| By Alla Kudryavtseva

The U.S. Open is the biggest tennis tournament in the world, and because of that, thousands upon thousands of people from all over the world flock to New York for a couple of weeks at the end of the summer. While the tennis is exciting enough, players and fans alike have an opportunity to visit the greatest city in the world. Russia's Alla Kudryavtseva, ranked 29th in the world in doubles, reached the quarterfinals of the Women's Doubles tournament, and wrote about her experience playing in the U.S. Open, as well as her time in New York City.

Every year, I come to New York City and my experience in the City gets better and better. I have been playing in the U.S. Open for more than 10 years. I believe the first time I played in New York was when I played in juniors back in 2003. That was the year Andy Roddick won the men’s event. Back then, the City seemed too big, too hectic, and too overwhelming to me. Much has changed in the 12 years since, and now it is one of my favorite stops on the tour.

This year has been absolutely amazing. Three weeks in New York were highlighted with a quarterfinals appearance in doubles at the U.S. Open, a helicopter tour over Manhattan, my first Broadway musical, a shopping trip to Fifth Avenue and countless fun dinners in New York City.

Let me start with tennis. I was able to participate in all three events of the U.S. Open this year: The Singles Draw, Doubles Draw and Mixed-Doubles Draw. In singles, I had to play three Americans in order to qualify. First was Alexa Glatch and our match was an absolute battle in extreme heat conditions, where I was able to come out on top in the third set.

The second match I had to play was against a very inspirational young tennis player, Vicky Duval. She is probably the sweetest human being I know. She has recently defeated cancer and is back on the tour. It was the worst draw possible, and if Vicky had played someone else, I would have probably come and cheered for her. The courage it takes to battle cancer and the love of the game it takes to make a comeback is inspirational. I had more match play on my side and I was able to win that match, but Vicky is definitely on her way back. Her tennis is certainly there.

The third American I played, Shelby Rogers, was able to stop me and went on to win two more matches in the main draw.

“From qualies to Ashe …” Rogers said in her final tweet from the U.S. Open and I was a little jealous, but still happy for her.

The tournament continued for me in mixed-doubles and doubles. Unfortunately, mixed-doubles didn't go so well. But in women’s doubles, after three tough matches alongside my partner, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, we made it to the quarterfinals. We lost in three sets to another great team, eventual finalists Casey Dellacqua & Yaroslava Shvedova.

Despite the tennis being over, my fun in New York City was not. As someone who is afraid of flying and of heights, I wasn't sure if a helicopter tour over Manhattan was a good idea. The last thing I wanted to do was spend 30 minutes with my eyes shut and scared for my life. However, a friend of mine insisted we had to do it, and so there I was, on Pier 9 in downtown Manhattan, waiting for my helicopter tour.

It was a blast!

The ride was smooth, the City is beautiful, the views are breathtaking, and I was able to take a lot of selfies! I truly recommend this to anyone who hasn’t done it yet. Plus, it makes for a great date!

Another absolute highlight of my trip was my visit to Broadway. I’ve never seen a musical before, and was mesmerized by the magic of “Wicked.” I ended up seeing it twice, meeting Stephen Schwartz, the exceptionally talented man who wrote the songs and music for the musical, as well as making friends with some of the actors!

They came to U.S. Open to watch our third round match and boy were they loud! I want to thank Kyle McCully, and Stavis and Cohen Financial for bringing the players to the show and introducing us to the world of Broadway. Another shout out goes to Ioana Alfonso, as she showed us the backstage area and organized the trip to U.S. Open for a large part of the cast. This “Wicked-U.S. Open” cultural exchange program has been incredibly fun.

I will skip the story “About a girl who wanted to buy half of Fifth Avenue.” It’s a boring tale similar to so many others driven by consumption and inspired by Julia Roberts’ trip to Rodeo Drive in “Pretty Woman.” Let’s just say, at the end of the day, I had four bags and I had to pay extra for baggage on the way home …

Last, but not least, I want to talk about all of the wonderful food places in New York. Beauty & Essex was a treat; such a gorgeous place and great food. A “must” stop for all Russians in New York is Marivanna. It is a great Russian restaurant in Manhattan, but I recommend you go with someone Russian, otherwise the menu can be confusing. Oh, and you've got to account for some vodka drinking (yes, it is a stereotype, but that place has really exceptional homemade fusions and no I don't get paid for advertising!). Another “must stop” for tennis players is an amazing Japanese restaurant “Nippon.” Mr. Kuraoka is a huge tennis lover, and during the U.S. Open, you can find tennis players there every day.

But this year’s winner for me was a Greek restaurant called Loi Estiatorio, located near Central Park and Essex House. Maria Loi, the restaurant’s chef, is an absolute treasure as a person and as a chef. The food is incredible. I have never had better lamb chops in my life … or moussaka … or octopus … or Greek yogurt … or anything else on the menu for that matter. And if you decide to visit that restaurant, please let her know I didn't forget her hospitality and send my love from Russia. Also, as you walk into the restaurant, look at the left wall and tell me if my racket is still hanging there!

Overall, New York is an incredible place. I wish I had three months instead of only three weeks to explore the City. There are so many places I still haven’t visited although I have been there more than 10 times. I look forward to my next trip to the Big Apple and hope I’ll get to experience even more of this incredible City. 

 

Alla Kudryavtseva

<p>Alla Kudryavtseva is a native of&nbsp;Moscow, Russia, is sponsored by inPhorm, and is currently ranked in the top 30 of the WTA Women&#39;s Doubles Rankings. At the 2015 U.S. Open, she took part in three of the main draws, Women&#39;s Singles, Mixed-Doubles and Women&#39;s Doubles.</p>