- Julio Cortez/AP
The new roof at the US Open’s Arthur Ashe stadium was added to protect the players and fans from the elements. Instead, it has created an entirely new problem: noise.
During second-round action on Thursday, the $150 million roof was closed as rain fell outside. As the rain got heavier during Andy Murray’s match, the noise got louder.
“I have never officially been in tennis court or stadium that has been as loud as this,” ESPN analyst John McEnroe said during the broadcast. “It is literally, you feel like it is hard to hear yourself think.”
Eventually, the rain grew so heavy that it sounded like a swarm of bees on television.
“I could not hear the ball come off the racket,” said Brad Gilbert, who was sitting courtside. “You know how players like to hear the sound? I could not hear it and I am sitting courtside.”
McEnroe added that hearing the racket hit the ball is important to players because it gives them a better sense of the spin and the pace of the ball.
This comes after Wednesday’s night session during which an entirely different noise problem was created by the partially closed roof.
During the 39-minute first set between Rafael Nadal and Andreas Seppi, the chair umpire had to hush the crowd “at least 15 times,” according to SI.com.
It turns out that even casual conversations among fans were amplified as the noise reverberated inside. The roof was eventually fully closed during the second set, and the atmosphere reportedly sounded more like a ballpark and not like a tennis venue the players are used to.
After the match, Nadal called the sound “strange.”
“In tennis, normally you are used to playing with silence,” Nadal said after the match. “With the new court, even if the roof is open, there is noise out there. It’s probably not the fault of the people, because I have been playing here for so many years and don’t remember that noise when you are playing. It was a little bit strange. For moments, it was a little bit too much during the points.”
This isn’t a good start for the highly anticipated structure.