Haters, don't call me during Sunday's US Open re-match final between defending champion Serena Williams and number 2 seed Victoria Azarenka.
I don't want my nap interrupted.
Yes, this year's US Open has been a real snooze-fest, especially for fans who've paid hundreds of dollars to score prime seats at Arthur Ashe Stadium, the show court of the US Open. The matches have not been very compelling, especially if you've been following world number one Serena's march through the draw.
Williams has lost 16 games in six matches. In her semi-final against 5th-seed Li Na of China, she dropped just three games, 6-0, 6-3. That bagel in the first set was one of seven she's buttered up for her opponents so far. Her double-bagel beat-down of Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro in the quarterfinals took 55 minutes. Anyone who took a bathroom break during that match missed much of it.
Up until Saturday's five-set thriller between world number one Novak Djokovic and 9th seed Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland, Arthur Ashe ticket holders were not getting any better value for their dollar from the men. Djokovic, last year's US Open runner-up, has been carbo-loading on bagels, too, delivering a 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 platter to Spain's Marcel Grenollers in their fourth round match. Defending champion and Wimbledon winner Andy Murray wasn't exciting to watch, either. He won his early matches easily and then, just as easily, went down to Wawrinka. Wawrinka's more well-known countryman, Roger Federer, looked inspired in his 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 dismissal of Adrian Mannarino of France, but seeing Federer in top form was the only thing going for that lopsided match. Two days later, on Ashe again, the once-dominant Federer was upset by 19th seed Tommy Robredo. That match was compelling because of Roger's early exit, and not because of the quality of the match. Federer went down meekly in straight, sloppy sets.
The tennis I'll remember from the 2013 US Open won't be the marquee names and the center court matches. It'll be the matches on the outer courts at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, between the lesser stars in the pro tennis constellation.
This is where the best fan experience is. It's real tennis, as in, tennis you can sink your teeth into. Tennis you can see, for one, without binoculars.
I was one row back from the baseline in Louis Armstrong Stadium for Wawrinka's fourth round upset of 5th-seed Tomas Berdych of Czechoslovakia. I watched them pace in front of me, toweling off, muttering under their breaths. I could see, without the benefit of TV close-ups, how keyed in they were to the flight of the ball, how fast they were reacting to each shot, could see the ropes of the muscles of their forearms jump as they walloped the ball. It was a see-saw battle between two evenly-matched players that took 2 hours and 47 minutes to decide, nothing like the easy victories being played on Ashe.
On Court 17, another memorable match was the grueling, sweaty five-setter between the young Canadian, Milos Raonic and the veteran Frenchman, Richard Gasquet. It was a day session match that had stretched into a humid night. The stands were packed equally with Canadians and French. Chants of "Let's go, Rao-nic!" were countered by "All-ez, Gas-quet!"
I felt swept up in the moment, the madness, the sport. It's why I love tennis on the smaller courts. It's what made my US Open special. And it's what I hope, but don't expect, for the fans in the gilded gold seats of Arthur Ashe Stadium when Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka take the court for their final. That bagel in the first set was one of seven she's buttered up for her opponents so far.