A Serious Tennis Fan’s Top 10 Tips for the 2019 US Open (Tickets & More)

by | Aug 29, 2019 | Watching Pro Tennis | 5,667 comments

By P.J. Simmons  Note: I originally posted these tips in 2012 but continue to update them based on new learnings and feedback from readers. At the advice of a fellow tennis fanatic/blog expert (who knows how much I spend on tennis!) I finally created affiliate links for the ticket sites I had been recommending for years. This way, if you end up getting a ticket through one of my links you won’t pay a penny more but the seller may give me a small commission versus giving it to Google Ads or another referring site — which, in turn, helps support my tennis obsession and The Tennis Congress, a passion project I do on the side of my regular job. I appreciate the support!

Updated September 7, 2019

The 2019 US Open tennis tournament (August 26- September 8, 2019) will be my 12th consecutive year at Flushing Meadows, and I’ve learned a ton through trial and error about how to maximize the opportunity, find the best tickets and seats, and generally get the biggest bang for the buck. Likewise, I’ve learned so much thanks to fellow fans around the world who have shared their own insights since I wrote the first version of this post seven years ago.

As a serious tennis player and fan myself, I feel so lucky that the US Open is in my backyard. I absolutely love the tournament, and find nothing more educational and inspiring for my own game than seeing world-class live tennis. Below are my top 10 recommendations for serious tennis fans like me.

Note for return readers: I’ve created a special box at the very bottom of the post (after the “Index”) that I’m updating in real time with a running list of new updates and lessons learned from this year, which I’ll eventually incorporate into a revised post for next year. 

In a rush and need quick answers?

This blog has expanded over the years to include a lot of detail that fellow fans have asked about. I recommend reading/skimming it in order if you can, but if you’re rushed you can click on the shortcuts below for answers the the questions I get asked most often (and also click here for an INDEX to a more complete set of topics/questions):

Tip #1: Do whatever you can to see world-class players and great matches up really close— which if you’re on a budget may mean bypassing Arthur Ashe stadium in favor of the sixteen other courts where matches are played. 

For my first US Open, I spent about $250 per ticket for a decent seat during early rounds in the famous Arthur Ashe stadium (1/2 way up in the Loge section) so I’d be guaranteed to see at least one Top 10 player live. While it was certainly thrilling to experience the electricity of an evening at Ashe stadium, I still felt somewhat distant from the action (it’s a mammoth 23,700-seat venue) and spent much of the time watching the match on the huge video screen. Moreover, because the tournament prioritizes putting the biggest stars on Ashe over the best match-ups, the matches I saw weren’t terribly exciting.

Since then, I’ve become addicted to the unparalleled thrill of seeing many world-class competitors from a few feet away in epic duels on several of the smaller non-Ashe courts (Louis Armstrong Stadium, the new Grandstand Stadium (behind courts 4-6), the very cool Court #17, and other courts #4-#16). Once you have this experience you’ll be addicted too. While it’s rare that you’ll see the Top 5 players on those courts, you WILL see other awe-inspiring players in very competitive matches. A collateral benefit: you’ll be ahead of the curve in seeing the rising stars the likes of Coco Gauff, and feel the excitement of “discovering” new talent to cheer for. I’ll never forget the first time I saw Milos Raonic blast a tournament record 145 MPH serve from the first row of the old Grandstand. Or, in more recent years, when I saw next-gen players like Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, Dominic Thiem, Sasha Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Karen Khachanov, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Borna Ćorić up close for the first time.

Tip for serious players: After watching a ton of pro matches, I started challenging myself to watch more deliberately from the perspective of a player who wants to improve. I wrote down ten ideas for watching a pro match that may resonate with fellow fanatics who not only want to enjoy the drama of the match but also learn from it.     

 

(Adapted from photo in “US Open Transformation Update”)

BOX #1: UNDERSTANDING YOUR TICKET OPTIONS & HOW THE SCHEDULE WORKS



Ticket Basics: first-timers, please read carefully!


Reserved seats can be purchased for the following 3 stadiums
(see grounds map above and detailed seating charts in Box #2 below):

    • Arthur Ashe: the biggest stadium (23,771 seats) where the iconic stars (Federer, Rafa, Novak, Serena) play. This is the only stadium that requires a reserved seat – there is no general seating. Ashe has a roof, so you never have to worry about getting rained out. 
    • Louis Armstrong: the second-biggest stadium (14,000 seats). Reserved seats are the only way to access the best courtside seats (general admission seating on a first-come basis is on the upper level only). Also has a roof in case of rain.
    • Grandstand: the third-largest (about 8,000 seats). Courtside reserved seats are amazing, but general admission seating is also outstanding on this small stadium – but can be hard to get during popular matches.


      Note: Courts
      #4-17 are entirely unreserved seating, open to everyone on a first-come basis   

      See “2019 US Open Schedule at a Glance” below to get a sense of which matches are played on which courts 

Here are the different types of tickets you can buy:  

1. GROUNDS ADMISSION (which I generally don’t recommend, see Tip #3 below for why). Listed as “Billie Jean King National Tennis Center” on Ticketmaster and sold for the first 8 days. Allows entry at 9:30am and gives you access to unreserved seating on a first-come basis to all courts except Ashe Stadium

2. DAY SESSION RESERVED for either Ashe, Armstrong, or Grandstand stadiums, which allow entry into US Open grounds at 9:30 a.m. (or 11:00 a.m. on finals weekend) and offers all the privileges as Ground Admission (above) PLUS a reserved seat in either Ashe, Armstrong, or Grandstand Stadium. Any Day session ticketholder can stay as late into the evening as you’d like (and have the option to exit and re-enter). You can also access unreserved seating in any stadium at any point in the day or evening (except Ashe, which requires an Ashe reserved ticket), including the Armstrong evening session.** 

    • ASHE DAY TICKETHOLDERS: Matches start at Noon and feature two matches. Ticketholders must exit the stadium after the second match (around 6pm), but can remain on the grounds as late as they’d like. Note, for the final three days of the tournament (Friday Sep 6-Sunday Sep 8), there is no separate evening session on Ashe– so a Day session ticket gives you access to all matches scheduled for that day.
    • ARMSTRONG DAY TICKETHOLDERS: Matches start at 11:00am and feature at least 3 matches (four beginning Sunday of Labor Day weekend). Armstrong Day session ticketholders must exit the stadium after the final match (around 6pm), but can remain on the grounds as late as they’d like. Armstrong reserved seats are only sold for the first 9 days of the tournament (through Tuesday Sep 4). 
    • GRANDSTAND DAY TICKETHOLDERS: Matches start at 11:00am and feature at least 4 matches (five on the first two days of the tournament). Grandstand reserved seats are only sold for first 8 days of tournament (through Monday Sep 3). There is no separate evening session on Grandstand, which means ticketholders get to see more matches.

**Special note regarding access to general admission (GA) seating for Armstrong Night sessions: One reader recently reported that in 2018 an usher demanded they show an evening session ticket to enter GA seating for the Armstrong evening session. This usher was almost certainly in the wrong: to my knowledge, the US Open has not published anything stating that policy. If this happens to you this year, explain to the usher that you did extensive research (feel free to blame me) and that your understanding is that anyone on the grounds is entitled to access unreserved seating for ALL non-Ashe courts (including Armstrong) at any time. If they refuse entry, ask if they can confirm with a manager or ask to speak to a manager to clarify. Please let me know if this happens to you and/or if you find any written policies along these lines. 

3. EVENING SESSION RESERVED for either Ashe or Armstrong Stadiums, which allow entry into US Open grounds at 6:00 p.m. and gives you access to unreserved seating on a first-come basis to all field courts PLUS a reserved seat in either Ashe or Armstrong.

