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Rain Beats Roof at US Open

By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday September 1, 2021

Nature stormed the US Open indoors tonight.

The US Open witnessed rare upset: a rain suspension beneath the retractable roof over Louis Armstrong Stadium as a severe storm slammed New York.

Heavy rain pelted the retractable roof sending gushing water cascading down the stadium steps and onto the court—and leaving fans scrambling for cover tonight.

A soaking downpour—the wrathful remnants of Hurricane Ida—and 30 mph whipping winds combined to wreak windswept rain through both sides of Armstrong Stadium during the second-round clash between former finalist Kevin Anderson and Diego Schwartzman.

New York was under a flash flood watch and a tornado warning was in effect in some parts of Long Island due to the storm with nearby local parkways underwater leaving some sections shut down, some New York City subway stations flooded and some fans fleeing the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center through waves of rising water. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency after multiple twisters tore through the Garden State.

Embed from Getty Images

Remarkably, the US Open stayed almost completely on schedule with only one singles match cancelled due to the historic storm.

Hours after the wreckage to the New York area a soothing sky appeared Thursday morning. The US Open said in a statement it is assessing the site and will issue updates for Thursday's schedule of play.

"We appreciate your patience as we evaluate the readiness of our site. The safety of our fans, players and staff is of the utmost importance," the US Open announced. "We will be issuing an update to the schedule including gate opening and match start times. The current plan will not open gates before 11:00 am. Please check for updates."

In a bizarre soaking scene Wednesday night, fans popped open umbrellas and headed for cover as the rain came in through the open air sides of the stadium. Players initially stayed on court through a near half-hour delay before the grounds crew dried the court and play resumed.

Both veterans complained repeatedly about the court conditions to the chair umpire. Anderson, who has battled injuries in recent years, eventually picked up his racquet bag and exited the court after Schwartzman took the opening set in a tiebreaker 7-6(4).

That second-round match resumed later inside Arthur Ashe Stadium following the conclusion of third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas' victory over Frenchman Adrian Mannarino second.

ESPN analyst Darren Cahill tweeted video of the soaking scene as rain showered like a waterfall off the side of the stadium.

Play was subsequently suspended and the Angelique Kerber vs. Anhelina Kalinina night match scheduled to follow Anderson vs. Schwartzman was cancelled and will be played tomorrow.

The US Open sent out an updated weather alert about 10:45 p.m.

"Please be advised we expect the tornado threat to subside in the next 20 minutes and wind conditions to lessen at that time," the statement said. "Please remain inside or seek shelter until the severe weather has passed."

Novak Djokovic
Photo credit: Kathryn Riley/USTA/US Open

The 14,000-seat Armstrong Stadium is adjacent to 23,000-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium. The US Open unveiled the retractable roof over Louis Armstrong Stadium, named in honor of the jazz legend and former Queens resident, in 2018.

The 94,500-foot retractable roof is about the size of seven Olympic-sized swimming pools. The 38,000-square foot roof opening measures more than the size of 18 singles courts.

The Rossetti architecture firm that designed the retractable roof over Ashe Stadium aimed for innovation with its Armstrong design, which features a natural cooling system. The stadium design uses a perforated bowl allowing air to pass through underground pathways, while open concourse levels throughout the stadium maximize air flow.

The USTA touts it as the “first naturally ventilated tennis stadium in the world with a retractable roof” eliminating the need for air conditioning that exists in Ashe Stadium. However, tonight air flow exacerbated effects of extreme wind and rain creating a soaked stadium as officials eventually cancelled play on Armstrong for the night due to the deluge.

The good news is the storm is forecast to pass through the area giving way to dry and cooler conditions tomorrow.

Photo credit: Getty