If you want to know what it’s like for the players to have fans in their faces again at the US Open, Courts 4, 5 and 6 are the places to go. These mini-arenas are lined up right next to each other on the east side of the grounds, with just a pair of small concrete platforms to separate them. Standing in the middle of those platforms, spectators can turn their heads and watch two matches at once. No wonder this area is always packed and buzzing. Any players who need silence and stillness before they toss the ball to serve are going to be out of luck here. This is the Grand Central Station of tennis.
By turning their heads on Tuesday afternoon, U.S. tennis fans could watch two comebacks at once. On Court 5, Mackenzie McDonald was facing David Goffin, and on Court 4, Coco Vandeweghe was up against Martina Trevisan. McDonald, 26, and Vandeweghe, 29, have both been traveling the long road to recovery from debilitating injuries.
In 2019, just after he reached a career-high ranking and his first ATP semifinal, McDonald injured his hamstring at Roland Garros and had to miss the rest of the season. The same year, Vandeweghe, shortly after winning the US Open doubles title with Ash Barty, was sidelined for 10 months with an ankle injury, and then tested positive for coronavirus. Today these two Californians were back in the tennis trenches at their home Slam. Vandeweghe was trying to win her first match at the Open since she reached the semifinals in 2017; McDonald was trying to win his first match at the Open, ever.
“It was a really painful time, really super tough, I had no idea what to expect,” McDonald said of the months after his injury, and subsequent surgery. Unable to walk or drive anywhere, and living in a third-floor Orlando apartment with no elevator, he had to rely on his girlfriend’s retired father just to get around.
“So yeah, I didn’t know where I was going to be two years later.”