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Finally..

Finally my dream came true this year.. Last to last year I was novice in planning trips etc and last year I was not sure about my stay so couldn't plan it (Thanks to my employer!) but this year I knew for sure that I am going to be here during labor day week end. (Against Thanks to my employer).
We started with the planning long back in June when I first saw ad somewhere "US Open 2007 tickets now available online..!". On immediate next day me and my friend Gautam ended up in booking the tickets. Pallavi who was very enthu in visiting open last 2 years ditched me giving some (not so convincing) reasons..! Any ways.. later on Chandana, Shrish and Gautam's mom and sis were also added into our gang.
After hectic week, long and tiring Tennis sessions and gym routines finally Friday arrived. As this was the last long week end in summer, entire southmoor was away on vacation.

We left for New York on early Saturday morning with no agenda other than visiting the Open and decided to come up with the other plans at run time. In both the flights I woke up directly when the air craft touched the ground, but Shrish and Chandana managed to see flushing Meadows from the flight. Both of them were excited on the air port itself.
Gautam and Kaku had just arrived and we found one desi restaurant on Broadway Avenue. First surprise was waiting for us in the restaurant itself. An actress from sex and the city, Miranda, was present there for lunch. Gautam and Chandana were very happy to see her there. (I didn't even know who she was..!!) But it seems the day started with the positive note. After searching the maps and purchasing the metro pass we headed to the Flushing meadows. All of us were very excited about it and upon the getting out from the train we actually ran towards the stadium because we didn't want to miss a single moment. After basic photography and catching up with my college friend Sukrut, we were finally checking into the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Atmosphere was great !!!! full of enthusiasm, colorful clothes, cheers and claps coming from surrounding courts, clicks of cameras, people running here and there to attend various matched and what not...

I and Shrish were litereally jumping and cracking PJs like anything in that excitement with Sukrut and Chandana being silent as usual. The big screen out side Arthur Ashe stadium was showing Federer's in progress match which was the last game on Ashe stadium in morning session. Apart from availability of escalator Shrish started climbing the stairs in that excitement and we also followed him. And there we were..!! on Center court with Federer playing against Isner in front of our eyes.. it was simply great.. Crowd was cheering both the players and it was very lively atmosphere. During the break, some dhikchak music was going on and dacing people were captured on the screens. :) Federer won the 4 setter and Mary Jo Fernandez arrived on court to take his interview. I think she looks more cute these days.. ;)


After starting our visit to the open with the bang, it was time to see another great player, Martina Hingis playing on Louis Armstrong. Luckily we got the seats in front rows and could capture some good pics of her but the game was pathetic. It was hard to believe she is the same one who was ruling women tennis few years ago. She lost against unseeded Azarenka. On Grandstand, another seeded player Patty Schnyder lost in exciting 3 setter. It was time for evening session and we returned to Arthur Ashe. While checking the schedule earlier I was very disappointed to see the match between not so well known players, Nikole Vaidisova and Shahar Peer, lined up on Arthur Ashe. But in very few games I realized that I was wrong. Game turned out to be to very exciting and it was feast for the spectators. It was simply impossible to decide who is playing better as both of them were playing deep ground stokes, strong back hands, beautiful volleys and what not. Peer won the tie breaker in the final set and the match as well. We captured many pics of both the players but I realized I should get camera with better zoom for visiting any such events. Next player lined up on the court was James Blake who is native to New York. People were eagerly waiting for that game. But we wanted to end our first day at open at the highest note of the satisfaction and excitement that we got in Peer and Vaidisva game so we decided to leave after clicking some pics of the players.

Second day started bit late at around 11:30 as every one was very tired. That day Gautam, Kaku and Gargi were also coming to the open. They headed for New York attractions earlier than us. Me, Chandana and Shrish went to Central Park after having b'fast around 12. It seems builder lobby in NY is not so strong. It is unimaginable to have such a huge and dense park with public attractions in the heart of the metro city. Downtown and Central park are so close that one can't even realize when the surroundings changed into the tall buildings from the tall rain tress. I think its impossible to have such place in the heart of the city in Indian metros and the big cities with builders keeping eye on temples as well ! We roamed around aimlessly in central park capturing various frames in our digi cams.
Second day at Open started with one more champion Venus Williams who was playing against 5th seeded Ana Inavovic. This year Wimbledon champion simply ruled the Ashe stadium crashing Ivanovic in straight sets. It was great to watch powerful game by Venus. As usual, her sister Serena was sitting in the crowd along with their mother. We could capture her picture with maximum zoom of camera. Not on the court, but at least in stadium we could see Serena. Entire stadium was supporting Venus and she also met their expectations in game and later with her "patriotic" comments in on-court interview. :)

