NYC crowds raise the roof, noise levels

The $US150 million ($A198.62 million) retractable roof for the Arthur Ashe Stadium court looked like money well spent as play went ahead as scheduled on Thursday, despite steady rain at the US Open.

But while fans stayed dry, United States Tennis Association (USTA) officials were showered with complaints about the noise inside the cavernous 23,771-seat facility that left umpires pleading for quiet and players unable to hear the ball coming off their racquets.

Andy Murray, who has played his opening two matches on the showcase court – one under an open roof, the other closed – said he had noticed a definite rise in noise levels.

“At first, we didn’t know if there was just more people come in at the change of ends, but then we quickly realised it was the rain,” said Murray, following his 6-4 6-1 6-4 win over Spain’s Marcel Granollers.

“It was tough, you couldn’t really hear the ball which makes it tricky. But we’re lucky to play under the roof; otherwise there wouldn’t be any tennis so it’s good for everyone.”

The new covering, which follows years of rain delays and postponements that often extended the year’s final grand slam to an extra day, leaves the French Open as the only slam without a retractable roof, which they hope to put in place by 2020.

New York crowds, long recognised as the rowdiest in tennis, have created a unique problem not found in Wimbledon’s more intimate setting where fans observe tennis etiquette or the Australian Open’s Rod Laver Arena, which has about half the seating capacity (14,850) as Arthur Ashe.

Some have found the pumped-up volume a serious distraction while others, such as two-time US Open champion Rafael Nadal, have described it as music to their ears.

“Was a little bit more noise than usual,” conceded fourth seed Nadal, who played part of his first round match under a closed roof.

“I didn’t feel the difference when the roof was closed and when the roof was open. You get used (to it) later.”

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