    • Evening matches on both Ashe and Armstrong start at 7:00 p.m. and feature two matches.
    • Ashe has evening sessions on first 11 nights of the tournament (through Thurs Sep 6) – after which only Day session tickets are sold
    • Armstrong has evening sessions for the first 6 nights only (through Saturday Sep 1)

A few more points about entry and re-entry:

    • To enter the US Open grounds, you must pass through security then have your ticket scanned at either the EAST GATE or SOUTH GATE (see map above). 
    • If you have a reserved seat in a stadium, you’ll have your ticket re-checked upon entering that stadium.
    • If you have tickets for Day and Evening sessions (Ashe or Armstrong) on the same day, you will NOT need to exit the US Open grounds and re-enter again. Your ticket will be checked as you enter the stadium. 
    • If you are in Armstrong for the Day session (either Courtside reserved or GA seating), you’ll need to leave your seat between Day and Evening sessions as they clean up. However, you may stay inside the concourse area of Armstrong (the inner-stadium areas with food stands). As such, if you were in the stadium for Day and want to line up for GA seating for Evening session, you have an advantage: you can stick around and wait in line upstairs until ushers start letting people back to seatsIf you leave the stadium during this “in between” period, you won’t be allowed to re-enter for a brief  time (They don’t allow anyone new to come in for a period while they’re cleaning up).

IMG_9312.JPG

** I took the photo above at the 2016 US Open from a corner courtside seat in Ashe watching the Nadal-Pouille round of 16 match on Labor Day.



2019 US OPEN SCHEDULE

Below is my annotated version of the overall tournament schedule (the official version is here but much less detailed). To get a sense of what kinds of matches are played on which courts for specific dates, I strongly recommend reviewing last year’s 2018 Daily Schedule of Play and click on the day(s) you’re considering attending.

Qualifiers and Fan Week

  • Aug 19-23: Qualifying Tournament play (expanded to 5 days in 2019). Free! Check schedule here closer to the date.
  • Aug 22: (Thursday): Draw takes place at 12pm ET
  • Aug 23: (Friday): The US Open may release the Day 1 and Day 2 Schedule on this page (and the app). Note: in 2018, they did so early evening, whereas in previous years they waited until Saturday.
  • Aug 24 (Saturday): US Open Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day. Day 1 Schedule and Day 2 schedule should be posted on the 2019 Schedule of Play page and on US Open app if not posted on Aug 23.
  • August 25 (Sunday): Free access to grounds, “Practice Day”

Main Tournament

  • Aug 26-27 (Mon/Tues): Men’s and Women’s (M&W) 1st Round Note: Mon Aug 26 Evening Ashe will be “Opening Night Ceremony” prior to regular matches.
  • Aug 28-Aug 29 (Wed/Thurs): M&W 2d Round, Doubles 1st Round
  • Aug 30-Aug 31 (Fri/Sat): M&W 3d Round, Doubles 1st-2d Round (+ Juniors)
  • Sep 1-2 (Sun/Mon): M&W 4th Round (“Round of 16”), Doubles 3d Round (+ Juniors). Note: In 2018 Men’s Round of 16 Singles matches were played exclusively on Ashe and Armstrong, not on Grandstand.

Important! All Singles matches beginning on Tuesday September 3 (Quarterfinals through Finals) will be played on Ashe. Armstrong and Grandstand will feature Doubles matches (don’t purchase Armstrong reserved tickets for September 3 unless you want to see Doubles).

  • Sep 3 (Tues): M&W Singles Quarterfinals (on Ashe ONLY), Doubles Quarterfinals (Armstrong and probably New Grandstand) + Juniors
  • Sep 4 (Wed) M&W Singles Quarterfinals (Ashe ONLY) + M&W Doubles Quarterfinals, Mixed Doubles Semifinals and Juniors (outer courts– no reserved seats, accessible with General Admission or Ashe ticket.
  • Sep 5 (Thurs): Day session is usually free (!) – gates open at 11:00am– and includes M&W Doubles Semifinals, Juniors, and Wheelchair. Evening session features both Women’s Singles Semifinals in the same session (requires Ashe ticket, one ticket for both matches).
  • Sep 6 (Friday): Men’s Doubles Final 12pm and Men’s Semifinals 4pm (Ashe Day session only, your ticket gives access to all matches). Juniors and Wheelchair on outer courts.
  • Sep 7 (Saturday): Mixed Doubles Final 12pm / Women’s Final 4pm (Ashe Day session only, your ticket gives access to all matches). Juniors and Wheelchair on outer courts.
  • Sep 8 (Sunday): Women’s Doubles Final 12pm / Men’s Final 4pm (Ashe Day session only, your ticket gives access to all matches). Juniors and Wheelchair Finals on outer courts.

Here is the ESPN Broadcast schedule for the 2019 Tournament

Tip #2: If you’re on a tight budget, try to attend during the tournament’s first week (Monday August 26- Friday August 30) and purchase relatively inexpensive Ashe DAY session tickets. 

An Ashe day session ticket will get you access to all the courts on the grounds in addition to Ashe during the day, then enable you to stay on the grounds to watch matches on all courts except Ashe in the evening (Ashe day/night sessions are sold separately). You’ll get hours and hours of tennis watching for your money, as many matches on the outer courts will go well into the evening. And if you can take a day off from work and go during these first 5 days, you won’t have to battle hordes of fans for access to the non-Ashe venues– whereas things get very crowded Labor Day weekend. 

Tip #3: Do NOT heed the conventional wisdom to buy a “Grounds Admission” pass to save money until you’ve explored whether reserved day session seats in Ashe or Armstrong are also available for around the same price! 

Grounds admission tickets (cheaper tickets sold on the tourney’s first 8 days that give access to all the courts except Ashe) can be a good deal, but there are often reserved Ashe Promenade-level tickets (and, occasionally, Armstrong courtside seats) available for nearly identical prices– making them far better deals. Ashe and Armstrong Day Session tickets gives you all the privileges of a “Grounds” pass with added bonuses. In particular, buying an Ashe or Armstrong reserved seat gives you rain insurance, because these stadiums both have roofs so matches cannot be rained out.

Tip #4: Go for quality over quantity. 

As a general rule, I encourage fellow fans to budget their time and money in ways that maximize the possibility of a few magical experiences versus a ton of forgettable ones. For instance, if you’re opting between multiple days of cheap nosebleed seats in Ashe’s Upper Promenade versus appying the same budget towards excellent seats for a couple sessions, I generally recommend the latter. (Note: if you’re wondering whether it’s worth it to spend a bit more to sit in the Loge level of Ashe versus the Promenade level, my answer is always yes).

Tip #5: If your budget can swing it, I strongly recommend getting a courtside reserved seat in the new Louis Armstrong stadium for Aug 31- Sep 2, or in Grandstand on August 30 or August 31. 

(Note: In 2018, Men’s Round of 16 Singles matches (Sun/Mon of Labor Day weekend) were played exclusively on Ashe and Armstrong, not on Grandstand – see last year’s 2018 Daily Schedule of Play) 

During this window, you’re very likely to experience thrilling matches up close that you’ll never forget on these two courts. The first time I did this in 2010 I saw an unforgettable marathon slugfest between David Ferrer and Fernando Verdasco from the FIRST ROW BASELINE! I had arrived that morning at 11am and left around 11:30pm at night, leaving my seat only twice for a total of about 9 minutes for rapid-fire bathroom breaks and to grab snacks so I wouldn’t want to miss a second of the action.

 
Videos (of various players’ forehands) I shot from Armstrong and Grandstand at the 2012 US Open

BOX 2: WHERE/WHEN TO GET THE BEST DEAL ON US OPEN TICKETS?

Old tickets shared by fellow fanatic Michael Levin

My first and most important piece of advice to everyone: do your reseach and don’t rush into a buying decision! Every year, tens of thousands of fans race to be among the first to buy seats when individual tickets go on sale to the public (which was June 3 this year) on Ticketmaster – and many encounter the frustrating reality is that it’s never easy to find great seats at face value, even if you jump online the instant tickets go on sale. This is because (1) most of the best seats are pre-allocated to corporate sponsors or series subscribers who have waited years to upgrade; (2) the tournament holds back on releasing all the tickets initially, and tends to trickle more out in the weeks/months that follow (however frustrating, I’ve learned this is fairly common practice for event ticketing). And without knowing better, too many folks rush to buy on that first day without realizing better options may show up later. So don’t feel badly if you missed buying on that initial opening day; it could actually be a blessing in disguise for you. If you’re willing to do a little work, there are always good deals to be found throughout the summer. More and more people will end up posting their tickets for resale on Ticketmaster Exchange and other reseller sites (see below), and USTA will end up releasing more individual tickets too on Ticketmaster. 

