How to get the best value on US Open Tickets
First thing is buying tickets - without these, you can't go in.
My advice is to wait for the summer promo codes. as this is when there is a good deal (less than $60 for Ashe tickets) - they usually go on sale as early as May for USTA members. But worry not - you can still get them as late as the month of August without a membership.
My best advice is usually to wait until June/July to look for the deals. For example on 8/3/10, they released an annual code "WFANDANGO " in the morning which has seats available for $12 for both the 1st week and the 2nd week. These codes were last available back in 2011, but google "Tennis Bargains" to get other US Open promo codes.
The URL is always something like "www.ticketmaster.com/promo/. " followed by a series of random letters and numbers. I have a few examples at my site for things like the $12 tickets (as I'm not allowed to embed many links here) but a hint is to just google for "tennis bargains".
There are also 2-for-1 (buy one get one free) tickets that are around $25-$35 each that are for the Upper and Lower Promenade. which are a bit closer. You can always sell your extra ticket here .
The trick is to buy these cheap Arthur Ashe tickets, but DON'T sit in the nosebleeds section in Ashe. You'll have a better view of the NY city skyline than the ant-sized players a mile below you. But you see, unlike Grounds passes and Armstrong tickets that do not allow you into the main stadium court, with Ashe tickets you can go anywhere.
Another great tip if you are buying last minute tickets, is to check the resell Ticketmaster exchange market . This is because Ticketmaster allows fans to "auction" their unused ticket if they cannot go or if they have an extra. They get credit back if their ticket gets sold, and you can usually get a great deal from a season ticket holder who cannot attend all sessions. Sometimes even so-called "sold out sessions" can be bought here. You will know the tickets are legitimate because it is sold and controlled directly by Ticketmaster. Fans can even email their electronic tickets.
So why is the Ashe ticket better than the rest?
All other courts (other than Armstrong) use a "first-come, first-serve" system. This means if you get in line early (gates open at 11AM and the EAST gate is the least crowded out of all of them), you can literally run to the Grandstand court (3rd biggest stadium court) and get Front Row seats!
Bonus Tip (Grounds Pass):
I did this myself a few years ago and got to see Marat Safin and Oliver Rochus play just a few feet in front of me. If the Ashe ticket deals run out or get too expensive, then 2nd best option is invest in a Grounds Pass . This lets you tour all stadiums except on Ashe and usually a little bit less expensive.
2) You are now at the US Open! Where should I go first?
How do I see my favorite player?
If this is your very first US Open, I would recommend that you go to the US Open during the opening weekend. This Saturday and Sunday is usually not very crowded and is very family/kid friendly too.
Almost all the Pros will come out to practice/play and it is completely FREE to the public. To see what this looks like, go to Flickr and search " US Open Tennis8 " to see my pictures of the event.
The best time to go see a lot of tennis matches and players (most of whom will not have been eliminated in an upset) is the first week.
Players Practice Session
To get close-up pictures and autographs, find out first which practice courts (labeled P1-P15) they are practicing on. When they are done with their practice session, they will usually come out one side and that's when you want to be at the front of the line. If you want a picture with your tennis hero , have a buddy stand with the camera ready to take a snapshot!
If you want an Autograph Signature of your favorite star, be sure to have a pen and the item ready which you want signed. Remember though, Timing is everything, if you're slow or fumbling for a pen or camera, they will usually go to the next person, or worse start walking to the locker room!
Buy a Blue Fine-tip/broad-tip double headed Sharpie (black will usually fade/smudge into a green color over time). Use the fine tip on posters and tennis trading cards (these are awesome and for sale by Ace and several other companies). I recommend getting a little business card holder and putting in the players' cards you want an autograph and you know will be in that tournament.
My personal experience (Tim Henman)
At the local DC tournament Legg Mason, I happen to have been in the right place and the right time for a picture with him. Go to wikipedia and search for "Tim Henman" -
his main profile picture/mugshot was shot from my camera that someone (I do not know personally) cropped and uploaded there.
I was able to get Tim Henman to sign his player card. He is retired now but was the former #1 British player in the world. This can be worth a small fortune in the UK if you find the right fan.
Watching Players Practice - up close and personal
This is very important and some would say is even more interesting than the actual match because you get to see them hit many more groundstrokes, serves, volleys, plus *trick shots* that they will never try in an actual match. Sometimes if they are in a good mood, they will even chat with the fans and give you a souvenier.
But how to I see Federer / Nadal / or any one of the Top 3 men's players in the world.
Usually when Federer or Nadal practice, you will see the mobs of people following them. I would avoid getting stuck behind these people. They also have a small army of USTA bodyguards around them so don't try anything silly, or wait in the long queues for an hour and hope that you get 1-2 pictures of him before he disappears.
Here is the best trick to see the big stars from up close. They will almost always be practicing on P1-P4, which is just to the side of main stadium. I will post up a Google map on my site that shows you this exact location. Behind the P1-P4 is a row of very tall hedges. Between these hedges and the mesh fence is about a 2 foot crawl space.
Shhhhhh. But you must be very, very quiet and not disturb the players or they or patrolling grounds keepers will have you removed very quickly! To get an idea of how *close* you can get - go to Flickr and search " tennis8 nadal". When he comes to pick up a tennis ball, he is literally inches from you and you can take pictures to your heart's content (without Flash of course!). He looks skinnier in person, in my opinion.
3) Where is the best section to watch the best tennis?
This is a very important choice that will effect your experience for the next 3,4,or 5+ hours if you stay to watch the entire match there (remember grand slams are best of 5 sets).
Court Position at all other courts
If you are on any other court but Ashe, then it is 1st come, 1st serve. Therefore if you see a lot of open seats, you want to consider the following:
A) Are you viewing it as a tennis player (trying to appreciate the topspin, the speed of the rallys, tactics used in the point)?
If so, try to get a seat near the baseline. This gives you almost a first person point-of-view of the rallys and also you are usually low enough to see the height they hit the ball, the amount of spin they use, etc.
If you want be close to the players box (their coach, friends/family) etc, then sit near the corner (example: go to Flickr and search "verdasco camp"). This is cool if you speak their language and can understand what type of commentary/analysis they are giving. It is also a more emotional section where the die-hard fans of a player will flock and cheer more loudly.
B) Best photographs (and if you want a view of your favorite players facial expressions)
If you will not mind moving your head side to side should you decide to follow a point, then up close to the 1st row Opposite side of the Umpire seat is the best photo angles usually. This is also usually where they will have the "camera pit" for journalists and magazine photographers with press passes. The night thing about this spot is that on every change of ends, you have a direct view of the players and also if your tendency is to just watch one player most of the time anyway, then you'll be either facing left or right for that game anyway.
C) Comfortable Seats
If you go during the morning session, I recommend that you pick a seat with the sun to your back. In Ashe, that would be sections in the 310s to 320s. This is important on hot NY afternoons because you don't want to be roasting (at least I know I don't). On Armstrong and the Grandstand, there is usually a few rows in the shade of the bigger stadium direclty adjacent to it..
At night, the top few rows of Ashe can get pretty windy/cold, so pick your seat carefully. Sometimes if there are empty seats in front of you, the Usher will let you sit further down.
D) Are there two matches on Ashe/Armstrong at the same time but can't decide between the two?
Here is a great tip:
Go get a seat at the very top on the East side of Ashe (Sections 308-314). You'll be able to look down directly onto Armstrong from there. so it's like a seat for two stadiums and you can stand up and not worry about blocking anyone (sections 308-314). these usually sell out quickly.