With the grass and clay seasons over, the eyes of the tennis world now turn to Flushing Meadows.
The U.S. Open, played from Aug. 28 to Sept. 10 in Queens, is the last Grand Slam tournament of the calendar year, giving players one more chance to win a major title. Each year, the tournament creates a buzz around New York City, and it never fails to excite — or wreak havoc on sleep schedules, with marathon matches that can go deep into the night.
At last year’s U.S. Open, Serena Williams largely stole the show during the first week as she closed out her storied career by reaching the third round of the singles draw. This year, without Williams, Roger Federer and an injured Rafael Nadal, a largely younger generation of tennis stars is looking to make a deep run in the tournament.
Both of the 2022 singles winners are back in the field: Iga Swiatek, the 22-year-old from Poland and a four-time Grand Slam tournament champion, and Carlos Alcaraz, the 20-year-old Spanish phenom with two Grand Slam singles titles under his belt. But while Alcaraz and Swiatek are among those favored to win, you never know when a couple of teenagers could surprise everyone and reach the final.
Here’s what to know about this year’s U.S. Open.
How can I watch?
In the United States, ESPN will carry the action from the first ball of the day until late into the night. Over Labor Day weekend, ABC will also broadcast some matches.
Around the world, other networks airing the tournament include TSN in Canada, Sky Sports in Britain, Migu in China, Sky Deutschland in Germany, SuperTennis in Italy and Movistar in Spain.
‘Stand clear of the closing doors, please.’
For those heading out to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, the No. 7 train, which makes stops in Manhattan at Times Square and Grand Central Station, is one of the easiest ways to get to the U.S. Open.
The No. 7 train stops at Mets-Willets Point station, which leads directly to the tennis grounds. (If you see a bunch of fans in Mets gear, turn around because you’ve gone the wrong way.) It also includes an express route, which makes fewer stops than the local trains, and on certain nights an even faster “super express train” is offered back to Manhattan. Another option is to take the Long Island Rail Road to the Mets-Willets Point station.
Parking is also available at the tournament, along with designated ride-share spots. But beware: Heavy traffic often means that driving either in or out of Manhattan can take longer than a train ride.
Can’t get a ticket to Arthur Ashe Stadium?
There is something electric about a night match under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium. The court is reserved for the tournament’s top-billed players, who are spurred on by raucous, Honey Deuce-fueled crowds. But a seat in Arthur Ashe can be pricey.
Other options include buying a ticket to Louis Armstrong Stadium or the Grandstand, which both host a number of often-underrated matches and offer a closer look at the action. There isn’t a bad seat in either venue.
Perhaps one of the best — and more laissez-faire — ways to enjoy the tournament is to buy a grounds pass and hop around from court to court. A grounds pass also offers first-come, first-serve access to the general admission seating in Armstrong and the Grandstand.
Don’t sleep on those numbered outer courts, either. At last year’s tournament, Aryna Sabalenka, who won this year’s Australian Open, was down — 2-6, 1-5 — in a second-round match against Kaia Kanepi. The match seemed all but over until Sabalenka fought back to win the second set and eventually the third. Where did this epic comeback go down? Court 5, over by the practice courts.
Novak Djokovic is back. After missing last year’s U.S. Open because he was not vaccinated against the coronavirus, as American travel restrictions required of foreign visitors at the time, the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion returns to seek a 24th title.
Djokovic will enter the tournament in strong form after winning the Western & Southern Open in Ohio last week against Alcaraz. In the final, Djokovic was down a set, and he appeared to be suffering badly from the heat, but he rallied and forced a third set, winning on a tiebreaker.
In addition to Alcaraz and Swiatek, other big names in this year’s tournament include Sabalenka of Belarus, Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, Daniil Medvedev of Russia, Casper Ruud of Norway and Elena Rybakina, who represents Kazakhstan. Some of the top-seeded American players include Frances Tiafoe, Jessica Pegula, Coco Gauff and Taylor Fritz.
Keep an eye on these story lines.
Elina Svitolina, a U.S. Open semifinalist in 2019, missed last year’s tournament while taking time off for the birth of her daughter and raising money for Ukraine, her home country, after it was invaded by Russia. Since returning to tennis this year, Svitolina made an impressive run to the quarterfinals of the French Open, and she defeated Swiatek to reach the semifinals of Wimbledon. (By the way, don’t be surprised if you see Svitolina or any Ukrainian player refuse to shake hands with Russian or Belarusian players.)
Gauff, the 19-year-old who was a French Open finalist in 2022, enters the U.S. Open having won two titles this month, in Washington, D.C., and Ohio. In the semis of the Western & Southern Open, she was finally able to beat Swiatek, having lost the previous seven matches against her.
Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams were both awarded wild-card slots at this year’s U.S. Open. Wozniacki, a one-time Grand Slam singles champion from Denmark, is back after retiring from tennis in 2020 to start a family. Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, shows no signs of stopping at 43.
On the men’s side, Andy Murray, 36, is another veteran who is keeping on with three Grand Slam titles in tow, and John Isner, the 38-year-old American, was awarded a wild card for what he said will be his final tournament.
Someone else to keep tabs on is Jennifer Brady, the 28-year-old American who reached the 2021 Australian Open final. After missing nearly two years with injuries, Brady is back on the tennis scene.
Some big names are missing this year.
One of the most notable absences will be Rafael Nadal, the 22-time Grand Slam singles champion. He is out for the rest of the year with an injury and is eyeing a return next year.
This year’s tournament will also lack some recent U.S. Open champions: Naomi Osaka, who won the U.S. Open in 2018 and 2020, will miss this year’s tournament after giving birth to a daughter this summer. Emma Raducanu, who won the 2021 U.S. Open women’s title as a qualifier without losing a single set, is recovering from minor procedures on both hands and an ankle. Bianca Andreescu, the 2019 U.S. Open champion, is out this year with a small stress fracture in her back.
Simona Halep, a two-time Grand Slam singles champion, was withdrawn from the tournament because she received a provisional suspension in October after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug during last year’s U.S. Open.
Nick Kyrgios, the fiery Australian, withdrew from the men’s draw in early August. Kyrgios, who has played in only one tournament this year, wrote on Instagram that a wrist injury was keeping him out of the U.S. Open.
Mark your calendars.
The action begins on Monday, with the first, second and third rounds scheduled through Sept. 2. The round of 16 starts on Sept. 3, followed by the quarterfinals on Sept. 5 and 6.
The women’s semifinals are scheduled for Sept. 7, with the men’s semifinals on Sept. 8. The women’s final will be played Sept. 9, and the tournament wraps up with the men’s final on Sept. 10.