This is a guest post by Soha Yamin, who operates Travels with Soha, that offers luxury tennis excursions.

The U.S. Open is one of the world’s most exciting sporting events. Both casual tennis fans and true devotees of the sport can enjoy attending this annual event. Although tennis championships have been held in the U.S. since 1881, the U.S. Open began in its modern form in 1968, when the tournament was held at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, New York. In 1978, the event was moved to the National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York, which has since been renamed Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. 

If you are flying into New York to see the U.S. Open, both JFK and LaGuardia airports are quite close to Flushing Meadow Park, where the tournament takes place. While you’re in town, there is plenty to see and explore aside from the tennis matches. Let’s look at some of the possibilities.

Flushing Meadow Park

Unisphere

As long as you’re going to be at the park to watch the games, you may as well explore some of the park’s many other attractions. Prior to becoming the home of the U.S. Open, Flushing Meadow Park was best known for being the location of the 1939 and 1964-1965 World’s Fairs. The famous Unisphere globe sculpture, which was built in honor of the more recent fair, is still standing. The park also contains other well-known sculptures, such as Freedom of the Human Spirit and Free Form. Other attractions at Flushing Meadow Park include the Queens Theatre in the Park, where a variety of performances can be seen, and the Flushing Meadows Carousel. 

Queens Museum of Art

The Panorama of the City of New York

Also on the grounds of Flushing Meadow Park is one of New York’s most interesting museums. The Queens Museum of Art is most famous for The Panorama, an impressively detailed diorama of New York City. The Panorama was built in 1964 for the World’s Fair, but has been refurbished several times. The museum also has many World’s Fair related exhibits, as well as a variety of art from all over the world.

The New Chinatown

While New York’s best known Chinatown is in downtown Manhattan, the Chinatown in Flushing is actually larger. This neighborhood now has one of the world’s largest Asian populations outside of China. Here you can find a wide selection of shops and restaurants. In addition to eating a delicious Asian meal, you can find traditional Chinese herbs and exotic souvenirs. 

Astoria

Astoria is one of New York’s trendiest neighborhoods, and is located in the borough of Queens, not very far from Flushing and the U.S. Open. Astoria is fun to explore on foot or in a car, with its many Greek and other ethnic restaurants. It’s also the home of Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, where you can relax on a hot summer day with a pitcher of beer. There is often live folk music as well.

A Short Trip to Manhattan

New York City

The U.S. Open is held in Flushing, Queens, but you are not very far from Manhattan and its incomparable attractions. These include Times Square, Central Park, the Empire State Building and shopping on Fifth Avenue, to name just a few. The #7 subway train goes directly from Flushing to Manhattan. You can drive or take a taxi and get to Manhattan in about 30 minutes.

The U.S. Open is Close to Many Attractions

Visitors to the U.S. Open can find lots to do and see after watching a few exciting matches. Whether you explore nearby neighborhoods such as Flushing and Astoria, or venture into Manhattan, you are never far from everything that New York City has to offer.

Cincinatti

Peg is covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Buzz. Enjoy her first Cincy report (more to come!):

The tournament often referred to as the Cincinnati Open (and which was founded in 1899 with that title) actually takes place twenty miles north of the city that shares its moniker, in a town called Mason. Because Ohio is generally considered part of the US midwest, I tend to think of its distance from Tennessee (where I live) as a long haul. It’s been pointed out to me, however, that Cincy is not significantly further away than Memphis or Atlanta or Lexington (KY), and is in fact closer than Winston-Salem or Charleston and other tennis tournaments I consider relatively “local” to me because they happen to be hosted in other southeastern states.

Objectively speaking, the drive from Nashville to Cincy generally takes about four or five hours depending on traffic (there is always congestion around Cincy, in my experience), rest stops, and the like. Having been asked to write about the city as well as the tournament, I decided to visit the Over-the-Rhine district for lunch. I knew of at least two connections it had to the W&S tournament: the renowned Rookwood Pottery studio creates the champions’ trophies, and the announcement of this year’s player field was held at Ensemble Theatre.

