The Tennis Channel and CBS tennis analyst Jim Courier was a former World No. 1 player. He won four Grand Slam titles, two Australian Opens and two French Opens. So even though he never won a U.S. Open crown, he loved playing at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, especially at night.
I spoke to Courier about playing tennis in New York at night as well as some of his thoughts about how the players liked the exposure.
James Williams: What makes playing at night so special?
Jim Courier: "You are playing on the largest stage in tennis. You have the biggest tennis stadium in world, so the crowds are there in force and loud. It is like a Broadway play. You have drama. Sometimes there is comedy. But as a player you know that the world is watching your match under the bright lights, and it does not get better than that. Players are at home in their hotel or in the stands watching. The night matches to us [are] what 'Monday Night Football' is to the NFL players."
JW: Who likes playing on the big stage at night?
JC: “Well on the men’s side you have Roger Federer, I think that no one enjoys being center stage under the lights more than Fed does. He gets it, he embraces the challenge, he draws from the crowds, who love him and plays some of his best tennis at night at the U.S. Open. More recently you have Novak Djokovic, he plays to the crowd and gets them into the match. He is both a fine player as well as a master showman, perfect for the big stage at night. Then there is someone who might surprise you and that is Andy Murray. There is something about him that just connects with the crowd, they enjoy his tireless effort, his work ethic and appreciation for their support that makes him a prime time player.
Lastly, Andy Roddick has been someone that Americans have enjoyed getting behind. He has outstanding talents as a player, he can be fiery which New Yorker’s like and he is a bit of a showman—all the things you want in a tennis player and exactly what makes him a star at the U.S. Open. He of course is retiring after this tournament and it would be great if he could come out of this with a fairytale ending. We will see and he plays tonight in prime time, of course.”
All quotes used in this story were obtained first hand via a phone call done this week and set up by the Tennis Channel.