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U.S. Open: scoring tickets, food and more

Savvy fans know that the early rounds during

Savvy fans know that the early rounds during the first week are the most fun -- the USTA National Tennis Center's smaller “field courts” and grandstand are in constant use, and you can get this close to the players with a grounds pass. Credit: Getty Images

For many people, the U.S. Open tennis championship is like a Super Bowl that lasts two whole weeks. America's only Grand Slam tennis championship -- right up there with Wimbledon, the French Open and the Australian Open -- takes over New York City for a fortnight, and excited fans ride the 7 subway and the LIRR to Flushing as if they were tennis party trains.

With Roger Federer back at No. 1 and coming off a Wimbledon trophy at the ripe old age of 31, the men's side has plenty of excitement -- especially given the competition from Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray (who just bested Federer for Olympic gold in London).

The women's side is a more open field, with fan favorite and recent Wimbledon champ Serena Williams taking on world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and three-time Open winner Kim Clijsters, who is set to retire once the tournament is over.

STRATEGY AND TICKETS Savvy fans know that the early rounds during the first week are the most fun -- the USTA National Tennis Center's smaller "field courts" and grandstand are in constant use, and you can get this close to the players with a grounds pass ($62.50); just roam around different matches at will. Tickets are still available (usopen.org; ticketmaster.com; 866-OPEN-TIX), though Labor Day weekend is sold out.

GETTING THERE Don't drive if you can avoid it, since traffic jams are likely and mass transportation takes you right where you want to go (7 train and LIRR to Mets-Willets Point). They've cracked down in recent years on what you can bring in, so check the approved list before you go: usta.usopen.org/US-Open/what_can_you_bring

FOOD AND DRINK A hallmark of the Open in recent years is an increased seriousness about food, and the current culinary ethos is on full display: At the Farm to Fork concession, you can eat a Murray's locally raised chicken sandwich ($15). You can go higher-end, too: At Mojito Restaurant & Bar, the Pescado a la Plancha is $28 and comes with coconut and chipotle sauce. Moët & Chandon Champagne has a new lounge open to the public for those who require bubbles other than beer.

ARTHUR ASHE KIDS' DAY This perennial family favorite, taking place Saturday, is largely free -- a rarity at the ever-more-expensive Open. Games and activities abound: hit with pros, clock your serve speed and, coolest of all, watch the tournament players practice. The 1 p.m. concert featuring Carly Rae Jepsen of "Call Me Maybe" fame is already sold out, though you could watch on TV from home.

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