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Love Game

I am a lazy sports fan. I skip the entire season and go straight to the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, or the NBA championship. Once in four years, I do the same with the FIFA tournament. I just wait until the end and then sit back, sip my brew, dip my chip, and root for the underdog. I like to tell myself I am too busy for the precursor events. In reality, I am clueless about the rules of the games. Except when it comes to tennis for which I actually understand the rules. Well, what's not to understand? 15-30-40- game. Utterly simple! Now compare that to the mind-blowing rules of football, baseball, and basketball and you will understand why my one-celled brain gets tennis. Plus what's not to like about a "love" game!

So, this year when the opportunity came up to go to the US Open men's singles final, I was like, hell yeah!

Being in Arthur Ashe stadium at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center made me feel like a toddler in a toy store. The globe, the fountain, the big screens, and the retractable roof made me giddy. The stadium opened in 1997 with 15k seats. In 2013, the retractable roof was added. The stadium is built on wetlands and the roof had to be constructed with great care or else the weight of the roof would sink the entire structure into the swamp. Now it is the largest tennis stadium in the world and seats almost 24k people.

This year's men's final was an instant thriller. It will go down in the annals of the game as a battle between the granddaddy and the upstart. The crowd was clearly rooting for Rafael Nadal until it looked like he was going to win in straight sets. Then, Rafa! Rafa! morphed to Med-ve-dev! Med-ve-dev! because we wanted more tennis. And when these two amazing tennis players made it to the fifth set, the chanting went right back to Rafa! Rafa! In the end, we were on the edge of our seats for a good part of five hours, transfixed by the power and precision of the baseline shots and the tenacity of the players. Watching Nadal was a dream come true and witnessing Medvedev take him on was sheer magic.

Being at the match was so thrilling that the $12 price tag on a can of Heineken didn't register until I got home and then I totally understood the concept of being a held hostage in a sports arena. Would I do it again? Absolutely! This is one of the four grand slams after all plus the men and women win the same prize money for the singles championships. That's definitely worth the game, set, and match!

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