If you've watched any of the 2020 US Open so far, you already know this year's event is like none other. With strict rules and protocols, and the absence of fans due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the scene at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is almost hard to believe, no matter how many times you see it on television.
But what does it look like on the grounds for those players, coaches and other personnel who are there? We let the players be our guides.
The suites in Arthur Ashe Stadium are usually filled with sponsors and celebrities, but we don't need to tell you this isn't exactly a normal year. Now, instead of the Jonas Brothers or the Hadid sisters sipping on honey deuces in luxury, it's more like the Murray brothers and Williams sisters living that suite life. Andy Murray gave a tour of his space to the US Open social media squad.
And while the suites are pretty swanky as is, some players have put their own special touches on them to make them feel more like home. Just take a look at Novak Djokovic's and Filip Krajinovic's digs, courtesy of fellow Serbian and retired player Janko Tipsarevic and his Amazon skills.
Update: Krajinovic's suite balcony decor and red carpet entry are courtesy of Janko Tipsarevic, who ordered the accents on Amazon to make the suite feel more homey.— Blair Henley (@BlairHenley) September 1, 2020
Djokovic's suite is right next door and he, too, has been the beneficiary of Janko's green thumb. pic.twitter.com/9bm4r2vYQr
Of course, having the suites on Ashe means players get prime seats to watch other matches. Naomi Osaka, for example, was glued to Murray's marathon match against Yoshihito Nishioka on Tuesday. Her reaction is pretty much how everyone else felt while watching Murray's five-set opening-round win.
After winning her opener earlier in the day, Serena Williams was on hand to watch her sister Venus on Tuesday night. While that's not exactly an uncommon sight, what made this particularly special was her dog Chip got to be there, too. We told you these suites were the best.
Players don't get to have their usual entourages on site with them, but not only are their friends and family with them in spirit, they're also with them virtually. After World No. 7 Alexander Zverev's opening win Monday, his older brother (and fellow tennis player) Mischa was right next to the court to celebrate with him. You know, sort of.
Some players have siblings supporting them, and others have celebrity friends. Karolína Muchova became friendly with actress Rebel Wilson during the US Open two years ago, and she now counts her as one of her biggest supporters. Wilson was the first to congratulate Muchova on Tuesday after her win against Venus Williams.
Around the grounds
Bubble life sounds like it has a lot of restrictions, but at least players have access to the necessities. And by that, we mean chocolate.
OK, it's got some other stuff, too. Pool! Mini-golf! A regulation size pop-a-shot! This sort of looks like the world's greatest summer camp, with, you know, a cool $3 million on the line.
Kim Clijsters and Caty McNally seemed to separately challenge Frances Tiafoe to some sort of competition on a kid-size hoop. A dunk contest? H-O-R-S-E? We have no idea, but would love to find out.
Hahahahaha dawg wta tour is coming for me right now— Frances Tiafoe (@FTiafoe) August 29, 2020
Bro never again— Frances Tiafoe (@FTiafoe) August 29, 2020
Daria Kasatkina lost her opener Monday, but she still managed to have some fun playing soccer on one of the many sport courts around the grounds.
Here, there and everywhere
All right, technically this isn't on site, but ... Eurosport, which broadcasts the tournament in Europe and typically has a presence on the grounds, introduced a new, ahem, "mixed reality studio" which has holograms of the players talking live to their analysts. IS THIS THE FUTURE?
Eurosport today launched the new Cube for our coverage of the US Open and we were thrilled to welcome number one seed @KaPliskova as our first-ever guest in the mixed-reality studio with @Babsschett after her first round win. pic.twitter.com/MC5Wrk6g7i— Eurosport (@Eurosport) August 31, 2020
The more things change ...
If you've ever had the chance to attend the tournament in person, you know just how magical the sunsets are. Thankfully, no matter how different everything else appears, this stunning view remains the same.