After a week full of exciting pre-US Open events it finally came to a close for me yesterday with the annual Arthur Ashe Kids' Day presented by Hess. Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, Kim Clijsters, Melanie Oudin and the Bryan Brothers took part in the festivities which also included headline act the Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato, David Archuleta and a few more.
It was a picturesque day that began with an opportunity to meet and ask questions of the show's participants, except for the singles ballers, during a media session. They came through a photo op line and then sat down at different seated stations for more pictures and questions from the press. I made my way over to gold medal-winning skier and Roger Federer fan Lindsey Vonn, someone who knows what it's like to compete at the highest level of a sport and win. I asked Lindsey, who said she felt really confident Fed "was going to get another [US Open] title", about the mindset of an athlete going into a major tournament.
DtL: Obviously being a gold medal-winning athlete you understand what it’s like at these elite events. Can you take us through what the experience is going into an event like the US Open? What’s the preparation?
LV: I would imagine that it’s somewhat like an Olympics or a World Championships for us. I think you want to prepare mentally and physically, you want to use leading tournaments going into Grand Slams, you know, to build the confidence and feel like you’re mentally ready and at the peak of your game.
You know for me World Championships and Olympics is always tough because there’s so much more media, there’s just so much going on. There’s constantly things that are taking away your time where it should be spent on training or doing physiotherapy, stuff like that. I think at a big event you just have to balance everything.
DtL: How do you find that balance? What’s the key?
LV: (smiling) My husband is always there to make sure everything is going smoothly and makes sure my interview, if it’s running long, let’s them know I’ve got to go train. And I think that’s what Roger has as well. He’s got a good support system around him, Mirka and his managers and everyone. I think as long as you have people who are supporting you and helping you do, helping you be the best at your sport I think that really helps.
I also got a chance to throw out a quick question to the BryBros, who had to prepare for their musical performance that included a guest rap - which was LEGENDARY - by Nole , and asked if they had any more interesting collabs in store for fans perhaps with another aspiring rapper: Ivo Karlovic. "Uh, probably not - too tall." Lulz (full disclosure: I have no idea whether it was Mike or Bob who answered. Forgive me, I beg of you.) Other baller spottings in the media area included Marcos Baghdatis, Patty Schnyder, Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Laura Robson while Francesca Schiavone & Co. looked lost in the parking lot right outside the gate. Poor Schiavo. Schiavo not happy.
After the media session ended we were escorted to the Arthur Ashe Stadium press section and joined the record 23,000 + to watch the big show. It was a great way to end the week of events. The vibe was happy and the kids were beyond excited. Now, who's ready for some Grand Slam tennis, huh?
More pictures from AAKD below. Again, please credit Michael Alan if you borrow any of the images. I'll upload the full album to the Down the Line! FB page.
[Photo(s): Michael Alan, Lindsey Vonn: DtL]