One luxury my brother and I have had our whole lives is the opportunity to attend tennis matches at the U.S. Open in Flushing, N.Y. Since one of my father’s businesses, Citizen Watch Company, is a sponsor, he usually receives free courtside and box tickets for my family.
This year, I saw Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray, ranked third in the world, play against 15th-ranked Milos Raonic in the fourth round at Arthur Ashe Stadium. The stadium had the most lively and diverse crowd, as thousands of spectators from the city and abroad filled the largest outdoor tennis court in the world.
From only a couple rows above courtside, I was able to recognize a connection between the crowd’s reaction to every point and the players’ reactions on the court. The supportive and elegantly dressed audience was undoubtedly a huge factor in the outcome of the match. Not a word was spoken while the ball was in play, and it seemed as though there was equally enthusiastic encouragement for both men. As heads turned from side to side and the ball’s bounce became louder, each point was evidently crucial to both players.
Raonic’s extraordinarily precise and fast 140 m.p.h serve was difficult to play against for Murray. Raonic’s 6-foot-5-inch frame and quick reflexes allowed him to serve 14 aces and hit 37 winners. However, his lack of experience at the U.S. Open most likely cost him the match.
Murray, who began playing professionally four years earlier than Raonic, used his experience, endurance, consistency and strong defense to secure a victory against his Canadian competitor. Murray did not let Raonic’s powerful serve daunt him as he pushed several returns and pulled through every point with heavy groundstrokes that seemed impossible to hit. Murray’s unwavering play and net game resulted in 12 unforced errors whereas Raonic had 27.
Because the players’ scores were two games apart for the first two sets, it was difficult to guess who would advance to the quarter-finals. It wasn’t until the third set when Raonic seemed to lose energy and confidence, and Murray was leading that the audience was assured that the match would only last three sets. There were even moments when the courtside crowd heard Raonic’s disappointment as he helplessly scolded himself, asking,
“What am I supposed to do?”
Murray eventually finished off Raonic, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2, in just over two hours. Had Raonic maintained a more assured attitude, the match would have probably entered a decisive fifth set. Nonetheless, Raonic honorably walked out of the stadium, as Murray spoke about his performance, threw his wristbands among the seats and hit three autographed tennis balls to the crowd.
When the match ended, I truly felt glamorous and crucial to the ambience, sitting with celebrities like Gossip Girl’s Chace Crawford and seeing internationally renowned tennis athletes play. Attending the U.S. Open is a marvelous and unique experience from any seat or angle.
A version of this article appeared in the Sept. 6 print edition. Insia Zaidi is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected]