McDonald: We Are Seeing A Different Arthur Ashe Stadium

Meet the new Ashe, but is it the same as the old Ashe?

With all due respect to The Who – which, by the way, played at the old Singer Bowl back in the day – the new roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium doesn’t just protect everyone from rain storms, it also changed the way the game is played.

And in the first few days, the top players observed some noticeable differences.

“The arena, it’s quite different playing out there now,” said Andy Murray, who won in straight sets last night on the roofed Ashe. “It’s a lot louder than most places that we play, so you don’t hear the ball as much. There’s a slightly different sound in there. Once I got through that, I settled down and played, you know, I think a really good match.”

That may be the biggest difference according to the players. With the roof covering stands, the cheers and noise stay in the cavernous tennis stadium.  It doesn’t make it difficult for the players, but it is an adjustment.

“I think you get used to it as the match goes on,” Murray said. “But it is very different. You know, imagine when you go to play on one of the outside courts, it will be quite a significant change.”

For Murray that means Louis Armstrong Stadium and the New Grandstand, but that could mean any of the courts. Generally, the changes around the tennis center are getting rave reviews from the players. Even from some with more particular tastes.

“I love the new stadium,” said Serena Williams. “It’s really nice. I’ve practiced on it with it opened and closed, and that’s been really cool.” However, Serena can’t give a full opinion and added, “I haven’t seen the new Grandstand yet, but it looks nice on TV (smiling). A lot of changes going on here, I just think it’s all good changes.”

However Caroline Wozniacki, someone who played on both Ashe and the New Grandstand, can give a more rounded opinion.

She gave rave reviews on the Grandstand and said about Ashe, “I think the echo in there is a little louder, but it already was that last year. When I played night session on Ashe I could definitely hear it was louder. But it’s part of the US Open. The crowd is loud. The crowd gets into it. I love that about this tournament.”

Another byproduct of the roof is the lack of gusts in Ashe. It’s something Murray said last night as well.

“The court is obviously cooler, so it’s staying a little bit lower,” he said. “It’s not bouncing up as high. During the day that’s obviously quite different. The ball’s bouncing up a lot more, tends to be a little bit harder to control.

“Obviously now in there, this is because of the roof, there’s literally no wind at all. It almost has a feel of playing indoors because there’s no wind. It’s, like, perfect conditions to play really.”

Added Rafael Nadal: “Oh, the wind, there is no wind. It’s just a little bit of wind, no? Since the first day that I practiced here I checked that was not wind at all, no? Because I remembered one of these days that I was practicing in the center court outside was very, very windy, and in the center court was not wind at all, no?”

There is one problem though. There are shadows that players now have to deal with when playing during the day.

“The shadows are, you know, always a little bit of inconvenience during, but it’s true after 2:30, 3:00 in the afternoon it’s over,” Nadal said, “That’s a good thing.”

Perfect conditions and a loud crowd. Heck, the Open should have gone to a roof years ago.

“In general terms, is great,” Nadal said. “(It) is beautiful court, is an amazing job that USTA did, and I think is a great improvement for everybody, for the players, for the fans who are visiting here Flushing Meadows, and for sure for the people who are following the tournament on the television.”



About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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