NEW YORK – The U.S. Open began on Monday, August 31, and Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas did not disappoint. Currently ranked #6 in the world, the 22-year-old Tsitsipas beat Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 in the Men’s first round of the tennis tournament.
This year’s U.S. Open is very different from years past – no fans are allowed to be in attendance. In a statement released by the player regarding the fanless environment, Tsitsipas said, “It is great to be back on court, even without fans. I still feel the joy and the happiness of me being able to play.”
Towel service in the tournament is also on a break this year. The days of grabbing a towel from a ballperson between points have gone the way of fans and post-match handshakes in this pandemic-altered tournament.
Like a toddler with a security blanket, some players need that constant towel break in the heat of action as part of the routine. Some players want a towel after every point — but because of the pandemic, players now need to fetch their own towels. There were boxes behind the baselines for players to lay the towels on at some courts; at others, players draped them over a fence or an advertising placard.
“I have sort of like a history with the towel. I used to have a towel when I was 3, 4 years old and I would always carry it around,” said Stefanos Tsitsipas. “It was like my toy, basically. The towel resembles something special in my life. It does provide some sort of amount of comfort.”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.