I admit that I picked Bouchard’s Anything’s Pastable partly because of the name (“Any connection to the tennis player?” “No. We get asked that a lot”)…

Over the Rhine

… but mostly because of its location (inside Findlay Market) and the rave reviews it had received on Yelp. $8 covered a big Cuban panini (made fresh), which came with a salad (and an extra napkin, which I appreciated) and a 23 oz. can of Arnold’s lemonade-tea:

Over the Rhine

Bouchard’s (which also answers to “Brocato’s Italian Market”) has a reputation among locals as a place to pick up dinner fixings…

some of the pasta at Bouchard's

Over the Rhine

Over the Rhine

… and it’s right across the aisle from Gibbs’ Cheese, which had a jaw-dropping display of fudge:

Over the Rhine

I wish I’d had time to linger among the vendors. I could smell handmade soap and I walked past watermelon waiting to be tasted:

Over the Rhine

Findlay market is a mix of run-down and well-kept — as is the surrounding area. It is unquestionably urban, and I could feel my guard (developed during years in Chicago and Detroit) kick into a higher gear as soon as I spotted some of the sketchier-looking individuals in the crowd. But I also saw a matriarch in a Duck Dynasty t-shirt leading her brood into one of the buildings, an activist hawking a progressive newspaper, and assorted other types shopping, shooting the breeze, and so forth. Some of the furnishings and buildings are worn from use, but there’s also a crew of workers who, among other things, tend to the towering floral arrangements on the perimeter:

Over the Rhine

The parking rate in the market lot: free for the first hour, and fifty cents for each hour after that.

1209 Jackson Street is about four minutes away by car; the meters on that block are free for the first ten minutes, and some of them expressly allow bikes to be locked to them:

Over the Rhine

It’s the location of the Rookwood Pottery Company Store. There are some beautiful items (e.g., coasters, bud vases, cards) that can be acquired for less than $20 — a pleasant surprise to me! — and there are also items priced into the thousands.

Over the Rhine

I hope to explore more of Over-the-Rhine some other day — my peek at it has only whetted my appetite. The afternoon was getting on, though — I had a draw party to get to — and there just wasn’t time to do more than look up at and around a few of the nearby buildings:

Over the Rhine

Thanks a lot to Nikos for taking the time to answer our questions on the Tennis Marathon International event and tennis in Greece.

Tennis Marathon

Q: What is the Tennis Marathon International event and how did you get the idea to organize such an event that combines tennis, history and entertainement?

The 2014 International Tennis Marathon™ Event is an innovative international event exclusively for adult amateur tennis players. It combines sport – culture – tourism and entertainment. Tennis fans from all around the world will travel to Athens (Greece) and will have the opportunity to live the Tennis Marathon experience at the facilities located very close to the historic tomb of the Athenians at Marathon City. This was the place where the decisive Battle of Marathon was held in 490 BC, from which emerged both the international term “Marathon” and the sport of the Marathon Race in the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896.

At the same time the competitors will have the chance to visit the Parthenon, the Acropolis Museum, the Panathenaic Stadium and other historical monuments of world cultural heritage, and also enjoy the Greek hospitality and lively entertainment. The hotel, bungalows and facilities are located on the Mediterranean sea.

Below, pictures of the Panathenaic Stadium, the Marathon Bay and the hosting hotel:

Panathenaic Stadium

Marathon Bay

Hosting Hotel Tennis Marathon

The idea of organizing this International event came after 4 years of organizing the homonymous event in Athens – Greece. In May 2011 I organized the first Tennis Marathon Event and since then I have organized more than 25 events.

The idea of the Tennis Marathon Event was born in the Greek capital, Athens, the home of the Classic Marathon. The idea is to engage a specific number of players in an organized, “Marathon” tennis meeting. The original idea is coupled with a simple and equally unique recipe that makes the event safe and accessible to everyone. The recipe gets even more special by adding ingredients that highlight the importance of the idea of the Tennis Marathon Event and the value of competition and participation.

Q: Do you plan to organize Tennis Marathon in other countries?

My purpose is to expand the Tennis Marathon Events worldwide. The events should be exclusively held by licensed providers who will follow the methodology, rules and philosophy of the original Tennis Marathon Event. The Tennis Marathon brand is an internationally registered trademark in more than 30 countries and is protected by international law.

The right to use the trademark can be acquired only by Licensed Providers. Each tennis club who likes the idea of Tennis Marathon and would like to provide the Tennis Marathon Event at their facilities, can visit the official website: www.tennis-marathon.com and easily become a Licenced provider.

Q: Let’s talk about tennis in Greece, I guess tennis is not as popular as football and basketball?

Tennis in Greece is becoming more popular year by year. Many new facilities have been constructed during the last 10 years. Football and basketball are much more popular, but most of the followers are just fans, not players. On the other hand the number of social tennis players is increasing year after year.

Q: Pete Sampras and Mark Philippoussis are both Greek descendants as well as Australian hopes Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis, how do you explain Greece has never produced a big tennis champion?

There is a big gap between social tennis and competitive tennis in Greece. The first is growing year by year, the second is unfortunately getting worst. There are many reasons for this. The main reason is the lack of infrastructure and education on tennis matters in Greece. Despite this fact there is a great tennis player who is still playing on the Tour, coming from Greece, Eleni Daniilidou, former WTA #14. Marcos Baghdatis, former ATP #8 grew up in Cyprus and as far as I know the Cyprus Tennis Federation helped him a lot at the beginning of his career.
Nick Galis was the player who changed once and for all basketball in Greece, in the 80’s. I don’t know if this is going to happen in tennis. But you never know. This is the… Greek miracle!

Nikos with Pete Sampras

Pete Sampras

Nikos with Marcos Baghdatis

Marcos Baghdatis

Q: 10 years ago, Athens organized the Olympics Games, many stadiums built for the Games are now in decay, is the tennis stadium still in use?

The Olympic tennis facilities were in use until 2012, by hosting ITF Tournaments. Unfortunately today there is almost no use of these facilities, basically due to the economic crisis and also due to bureaucracy.

Q: You worked as a volunteer for the Paralympic Games in Athens, what was your role and which are your biggest memories of those Games?

Before the Athens Paralympics I have worked as a volunteer for the Olympic Games in Sydney. I worked at the spectator services in the Olympic Stadium ( track events ). I will never forget how I felt when I listened to the Anthem of the Olympic Games in Greek language, during the opening ceremony.
At the Paralympics in Athens my role was at the wheelchair tennis players services. This was a once in a lifetime experience for me, to watch these super-athletes moving and playing on the field.

Q: You also helped promoting beach tennis in Greece, is it popular and do you plan to organize Beach Tennis Marathon one day?

Beach Tennis is not as popular as Tennis in Greece, as it is happens worldwide. Beach Tennis is quite a new sport. I personally have already organized some Beach Tennis Marathon Tournaments in Athens the past years. There will also be a “Getting to know Beach tennis” session during the 2014 Tennis Marathon International Event.

Q:To put an end to this interview, a few words to convince people to take part to the Tennis Marathon International event?

The moto of the 2014 International Tennis Marathon Event is “Tennis Meets History”. Greece is not a traditional tennis country, of course, although the tennis sport was first hosted in the Olympics Games, in 1896, in Athens city. In 2014 the Tennis Marathon will be held for the first time at the home of Marathon Race, at Marathon City. From my experience as an athlete and also as a volunteer, the most important reason to take part in such an unprecedented event is to become a part of it!

The registrations deadline will be extend to the 26th of May, but there will be no refund in case of registrations after the 30th of April. Find out more info on tennis-marathon.com

Tennis Marathon

The 2014 International Tennis Marathon™ Event is an innovative international event exclusively for amateur tennis players. It combines sport – culture – tourism and entertainment. Tennis fans from all around the world will travel to Athens (Greece) and will have the opportunity to share their Tennis Marathon Event experiences at the facilities located very close to the historic tomb of the Athenians at Marathon City.

