SBD/Issue 241/Events & Attractions

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  • U.S. Open Draws Record Opening Day Crowd, Defying Economy

    Record Crowd Of 59,848 Attends
    Opening Day Of U.S. Open
    The U.S. Open Monday drew a crowd of 59,848 fans, which tournament officials "happily reported to be an Opening Day record," according to Jim Baumbach of NEWSDAY. The sports industry "definitely has been affected" by the economic downturn, but "you'd never get that sense while walking around the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center." Even tournament officials were "surprised by the droves of people with disposable income," as fans "couldn't walk around the grounds without bumping into people." USTA Managing Dir of Corporate Communications Chris Widmaier: "We certainly weren't predicting a record-breaking Opening Day. We were pleasantly surprised and we hope the trend continues." There were "long lines of people waiting ... for a table at the Mojito restaurant," and fans "had to wait on line to get inside the Lacoste store." While attendance for day two is not yet available, Baumbach writes he would be "surprised if the number was drastically different from Day 1" (NEWSDAY, 9/2). SI.com's Jon Wertheim wrote, "What recession? ... You'd never know it at the U.S. Open." ESPN is "in the first year of a television deal," and sponsorship "placards are everywhere." Also, "lines for the $7.50 Ben and Jerry's treats snake around corners." While an annual tennis event "isn't representative of much," it is "nice to see at least one corner of the world seemingly unaffected by the economy" (SI.com, 9/1).

    TIME CHANGE: ESPN.com's Greg Garber noted it has been "more than 20 years since a women's match followed a men's match at night" at the U.S. Open, but tonight's Roger Federer-Simon Greul match is scheduled ahead of the Serena Williams-Melinda Czink match, "eschewing the USTA's standard ladies-first protocol." While there is "recent history of women playing the second night match," that "always followed another women's match." When Andy Roddick and other men's players "endured late-night matches at the Australian Open earlier this year, they complained." U.S. Open Tournament Dir Jim Curley "heard those objections, and in one-on-one conversations with players, that sentiment has been reinforced." Curley: "The guys are saying, 'Hold on. Equal opportunity? Gender equity? It works both ways, right?'" Garber wrote a women's match following a men's match is "likely to happen again" during the U.S. Open (ESPN.com, 9/1).

    WHERE'S THE BUZZ? In Philadelphia, John Gonzalez writes the U.S. Open "felt like a much bigger event ... years ago," and "maybe that had to do with some of the personalities and rivalries." The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER's Kate Fagan writes tennis "has lost its finesse, the long rallies, the tension inherent in those." Fagan: "Now they just take turns slamming serves at each other." The INQUIRER's Bob Ford writes, "It's about personalities. Not a lot these days, and very little among the Americans" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/2). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Filip Bondy wrote under the header, "Double Fault: Women's Draw At U.S. Open Is Weak & Dull." Tennis player Kim Clijsters' first-round match Monday against Viktoriya Kutuzova was "played in a morning haze, before a near-empty stadium, utterly lacking in electricity," which "led us again to the question: When will the next transcendent woman player finally emerge, from any country, to challenge the Williams sisters?" Venus and Serena Williams "drop in and dominate the majors" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/1).



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