Then, on Sunday evening, I saw this...
... and my eyes lit up. Novak on Armstrong? I couldn't miss it. Changing my plans completely (tons of *thanks* to my friend, who was great and didn't kill me for leaving her), I quickly bought a grounds pass for the following day.
As it was Labor Day, I knew the place would be filled with people - so my plan was to catch a good seat as soon as possible, and to stay there for as long as it takes. Turns out I had the right idea - at 10:30 (half an hour before the first match), Armstrong was already full, and I later read that the queue to get into the stadium, which was locked down, was unbelievably long.
The first match, between Janko Tipsarevic and Juan Carlos Ferrero, was a good match. Its only problem was that it was long, and it was clear that large parts of the audience were there to see Novak up close. You could almost hear the collective sigh as the players split the first two sets (but maybe I just heard myself sighing).
In any case, I very much liked seeing Janko win (in four sets) and go through to his first ever Slam quarterfinal. It was clear how happy he was about it, and it also took him to a career-high ranking of #13.
Finally, it was what
The first set was nerve-wracking for me. Dolgopolov was the first to go up a break, but Nole immediately broke back, as I had no doubt he'd do. But then it came to a tiebreak. I never liked tiebreaks before, but this one... Well, with a final result of 16-14 (to Nole, thankfully), you can imagine how many set points there were, for both sides.
Yeah, that's how I felt too, Nole...
Dolgopolov, by the way, has the weirdest serve I've ever seen from a player. It's one thing to see it on TV, but up close it's even stranger.
I had a great time, finally being able to cheer on Nole from a proper distance :) I even sneaked in my "Even Irene Can't Stop Nole" sign (generally, banners aren't allowed on the grounds), and made sure to lift it up on every changeover. I sat across from the players' chairs, so there is a tiny chance that he saw it... Though I have no idea if it was readable. Since the first match was really long, and I had to get back to Manhattan by a certain time, I had to leave Nole's match when he was leading two sets to love. On the last changeover before that, a scary-looking security guard came to me and told me that if he saw that sign of mine again, he'd "kick me off the grounds". I have to say, he had perfect timing, as I was about to get out after the following game anyway ;)
No doubt, it was the best way to end my US Open visit, and my whole trip to NYC. I hope to go back next year!
(For more photos of that day, check the facebook album)