Below are the sites that will give you access to the BEST INVENTORY of available tickets (both face-value and resale). Before buying, be sure to compare options and prices. When searching, try sorting by price, section, row… Take your time, get a good sense of what the prevailing price for what you want, and when you spot a good deal, grab it!

(1) ALWAYS (always !) check both of the following two official US Open ticket sites first:

  • 1. The official Ticketmaster US Open tennis tournament site
    This site features both (1) any standard tickets (non-resale, face value) that may be available (shown as “blue dots” on the detailed seat map for each session – most often only in Promenade, but occasionally pop up in Loge and Courtside sections throughout the summer); and (2) resale tickets (shows as “red dots” on the detailed seat map for each session).

    Example of premium option shown as a “blue dot”

    Surprisingly, the standard (blue-dot) tickets are not always the best deal even after factoring in service fees, as some desperate sellers lower prices below face value to attract buyers so they can recoup at least some of their investment. Important Caution (!): Blue dots are sometimes used to indicate very expensive premium seating packages (labeled as “VVIP Package Courtside 1968 Room” or “VIP Package Loge Overlook”), which include access to unlimited food and drink and a private lounge, but are outrageously priced and not worth the premium for the vast majority of fans. Tickets remain on sale for 59 minutes after a session begins as long as tickets remain (e.g., if an Ashe Day session begins at Noon, tickets remain on sale until 12:59pm). For Men’s Semi’s in 2019, Ticketmaster kept sales open for standard seats only another 3 hours beyond that (which were in most cases about double the cost of what was available on the resale market). 
  • 2. US Open Ticket Exchange (the official USTA reseller via Ticketmaster) This is the official reseller and where I’ve gotten most of the best deals over the years. Do not buy from any other reseller sites before checking this one first! This always has the biggest inventory and, at the very least, will give you a good “benchmark” for prices so you can recognize a good deal when you see it. Note: The main Ticketmaster site only includes resale tickets available for immediate mobile delivery, whereas the Ticket Exchange includes those AND tickets that have been verified as legitimate but have a promised-by date sometime before the event.
    • Note: One of the biggest benefits of purchasing through Ticketmaster or Ticketmaster Exchange is the incredible ease of putting your tickets back up for sale if your plans change or you decide you want to switch days or tickets later. However, you must have a US bank account to put your tickets up for resale on the Exchange; and you must purchase tickets online to resell them (tickets purchased by phone cannot be resold).

(2) In addition to the above, it’s always worth checking 1-2 reseller sites like Stubhub and others listed below to see if you can find an even better deal for comparable seats and inventory. If you check the official Ticket Exchange PLUS even one of the sites below to compare, you’ll get tremendous visibility into what’s available and the range of prices. As you compare, be sure to factor in any service fees, which may not appear until you get to the final order summary page. Most of these sites keep selling tickets after a session begins for several hours (versus Ticketmaster, which stops selling 59 minutes after the session begins). 

  • Stubhub – Always worth checking in addition to Ticketmaster given very large inventory of resale tickets (many sellers list here and not on Ticket Exchange)
  • Ticket Liquidator – Large inventory of resale tickets, service fees not shown until checkout
  • TickPick  First-displayed price is actual price including fees, with option to “bid” or name-your-price.
  • SeatGeek – Fees built into display price.
  • VIagogo – Large international reseller, cumbersome interface, high fees 

(3) Avoid Craigslist or other non-certified resellers! I’ve heard tons of stories over the years of folks who got scammed or had to go through considerable hassle to obtain tickets. Not worth the risk. Also know that NYC law prohibits reselling “scalping” 1500 feet away from the venue (which is effectively everywhere off the subway at the US Open), and they have undercover police on site cracking down on both sellers and buyers.

(4) If you end up with tickets you don’t need, you can very easily post your tickets for resale through the US Open Ticket Exchange.

(5) If you’re going with a friend(s), consider buying a combination of cheap and amazing seats: this way, you can split the cost and trade off time in the great seat. E.g., you could trade time in seats in Promenade vs Courtside, or between stadiums (in Ashe vs a reserved seat in  Armstrong or Grandstand). I do this every year with my best friends.

(6) Ticketmaster occasionally offers special discounts and 2-for-1 deals. Here are the deals that are currently active: 

(7) If you want to explore package deals (combining tickets with optional hotel, transportation, VIP perks, etc), there are several trusted options including Championship Tennis Tours,  Grand Slam Tennis Tours, and Steve Furgal’s International Tennis Tours

IMPORTANT: Most online resale tickets (including through Ticketmaster) are being offered as MOBILE tickets (i.e., “Your Phone is Your Ticket”) – which requires having a smart phone with internet/wifi capability.

  • If you do not have a smart phone (either iPhone or Android) and you purchase through Ticketmaster, they WILL help you – but you’ll have to contact their customer service directly and have them make an exception and transfer your tickets to “Will Call” pick up location on site. If you don’t own a smart phone and are purchasing resale tickets during the tournament, I’d recommend buying exclusively through Ticketmaster and not taking chances with other resellers.
  • Questions? See 2018 detailed instructions (with screenshots) on how to access and manage your mobile tickets.

KEY SEATING CHARTS

Arthur Ashe Stadium
Arthur Ashe Seating Chart (view from above)
Official Ashe Stadium Seating Chart
My annotated Ashe Stadium SHADE map
Interactive Seat Viewer” to give you a sense of what view is like from specific seats – which from my experience tends to make seats look like they’re closer than they actually feel when you’re there, but helpful nonetheless.
NEW Louis Armstrong Stadium
New Louis Armstrong Stadium Seating Chart (Official)
New Louis Armstrong Chart (with my annotations)
Armstrong Interactive “View from Seat” Map
My annotated Armstrong Stadium SHADE map
Grandstand
Grandstand Stadium Seating Chart
Grandstand Interactive Seat Map

Tip #6: If you’ve never done it, consider splurging once on a courtside Ashe seat — if possible after the 2nd round of play when matches start getting more competitive. 

After dreaming for years of the possibility, I finally bit the bullet to invest in courtside seats in 2011 for the first time. It was bliss. Now it’s an annual tradition for me and a few close friends to experience courtside together at least once. What most people don’t understand about the mammoth Ashe stadium until they’ve been in person is that even Loge seating is fairly high up because (a) the stadium is very vertically oriented (seating is on a sharp incline) and (b) there are two levels of suites above Courtside before the first row of Loge even begins. So when you’re down in Courtside, you feel like you’re in another world. The feeling of being that close to greatness in Ashe’s electric atmosphere is pretty amazing. If going for a courtside seat, keep in mind that Row E is first row in sections 1-6, 31-40, 65-67; and Row F is first row in sections 7,9,11, 26, 29, 30, 60 63, 64, 41, 42. If courtside is out of your budget, aim for lower Loge rows A-C when possible.

Here’s a video I shot of Federer from the front row in 2011, the very first time I sat courtside at Ashe. I found a great deal on a resale ticket (baseline section 58) for Labor Day during the Round of 16 and got to witness Federer perfection from a few feet away. Best money I’ve ever spent.

BOX 3: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are the questions I get most often, along with important stuff I wish I had known myself before buying tickets the first time…


Roger Federer from Courtside (section 60 row F) 9/4/17

FAQ #1: How can I predict when Federer, Djokovic, Rafa, Serena, Osaka (or my other favorite player) will play?

