keep that the stands may be more generous later in the day!

    One instance where I was happy the sky opened up. I had a fair amount of time to eat this sandwich before the Rog/Daniil match started


    Didn’t get a picture of them but I can confirm that the fries and falafel from Bourbon Steak are yummy as well


    Bluestone Lane at night on the first Saturday


    I could have opted for one of their coffee martinis or other libations to celebrate Rog’s hard fought win against Albot. Ended up not doing that though so I would feel a little less wrecked the next morning XP Was on-site until 1:40 AM Sunday morning ((((((:


    I actually preferred the cappuccino over the flat white from Bluestone but everyone's a little different :P


    TWO THINGS YOU MUST TRY FROM BLUESTONE THOUGH



    AVO TOAST (Believe it was $11 or so but they don’t skimp on the smash avo and the bread is DELISH)


    This is one half of the toast mind you!
    S/O to my girl Allison for bringing this to the practice courts for me! <3333



    THE VEGEMITE TOAST ($4)



    As someone who was really apprehensive about eating Vegemite, I’m here to tell you it’s worth trying! Good salty, savory bite to it! And to have it on that wonderful bread once more *two thumbs up*


    AND
    Great job to the tournament on the signature drink this year: 
    THE MO SMASH ($10)


    I think I had the drink four times over the course of my time at the tournament. Easy to drink, very refreshing, and such a beautiful color as well. Being that it was the signature drink of the tournament, you could get yourself one at the vast majority of bar setups on site


    AND THAT’S ALL FOLKS!
    Super fun five days at the Miami Open. Excited to see what the future years are going to bring and I hope what I detailed here gave you a better idea of what the tournament is like/has to offer!


    Social handles: Twitter (@angs2014), Instagram (@ang1305; @donutqueen2020)
    Thanks so much for reading! :DDD