At the same time they will have the chance to visit the Parthenon, the Acropolis Museum, the Panathenaic Stadium and other historical monuments of world cultural heritage, and also enjoy the Greek hospitality and lively entertainment. The hotel, bungalows and facilities are located on the Mediterranean sea.

The 2014 International Tennis Marathon Event is organized by the initiator and creator of the Tennis Marathon Event, Nikos Pelantakis, who, along with an experienced team, will offer all participants benefits similar to those provided to professional tennis players.

Here is the complete schedule:

Wednesday 11th of June 2014
Arrival at the International Airport of Athens
Transfer and check in at the Golden Coast Hotel & Bungalows
Free day at the beach and the pool of the Hotel

Thursday 12th of June 2014
09.00 – 15.00 International Tennis MarathonTournament (Group A)
09.00 – 12.00 Visiting the Tomb and Museum of Marathon (Group B)
12.00 – 15.00 Introduction to Beach Tennis (Group B)
09.00 – 17.00 Guided tour to the Archaeological Center of Athens (Group C)
21.00 Cultural acquaintance evening

Friday 13th of June 2014
09.00 – 15.00 International Tennis Marathon Tournament (Group B)
09.00 – 12.00 Visiting the Tomb and Museum of Marathon (Group C)
12.00 – 15.00 Introduction to Beach Tennis (Group C)
09.00 – 17.00 Guided tour to the Archaeological Center of Athens (Group A)

Saturday 14th of June 2014
09.00 – 15.00 International Tennis Marathon Tournament (Group C)
09.00 – 12.00 Visiting the Tomb and Museum of Marathon (Group A)
12.00 – 15.00 Introduction to Beach Tennis (Group A)
09.00 – 17.00 Guided tour to the Archaeological Center of Athens (Group B)
21.00 Traditional Greek night

Sunday 15th of June 2014
09.00 – 15.00 Finals of International Tennis Marathon Tournament
16.00 Awarding of prizes and souvenirs, beach party

Monday 16th of June 2014
Check out from the Golden Coast Hotel & Bungalows
Transfer to International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos
Return flight

Find out more at tennis-marathon.com

As you already know I spent a few days in Paris to attend the BNP Paribas Masters. Nadal, Djokovic, Federer… I’ve had the chance to watch the best battle for the number 1 spot or for a qualification to the ATP Finals in London. Here’s a quick recap of my week.

Day 0 (Sunday, October 27 )

Paris. Last time I was in Paris was in May for the French Open, but the weather is the same: it rains. No tennis for me today but a walk on the Seine waterfront. You can read here about all my wanderings in Paris during the week.

Today is the last day of the qualifiers. Matches are played on courts 1 and 2 (300 spectators each), the reduced capacity of these courts means that spectators are close to the players. Santiago Giraldo, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Michal Przysiesny, Bernard Tomic, Igor Sijsling and Robin Haase qualify for the main draw.

Day 1 (Monday, October 28 )

Feliciano Lopez

No schedule nonsense like last year, and some interesting matches on Centre Court for the day session:
– Lukas Rosol defeats Jérémy Chardy 6-3 6-4
Feliciano Lopez – Bernard Tomic: an hard-fought victory for Feliciano.
Fernando Verdasco – Ernests Gulbis: another Spaniard against another headcase.

The day session ends quite early and we are allowed to watch Federer practising. He seems really relaxed and jokes with Michael Llodra. On the other half of the court Nishikori warms up seriously with a sparring partner.
Kei Nishikori – Julien Benneteau: a solid performance by the Japanese player.
– in the other match of the night session, qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert beats Benoit Paire 6-2 6-2. Booed by the crowd for his lackadaisical play, Paire calls the spectators morons. Yep, a really nice guy that Paire.

On court 1, Marin Cilic -who comes back after a four month doping-ban- defeats Igor Sisjling in 3 sets. Other results:
Santiago Giraldo def. Adrian Mannarino 6-3 2-6 6-4
Robin Haase def. Denis Istomin 7-6 6-3
Philipp Kohlschreiber def. Andreas Seppi 6-3 3-6 6-4

Day 2 (Tuesday, October 29 )

Kei Nishikori and Jo Tsonga

A beautiful day today in Paris. Before tennis, a visit to the Musée des Arts Forains and a walk in the Parc de Bercy.

