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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday A, 2020

Playing in Arthur Ashe Stadium for the first time is different for the players who are going through this time-honored rite of passage in 2020, with no fans in the stands and the giant “temple of tennis” devoid of its frenetic atmosphere, but Stefanos Tsitsipas and Felix Auger-Aliassime still managed to take quite a bit of satisfaction in earning their first win on the biggest showcourt in the world this week at the US Open.

Tennis Express

“I envisioned it to be a little bit different than today,” Tsitsipas said after his second-round win over American Maxime Cressy on Day 3. “I didn’t expect it to be empty, that is for sure. It’s the opposite of what I thought it would be.”

Despite the absence of the crowd’s roar, Tsitsipas still said he got goosebumps when entering the court.

“I did have goosebumps entering the court, and mainly having that quotation right before you enter, of Billie Jean King, pressure is a privilege, I find it very special, this message, this quote,” he said.

The Greek, who will move to Louis Armstrong Stadium for his third-round match against Borna Coric on Day 5, says the experience was moving.

“It’s very deep, and playing on Arthur Ashe is an amazing experience,” he said. “I think it would have been even better if there were people watching. It would create a memorable atmosphere and maybe more intense, that’s for sure.”

Canada’s Auger Aliassime shared similar feelings after his straight-sets win over Andy Murray on Day 4.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” he said on court after the match. “I wish the fans were here. It’s quite funny because I came in 2011 as a kid. I got tickets for a match and I watched Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez playing third round here so it’s crazy that nine years later I’m here playing [Murray] and getting the win.”

Auger-Aliassime said he had no rooting interest that match, he just wanted to soak it in. Nine years later he was letting a flawless win sink in.

“I was just watching, I was up there, I didn’t have the greatest tickets, but I was just watching, appreciating this temple of tennis and I was just taking it all in,” he said.

Tsitsipas says he remembers watching many great matches on Ashe during his youth.

“The one that I very, very well remember is the Marcos Baghdatis against Andre Agassi match,” he said. “My hero, Marcos and now my best friend, he’s quite special. He lost in five sets but the effort the adrenaline, the crowd atmosphere, you had everything, you had everything in that match. The drama, and I think for Marcos playing and facing his idol was also quite special.”

Tsitsipas has quite a few Ashe memories.

“I remember watching the Novak Djokovic – Del Potro final a few years ago, and Stan {Wawrinka] lifting his first US Open title,” he said. “Also Serena winning many years ago when I was still very young and had big dreams of playing there one day.”

The Greek even made a few dollars off of a visit back in 2015.

“I watched my first match on Arthur Ashe when I first played the US Open in juniors,” he said. “I watched the match between Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka. I think Federer won quite easily in that match (2015, Federer won in straight sets). I took a beautiful photo on my iPhone, I remember this photo went viral and it sold for thousands of Euros on my IM accounts and I made plenty of money off a panorama of Arthur Ashe—I do remember very well.”


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