Day 1: Anything is Possible
Monday, August 30, 2021, 9:15 a.m. EST, Outside the East Gate at the US Open
"Woah!" I stopped in my tracks, grinning ear to ear. "Oh man! This is incredible!!! Oh MAN!!! I can't believe this! Yeh!"
It was Day 1 at the US Open. I had been once, with Luke, back in 2019. Covid-19 prevented our attendance in 2020, but this year I was heading down to Queens, New York with Kim, for the "reopening" of the US Open. No spectators until Day 1 of competition thwarted our plan to mainline the adrenaline of the grounds of Billie Jean Tennis Center the day before the tournament began. But we were ON for first round action on Day 1 of this monument of a tournament, which would last a fortnight.
Why Day 1?
Any of the 14 days at the Open would be over the top, but why do I choose to be there when the gates open on the 1st day?
Dreams and possibilities. Only on day 1 do all members of the 132-person draw still have a chance to win the tournament. Regardless of the odds, the nerves, the age, the injuries, the past, the future, the experience, the luck, the misfortune, the weather, the name recognition, the stage of life...on day 1, EVERY player has a chance to lift the trophy two weeks later. Right? Case in point: at the Open this year, 18 year-old Brit, Emma Raducanu, became the first "qualifier" ever to win a Grand Slam singles title in the history of the sport. Unseeded, Raducanu had to play her way into the tournament by winning 3 matches in the "qualifying" tournament the week before the main draw began. Most "qualifiers" who make it into the main draw are disposed of in the 1st or 2nd rounds, leaving with a pay check of $75,000 or $125,000, respectively (2021). ($2.5 million to the women's and men's singles winner this year, if you're curious.) When the tournament started, Raducanu's odds to lift the champion's trophy were 400 to 1 (an implied probability of .2%)!
Every single match on day 1 has the potential to be the start of something special, a miracle in the making. For short money, a fan can purchase a "grounds pass" with access to all the outer courts and the chance to get a front row seat to the eventual champion's first match! That's why I love day 1 at the US Open: on that day, anything is possible for everyone; the day all dreams are possible for everyone.
The Court of Champions at the US Open
(Jimmy Connors plaque)
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