This post builds on more comprehensive advice in my “A Serious Fan’s Top 10 Tips for the US Open” post, based on 15+ years of experience as a New Yorker attending the US Open. At the advice of a fellow tennis fanatic/blog expert (who knows how much I spend on tennis!) I created affiliate links for the trusted ticket sites I’ve been recommending for years, so those who end up getting tix through them won’t pay a penny more but the seller may give me a small commission instead of to Google Ads or another referring site — which, in turn, helps support my tennis obsession and my volunteer work with the nonprofit Net Gains Foundation.
Updated August 29, 2022 (9 AM ET)
Want to be sure to see Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, or another favorite player at this year’s US Open? You’re not alone, especially given Serena’s August 9 announcement that she will be “evolving away” from tennis after the US Open.
If they aren’t scheduled on Wednesday, they’ll play on Thursday.
Based on the Women’s Doubles Draw (out Sunday), we know their first match will be against Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova.
The vast majority of high-profile, early-round doubles matches – even involving big names – are usually put on Grandstand (and even on the numbered field courts). In some cases, very high-profile early round doubles matches are put on Armstrong. In VERY RARE cases, they have added super high-profile doubles matches to the Ashe Day schedule (notably one with Nick Kyrgios in 2019 on Day 1 for his first round doubles match). They may very well do this with the Williams sisters..
Bottom line: I recommend monitoring the US Open Twitter account for any potential early announcements before Tuesday – and if there aren’t any, continuing to check the Daily Schedule of Play maniacally on Tuesday to see if/when/where they’re scheduled on Wednesday. If they aren’t scheduled on Wednesday, they will definitely play Thursday – but the same guessing game about when/where will apply until the Thursday schedule is released on Wednesday (or they make an announcement). AS SOON AS THEY ANNOUNCE: go to the Official US Open Ticketmaster site or a trusted reseller site like Stubhub to grab tickets ASAP.
#1. Serena will play her first match on MONDAY NIGHT August 29 (Ashe Stadium) and Rafa will play his first match on TUESDAY NIGHT August 30 (Ashe Stadium).
>> Consider checking Stubhub if you don’t find options you like on Ticketmaster >> See the US Open’s Daily Schedule of Play for Day 1 and 2 for full schedule for both days
CLICK TO SEE MORE ABOUT HOW SCHEDULING ACTUALLY WORKS
Singles players (128 men and 128 women) are split intotwoequal “Halves” of a Men’s and Women’s “Draw,” each of which plays on alternating days through quarterfinals (Day 1-10). The #1 and #2 seeds (based on ATP and WTA rankings) are placed in opposite halves of the draw (so they will play on different days). The #3 and #4 seeds are also placed in opposite halves of the draw and in different quarters from the #1 and #2 seeds.
Here are the 2022 Draws, as announced on August 25:
The US Open announced several hours later on August 25: MONDAY (August 29) will feature the Women’s BOTTOM Half (which includes Serena) and the Men’s TOP Half (which includes Medvedev); TUESDAY (August 30) will feature the Women’s TOP Half (including Swiatek) and the Men’s BOTTOM Half (which includes Nadal)
Now that Day 1 schedule is published, you CAN predict the DATES your favorite players will be scheduled through quarterfinals. Because Serena’s first match is scheduled for Day 1, she’ll play again on Day 3, 5, 7, and 9 if she advances. With Nadal’s first match scheduled on Day 2, he’ll play again on Day 4, 6, 8, and 10 if he advances.
We won’t know whether they are scheduled for DAY or NIGHT sessions until the Daily Schedule of Play is released for each day (see #2 below).
Only the biggest superstars like Serena and Rafa are sure to play on Ashe – others might be scheduled on Armstrong, Grandstand, or field courts. Schedulers have been known to put even the #1-ranked player in the world on Armstrong or Grandstand, as they did in 2021 with then #1 Simona Halep during Round 1 (on Grandstand) and then #2 Aryna Sabalenka (Armstrong). See my chart (click to enlarge) for illustrative examples of who has been scheduled when and on which courts.
#2. Here are the dates Serena and Rafa will play if they advance beyond Round 1:
#3. However, it’s impossible to predict whether they’ll be scheduled for Day or Night sessions
There’s never any sure way to predict whether players will be scheduled for DAY or NIGHT sessions. Officials try to spread the wealth and be fair to players by alternating players between Day and Night sessions. Contrary to popular belief, they do not always schedule the biggest stars at night.
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). Note: 2020 was an exception in light of the “fan-less” Open due to COVID-19.
One thing you can count on is for the US Open schedulers to defy crowd predictions ever year, with decisions that resist generalizations. Many a fan has been heartbroken after spending a lot of money on expensive seats based on erroneous predictions. Case in point from the 2020 and 2019 US Open tournaments:
In 2020, Serena’s 1st Round match (on Day 2) was a DAY session; 2d Round match (Day 4) NIGHT session; 3d Round match (on Day 6) DAY session; 4th Round match (on Day 8) DAY session again; Quarterfinals (Day 10) — a DAY session yet again!
In 2019, Serena’s 1st Round match (on Day 1) was a NIGHT session; 2d Round (Day 3) NIGHT session; 3d Round (Day 5) DAY session; 4th Round (Day 7) DAY session again; Quarterfinals (Day 9) NIGHT session
Also in 2019, Djokovic was scheduled for 3 consecutive Ashe NIGHT sessions and Federer for 3 consecutive Ashe DAY sessions (Days 3, 5, and 7).
#4. Two options for buying the right ticket to see Serena and/or Rafa after Round 1:
OPTION 1: Wait until the day prior, keep checking for the Daily Schedule of Play to be posted, and buy your tickets immediately after the Daily Schedule of Play is released (the day prior to the match). This strategy takes patience and some extra work – but it enables you to focus your entire budget on tickets for the specific session(s) you need.
On the day prior to the match, keep refreshing frequently theDaily Schedulepage until they post it (start checking mid-afternoon, although it sometimes takes until early evening for them to release it).
In the days prior, I recommend you monitor the ticket situation closely so you know generally what to expect in terms of average prices and are prepared to act immediately when the schedule is announced.
OPTION 2: If you want 100% certainty, you’ll need to buy both Day and Night sessions for the dates they’ll be scheduled to play (in #2 above)
I shot this photo of Rafa on the practice courts in 2017
#5. One other great option for seeing Serena and Nadal in person: catch them on the practice courts!
Check the practice schedule here(or on the official US Open App) the night before (and morning of) to see when/ where they have scheduled practices. Be sure to arrive at least an hour before any scheduled practice you want to see to grab a spot – even standing room can be challenging for the biggest names.