Based on the 2019 Day 1 schedule, we now know which players will play on specific dates based on where they are in the Draw:

  • Men’s TOP ½ Half and Women’s BOTTOM ½ Half of the Draw will play first on Day 1 (Mon) then again (if they advance) on Day 3 (Wed), Day 5 (Fri), Day 7 (Sun), and Day 9 (Tues).
  • Men’s BOTTOM ½ Half and Women’s TOP Half of the Draw will play first on Day 2 (Tues) then again (if they advance) on Day 4 (Thurs), Day 6 (Sat), Day 8 (Mon), and Day 10 (Wed)

Icons and superstars—notably Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Serena Williams—will almost certainly be scheduled exclusively for ASHE Stadium.

Important: there is no way to predict with absolute certainty whether a player will be on a Day or Night session:

  • Officials tend to alternate scheduling superstars between Day and Night sessions on Ashe—but it is very risky to count on them doing this or to make predictions, as there are exceptions and big scheduling surprises every year. In 2018, for instance, Federer was scheduled for two Ashe Day sessions in a row (Day 4 and 6), Serena Williams was schedule for three consecutive Ashe Night sessions (Days 1, 3, and 5) as was Maria Sharapova (Days 4, 6, and 8) to the great disappointment of those who bought expensive tickets based on the tendency to alternate between day and night scheduling. This year (2019), Djokovic has already been scheduled for 3 consecutive Ashe Night sessions and Federer 3 consecutive Ashe Day sessions (Days 3, 5, and 7).   
  • Contrary to popular belief, the US Open does not schedule the big names exclusively for night sessions! They really do “spread the wealth” and try to be fair to players by alternating between Day and Night sessions. The one exception to this is Quarterfinals, when they have historically scheduled the biggest starts for the night sessions (probably a function of ticket sales and crowds, as evening quarterfinal sessions are much better attended and average prices are much higher).

To be absolutely sure you see your favorite player, consider waiting until the schedule is published the day prior (start checking frequently early afternoon, usually out by 5:00pm), then immediately go to Ticketmaster or Ticketmaster Exchange (or other resale sites like Stubhub) to grab a resale ticket. This strategy requires, however, that you monitor the ticket situation closely in the days prior and are prepared to act immediately when the schedule is announced. Also, if you see tickets becoming scarce and prices going up in the days prior, you may conclude it’s worth taking a chance and purchasing based on an educated guess.

One sure way to see your favorite player up close is to watch them when they’re scheduled for practice on the practice courts. See Tip #9

To get a general sense of scheduling trends for specific days during the tournament, look at previous years’ schedules:

    • 2018 Daily Schedule of Play (the US Open recently removed the official 2018 schedule from its site, so this links to the Wikipedia page summarizing which matches were on Ashe, Armstrong, and Grandstand only each day)
    •  2017 Daily Schedule of Play (this US Open page is worth viewing to see the kinds of matches scheduled on all the field courts 4-17)

FYI: A fun way to get your head around the draw/brackets — and potential match-ups — is to play this year’s 2019 Tennis Channel’s Racquet Bracket challenge. It’s also a great way to become more familiar with some players you may not have heard of yet but probably will soon.


 

FAQ #2: How do a see the exact location of seats that I might buy (in Ashe, Armstrong, or Grandstand)?

Go to Ticketmaster and click on any session for the stadium in question. Choose Map View, then mouse over or click on any of the dots to see the exact section, row and seat #. Note that for Courtside seats, each lettered “row” in Ashe (e.g. “A” or “H”) actually stands for two rows: e.g., “Row A Seat 5” might actually be in the second row, Row C Seat 6 is probably 6th row). Courtside Sections 48-49, 52-63 and 66-67 go actually have two rows of “AA” seats followed by rows A-H. Also note where the umpire sits (you’ll see a little chair icon on each map — and avoid courtside tickets very close up in sections right behind or next to the chair (please note: the umpire chair is never a big obstruction, but it might be a minor annoyance to some). To make matters more complicated… first row for Behind-the-Server seats Courtside begin with E or F: Row E is first row in sections 1-6, 31-40, 65-67; and Row F is first row in sections 7,9,11, 26, 29, 30, 60 63, 64, 41, 42. In short, check out the detailed Seat Map on Ticketmaster view before buying to see the exact location.

Here also are links to seating charts:


FAQ #3: When should I buy? Will sessions sell out if I wait too long? Will prices go down or up over the summer? What are average prices?

The frustrating reality is: “it depends.” Buying tickets for the US Open can be like investing in the stock market: knowledge and judgment dramatically raises the odds of a good decision, but there are always surprises due to the number of variables involved. Standard (non-resale) Ashe tickets usually sell out fairly quickly (except for Ashe stadium’s “Promenade” section, where there are usually quite a few available throughout the summer). However, there are almost always resale tickets available until the very last moment because thousands of fans post their tickets for resale. You can almost always get tickets closer to the tournament – and you may end up finding a phenomenal deal if you are patient. However, waiting longer to purchase requires you to have a higher risk tolerance than those who’d prefer the certainty around making arrangements sooner. Resale ticket prices can vary significantly, especially closer to the tournament. Prices can plummet when lineups are predicted to be lackluster… or they can skyrocket if fans speculate that certain marquee players (like Federer) will be scheduled. In 2017, after it became clear  that both Federer and Nadal would be scheduled on the same days throughout the tournament, prices spiked sharply for the days they’d be scheduled if they advanced and dropped significantly for the opposite days. Then, after Federer got knocked out in quarters, prices for semis and finals declined quite a bit. The best advice I can give is to familiarize yourself with average prices on Ticketmaster for the days/sessions you are considering over the course of several days so you can recognize a good deal when you see one and spot the trends. Here is a chart showing the price ranges for regularly priced tickets in 2018.  If you find resale tickets around these prices or less, that’s one sign of a great deal.


FAQ #4: Which seats get the most shade?

For Ashe: The roof creates a massive amount of natural shading all day for a large number of seats. The sections that get the most shade are in the South and West sections of the stadium; Next-best for shade are in the North. Sections with the most sun (to avoid for Day sessions) are on the East side. Click on the photo/map below for details. For the new Armstrong: Situation is similar to Ashe, now that there’s a roof. In short, Sections 1-8 are best for shade.  West-side sections (Chair Umpire side) get the most shade; and when not in shade, at least the sun is at your back. Rows K and above (approximately) are shaded soonest (by about 12:30pm), then the sun gradually moves down to cover all rows by about 2:00 pm. East-side sections get the least shade and are in direct sun most of the afternoon. However, Rows T and above (approximately) get shading all day. South sections (behind-the-server) get more shade than North sections: South sections start out almost entirely shaded until about 1pm, then the sun starts wrapping around clockwise, such that sections 17-18 end up losing shade mid-afternoon. See photo/map below. For Grandstand: There’s much less shade overall, however South and West sections are similarly better because sun is more at your back. General admission seats that are higher under the overhang, especially Southwest corner, get the most shade.

Click to enlarge my Ashe shade map

Click to enlarge my Ashe shade map

Click to Enlarge my Armstrong Shade Map (photo from 2:30pm)


FAQ #5: What happens if it rains?

The good news: Now that both Arthur Ashe and the new Louis Armstrong stadiums have roofs, now up to 37,771 more fans each day will be able to see matches even if it rains. The bad news: if you invest in great seats for Grandstand or simply buy a Grounds Admission pass, there isn’t much consolation. Keep in mind that weather forecasts are notoriously unreliable and can change on the hour (I have literally been at Flushing Meadows when my iPhone said it was raining and it wasn’t). There’s always hope that showers will pass quickly. In the highly unlikely event of all-day rain out or under 60 minutes of play (which happene9e222ef6f78e072473d0fc4b667c9cbed to me unforgettably in 2012 on the day I treated 6 friends to pricy Armstrong front row seats), the session may be rescheduled until the next day and your ticket may be honored then — or, you MAY be able to trade in tickets through the US Open for another session this year or next year if (and only if) you purchased directly from Ticketmaster (see the somewhat complicated US Open Inclement Weather Policy). In the worst case scenario, I recommend looking for the silver lining: you’ll be surrounded by a ton of other fans with whom you can grab a US Open specialty cocktail, huddle under a shelter, and watch an Ashe match together on a big screen.


