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Fans flock to US Open for very best of tennis

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The opening days of the US Open again brought thousands of people from across the country and around the world to enjoy spectacular tennis, cuisine and a unique atmosphere.

“It’s a great way to spend a weekday because I am not at work,” said Jackson Heights native Matthew Glassman, who has gone to the Open for more than 30 years. “It is beautiful grounds, great tennis friends. It’s hard to describe. It’s a multicultural smorgasbord.”

The opening ceremonies at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center Monday featured brothers Bebe, Marvin and Carvin Winans singing the national anthem and a performance by Fitz and The Tantrums.

John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova, the 1984 men’s and women’s champions, helped to remotely light the Empire State Building in the tournament’s colors of gree, blue and yellow. Mayor Bill de Blasio also greeted fans.

The sports stars took to the courts early. Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams, Sloan Stephens, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray all won their matches on Day 1. Tuesday brought the first real highlights as 15-year-old American Catherine Bellis upset No. 12 seed Dominika Cibulkova.

Defending women’s champions Serena Williams cruised to an easy win and fan favorite Roger Federer won easily with NBA basketball great Michael Jordan in attendance. The variety of players to see was what makes the opening week of the US Open the best time to come out, in many people’s eyes.

“For the tennis fan the opening week is nicer,” Kew Gardens native Norman Munkholm said. “For the tourists, they want to see the stadium and watch Roger and Serena.”

The tournament could have a future star in Bellis. She put a smile on plenty of people’s faces and she was the beneficiary of the added seating, including grandstands, put around Courts 3, 4 and 5. It allowed a large contingent of fans to cheer her and help push her to victory.

“I love it when people watch me. It gives me more energy and makes me play better,” she said.

One star you will not see in Queens this year is defending men’s champion Rafael Nadal. The three-time tournament winner had to pull out early because of a wrist injury. While Queens fans would love to have had Nadal in the draw, they knew they are going to see great tennis either way.

“In the past the best match of the tournament has not been the final match,” said Woodside resident Allison Alberts, who was joined by her year-old son Beau. “You might see the best match tomorrow. It doesn’t have to be one of the stars.”

Fans also got to enjoy added food options, including an expanded menu in the club areas at new stops on the main grounds that included Pat LaFrieda Meats, a Mexican stand called Maya and the Morris Grilled Cheese food truck near Court 11.

It’s options like these that help create a unique experience for all those in attendance. Fans can sample different food and drinks, watch tennis at the courts or on the multiple televisions around the grounds while enjoying the sun.

“It’s like being in your living room, but on a much larger scale,” said Glassman.

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