During the week prior to the start of the US Open tennis event here in New York, there are four blissful days of superb tennis, no crowds, cheerful security people and big names. And it’s free. Really. You walk straight in — and sometimes you walk straight into tennis players, like I did yesterday to David Ferrer.¹
During this four days, the US Open qualifying tournament is happening — this is how you play your way into the main tournament if you’re not ranked highly enough to get in automatically, and weren’t able to get a wild-card entry. If you’re a pro coming back after an injury, or a juniors player looking to break into the pros, you play the quallies. You’ll also see a lot of older players in the quallies, players whose best days are behind them. And while all that is going on, the big marquee players are out on the show courts and practice courts. And you’re free to watch from any seat. I saw Mardy Fish playing Leighton Hewitt, and the two Radwanska sisters batting some balls. Federer was out there, as was Novak Djokovic, Shahar Peer and Janko Tipsarevic. It’s a great day to bring a camera and practice your sports photography.
1. Ferrer is genuinely one of my favorite tennis players of all time. He’s kind of shy, not flashy at all, not ridiculously good looking or funny or outspoken. But he’s widely known as one of the hardest workers in tennis. He’s 30 years old and is still ranked 5th in the world.