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XOJET’s Guide to the U.S. Open

By Ron Kroichick, Sports Columnist/Feature Writer for the San Francisco Chronicle

The U.S. Open offers a distinctive blend of sporting urgency and big-city entertainment. It’s the season’s final Grand Slam event, so the world’s top players are eager to make one last splash and etch their name into tennis lore.

And really, there’s no better place to make a memorable splash than the Big Apple, with its uniquely bustling, eclectic aura. The crowds invariably include all manner of fans, from the dignified to the, uh, loud. A friend who has covered many Opens calls them a “great conglomeration of humanity,” in which conventional boundaries take a holiday.


This was most evident in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, when John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors practically traded the men’s title (they combined to win seven straight, from 1978 through ’84) and spectators occasionally shouted in the middle of a player’s serve. That’s certainly excessive, but it speaks to the passionate and boisterous setting in the United States’ largest, sports-crazed metropolis.

The night sessions at Flushing Meadows, in particular, bring an unmistakably glamorous flavor. What better stage for tennis than New York City at night? It’s the sporting equivalent of an acclaimed Broadway play, filled with anticipation and (hopefully) growing, sustained suspense over the outcome.

This year’s U.S. Open could bubble with fresh electricity, given the debut of a new, $150 million retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium. That will protect the main venue from disruptive weather, and it also should enliven the acoustics of a tournament already known for pulsating noise.

Novak Djokovic, the defending men’s champion, is no doubt accustomed to the raucous setting. Djokovic beat Roger Federer to win last year’s men’s title, and since-retired Flavia Pennetta dispatched Roberta Vinci in the women’s final.


Fans flying with XOJET to the Open can land at any number of NY-area private airports—from LaGuardia (the closest airport to Flushing Meadows) and Teterboro to White Plains, Farmingdale and Islip. Beyond these myriad options, XOJET offers carefree convenience in traveling to the Open, eliminating the hassle of navigating the masses while flying commercial. (Because New York already has enough crowds as it is.)

This all-encompassing guide—including what to watch for, where to stay, what to eat and what to wear—will also enhance the experience:


By Ron Kroichick, Sports Columnist/Feature Writer for the San Francisco Chronicle

There is no shortage of compelling storylines in this year’s U.S. Open, starting with: Can the summer of Andy Murray stretch into September?

Murray has spent most of his career trying to elbow past the Big Three of Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. That’s a daunting chore, as Murray learned once again when he lost to Djokovic in the finals of the first two 2016 majors, the Australian and French Opens.

But then Murray broke through in July to win Wimbledon for the second time, and he offered a stirring encore by earning Olympic gold (also for the second time) on Aug. 14 in Rio. Now comes a return to New York, where Murray memorably won his first Slam in 2012, outlasting none other than Djokovic.

As for the world number 1 himself, Djokovic will show up in Queens with a very different objective: trying to shake off a disappointing summer. Djokovic’s dominance reached its apex when he won the French and thus held all four major titles at the same time. He subsequently absorbed an upset loss in the third round of Wimbledon—to American Sam Querrey—and fell to Juan Martin del Potro in the first round of the Olympics. Djokovic suddenly seems vulnerable, a curious development.

US Open Stadium Tennis Tournament

History beckons on the women’s side, where Serena Williams is making a spirited run at Margaret Court’s record of 24 career Grand Slam titles. Williams collected No. 22 by winning Wimbledon in July, matching Steffi Graf for most Slams in the Open era (since 1968).

Court’s career spanned the amateur and Open eras, meaning she didn’t always face the toughest competition. Williams could erase any debate about the semantics of it all by taking three more Slams, and it’s tough to bet against her at Flushing Meadows. Talk about longevity: Williams won the first of her six U.S. Opens in 1999, at age 17. Now she’s the favorite to win again in 2016, on the brink of her 35th birthday.

Among the dark horses to watch in the men’s field is 21-year-old Nick Kyrgios, a talented and temperamental Australian poised to bust loose in a major. And don’t discount Del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champ who made a spirited comeback to win a silver medal in Rio, resuscitating a career derailed by injuries.

For the women, keep an eye on Madison Keys, a powerful 21-year-old American and potential successor to Williams.

One last suggestion for fans attending the Open: Don’t hesitate to wander away from Arthur Ashe Stadium during the early rounds. The outer courts at the National Tennis Center—including a new 8,000-seat grandstand stadium—are known to offer terrific, well-matched encounters in a less imposing setting.


By Gary Walther, Former Editor-in-Chief of Departures Magazine


Mandarin Oriental: The lobby sits on the 35th floor of the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, giving the rooms above ace views over Central Park. That’s complemented by high international polish, a top-notch spa, and suave modern American cuisine at Asiatica (with a free side of Midtown from 35 floors up). You’re also an elevator ride from Per Se.

The Mercer: This NY cousin of LA’s Chateau Marmont has 75 understated loft-like rooms in a landmark neo-Romanesque building in SoHo. The Mercer Kitchen is part of the Jean-George galaxy.

The NoMad: It’s a Flatiron District fave with 168 retro-bohemian-chic rooms (high ceilings, tapestry-covered antique furniture, worn and faded Persian rugs). The upper-floor rooms have the great views, and at ground level, the NoMad Bar is a deserving hotspot. US Open Ace: The hotel is minutes from the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, your best route to the stadium.