– I missed the first match on Centre Court, Grigor Dimitrov – Michael Llodra: 6-7 6-3 6-3 for Dimitrov, Llodra announces 2014 will be his last year on the circuit.
– Pablo Andujar – Vacek Popisil: an unexpected win for the 28 year old Spaniard. Andujar was at home in Valencia when he received a call announcing him the forfeit of Gael Monfils. He replaced him in the main draw and got past the young Canadian.
Richard Gasquet – Fernando Verdasco: with this win, the Frenchman moves a bit closer to the ATP Finals.

A hot dog, a glimpse at Djokovic practice, and I’m ready for the night session and the second round match between Kei Nishikori and Jo Wilfried Tsonga, hands down the most entertaining match I’ve watched all week.
– next match on center court is Djokovic against Herbert, let’s say I’m not Djokovic biggest fan, so I pass. The world number 189 has two set points before losing to the world number 2 in straight sets.

Other results:
Michal Przysiezny def. Jarkko Nieminen 6-3 7-6
Nicolas Mahut def. Alexander Dolgopolov 7-6 6-1
Ivan Dodig def. Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6 6-4
Marcel Granollers def. Dmitry Tursunov 6-4 6-4
Kevin Anderson def. Mikhail Youzhny 4-6 7-6 2-1 ret.

Day 3 (Wednesday, October 30 )

Rafael Nadal

Nadal, Federer, Ferrer, Del Potro: the big names are out on court today.

– Gilles Simon – Nicolas Mahut: Simon wins the 3 hours battle opposing the two French players. I was quite surprised to see the crowd was really pro-Simon, wonder why because he must have one of the most boring game ever, and let’s not talk about his personnality.
Juan Martin Del Potro – Marin Cilic: Cilic’ coach Goran Ivanisevic in the stands to watch his player lose to recent Basel winner, Del Potro.
Rafael Nadal – Marcel Granollers: the indoor court at Bercy is far from Nadal’s favourite surface but he’s targeting a strong finish to the year. 7-5 7-5 victory for the world number, who was playing his first match in four years at Bercy.

Other results:
David Ferrer def. Lukas Rosol 6-0 2-6 6-3
John Isner def. Michal Przysiezny 7-6 4-6 6-3
Nicolas Almagro def. Ivan Dodig 6-4 6-3
Stanislas Wawrinka def. Feliciano Lopez 6-3 3-6 6-3
Philipp Kohlschreiber def. Tommy Haas 6-2 6-2
Tomas Berdych def. Pablo Andujar 6-2 7-5
Roger Federer def. Kevin Anderson 6-4 6-4

Day 4 (Thursday, October 31 )

No tennis for me today, but a visit to the Manufacture des Gobelins, and a street art tour in the 13th arrondissement.
No surprise at Bercy today: all the favorites are through to the quarter-finals. For the first time in the tournament history, the eight quarter-finalists are qualified for the ATP Finals in London.

Stanislas Wawrinka def. Nicolas Almagro 6-3 6-2
David Ferrer def. Gilles Simon (FRA/15) 6-2 6-3
Novak Djokovic def. John Isner 6-7 6-1 6-2
Juan Martin Del Potro def. Grigor Dimitrov 3-6 6-3 6-4
Roger Federer def. Philipp Kolhschreiber 6-3 6-4
Tomas Berdych def. Milos Raonic 7-6 6-4
Richard Gasquet def. Kei Nishikori 6-3 6-2
Rafael Nadal def. Jerzy Janowicz 7-5 6-4

Day 5 (Friday, November 1 )

Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro

Last day of my vacation in Paris today, but before I leave, a walk in Chinatown on the morning and two quarter-finals on the afternoon: read the complete quarter-finals recap here.

Hope you enjoyed this recap, you can find all Bercy 2013 articles here.