FAQ #6: Should I buy a subscription ticket plan?

For most serious fans, I don’t recommend it. First-time subscribers can only buy “Promenade” seats in Ashe — so high up in that huge stadium you’ll end up watching a lot of the match on the Jumbotron or through binoculars. It could take years to get the chance to upgrade your seats to Loge (only available if you purchase the very expensive full-series plan). For the full series ticket plan price ($2,228 per ticket in 2016) you could buy several amazing seats for multiple sessions over the tournament (or 2 excellent seats for the Men’s final). Finally, there is always a glut of Promenade seats on the resale market, so if you buy an entire series of Promenade seats you may have a challenge reselling any you don’t need.


FAQ #7: Which are the best sections/seats with the best views?

From Section 11 front row in Grandstand

The vast majority of people would consider “behind the server” seats (i.e., those on North or South ends of the courts) to be preferable — and prices generally reflect this. For first-timers, this area would be my top recommendation.

  • This is the vantage point they use for filming for broadcast, because it enables you to follow point construction and see the court from the perspective of the player on your side of the net.
  • From these seats, you’ll never have to move your head side-to-side to follow the ball.
  • FYI: seats in these sections start several feet higher in these seats than sections on the side (this is why these rows begin with higher letters E instead of AA or A).
  • Here’s a photo of the perspective from higher up seats in the new Armstrong. Here’s another photo from Ashe courtside front row.

Corner sections are also widely considered to be highly desirable — and for good reason. They carry many of the same advantages of the above, with the added benefit you can see the player on your side of the net from the front as their hitting the ball not just the back. Here’s a photo from the new Armstrong from that perspective.

Photo from lower row of section 6 in new Armstrong

As a serious player myself, I personally love sitting courtside as close as possible in lower rows of sections where seats are practically on the court, perpendicular and near to the actual baseline (e.g., section 58 in Ashe) because it gets me physically even closer to the players and more on the same level. Sitting in the lower rows, I feel even more like I’m on the court with them. I feel the speed of the game. In these seats, I personally enjoy watching one player at a time sometimes to see their footwork, how they prepare for the next ball, etc. I took the video of Federer I included in my post from this perspective (from section 58). Here’s a photo from Ashe courtside from that perspective.

When considering Loge or Promenade seats in Ashe, I generally recommend prioritizing seats that are in lower rows regardless of location— simply because Loge (and especially Promenade) are already quite high up to begin with. For Day sessions, I strongly urge folks to factor in potential shade benefits (seats on West side, SouthWest, and Northwest tend to get the most shade relief). See FAQ #4 above. With regard to the umpire chair, it really is never an obstruction but may feel a bit of an annoyance to some if you’re sitting in very low rows on that side — simply because you may not always have a complete view of the player on the other side of the net. See this photo for example. I personally don’t mind this for reasons I mention above, and this is ONLY an issue when courtside in very low rows.

 


FAQ #8: What broadway shows do you recommend we see while we’re in NYC? (seriously, I get asked this a lot!)

As this is a post about tennis and the US Open, I will keep this one short and include only my top recommendations– feel free to ask me more in comments below (also check out the list of 2019 Tony Award winners here):

  • Hamilton. Yes, it’s really that good. Ridiculously expensive, but one of the best experiences I’ve ever had seeing a show.
  • Moulin Rouge. Just opened recently, Haven’t seen yet myself, but have heard great things and it recently got a rave NYT review. If you liked the movie…
  • Hadestown. 2019 Tony winner for best musical. It’s not for everyone (see this review), but I loved it.
  • Mean GIrls. If you liked the movie, you’ll love the show.
  • Wicked. A reliable choice. It’s been around for years but I’ve seen it multiples times with different casts, and it’s always fresh and still in great shape. I’ve met maybe one person out of a hundred who didn’t love it.
  • Dear Evan Hansen. Heavy subject matter, but deeply moving.
  • Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Incredible music, fascinating story, very entertaining.

On my list of shows I didn’t love so can’t recommend strongly (with the caveat that many other people loved them): “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” (I’m a huuge Potter book and movie fan, but I didn’t loved either the script nor the production); “To Kill a Mockingbird” (loved the book, not this adaptation); “Tootsie” (very funny dialogue and great performances, but overall lacked the charm of the film).

Tip #7: The night before you go

Check the app or click this link for the detailed daily Schedule of Play for the following day’s schedule and make your game plan so you can beeline directly to the court where the match you care about will happen (including, potentially, the practice courts– see Tip #8 below). You should also download the official US Open Everywhere App (search on app stores for “2019 US Open Tennis”) to track the latest schedule, scores and live updates. If someone you really want to see will play on Grandstand or Armstrong, get to the grounds as early as you can so you can be among the first in line when the gates open at 9:30am then speed-walk to those stadiums and grab the best seat you can. Here’s a great NYT article from last year on “Players to Watch.” And the day-to-day coverage at SI.com’s tennis page is always terrific.

Rafa on practice courts at 2017 US Open

Tip #8: Check out the practice courts for close sightings of the superstars

Superstars can include: Roger Federer, Rafael Nada, Novak Djokovic, and Serena Williams. Check the practice schedule the night before (and morning of) to see when/where players are practicing (you can also see it on the official US Open App).

Note: the best time to see top players practice without fighting crowds is during the free Qualifier Tournament and week before the main tournament (see my Tip #10 below).

Tip #9: Do not drive unless you really have to.

Instead, take the subway #7 train (see 7 train schedule here, runs 24 hours, PM times in bold, see stops here, which include Grand Central)– or, better yet, take the LONG ISLAND RAILROAD (LIRR) from Penn Station to the “Mets-Willets Point” station (the signage will say either “GREAT NECK” or “PORT WASHINGTON” – double check the train number before boarding!) for the fastest trip (about 15 min from Penn Station!). For the LIRR, best to use Penn Station’s 7th Avenue entrance at West 32nd or 34th street OR the entrance at 8th Avenue and West 31st (across the street from Penn Station on corner of the Postal Service building). Look for the “Port Washington” train on the monitors to find the right track.

  • To purchase LIRR tickets: Download the very easy-to-use MTA eTix app. Within the app, just create an account (takes literally seconds), click “Buy Tickets” select Penn Station first then “Mets-Willets Point”, purchase either one-way or R/T or several (peak or off-peak), and ticket(s) will then be in your “wallet” in the app for you to use whenever you like; you just have to press “activate” right before you board your train of coice.
  • If you fly into Laguardia (LGA) you can take the NYC Q48” public bus from Laguardia to the US Open – only about 5 minutes away (the stop is listed on the MTA website as “ROOSEVELT AV/WILLETS PT BL STATION.”

