Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 1 of the 2021 US Open.
Have you got your COVID vaccination passport yet?
If your intention was on attending this year’s US Open in person, well we sure hope you have your vaccine passport at the ready. Okay actually, that’s not quite right: we hope you have taken your COVID vaccine AND that you have your vaccine passport. Because you won’t manage to attend the year’s final Grand Slam without it.
That’s right. A mere couple of days before the start of the event, it was announced that anyone 12 years or older would need to show proof of vaccination to enter the grounds. It all started when the New York City mayor’s office mandated it for entry at Arthur Ashe Stadium. To their credit (and probably to avoid a massive headache), United States Tennis Association officials extended the requirement for any fan of at least 12 years of age—and this is the good part—entering the Billie Jean King Tennis Center.
This is quite the change for the US Open, which previously said it would rely on unvaccinated fans to wear masks. But because relying on people’s sense of civic duty has served us so well since March 2020 (read: it has been terrible), USTA folks saw in the New York City mayor’s mask mandate the opening it needed.
This is undeniably a good thing. Get vaccinated or stay home. That said, no word yet on what Stefanos Tsitsipas thinks of the new rule.
Day 1 preview
As we’ll do every day over the next two weeks, we’ll conclude our columns by identifying three standout matches on the day’s slate. Read our choices below. If you’d like to see the full day 1 schedule, you can do so right here.
Grandstand: Camila Giorgi vs Simona Halep  (First match of the day)
This one is probably an easy win for Simona Halep, but at this point there’s nothing that easy on a tennis court for the Romanian. Since making the 2020 Australian Open semifinal, Halep’s career has more or less been overrun by the pandemic. She did make the 2021 Australian Open quarterfinal, but that’s really it. For a player of her ability and stature, Halep’s results have been pedestrian. She’ll be fine in Flushing Meadows, or at least we hope so. A first round against Camila Giorgi fresh off a National Bank Open title (and a first round loss at the Western & Southern Open) will test her right away.
Arthur Ashe Stadium: Andy Murray vs Stefanos Tsitsipas  (Second match of the day)
Look, at this point we’ll probably highlight Andy Murray’s early matches at every Grand Slam he competes in, because who knows when it will be the last match of his storied career. He’ll get completely run through the ringer here against Stefanos Tsitsipas, but for once we have to look beyond wins and losses. The time for the Murray’s career eulogy will come but thankfully, it’s not due yet.
Louis Armstrong Stadium: Nick Kyrgios vs Roberto Bautista Agut  (Second match of the night)
Hey look, here’s a first round match that should be a great study in contrasts. On the one hand, we have Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, a quiet and consummate pro, someone who shows up and plays and tries his best—and hopes he can do it all again the next day. On the other hand, we have Australian Nick Kyrgios, who seemingly doesn’t care about tennis, someone who’s loud, obnoxious, a prick frankly—and who doesn’t seem to mind it one bit.
Neither player is playing especially good tennis these days, and neither has enjoyed great results at the US Open. The difference is that only Kyrgios talks the big game that he can’t back up.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG