US Open Tennis Tournament Guide
Buying Tickets, Best Seats And More US Open Tips
If you're planning to attend the US Open Grand Slam tennis tournament then I hope this guide will help you save money and time and get you the best tickets to enjoy the game.
I attended the US Open in 2011 and I've learned some good lessons that I'd like to share with you.
Planning your visit
You need to book your court tickets (if you want good seats like Loge seats) at least 45 days before the tournament although I would suggest that you book them 2 or more months ahead.
If you're traveling from Europe then plane tickets go up really fast towards the end of August. I booked my ticket in the middle of June (US Open starts in the last week of August) and I was almost too late to get a good price.
Book the plane ticket before June!
The same goes for hotels. I happened to stay with friends but I did research hotel prices in New York and in most cases you're looking at $200 per night at least in the Manhattan area.
The Billie Jean Tennis Center is in Queens and you can get better prices there but not that much lower.
So generally you need to commit to the trip at least 2 months before it starts although I really suggest 3 months to make sure you get the best prices.
Buying US Open Tennis Tickets
When you're considering US Open tennis tickets the real question is who do you want to see!
If you want to see the top 3 players like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer, you'll most likely need to buy tickets on the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The tickets to the Arthur Ashe Stadium also give you access to all outside courts.
Here's the tricky thing: there are Day and Night Sessions for Arthur Ashe Stadium and you don't know in advance (only a day or two before the start of the tournament) where your favorite player will play.
The chart below shows you where and when each of the top 10 players played at the US Open 2011.
AA – Arthur Ashe Stadium
LA – Louis Armstrong Stadium
GS – Grandstand
C13 or C17 – Court 13 or Court 17
(DS) and (NS) in brackets mean Day Session and Night Session. Day Session lasts from 11 AM until the end of matches of the Day Session schedule on Arthur Ashe.
The Night Session matches start at 7 PM on Arthur Ashe but the Night Session ticket gives you access to all outside courts and the US Open grounds from 5 PM onwards. At 7 PM you can then enter the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Example from the table above: Novak Djokovic played his first round match at AA (DS) which means on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Day Session.
You will also notice that top 3 players (Djokovic, Nadal and Federer) always played on one of the two main center courts (Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong), while Andy Murray ranked #4 did play once on Grandstand.
Lower ranked players are not guaranteed to play on the main center courts although they often do.
The key point for you is that if you want to see one of the top 3 players, you will have to buy the tickets to the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Of the top 3 players only Djokovic played one match on Loius Armstrong throughout the whole tournament. All other matches of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer were played on Arthur Ashe.
And since you don't really know whether the organizers will put them on a Day Session or a Night Session, your best bet is to buy 4 Day Sessions in a row or 4 Night Sessions in a row.
You'll see from the above schedule that all top 3 players played one DS and one NS in their first two rounds.
4 Night Sessions for example from Monday until Thursday (minimum) will almost guarantee that you'll see at least 2 of the top 3 players (if not all of them) play. (assuming they don't lose in the first round)
Best Seats On Arthur Ashe Stadium To Watch From
The best seats in my opinion are the seats directly behind the player. That way you get to see the accuracy of shots, the trajectory of the ball, the speed of the play and generally the tactics of each player.
Here's a picture from my Loge seat:
If you sit at the sides of the court you won't have a good perception of what is really going in the match. You'll mostly watch the ball moving left and right really quickly. ;)
Arthur Ashe Stadium has 4 general areas where you can sit: Courtside, Luxury Seats, Loge and Promenade.
The Courtside seats are the nearest to the court but also the most expensive. Even a first round match ticket cost around $600.
The Loge seats are a little bit higher – somewhere in the middle of the Stadium and are in my opinion the best value for what you see.
I bought Loge tickets in row A (which is the lowest row – the closest to the court) and they cost around $160.
The Promenade tickets are way up higher and they cost from around $40 to $60 in the first round.
I really recommend you try and get Loge seats for 3 or 4 Night Sessions in a row (Monday till Thursday) since it's very likely that all top players will get to play at least one Night Session in the first two rounds and you'll also have a great view.
You can try a fancy online tool called Seat Viewer where you can click on a selected seat and a video will show you how the view from that seat looks like.
Of course it's also great if you can sit behind the player on one of the side courts that have such seatings.
One of these is court 17 where I watched David Nalbandian battle Bobby Reynolds. This was my view:
But if there are no seats on a side court, then another great way to watch tennis is to sit in the first row and focus only on one player and observe their movement and technique and admire their skills.
Here's how Juan Carlos Ferrero had to move in his first round match against Pablo Andujar:
How To Buy US Open Tennis Tickets
There are a few options on how to get the US Open tennis tickets. If you go the official route through usopen.org, you'll quickly realize that when you want to buy Individual tickets or Mini plans, you can only buy tickets in the upper or lower Promenade. (That's on Arthur Ashe Stadium of course).
You can go through one of the many ticket sellers online but they charge something extra since they need to get some profit.
I got a really got deal with Bob from Arena Tickets (no affiliation, just good experience). (631-547-5423)
One last tip – if you do buy Loge tickets note that even though you buy row A which is the closest to the court, you'll see that row A actually covers two rows.
The first row are the numbers 1-3 and the second row are the numbers 4-6. So if you buy row A with seats 4-6, you'll actually sit in the second row. If you sit in the first row though no one will obstruct your view.
Getting to the US Open / USTA National Tennis Center
Here's the location of the USTA National Tennis Center:
View Larger Map
(If you plan to use Google Maps to find your way later just search for Arthur Ashe Stadium, New York.)
The fastest way from the city centre is to take the IRT #7 Flushing subway from either Times Square or Grand Central to the Shea Stadium / Willets Point Station. The USTA National Tennis Center is about a three-minute walk down the ramp from the station.
Or take the "E" or "F" trains to Roosevelt Avenue and transfer upstairs to the IRT #7 train (Flushing bound) subway to the Shea Stadium / Willets Point Station.
Top 10 Best Tips On How To Make The Most Of The US Open Tennis Tournament
1. You can get into the USTA Tennis Center at 10 AM if you have day session tickets and at 5 PM for night session tickets. If you're coming to the center at 11 AM when the morning matches start or at around 7 PM when the evening matches start you're going to end up in a long queue! Get there earlier or slightly later!
2. You can buy general admission tickets for $60 a piece at the entrance in the first rounds. They still get sold out soon – so plan ahead. It is possible to get second hand tickets around the center but you'll typically pay double the price.
3. Make sure to check next year's information on what you can bring into the center.
4. If you don't have any bags, you can enter a speedy line to enter the National Tennis Center!
5. If there are two higher ranked players battling each other on one of the side courts and you want to watch them, you'll probably need to be there at least 30 minutes before the start of the match. Everything will be jampacked when the match starts and you'll have to wait long time to even get closer to the court let alone to get a seat.
6. You can watch matches on Louis Armstrong for free too but expect loooong queues. So be there early. The estimated waiting time for the second round match between John Isner and Marcos Baghdatis on Loius Armstrong was over 3 hours!
7. Bring your own water /drinks but make sure it's not on glass bottles! Only plastic bottles are allowed!
8. Bring a sweater if you plan to watch night session matches on one of the big center courts. It gets much windier and chilier up there high in the stands compared to watching tennis on side courts.
9. Print the daily schedule at home (download it from the official website) and PLAN the sequence of matches you're going to watch. Again, if there are some good names battling each other and you come late, you won't see much. You can't see all matches, but you can plan to watch a few of them from really good seats!
10. Ask me a question! You'll get your own personal tip if you ask me and post our Q&A on Facebook!
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