If you must go by car… 

  • See the US Open’s driving directions and details on parking lots. (Public parking costs around $25).
    • GPS address to the general area is “122-02 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, NY 11368.” GPS to Citi Field is 123-01 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11368.
    • US Open recommends using “Grand Central Parkway exit 9E or Whitestone Expressway (678) Exit 13D.”
    • You’ll see signs and be directed to available public parking ($25 for cars).
      • Citi Field will be the primary lot (“Yellow Zone” parking) except when the Mets are playing at Home, which this year are Tuesday-Thursday 8/27-8/29, and Friday-Sunday 9/6-9/8 – see the Mets home schedule): on those dates, according to the US Open you’ll be “directed to guest parking lots 1-6” (which the map confusingly labels as A-H– sorry I can’t provide any more clarification on this!).
    • The entrance to Citi Field parking is located at 126th Street and Shea Road, Corona, NY.  GPS address to that intersection is “126 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, NY 11368.
    • Consider buying a parking pass on a resale site to lots A, B, or C (which are closest). Here’s the detailed transportation map showing parking lots.
    • Fellow fan Harry pointed out: “If you are willing to walk a bit, street parking underneath or south of Highway 495 is a viable option.”
  • Uber/Lyft/Taxi TO the Open:
    • I’d recommend putting in “Mets-Willets Point” as the destination (not Billie Jean King National Tennis Center) – this will take you directly to the spot on Roosevelt Avenue where the 7 train lets people off, then you can just walk up the stars and across the foot bridge to the East Gate.
  • If considering a taxi or Uber/Lyft home after a night session, be prepared for a long wait, hassles, and a very (very) expensive ride with surge pricing. Getting an Uber/Lyft after an evening session when literally thousands of others are trying to do the same can be a nightmare. I tried it in 2016 as an experiment and here’s what happened: (1) Had to go to designated “zone 3” pickup area for cabs and users– a long walk from the South Gate near the globe (trying to meet them by the 7 train at Roosevelt is really tough given heavy traffic); (2) three Uber drivers cancelled on me after accepting before I finally get one; (3) Surge pricing was in effect, with a ride that should have cost $45 being quoted over $120. If you need to hire a car back home after a night session, consider the following instead:
    • (1) Take the LIRR or 7 Train into NYC (see above)
    • (2) Arrange a car service pickup in advance. I’ve used Riverside and they’re always reliable (and they have an app as well) – but you can find many other car services in NY if you Google.
    • (2) Trying to hail a cab on the street just under the 7 train  (Roosevelt Ave); or download the “Curb” app for NYC taxis and hail one that way from that location.
    • (3) Taking the 7 train to another local stop THEN calling Uber or a cab.
  • If you’re lucky enough to be driving a Mercedes to the Open, you’ll get complimentary parking (Mercedes-Benz is a major sponsor)

Alternatively, consider staying in Queens and biking! Fellow fan Mark shared his experience in 2019: We packed our bikes and stayed at a nice AirB&B on Queens Boulevard, a little over 2 miles from the stadium. Queens has a great network of dedicated bike lanes and a friendly attitude toward bikers, and best of all – the terrain is flat! Once at the grounds, there are bike racks across from the South Gate entrance and in front of the security tent that handles baggage claim. It is a fun and hassle-free way to make the commute for anyone that so inclined!”

Box 4: What to Bring and What NOT to bring (Backpacks not allowed!)

Be sure to review this list of prohibited items before going!

To help clarify some common confusions:

  • You CAN bring a drawstring bag (click here for example) but NOT a backpack with two straps
  • You CAN bring a digital camera with video capabilities (however they do NOT allow “Video cameras or recording devices”, which includes GoPros)
  • You CAN bring food in limited quantities or for medical reasons (but don’t try to bring in a feast or be prepared for an argument)
  • You CAN bring a clear plastic water bottle to refill on site (but NOT anything glass or metal)
  • You CAN bring a fanny pack: but if you do you’ll still need to go through the “with bag” security line
  • You CAN bring sunscreen in lotion form only, NOT aerosol cans

Be prepared to wait in a potentially long security line if you have any bag at all (i.e. an enclosed object that doesn’t fit in your clothes), whereas you can breeze through a separate express line for those without bags.

There is storage outside both East and South Gate entrances if you need it: $5 for small items, $10 for large items (even suitcases OK). Note: storage is FREE for American Express cardholders.

Before Leaving, Don’t Forget…

  • Download your mobile tickets from to your mobile wallet (e.g. Apple Wallet or something like WalletPasses on Android)
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen (lotion not spray)!
  • backup phone charger (e.g. a Mophie) if you have one
  • If taking subway (7 train), fill up your subway Metrocard in advance for your return trip in advance if taking 7 train so you don’t have to wait in long lines; If taking LIRR (my favorite) you need to get your ticket before boarding
  • small umbrella if rain may be in the forecast
  • Dress in layers as it can get hot during the day and occasionally chilly at night
  • Contacts wearers: A very small bottle of contact lens solution in case you get something in your eye
  • FYI: There are two entrances to the grounds: (1) the main entrance, the “East Gate,” located near the Subway/LIRR; and (2) the “South Gate” entrance near the iconic World’s Fair “Unisphere” (globe) – see map above. While lines tend to be shorter by the South Gate, the wait may end up being about the same because there are fewer attendants and metal detectors.

Tip #10: Take advantage of three amazing FREE opportunities to see incredible players up close:

  • AUG 19-25 FREE “Fan Week: If you’re a real die-hard fan, consider going to the FREE qualifying tournament Monday August 19- Friday August 23, the week before the main tournament begins. 128 male and female players will compete for the final 32 spots (16 each for men and women) in the singles draws. This is also a great time to see seeded players on practice courts. Read why Fan Week/Qualies are so special in this great piece by Steven Kutz.
    • Gates open at/around 9:30am, matches start at 9:30am. Last year many more people showed up than in any previous year, and there’s usually quite a line formed already by 9:00am. However you can arrive anytime during the day and still get in, no problem. Matches are held on outer courts only (not Ashe).  Many matches stretch into evenings. During this tournament, you will see several top players practicing on Armstrong and on the practice bank courts.
    • To understand how players qualify to play in the US Open and why qualifiers matter, see this explanation by Laurence Shanet
    • Watch top seeds (including Federer) practicing during this entire “Fan Week. Check the practice schedule here (also available on the app) the day before/ morning of to see when your favorites are scheduled to practice.
    • Click here to register for a “Fan Pass,” which gives you certain perks (including access to special preferred seating for some practice sessions). Note: the Fan Pass check-in is located by the East Gate on the left. 
    • Keep an eye out for other special fan activities in Manhattan (not at the US Open grounds), usually Wed/Thurs (August 21-22 this year) as part of the “US Open Experience at Brookfield Place – Waterfront Plaza, 230 Vesey St, New York, NY 10281. 
  • SAT AUG 24: Bring your kids (or treat someone else’s!) to the free Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day. There’s a stadium show at 1pm and premium seats are available on Ticketmaster.
  • SUN AUG 25: Go see top players practicing up close by taking advantage of free access to the US Open grounds the day before the main tournament begins to watch practice sessions – it’s one of the best-kept secrets that the grounds are open to the public all day.

Box 5: FREE ADMISSION THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 5 FOR DOUBLES SEMIFINALS & MORE!

Men’s & Women’s Doubles Semifinals Plus the World’s Top Wheelchair, Junior, and Collegiate Players – Gates open at 11am

One of the best-kept secrets is that you can enter the US Open grounds for free on the second Thursday (gates open at noon, must arrive before 5pm) and see the Doubles Semifinals plus all-star wheelchair players, the world’s top juniors, and incredible collegiate players. If you are a serious tennis fan, particularly if you’re a doubles player, this is a day not to be missed. For examples of the kinds of matches being played that day on various courts, see Day 11 from 2018 Daily Schedule.

For the past couple years, officials have scheduled top wheelchair players on Arthur Ashe stadiumI went and it was a thrill to sit courtside at Ashe and to cheer on the incredible wheelchair athletes. Among the world-class wheelchair players to watch for:

  • 2017 Wimbledon Wheelchair Doubles Champions Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid, pictured below after their Wimbledon win.
  • 2679-1Men’s s player Shingo Kunieda, who had a three-year, 106-match consecutive win streak (2007-2010), then another big winning streak of 77 matches in 2014-2015. Women’s singles player Yui Kamiji, who has only lost 2 matches since Jan 18, 2017 and American women’s wildcard player Dana Mathewson.
  • The world’s #1 in the “Quad” (quadriplegic) division (ranked #1 in singles and doubles), American David Wagner. Born in 1974, David became paralyzed from the mid-chest down at age 21 when he was playing frisbee on the beach and a wave tossed him head-first into the sand. With only thirty percent function in his hands, David plays by taping the tennis racket to his hand. And by all accounts he’s a super cool guy besides being an extraordinary athlete .

