US Open night games are raucous, loud and proud
In the city that never sleeps, it’s the place that never shuts up and where hype sometimes triumphs over hope.
“Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready?” roars the Arthur Ashe Stadium stadium announcer.
Around 20,000 fans — or those not taking selfies anyway — put down their beers and potato chips to scream in the affirmative.
“Last year he finished inside the world’s top 65, from Brazil, Thom…az Bell…ucci.”
A 6ft 2in (1.87m) Brazilian, looking remarkably like “Karate Kid” star Ralph Macchio — but all grown up — waves nervously to the crowd.
His opponent, Andy Murray, dressed all in black and rather more used to the limelight, as well as the spotlights dancing dizzily around the arena, strolls to his courtside chair.
He is at ease with the surroundings, where he ended Britain’s 76-year wait for a New York champion in 2012.
The pounding club music is in stark contrast to the patriotic respect exhibited moments earlier for a smiling youngster’s emotional rendition of “America the Beautiful.”
Up above, John McEnroe stares down from the TV commentary position located in what looks like a garden shed.
Where Wimbledon is all hushed reverence and polite applause, the US Open is very loud and very proud — especially during its legendary night sessions.
When Novak Djokovic enjoyed a routine second round win over Andreas Haider-Maurer, he celebrated by dancing on court with a burly fan.
The guy has been entertaining fans for years up in the cheaper seats of the cavernous arena, where great views of the Manhattan skyline are a compensation if the tennis fails to hold attention.
“I mean, I’m glad that he came down to the court. It was not planned. I’m happy for him. You know, he’s a true entertainer,” said Djokovic of his admirer, who presented him with a matching ‘I Love NYC’ T-shirt.
“It never gets old. It’s always good to see him dance, perform. He gets the crowd going in the night session in Arthur Ashe, which is always very unique for players and for fans.”
During changeovers, when the giant screen isn’t seducing fans with offers to try a subscription to the New York Times, it’s time for some celebrity spotting.
“Goodfellas” and “Field of Dreams” star Ray Liotta was amongst Saturday’s A-listers.
Tiger Woods popped up in Rafael Nadal’s box on the night the Spaniard was knocked out, no doubt sympathising with the two-time champion’s painful decline.
Djokovic was not to be outdone, supported by “Django Unchained” and “Ray” actor Jamie Foxx on the night he danced a jig with the T-shirt loving fan.
And the music never stops — Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance” is a particular favourite this year.
The mega-hit song was an interesting contrast to Sunday afternoon’s airing of Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence” when Marin Cilic and Jeremy Chardy were the low-key warm-up act for the Williams sisters.
But not all the players are comfortable with the cauldron of noise and movement.
Australia’s Nick Kyrgios was complaining about fans moving and taking their seats as early as the fourth game of his first round loss to Murray.
“This is such fuckin’ bullshit,” he moaned before New York forgave him, whooping with delight when he hit his first “tweener” and whooping with equal enthusiasm when he missed the next one.
Fans know what they want at Flushing Meadows.
When ‘grande dame’ Venus Williams was seeing off players almost half her age to make the quarter-finals, there were television interview requests to indulge and caps and tennis balls to be autographed.
One woman, maybe not so sensitive to the occasion, demanded more.
“Venus, can I have your towel?”