Sep/20

5

Scribe Laments Covering US Open Without Fans

It takes two or a few to make a great party and the 2020 US Open is sorely missing the heart, soul…it’s lifeblood…tennis fans.

Jimmy Connors exemplified New York, US Open tennis better than anyone, how a player feeds off the electricity and adrenaline of tennis fans to create magic on the court.

This year the US Open is creating sensational tennis on the court, as always, but without any fans to entertain and electrify, the whole event seems like some kind of sequel to the Andromeda Strain, that movie where a plague wipes out humanity.

Marc Berman, a reporter for the New York Post, is one of just eleven print media reporters granted a press credential. Usually a basketball scribe, this is his 24th straight US Open.

Berman penned a column this week titled: “Just Can’t Get Used to Open Without Legions Of Tennis Fans.”

Some of his observations:

“It is Monday, fifteen minutes before the first ball will be struck at the 2020 US Open. And (my car) is the lone vehicle veering off the congest highway and onto Exit 9P. The usual gaggle of policemen lining 9P are nowhere to be found…three days into the Open, you even miss the traffic pouring into the facility.”

“The World’s Fair was staged here in 1964 but the US Open became it’s own world’s fair once it moved from Forest Hills to Flushing Meadows in 1978. But you can’t stage a party without guests.”

“Two stadium workers each cleaned my box seat a few minutes apart with disinfectant before allowing me to sit. Journalists sit alone, with masks – spaced out from each other by ten seats.”

“Compelling marathon rallies on the Ashe court are punctuated not by usual raucous cheers, but by a couple of clapping sounds by coaches.”

“According to a source, John McEnroe is also having a rough time getting pumped up calling matches in a barren stadium.”

Berman reflected about how reporting about the US Open was a sort of upgrade promotion from covering the New York Knicks NBA beat, calling his annual two-week tennis stint as his “favorite two weeks of the year. It isn’t quite that this year covering my 24th straight Open for The Post… The saliva tests the media must take every four days are part of the routine. (Players take the much easier and quicker nose swab.)”

“The good news is the actual tennis, despite a five-month layoff, is still brilliant. They are still artists and masters of their craft. Sitting front row at Louis Armstrong Stadium to view no. 5 seed Alexander Zverev jackhammer in serves at 134 mph is breathtaking…wish you were all here to see it live, too.”

Could you imagine Jimmy Connors in 1991 without fans? Sampras vs Corretja in an empty Armstrong? Guillermo Vilas beating Connors in front of a dozen onlookers? Graf vs Seles? Agassi vs Benjamin Becker?

I sure can’t. And by the Grace of the Tennis Gods and perhaps other Divine Powers, this anomaly of 2020 will never happen again.

(Photo by Sharon Ekstrom.)

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8 comments

  • George · September 6, 2020 at 4:37 pm

    Djokovic disqualified from blatant leftist US Open. He hit a fat lines woman who went into theatrics to claim how much she was hurt.

    Oh well, Djokovic is a leftist sympathizer. You reap what you sow.

  • Sam · September 6, 2020 at 5:40 pm

    “Oh well, Djokovic is a leftist sympathizer. You reap what you sow.”

    How do we know this?

  • George · September 6, 2020 at 6:37 pm

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 6, 2020 at 7:37 pm

    Novak basically kneeled to the left. But if he defies the left, he gets crucified by the media. Are there any true rebels out there besides Aubrey Huff?

  • Sam · September 6, 2020 at 9:37 pm

    George:

    Oh, you mean “blackout Tuesday”? Yeah, I already knew about that (all the top players did that, unfortunately), but I thought maybe there were some other things too. There probably are, but we just don’t know about them yet. 😉

    Scoop:

    “Novak basically kneeled to the left. But if he defies the left, he gets crucified by the media.”

    Well, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you want the media to “like” you, that usually means selling your soul.

    That’s why I think it’s basically a mistake to admire anyone who’s rich, powerful, and famous. It seems the more you learn about these folks, the more corrupt you discover they are. 😛

    Anyway, it’s too bad Djokovic got disqualified, but he should’ve known better. Oh, well—maybe he’ll finally learn his lesson.

    And at least Djokovic seems more of a maverick than many of the other top players. That’s why he’s not exactly a “media darling.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 6, 2020 at 10:20 pm

    Djokovic has good and bad sides, he does good and bad. He also tries to please everyone. Rebels like Rios, Hewitt, McEnroe, Connors, Hingis, Nasty were unapologetic. They could care less about pleasing everyone. Maybe Djokovic will finally embrace that side and just go full rebel villain like John McEnroe suggested he do, in a new article on http://www.tennisnow.com. I don’t think it’s that Djokovic is over eager to be universally loved, I think it’s more he doesn’t want to be hated. Nobody respects a phony though.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 11, 2020 at 11:58 am

    I emailed Marc Berman to ask if he felt the players generally were glad there are no tennis fans at the event or they miss the fans energy. His reply…

    “They have to say they miss the fans. But you’re not wrong. Some of them are more relaxed. Same prize money. I do take back one thing I wrote. I have grown not to miss the traffic In and out. Only saving grace.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 11, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    It would have been really interesting to see how Nadal and Fed performed with no fans, if their intensities were still super high, or if they lost a fraction of passion, fury, burning desire. We will never know. I don’t think Serena was so much effected. When she roars and screams with fans present, she does not seem to care about fans, she’s so focused. So obsessed to win. I don’t think Serena missed the crowd support this year, and to my knowledge she did not say she did. But she could certainly use that as an excuse now )

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