With that in mind, I made sure to come into the grounds as early as possible, to try and find out when Rafa would be practicing. He had a match during the day session, so I knew he should be there sometime in the morning. At first, his name wasn't on the list for the near time-slots. Since there wasn't anything interesting on other courts at that point (it was before play started for the day), I came back to the practice courts about ten minutes later, only to see his name at the end of the list. I got into the mosh pit where people were waiting for players, before anyone else even realized when and where Rafa will be. Securing myself one of the best places possible there, it was clear to me that I was going to stay there for a very long time... The practice itself was scheduled in an hour, and I knew he'd only sign on his way out - making it at least two hours of waiting.
Those hours were hardly a waste of time, though. As each player only practiced for 45 minutes or so, players kept coming and going into and out of the courts, giving me plenty of opportunities for photos, autographs, and sometimes both. I saw B. Bryan, Jankovic, Wozniacki, Pospisil, Gimeno-Traver, Vania King, R. Haase, F. Lopez, T. Haas, Ljubicic, Verdasco, Nalbandian, A. Murray, Ferrer, Dulko, Pavlyuchenkova, Ivanovic and Youzhny. I also asked Nigel Sears (Ana Ivanovic's coach) to wish Ana good luck in her next match :)
Oh, and Rafa? Yeah, I saw him. Three times. Once when he came into the grounds, once when he came into practice, and once when he gave me 2 autographs :) I owe my thanks to a very nice guy who stood next to me and kindly gave me a great photo of Rafa for the autograph. And yes, he does sign them right-handed ;)
After that, I accidentally stumbled upon the notice that Juan Carlos Ferrero would be signing autographs in the ATP booth in 15 minutes. I was first in line, because everybody else were queueing for the WTA booth, where Ana Ivanovic was due to arrive.
I already had Ana's autograph, so I stayed where I was. Can't complain, really.
After that, I caught a bit of Jurgen Melzer's match (he eventually lost it in a fifth set tiebreak, which should be banned from the US Open, if you ask me).
Then I saw the first set of Feliciano Lopez vs. Vasek Pospisil. Apart from being a Feli fan, I was interested to see it, as Vasek was going to come to Israel for the Davis Cup (and we all know how that turned out... a post will be coming in the evening). I was definitely impressed - by his serve, in particular, but he has a good all-around game in addition to that.
Unfortunately, I decided to leave this match (I later regretted this), in order to secure myself a spot on Grandstand, for Ferrer-Blake, which was going to be my last match in the tournament (or so I thought). That also meant I caught the end of Lisicki-Falconi, which was nice, and I did sit through the whole Ferrer-Blake match. Of course, it was a good match, and I'm happy I got to see all of it, but I think that next time I'd rather stay with my favourites than go see a match in which I'm less invested (though I love David Ferrer).
That concluded my time at the US Open, and I left completely tennis-saturated... which didn't stop me from following the night matches from my hotel that evening :)
(Lots of pictures of different players are here)