The US Open tennis tournament in New York City is one of my favorite sporting events to attend in the world. I have been several times but it had actually been about 5 years since I was last there. The last 5 years I have been traveling or at business school during the time period that the tournament is held. So this year, my US Open experience was even sweeter than usual.
My US Open experience started last Tuesday as a part of my association with American Express, Starwood and the SPG American Express card (This event is separate from my association with the American Express Passion Project). American Express and Starwood co-hosted an amazing event at the hospitality area on the US Open grounds.
The event was for valued cardholders who had paid a premium fee to attend the event at the US Open. It was a huge success. The event featured a Q&A session with former 9-time Grand Slam Champion, Monica Seles, and former French Open doubles champ, Murphy Jensen.
Both Monica and Murphy couldn’t have been nicer. I had a blast chatting with each of them. I must admit that meeting Monica Seles was a big thrill for me. I am a massive tennis fan, both men’s and women’s. I watched many of Monica’s victories as a kid with reverence for her on court greatness and also a slight crush on her-she is still beautiful as you can see.
It was really nice to be a part of the American Express and Starwood event before the matches at Arthur Ashe Stadium. The matches we saw featured a double bagel by Serena Williams over Carla Suarez-Navarro in the women’s quarterfinal. That means she won both sets 6-0-that is a rarity but established Serena’s dominance as she went onto win the women’s tournament.
The other match featured Andy Murray, the defending champion and reigning Wimbledon champ against Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan. Although the match was close, Andy Murray won in 4 sets. It was a lot of fun and was cool to be with some other travel writers and American Express people in the stands.
Last night, completely separate from any business associations, I attended the men’s final. This truly made my US Open experience and I must say, it was truly incredible.
Arthur Ashe Stadium, the largest tennis stadium on Earth was packed to the rafters with over 25,000 people including a who’s who of A-List celebrities. I was fortunate enough to get some pretty good tickets at a decent price and was thrilled that the final would feature the two best players on the planet, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, #1 vs. #2 in the world.
The atmosphere was unlike any tennis event I had ever been to. You could cut the tension with a knife and the players really delivered. It was a back and forth match with a lot of memorable points including a 54-stroke rally-trust me that’s a lot for one point!
In the end, Rafael Nadal of Spain won his second US Open over Novak Djokovic of Serbia. It was my first grand slam final and I will never forget it.
I have actually been to all four tennis grand slams; Australian Open in Melbourne; French Open in Paris, Wimbledon in London and of course the US Open. The US Open is always the best atmosphere and has the best crowds. I must say though that I am really looking forward to going back to Melbourne for the Australian Open in January and likely to the final!
Regardless, I plan to attend the final every year I am in town. It really enhanced my US Open experience. I also want to really thank American Express and Starwood for inviting me to attend their events and I am looking forward to giving away 30,000 Starwood Starpoints on Thursday via my Twitter page @LeeAbbamonte. All you have to do is follow me on Twitter and answer one of three questions I ask on Twitter Thursday with the hashtag #SPGAmexLEE. I will also post details on my Facebook page in the next day or two as well.
Disclaimer: While I have separate business dealings with American Express, I was not compensated financially for attending the Starwood/American Express US Open event. I was given free tickets to the event, to the Quarterfinal matches and two free nights at the Westin Grand Central Hotel in New York.