Frank Sinatra wrote in his song ‘New York, New York’ that, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” And for a long time, that has been the case in the tennis world, too.
The Nitto ATP Finals were held at the ‘World’s Most Famous Arena’, Madison Square Garden, from 1977 through 1989. And the Hamlet Cup was a powerful presence on the ATP World Tour from 1990 until 2004. Five players who were victorious at that event (Edberg, Lendl, Kafelnikov, Moya and Hewitt) held the No. 1 ATP Ranking in their career. Three other competitors (Korda, Norman, Haas) who also raised the trophy reached World No. 2.
But 13 years went by without an ATP World Tour event in New York, which is also the home of the US Open. That all changed this week as the inaugural New York Open, a 250-level tournament held at NYCB Live, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, got underway. The Memphis Open moved to Long Island in 2018.
“It’d be awesome for me personally to see it succeed,” former World No. 1 John McEnroe told ATPWorldTour.com. “It would also be nice, I think, for American tennis. I’ve been trying to do this for years, trying to get a shot in the arm for tennis… this is a nice start, hopefully.”
And while it is just that — a start — it has certainly been a fun one. The likes of Hockey Hall of Famer Clark Gillies and former NBA All-Star John Starks have been in attendance, as has McEnroe, who played an exhibition to kick off the event on Sunday evening before coming back during the week as a spectator.
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“Most people never saw him play, but I came here back in the days when Doctor J [Julius Erving] was playing for the Nets,” McEnroe said of visiting the arena to watch the 11-time NBA All-Star when he played for the New York Nets from 1973 to 1976 (McEnroe was a teenager).
The recently-renovated venue hosting the New York Open, commonly known as Nassau Coliseum, was the home of the NHL’s New York Islanders and currently houses the Long Island Nets, an NBA G League team.
“I came here occasionally, played a few exhibitions here, saw a lot of concerts here, so I have history here as well, personally,” added McEnroe, who grew up training on Long Island (in Port Washington). “But this is a venue that’s got a lot of history for Long Island and it was sort of falling by the wayside. So it was nice to see that someone stepped up and renovated it, got it up to snuff again and now to see a tennis event here, it’s an unexpected pleasant surprise.”
Another aspect of the event that has made it special has also made it unique. The New York Open is the first tournament on the ATP World Tour to utilise black courts, which have been a hit with the players.
“I love the black court, it looked really cool,” said No. 2 seed Sam Querrey. “The whole setup in there is great. It’s different, it’s unique and I know I really like it.”
Two courts are set up perpendicular to one another — a Centre Court and Grandstand, with areas in the arena from which fans can watch the action on both courts.
“I think this is different, I hope this tournament stays for a while,” said Frances Tiafoe, who advanced to his first ATP World Tour quarter-final on Thursday. “I definitely want to come back here.”
The courts were shipped in from Germany and assembled on-site the week before play began. According to tournament staff, 460 panels make up Centre Court. And while a winner has yet to be decided, the groundwork has been laid for a bright future on Long Island.
“It’s terrific. I think we’ve had a vision,” Assistant Tournament Director Peter Lebedevs said. “When it comes to life like it has, we’re very excited with what it’s turned out to be. It’s exactly what we wanted and more.
“We had visions of the great history that they had with that event [the Hamlet Cup] and learning from it and building because Long Island wants tennis,” Lebedevs said. “It’s a very strong tennis community. So we think we can take it to that level and more. It’s our first year, so we’ve got a little ways to go, but I think learning from them and then adding our spin on it the next couple of years, I think you’re going to see some really amazing things here from the New York Open.”
Sinatra also sang: “I want to be a part of it. New York, New York.”
In its infancy, it’s clear that players and fans alike will want to be a part of the New York Open for years to come.
Source : http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/news/atp-return-to-new-york-20181069