Professional tennis player Irina Falconi was raised in New York and learned to play tennis in Manhattan. Irina is writing a US Open blog for espnW.
So, Monday was just like any other day -- except for the fact that I was playing the first round at the 2015 US Open! How cool is that? Think about it, only 128 lucky women on the face of Earth get the privilege of saying that every year!
Playing an American is always tough because you want to see your compatriots do well, but at the end of the day, you both want it BAD. After the match (a 6-4, 6-2 win over Samantha Crawford), I was greeted by congratulations from friends all over the world -- Georgia, Australia, different parts of Europe, you name it. It feels really special to share your successes with a global fan base, and then you think, jeez, no pressure, huh?
After all the sweaty hugs and posing for pictures right after the match, it was time to recover. First, I had to consult with the US Open media manager, who kindly gave me an hour to get my world sorted out before undertaking my media obligations. This meant cooling down on the bike, stretching, grabbing a quick shower (in the awesome locker room -- see my previous post!), eating, receiving some treatment from the trainer and generally gearing up for the rest of the day.
The half-hour media session was fun -- playing Venus Williams in the next round sort of came up -- and then I went and had a leg flush in the massage room. I was feeling tired and relaxed, and the early grind (see my first post!) was around the corner, so I hit the hay early.
So, big match tonight. Almost like a dream, some would say. Just coming to New York City is a big deal. Going and watching the US Open is a spectacle. Playing in the US Open is a privilege. But playing on Arthur Ashe? Against a former champion? That's what you call a DREAM and an HONOR.
Yes, I am truly honored to be writing my fans right before playing on the biggest stage in tennis. Now, for those of you who have followed my career, you may recall my third-round appearance in 2011, when I played a day match on Ashe in the second round against a top-20 player (Dominika Cibulkova) and somehow got the victory. That moment on Ashe was probably the coolest experience of my life, not just my career.
But, that was the day session on Ashe, which is just not the same as an "Ashe Night Match!" Just saying the phrase gives me goose bumps! Tonight is going to be great -- I get to play one of the game's greatest champions on the biggest stage -- what a freaking deal! The excitement, anticipation, anxiety and nerves -- there will be a lot to deal with before a ball is even struck. You might think as a player you eventually become immune to these things, but you don't.
And you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to smile. And have fun. Because it truly is an honor and a privilege to be in this position. Simply put, I'm humbled and excited to be part of a showcase in front of millions of tennis fans!
Lots and lots of love and smiles! XO.