The Four Seasons: It’s unapologetically grand, starting with the lobby—New York’s most dramatic hotel public space. The rooms have fabulous views uptown and down and the suites on the top floors are master-of-the-universe. Plus, you have an easy subway connection to the number 7 train, which stops at the tennis stadium. Could be the best way to go.

The Pierre: This Upper East Side old-money bastion has 11 Grand Suites with furnishings and views fit for an Under Secretary of State. Two of them, Charles Pierre (2111) and The Getty Suite (1025), have terraces tailor-made for post-Open Champagne and canapés.

Wythe Hotel: This is your hipster haven. It’s in Greepoint, Brooklyn, and it has a bar terrace that offers spectacular backlighted, sunset views of Manhattan. Better yet, there’s no bridge or tunnel traffic to contend with en route to the Open. You’re already on the other side of the East River and halfway there.


By Gary Walther, Former Editor-in-Chief of Departures Magazine

Fine Dining in New York For the US Open

Le Bernardin: It’s gotten four stars from four different NYT critics over the years, meaning it’s an Olympian. No other restaurant has been on the four-star podium as often. The menu? Extraordinary seafood dishes in a grand contemporary dining room.

Jean-Georges: The empire’s mothership: disciplined, sharply focused contemporary cuisine with a French accent, presented in a high-ceilinged, hushed room in Trump Tower.

Gotham Bar and Grill: The generic name belies the fine contemporary American cooking here. Chef Alfred Portale is the Lou Gehrig of New York chefs—always in the kitchen, batting .350 year after year.

Blue Hill: The restaurant that really put the farm-to-table ethos on the table in New York. Despite the big rep, it still occupies a cozy, below-ground dining room just off Washington Square.

Cognac: This is a sleeper, but it comes with a sterling recommendation: It’s the favorite lunch spot of Le Bernardin chef Eric Ripert. The menu is simple, palate-pleasing Provencal, and the wine list has one of the most extensive Rosé selections in New York.

Estiatorio Milos: It’s the restaurant as Greek fish market. Pick your pesce, tell the server how you want it (grilled), order the sides, and switch to auto-pilot.

L’Artusi: This West Village mouse-hole is named for Pellegrino Artusi, the 19th-century businessman and gourmand who lassoed and codified Italian cooking. Here you get a modern take on centuries of Italian cucina.

Del Posto: This luxe-as-we-wanna-be blowout in Chelsea is Mario Batali’s grand stage, right down to the handmade Italian white leather chairs, aerated mozarella for the bread, and slow-roasted Abruzze-spiced lamb. (Of course the ‘herbs, lettuces, and chicories’ come with a house-made truffled dressing. There’s no escape.)

Marea: This is the counterpoint to del Posto: a low-key, high-class Italian seafood blowout on Columbus Circle from Michael White.

Cosme: You go here to taste a culinary Mexico you’ve never known existed. The key: It’s for grown-up palates—tuna tostada with elderberries, yuzu, and avocado. (But yes, there’s guacamole.)


By Hayley Phelan, Fashion Contributor in the New York Times, T Magazine, Elle, Interview, Vogue, and Glamour


From the fans who sit courtside—including Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour and model-of-the-moment Gigi Hadid—to the stylish players who sport fashion-forward outfits, the U.S. Open is arguably America’s chicest sports event. So while all eyes will undoubtedly be on the court, you’ll still want to dress to impress for the match.

Consider packing light layers in breathable materials, a surefire way to beat the East Coast’s record-breaking heat in style. Wearing white is always a good idea; after all, there’s a reason competitors wear it on the court—its reflective qualities means it absorbs less heat.

Gentlemen will look dapper without breaking a sweat in a crisp white linen shirt and tailored, lightweight pants. Finish the look off with preppy loafers or sleek designer sneakers. For ladies the options abound: A sleeveless sheath in a bold primary color makes a sophisticated statement, while an off-the-shoulder top tucked into a high-waisted skirt or pants is perfectly on-trend. And for those who really want to get into the spirit of things, a white mini dress—dressed up with wedges, or down with sneakers—is tennis-inspired fashion at its finest.

Hats and sunglasses are a must for both men and women. Just don’t annoy your fellow spectators by wearing anything with a wide brim; ballcaps or patterned headscarves will do best. And whatever you do, don’t forget sunscreen; it’s vital to staying cool no matter how heated things get on the court.

Fashion Ace | Gentlemen

White Linen Shirt. Hugo Boss, $175.
White Cotton Trousers. Loro Piana, $475.
Loafers. Gucci, $695.
Sunglasses. Tom Ford, $690.

The Sport’s Aficionado | Gentlemen

Linen Polo Shirt. Hartford, $160.
Cotton Chinos. Thom Browne, $735.
White Sneakers. Saint Laurent, $495.
Baseball Hat, Polo Ralph Lauren, $40.

Serve Up Style | Ladies

White Mini Dress. Gucci, $1,385.
Cat-eye Sunglasses. Kate Young For Tura, $295.
Navy Slip-On Sneakers. Vans, $62.
Wedges. Chloe, $625.

The Femme | Ladies

Off-the-Shoulder Top. Opening Ceremony, $395.
High-Waisted Midi Skirt. Lisa Marie Fernandez, $465.
Tie-up Heels. Gianvito Rossi, $795.

Grand Slam Grande Dame | Ladies

Sheath Dress. Victoria Beckham, $2,350.
Ballet Flats. Chanel, $795.
Round Sunglasses. Cutler & Gross, $650.

Photo Credit: Flickr