Hello, US Open

By Alex P. Vidal

“Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down.”— Robert Frost

I CONSIDER myself very lucky that August 28, a Monday and my only off day in the week, was the official opening day of the 2023 US Open tennis championships at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows—Corona Park, Queens.

The most prestigious tennis tournament in the world next to London’s Wimbledon actually started on August 22 until September 10, 2023, but August 28 was officially the day of the first round of the championships that pitted the world’s best tennis players led by defending champion Carlos Alcaraz of Spain in men’s division and Iga Swiatek of Poland in the distaff side.

The venue is 15 minutes by walk away from where I live in Elmhurst, or five minutes away by ride in the elevated 7 train, thus I had the privilege of witnessing some of the great matches in the men’s and women’s divisions since 2015 and shared them to my readers in the past.

Since I was expected to be back to work Tuesday morning (August 29), I would surely miss Alcaraz’s scheduled encounter versus Dominik Koepfer on Tuesday night (August 29), a match to provide an extra day to set aside the distractions and hype that were already starting even before he won the title last year and have snowballed since.


“Well, my life changed a lot, a lot,” Alcaraz said this week with a smile, quoted by Associated Press. “Probably it’s a different life, talking about the way that I’m more, let’s say, famous. A lot of people are starting to know my name after the U.S. Open last year, for example.”

His victory over Casper Ruud made Alcaraz the first teenager to win the U.S. Open men’s title since Pete Sampras in 1990. Sampras, though, didn’t immediately shoot to stardom, not with John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors still around and Andre Agassi having already burst onto the scene.

The much-awaited matches scheduled on Day 1 were that of Novak Djokovic versus Frances Tiafoe, among other matches.

Swiatek, 22, ranked No. 1, won the championship last year and she has returned to start the 2023 edition of the event against Rebecca Peterson of Sweden.


Tiafoe, 25, of Maryland, who reached his first major semifinal at last year’s US Open, will face Learner Tien, a 17-year-old from California.

The night matches were led off by 19-year-old Gauff of Florida versus Laura Siegemund of Germany, who won the women’s doubles title in New York three years ago. Gauff lost to Swiatek at the French Open in singles and doubles last year.

Twenty three-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic’s match versus Alexandre Muller of France was to wrap up the night session.

Muller is making his US Open debut.

Djokovic missed the Open last year when he couldn’t travel to the United States as a foreigner after he refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19. That rule has been dropped and this year marks his return to the event.

The 2023 U.S. Open, similar to many of the other major tennis tournaments this year, will incorporate game-changing artificial intelligence technology, Fox News’ Chantz Martin reported.

Martin said millions of fans were once again expected to watch the action via more traditional methods, such as television, while others will likely engage with the tournament via the app and other digital platforms.

IBM’s data center reportedly “has a significant footprint inside Arthur Ashe Stadium on the grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.”

The facility is reportedly used to gather and analyze millions of data points for the U.S. Open’s digital platforms. This year’s tournament will reportedly also utilize AI commentary.

“The tech uses a first-of-its-kind sports computer vision module that collects and analyzes data on a given player’s specific movements,” disclosed Martin.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)