A FEW MORE RECS

  • Scan this outstanding list of “59 Insider Tips for Attending the U.S. Open by the brilliant Sports Illustrated writer Jon Wertheim. Note: if you haven’t yet seen Wertheim’s 2018 Strokes of Genius documentary on the Federer/Nadal rivalry, RENT IT! It’s one of the best documentaries on anything I’ve ever seen, beautifully capturing so many of the unique aspects of tennis that make us so passionate about our sport.
  • Bring a backup phone charger if you have one. There are some re-charging stations, but after all the photos and video you take with your phone and use of Wi-Fi you’ll run out of juice quickly.
  • Need an affordable hotel room? Fellow tennis fanatic Melissa maintains a great list of hotels appealing to all budgets, starting at $25 per night. These accommodations are open to public, but some aren’t listed on generic hotel travel websites or they may be listed as ‘specialty lodging.’ While you may have to compromise to stay in one of these hotels, like a shared bathroom, or no television, you cannot beat the prices for these locations.
  • Got an Amex card? Bring it. As reader Jason wrote in Q&As: “Cool experiences and a large chill area/tent. Along with an earpiece radio to follow other matches.” If you spend more than $100 on merchandise they will credit you back $20. See Amex Benefits at US Open here. In addition, American Express Platinum and Centurion cardholders can access (uniquely) individual tickets to access corporate suites (special thanks to reader Niya for that tip!). Information here. Suites accommodate about 20 people each and are on two levels, situated above Courtside and below Loge. Prices will vary substantially depending on the session, but were about $1,000 each in 2018 during Labor Day weekend.
  • Sign up for the “Fan Pass” on the app to be entered into a sweepstakes and track your activity on site. Scan your personal barcode at various stations around the event to collect “badges,” which can redeem for prizes. 15 badges gets a $100 US Open Gift Card; 20 badges gets 2 tickets to 2018 Men’s Semis.
  • Do your shopping for US Open gear early in the tournament – stores run out of the popular sizes fast.
  • $25 General Admission tickets will be available for purchase on Friday for  Friday-Sunday of finals weekend on Ticketmaster so fans can walk the grounds, see juniors and wheelchair finals, and watch Ashe matches on the big screens.

FINAL THOUGHT: “PAY IT FORWARD” WHEN YOU CAN!

If you have an opportunity, consider performing a random act of kindness for fellow fans during the tournament. Our tennis community is big, but relatively speaking, it’s small… Our passion for our sport is infectious; do something kind for someone today, they’re likely to pay it forward. Last year, a reader emailed me saying he had an emergency and couldn’t go to the tournament but had amazing New Grandstand seats – he asked if I knew anyone that would really value them for free so they didn’t go to waste. I was able to share with a fanatic who’s in town on a budget, who as you can imagine was elated. In past years, I’ve gifted a lot of tickets myself – and it always feels wonderful. It takes seconds to “transfer” tickets from Ticketmaster/Ticketmaster Exchange to others simply by putting in an email address.

On-site, you can also make someone’s day (or year!) by surprising a stranger with your amazing reserved seats in Ashe, Armstrong, or Grandstand if you have to leave early. Especially if you have Ashe Courtside seats and need to leave early — there will always be die-hard fans waiting just outside the exit from the Courtside level hoping someone might pass along their ticket when done! Just pass them the printed receipt you get after getting your mobile ticket scanned (or, if you were already on site with Day tickets and you have a night session tickets that haven’t been scanned, you can simply ask someone at the East Gate or at Ashe entrance to scan and give you a printed receipt).

US-Open_728x90 (1)

 

BOX 6 (INDEX): OUTLINE OF COMMON QUESTIONS AND IMPORTANT LINKS

This post has gotten long over the years to include many more details, so I’ve created the outline below with shortcuts to help you find what you need more quickly. Below are shortcut links to key topics and FAQs I get most often:

WHERE TO BUY TICKETS: How to Get the Best Deal? Which sites can I trust?

  • Where to get the best deals on tickets? See Box #2  
  • Read my full advice for getting best deals on tickets (Box 2)
  • What are reliable ticket sites?
    • Ticketmaster – Official site – always check first then compare options on reseller sites. It also includes most resale tickets from the official Ticketmaster Exchange (resale tickets are shown as red dots on seat maps, standard non-resale tickets are blue dots)
    • Official US Open Ticket Exchange (Official reseller site – also check this site for comparison purposes as it includes ALL verified resale tickets on the exchange. Confusingly, there are some verified resale tickets here that don’t show up on the main Ticketmaster site because they may not be available for immediate delivery– which is why it’s worth checking in addition to the main Ticketmaster site.  
    • Stubhub
    • Ticket Liquidator
    • TickPick
    • SeatGeek

WHEN SHOULD I BUY? WILL PRICES GO UP OR DOWN?? What are average prices?

I WANT TO SEE FEDERER! Which tickets should I buy?

WHAT TIME CAN I ENTER WITH A DAY OR NIGHT SESSION TICKET (and how long can I stay)?

  • Once you enter the Grounds of the US Open (through the East or South Gate), you can stay as long as you want and access non-reserved seating in any stadium (except Ashe, the only stadium where every seat is reserved and requires a ticket). 
  • If you enter with a Day session ticket, you can stay on grounds all night and access unreserved seating in any all stadiums (except Ashe), including Armstrong general admission seating for night matches on first-come basis.
  • If you have a day and evening ticket the same day, you will NOT need to exit the US Open grounds and re-enter again
  • If you have both Day and Evening session for Ashe on the same dayyou will need to exit and reenter Ashe Stadium (they clear the entire stadium between Day and Evening sessions)
  • If you were in Armstrong for the Day session (either Courtside reserved or GA seating), you will need to leave your seat between Day and Evening sessions (as they clean up). However, you may stay inside the concourse area of Armstrong (the inner-stadium areas with food stands). As such, if you were in the stadium for Day and want to line up for GA seating for Evening session, you have an advantage: you can stick around and wait in line upstairs until ushers start letting people back to seatsIf you leave the stadium during this “in between” period, you won’t be allowed to re-enter for a brief  time (They don’t allow anyone new to come in for a period while they’re cleaning up).
  • See Box #1 (Ticket Options Explained)

WHICH SEATS ARE BEST? BEST VIEW? SHADE?

CAN I BRING AN SLR CAMERA, BACKPACK, FOOD, WATER BOTTLE, ETC?

  • Can I bring…
    • An SLR camera with video capability? YES
    • A plastic water bottle? YES, just not metal or glass
    • A backpack? NO, but you can bring a drawstring bag
    • Food? YES, in “limited quantities” (they don’t define limited). “No sealed packages of any kind”
    • See Red Box #4 above (“What to Bring and Not to Bring”) and review official list of prohibited items here

DAILY SCHEDULE OF PLAY/ PRACTICE SCHEDULE

  • 2019 Tournament Schedule – See my “Schedule at a Glance” bottom of Box #1 (note: official tournament schedule is here but more vague)
  • 2019 Daily Schedule of Play – Note: The schedule for Day 1 (and possibly Day 2 too) is released on the Friday or Saturday before the main tournament begins. Last year they released both Day 1 and Day 2 schedules on Friday evening–so this year, start checking Friday August 23.
  • 2019 Practice schedule
  • To get a sense of which players and types of matches are scheduled on which courts, see:

MEN’S AND WOMEN’S BRACKETS

WHAT IF IT RAINS?

TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS? SUBWAY OR CAR OR LIRR?

HOTELS?

US OPEN POLICIES, RULES, AND OFFICIAL GUIDE

2019 REAL-TIME UPDATES

Huge thanks to all the readers who have shared their experiences, which help shed light on so many details about the Open that no one person alone could track! Below are some new insights, clarifications, recommendations based on contributions of fellow fanatics and my own experiences at the Open this year.