There were not many exciting games going on at that time and we spent time in visiting collection stores and having some food. As a part of typical American strategy everything in the store was very expensive and people including us ended up in spending lot of money on even trivial things. Evening session on Arthur Ashe started with the game for which I was eagerly waiting. It was game between top seeded Justini Henin and Dinara Safina. Again it was just great feeling to watch my favorite player Henin playing on few yards away from me. Game turned out to be completely one sided with Henin ruling with her strong cross court and back hand strokes. We waited in Arthur Ashe hoping that next lined up game between third seeded Djokovik and Porto will be tough one. But Chandana, Gargi and Kaku called us from Grandstand to see Carlos Moya's game where 5th set was in progress. The stadium was completely full and being Spanish Moya had huge support from Latin American tennis fans. Using typical desi techniques we managed to get the seats in 2nd row in that heavily crowded stadium. Moya won the 5 set thriller breaking Kohlschreiber's service in second last game. We could capture his snaps standing few feet away from him.


Meanwhile third seeded Jelena Jankovik was playing against 19th Seeded Bammer on Louis Armstrong. Match was going on very tough. Again we managed to get the seats in 2nd row. This 3 set match also turned out to be thriller with Jankovik managed the victory. It was awesome to see match from so close and we could relate all the things that we generally see on tv like match time clock, speed gun, ball boys' work, cameras, net touch detector, umpires etc. Shrish clicked almost 100 snaps during this game. Later on he also managed to take Jelena's autograph on the ticket. I was also standing very close to her while she was giving autographs but I was so excited with the feeling that I am just 1.5 away feet from rank 3 player and I couldn’t think what to do and I just kept on clicking the photos. An old Mexican lady standing next to me was trying very hard to get the autograph but she was very short so was not able to reach up to Jelena. I grabbed the cap from her hand and went ahead. Earlier she did not understand what I was doing with her cap because there were many other signatures on that cap. Meanwhile Jelena started moving away from us and I shouted 5/6 times requesting her to give the autographs. Finally she turned back and signed on it. :) The lady was soooo happy that she asked me to wear the cap and took the photograph. :D That entire scene was so hilarious that Kaku, Gargi, Gautam, Chandana and Shrish couldn't stop laughing for 10/15 mins. with Shrish and Gautam imitating my shouts!!!!

We called off the day with that match and were talking continuously about the matches that we saw in entire return journey.
Third day started little early as we wanted to me meet my ex-roomie Ameya and his wife Ketaki who were also visiting New York. We had a nice get to gather at Time Square and later on we went to Brooklyn Bridge as we wanted to click the pics of the same during day time. Once again I concluded that this bridge is far better than Golden gate bridge in CA !
Me and Shrish arrived flushing meadows earlier as we had to sort out some problem related to Shrish's shopping, with rest of the folks roaming in Manhattan. After getting that problem resolved we generally entered in one of the court and to our great surprise it was Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza's mixed doubles game !! We were not at all expecting that we will get to see them. Sania's game was very pathetic and I felt that the folks from Southmoor serve better than her. But yes, her photogenic face gave us good amount of entertainment in terms on clicking the photos. :)
Bhupathi looked very nervous as they lost the game in straight sets.
But it was nice to cheer Indian players out side the country and we shouted a lot. Later on we saw few doubles matches on side courts and then went for the James Blake's game against Tommy Hass. Again entire 23000 people on Ashe stadium were supporting Blake but he lost the 5 set thriller with last set tie breaker. I think one must be mentally very strong to play such game where you have to fight against 1 tennis player and his 23000 supporters.
We finished our remaining shopping and went back to Arthur Ashe to see the last evening session during our visit to the Open. First game between Anna Chakvetadze and Tamira Paszek turned out to be very boring with winner being decided based on least number of unforced errors. I almost slept during this game !! We went out and had some ice cream and we want to gear up for the upcoming game which was between top seeded Roger Federer against Lopez !! We had decided to watch Federer and Henin's games right from their entry to the court. As this was evening session, Federer was in complete black attire rather than his typical blue t-shirt.

This game was a complete power game with rallies not lasting more than 5/6 strokes. This reminded me the Wimbledon matched between Sampras and Ivanisevic. (I wish I could have got chance to watch any of their match!) The game was nice with Federer struggling against Lopez's strong service in first 2 sets. In third set he attacked on Lopez's poor back hand and literally crashed him. It was good come back by Lopez in fourth set but it was too late then. Federer accepted his struggle during first 2 sets in on-court interview. He is so powerful that the signed balls that he threw in audience after the match reached the up to upper promenade. The end of our visit was also with the bang!!
It was one on the great trips that I had in US with lot of excitement, thrill, enjoyment and many nice memories. Now Wimbledon is our next target as we want to see some of the players which we missed in this tournament like Andy Rodick, Naddal, Leander Pase and importantly Maria Sharapova ! Let’s see when we are going to hit the next target. :)