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  Saturday, 20 July, 2002, 20:39 GMT 21:39 UK
A different ball game
Flushing Meadows - US Open
A special atmosphere at Flushing Meadows
If anyone thinks the US Open will be just like Wimbledon but on a hard court, they are in for a surprise.

There is such a contrast between the two championships it is almost an entirely different sport. Strawberries and cream it most definitely is not.

On the hallowed lawns of Centre Court, the umpire is given a round of applause when he asks someone to stop their mobile phone ringing in the middle of a rally.

Such a request on Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York would be greeted with ridicule and laughter.

"Quiet, please," is also missing from the vocabulary of officials at Flushing Meadows, simply because the request is always met with even more noise.

Close to La Guardia Airport in the New York suburb of Queen's, planes until recently used to take off right over the Flushing Meadows complex.

The smell of hotdogs wafts over the outside courts and many players, including Goran Ivanisevic and Bjorn Borg, have always said they hated playing there.

Elena Dementieva
Elena Dementieva wafts away the smell of hot dogs

Borg never won the US Open, apparently because he could not stand playing under floodlights.

One man who has felt the rough end of the New York crowd is Britain's Greg Rusedski, who was virtually mugged by the unlikely figure of Todd Martin two years ago.

Rusedski was two sets and a break of serve up in their night match when he started to get nervous. The crowd sensed that and, in typical fashion, starting hurling abuse at him.

Martin, whose knee was encased in a huge support and who had been on a drip the night before, knew what to do.

He whipped the crowd up even more, and delayed points, much to the annoyance of Rusedski. Before long he was back in the match and won in five sets.

Rusedski said afterwards: "I lost that match. Todd didn't win it. This is an awful loss. You get so few chances at the slams. To come out and lose like this is terrible."

But that is mild compared to the match between John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase in 1979.

By their own standards, it had been quite mild but after a string of contested calls and abuse, umpire Frank Hammond defaulted Nastase.

Nastase called for the referee, Mike Blanchard, who reinstated him. Cynics might suggest he had one eye on the television ratings. Blanchard dispensed with Hammond and took the chair himself.

The crowd was in pandemonium. They threw beer cans on the court and made so much noise no one could work out what was going on.

It was a full 18 minutes before some semblance of order was returned, and New Yorker McEnroe finally won.

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