It's US Open time in New York, which means tennis fever has officially hit the city that never sleeps. As the final major tournament in professional tennis, the US Open always draws a healthy audience, nationally and abroad.
Maybe you've been waiting for the US Open tennis tournament since Wimbledon ended in July. Or maybe your roommate is obsessed with Roger Federer and won't let you watch anything else. Either way, it's hard to miss the excitement bubbling up around the tournament.
We've collected some easy, free and totally legal ways to watch and follow the US Open with these six social media tips.
1. Get to Know the Players
Read what the top contenders are saying about the tournament. Andy Murray tweets daily, nonchalantly dropping phrases like, "Just picked up the US Open Series trophy." Venus Williams is another avid tweeter and, if nothing else, it's entertaining to keep up with her wardrobe choices (she recently started a clothing line).
Andy Roddick, Bob Bryan, Kim Clijsters, and John Isner all have thriving Twitter feeds as well. You can find a full list of players broken into retired pros, men's tour and women's tour at Twitter Athletes.
Roger Federer is more of a Facebook guy. His Page has regular updates and videos, plus some great fan outreach. There's a reason more than four million people "Like" his page: He often responds to fan-submitted questions, for example, "I can dunk a tennis ball, but not a basketball…I am going to stick to tennis," as well as his dream championship matchups.
Rafael Nadal also prefers his Facebook Page. You might need to understand Spanish in order to read it, but you can join the 3.5 million people who "Like" it in any language. Following this >English-speaking fan on Twitter is a better way for non-Spanish speakers to keep up. Nadal fans can also check out his YouTubemoments (many of them with translation) on his dipity timeline.
YouTube has also been a big hit for tracking players. Both Murray and Federer have shown a little flair on YouTube recently. Federer starred in a video where he aims a tennis ball at a bottle sitting on top of a nervous man's head. Whether fake or not, it's pretty fun to watch.
2. Watch Free Live Streaming
If your boss is OK with it, you can watch the tournament all day long on the Internet. The official US Open site has video feeds with commentary at many of the courts. You can switch easily between courts or watch more than one court at a time. Without closing the video screen, you can also add an online fan chat and view updated stats.
ESPN3 also added selected matches to its live streaming schedule but you need to have an affiliated Internet provider in order to access the video.
3. Get Tournament Updates on Twitter
If you don't have time to watch, but still want to follow, there a number of good Twitter sources that will keep you up to speed:
@usopen: The official site's feed mainly focuses on resources. @tennis: Tennis.com's coverage of the US Open includes daily summaries and podcasts. @ESPNTennis: Get alerted to ESPN coverage of the US Open. @TennisReporters: Foxsports.com reporter Matt Cronin Tweets what he sees. @gerrynyt: The editor of The New York Times Magazine, on tennis. @patrickmcenroe: ESPN commentator Patrick McEnroe…commenting. @justingimelstob: Watch Justin Gimelstob as a commentator for the US Open on the Tennis Channel. Get to know him through his Twitter feed. @jon_wertheim: Jon Wertheim literally wrote the book on some of today's biggest tennis stars. He's pretty good with 140-character Tweets, too.
4. Download the US Open App
The US Open iPhone App is pretty magnificent. It allows you to check the scores of ongoing games, review the schedule, watch videos, listen to radio casts of matches, read player bios, and see Tweets from players. If you happen to actually be at the National Tennis Center, there's an "Around Me" augmented reality feature that helps you "see through walls" to find the nearest live matches, concessions, or next train home. You can also check in on Foursquare.
If you don't have an iPhone, sadly you're out of luck in the app department. You can, however, visit the US Open's mobile site or try alternatives like US Open2010 for Android.
5. Follow a Tennis Blog
If Roger Federer decides to make an amazing between-the-legs shot like this one, you don't want to be the only person who hasn't seen the video. Blogs are a good way to get highlights like this one and pick up some talking points from the experts. Here are a handful of favorites:
Straight Sets: The tennis blog of the New York Times. Open Source: Sports Illustrated's blog on the US Open. Women's Tennis Blog: Coverage of the women's competition. Tennis.com Blog: Tennis.com editors Sarah Unke and Stephen Tignor share their insights on ESPN's website. The New York Observer's US Open Blog: They're at the matches in New York, observing. Tennis in Depth: A romance novelist who happens to be a tennis fanatic writes this blog (but doesn't cross writing styles).
6. Pick the Winners
It's fun to watch athletes win, but it's more fun to win yourself. Take your picks on this lovely blank bracket from ESPN. Brackets from other Grand Slam tournaments are conveniently located on the same page so that you can make educated choices.
Vote for your top contenders to see how your picks compare to the rest of ESPN readers. If the satisfaction of demonstrating superior tennis knowledge isn't enough, be sure to read this betting guide before you take a gamble.