  • Armstrong GA seating. “I believe this is new this year. Only Armstrong Courtside Reserved ticket holders are allowed on the lower Armstrong concourse (concessions and bathrooms). It is creating one hell of a bottleneck at the top of the Armstrong escalators/stairs to the lower Armstrong concourse.” (Thanks, Jimmy!)
  • Armstrong noise – courtside seats to avoid: Because of some “white noise” caused by a buzzing generator near the West side of the stadium–combined with the concourse-level chatter around the food stands– I find the noise in upper 1/3 of courtside seats on the West side really distracting (it seems the worst around the NW corner upper seats). I’d generally recommend choosing courtside seats that are in the lower half of the stadium due to noise. If you are going for cheaper higher-level seats, I’d recommend choosing (in priority order) South, North, then East.
  • Camera Lenses allowed: Based on multiple experiences, sounds like zoom lenses OK up to 200, anything 200-300 questionable depending on security folks, 400/500 “absolutely not.” A reader called and asked and they said must be “under 4” diameter.”
  • ADA parking: Was a nightmare for a couple folks – staff didn’t know where to direct them.
  • YES, you can “upgrade” tickets from one stadium to another. E.g., if you have terrible Ashe Promenade seats and want to upgrade to Armstrong courtside, you can go to box office on site and request to change and, if available, you can switch and pay the difference in value.
  • Vegan/ Vegetarian options in Food Court/ stands:
    • Korilla BBQ: Organic Tofu dish
    • Poke Yachty: Vegan Tofu Bowl
    • Fieldtrip:
      – Quinoa Wrap (Veg)
      – Veggie Bowl
      – Lenox Garden Salad with chickpeas
      – Baby Spinach Grain salad
      – Yucca Puffs
    • Butterfly: Hongos Taco (mushroom)
    • Curry Kitchen:
      – Vegetarian Curried Combo
      – Vegetarian Kati Roll Wrap
      – Veg sides: Samosas and Bombay Bhel
      – Courtney says “best budget snack: Naan bread $3.50 + mango lassi $8.50. Very good and filling.”
    • Dumplings (a stand at “The Backyard at 17”): veggie dumplings and a green salad with soybeans and tofu
    • Kosher kitchen stand: potato knish
    • ‘Wichcraft:
      – Chopped Chickpea and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich
      – Sweet Corn and Tomato Salad
  • Kids 24 months or older need separate ticket

     

  • 7 Train/ LIRR: The closer to the front of the train, the closer you are to the staircase to get to the Open
  • Ashe Courtside ticket holders special entrances: There’s a discreet side entrance to Ashe just past Mojitos restaurant on the right, usually with a staffer directing people towards the front entrance. Tell them you have courtside tix and they will let you through. This comes in very handy especially prior to certain evening sessions when there are hordes of people massed before the main entrance.     Note: one reader with a courtside Ashe seat reported accidentally discovering he could go through the line furthest to the right at East Gate by showing the courtside ticket – not sure if that was a fluke, but I’ll try on Monday Labor Day myself and let you know…
  • Day parking in Citi Stadium lot is NOT allowed on days when there is a Mets game – you’ll be directed to other lots on those days.
  • Sofia Kenin prefers “Sofia” (not Sonia) when cheering for her :). Come on Soh-FEE-ya!
  • Bringing in water bottles: They need to be in plastic bottles and supposed to be clear (but some have reported opaque being fine). Fine if they are pre-filled with water.
  • Amex experience – From Courtney: “Open to everyone (you don’t need Amex card). Fun stuff for kids in here. A/C comfy couches and a big screen of matches on Ashe. Also an exhibit where you sit inside a “mini” subway car and screens show historic US open moments. 2d level with extra seating. Super cool! And free ice cream sandwiches for Amex cardholders, yummy!”
  • DOUBLES! With the victory today (August 30) of teen-doubles sensations Coco Gauff and Caty McNally and the prominent victory of doubles-team Nick Kyrgios and Marius Copil (unexpectedly scheduled on Ashe because Serena and Roger’s matches were so short), one hopes doubles will get some more well deserved attention this year. Please do yourself a favor and make a point to see at least one set of one doubles match if you can this year. The extraordinary Bryan Bros are still in it…  as are Wimbledon champions Robert Farah & Juan Sebastián Cabal. World-class doubles is so amazing. Go and marvel at the reaction time and speed. Go and help support these players. Go and help reverse the media-fed narrative that the only drama is on the singles courts…!

     

  • Bring a little cash. While the vast majority of food stands and shops take credit cards (and Apple Pay), some kiosks (including the stand selling the daily Draw Sheet and programs) are cash-only.
  • A reminder to everyone considering last-minute ticket sales: Ticketmaster continues selling tickets for 59 minutes after a session begins as long as tickets, including resale tickets, remain available — I.e. until 11:59am for an Armstrong session beginning at 11:00am, and until 12:59pm for an Ashe session beginning at Noon.
  • Etiquette: A couple key points I want to add to my post for next year:
    • (1) A reminder to folks, especially in Armstrong, that you need to wait until after the conclusion of the third game in each set (then the conclusion of every 5th, 7th, 9th, etc game) to leave or return to your seats – and you should do so quickly.
    • (2) If someone snuck into your seat, please be kind to them and assume they’re hardcore fans like you just trying to get closer– and politely say something like “Hey, sorry there are our seats.” They should move pronto.. but if they dilly dally, bad on them — be a champ for the players, grab an available seat near you until the next changeover, then reclaim your seats after that.
    • (3) If there are people near you (I know none of you readers would ever fall into this category!) who start screaming at inopportune times to cheer on their player — I.e., at the moment a player is about to begin their service motion, or worse, when the opponent is about to start theirs– please do fellow fans a favor by politely saying “love your passion” but ask if they could please respect etiquette and avoid yelling during times that will interrupt players’ concentration. Last night I was at the R16 Taylor Townsend match against Bianca Andreescu sitting courtside and cheering Taylor on fervently (but appropriately!)–  and some drunken people in a suite started screaming “TAYLOR” repeatedly as Bianca Andreescu was serving. NOT COOL. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one inclined to turn around and encourage them to stop– but it clearly was tough on Bianca and terribly unfair, embarrassing for tennis fans, and I’m sure didn’t make Taylor feel good. Always best in these situations to be polite to offenders and assume they don’t know any better. But if they persist and cause a problem, don’t feel the slightest hesitance to ask an usher to help intervene – those around you will appreciate it.
  • CONFIRMING FREE GROUNDS ADMISSION THIS THURSDAY SEP 5. For some inexplicable reason, USTA has not promoted this year… But I have triple confirmed from three USTA senior officials plus the Box Office (even their new staffers didn’t initially know) that   grounds admission is free this Thursday. Incredible opportunity to see the top doubles players in the world on Armstrong plus exciting wheelchair and juniors matches on field courts. See 2018 schedule Day 11 for an idea of what to expect to see.
  • Grounds passes for Friday-Sunday are finally now on sale on Ticketmaster for $25. These do not allow entry to Ashe, but to all matches on outer courts. See 2018 schedule for an idea of what to expect.
  • Several people have asked about best places to get autographs… I’ll update my post for next year on this with more detail, but for remainder of tournament: (1) By P1 practice courts near the President’s Gate entrance to Ashe; (2) Ashe courtside section 47 gives the best chance within Ashe as players exit. You’ll see a mass of kids rushing down there as the match nears completion… This was me last week after Novak’s round 2 match (yes these were actually my seats — moved over to let a throng of kids and a handful of adult fans angle their way in!)

     

  • Viewing US Open on Big Screens: A few options:

    • Get a Grounds Pass for $25 on Ticketmaster for Friday-Sunday of Finals Weekend and watch on the big screen outside Ashe. Not like Henman Hill at Wimbledon by any stretch, but still can be fun. 

    • Take the 7 train to its last stop in Hudson Yards, “where matches will be broadcast on large screens in a beer garden at the Crowne Plaza HY36 (320 W 36th Street).” (Source)

    • “At the Kimpton Hotel Eventi (851 Sixth Avenue, between 29th and 30th Streets), there is a plaza with a 30-foot screen on the side of a building. Known as the Big Screen Plaza, it too will be showing the matches. (Source) Details here: http://bigscreenplaza.com/us-open/ 
    • Thanks to a kind reader (!): “The courtyard space at Metrotech Center in downtown Brooklyn has had a big screen going for the past few years for some of the days. I personally haven’t seen it in person so not sure just how big the screen actually is, but for those fans in Brooklyn who don’t have ESPN coverage themselves at home, you can check it out here. PS – also lots of quick food options in the courtyard & neighborhood (Pret, Chipotle, Korilla, Shake Shack, Potbelly, sushi, etc)”