At U.S. Open, rain doesn't wash away fans' spirits

Tennis fans take cover during a downpour at

Tennis fans take cover during a downpour at the 2013 U.S. Open tennis tournament in Flushing. (Sept. 2, 2013) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

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Torrential rains delayed several matches Monday at the U.S. Open and left some fans fuming -- and wet -- though grounds workers quickly dried courts and play resumed for the evening session at the Flushing Meadows, Queens, tennis complex.

United States Tennis Association officials canceled the day session, activating the inclement weather policy, which allows individual ticket holders to exchange tickets for a comparable session at next year's U.S. Open, officials said in a statement.

But that was little consolation to fans who waited in a long line snaking through the grounds to get into Louis Armstrong Stadium, where a match between Roger Federer and Tommy Robredo was moved from its original venue at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Fans who bought tickets at Ashe, where seating is assigned, worried they wouldn't be able to get a seat in Louis Armstrong, because those who were inside the stadium for a previous match might not exit.

"Who wants to leave the stadium when Federer is going to play?" said Roberto Barrera, 40, of Houston, Texas, who waited with his wife, Ida Soto, 36. The couple paid $300 for two day tickets. "A lot of people are upset."

Meanwhile, a Long Island native was among nine wounded warriors honored at Arthur Ashe Monday as part of the USTA's Military Appreciation Day. Army Sgt. Christopher Bustamante, 43, of Freeport, who's stationed at upstate Fort Drum and served in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011, watched matches from inside a luxury suite and got a tour of the grounds.

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"It's surreal," said Bustamante of the experience of attending the U.S. Open -- his first time. "I don't know if I'll ever get over the experience -- if something will ever surpass it. Walking into Arthur Ashe Stadium -- it's impressive. There's no bad seat in the house."

Also hoping to see Federer play were Alex Wieland, 24, a banker from Mexico City, and his friend Dave Chera, 23, a student from Derby, England, who waited in the line for the night-session game. Despite the rainy day, the friends shrugged off the bad weather, eating and drinking at a restaurant on the grounds.

"This could be good -- we might get better seats," Chera said.

Manjit Guleria, of Remington, N.J., bought himself and his wife, Nita, $5 ponchos and a $62 silver umbrella embossed with the U.S. Open logo as the rain pounded. They were determined to stay dry enough to enjoy a much-anticipated doubles match with superstar sisters Serena and Venus Williams, which was later rescheduled for Tuesday.

"It looks great," he said of the umbrella. "I needed one."

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