Robert Deutsch / USA TODAY Sports
After years of interminable rain delays, washed-out sessions, and Championship Sundays postponed until Monday, the 2016 US Open came armed with a new, retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The pride and joy of the United States Tennis Association cost some $ 150 million to construct, but it promised to be worth the expense, given the hassle it will inevitably save for years to come. The only issue: through nearly three full days of action at the tournament, there’d been not a drop of rain, and thus, no reason to use the roof.
That all changed during Wednesday’s marquee night match between Rafa Nadal and Andreas Seppi. With a light sprinkle coming down, organizers sprung into action, and closed the roof for the first time ever during match play.
Seppi, Nadal, I appreciate the warm up, but it looks like it’s time for the main event…
— US Open Roof (@US_Openroof) September 1, 2016
— Howard Bryant (@hbryant42) September 1, 2016
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 1, 2016
— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) September 1, 2016
Fans cheered lustily, and even captured cellphone footage of the momentous event.
Seriously… and the thing moves about 2 mph pic.twitter.com/WbNy87mVK9
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) September 1, 2016
After the roof closed in a tidy five minutes and 35 seconds, play resumed, and Nadal closed out a 6-0, 7-5, 6-1 rout of Seppi.
In the meantime, in case the significance of the occasion was lost on viewers, the USTA released a statement:
Roof history made : pic.twitter.com/gKQUMJUdBy
— Carole Bouchard (@carole_bouchard) September 1, 2016
The US Open is the third Grand Slam event to employ a roofed show court, following the lead of the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
“It’s an amazing event. I’m very happy to be the first player in history to play with the roof closed,” Nadal said in his on-court interview after the match. “The conditions are pretty similar when it is closed to when it’s open.”