“Like Snoop Dogg’s living room”: the smell of grass wafts over the notorious US Open Court


It's become a stench at the US Open: a pungent odor of marijuana that wafted across an outdoor court, clouding the concentration of one of the world's best players and leaving the impression that there's nowhere left to smell the city's unofficial smell can escape.

While the exact source of the smell remained a mystery on Tuesday, one thing was clear: Court 17, where eighth-seeded Maria Sakkari complained of an overwhelming smell of weed during her first-round loss, has become notorious among players in recent years become characteristic, unmistakable smell.

“Court 17 definitely smells like Snoop Dogg's living room,” said Alexander Zverev, the 12th-seeded man of the tournament, who won his opening game on the court on Tuesday. “Oh my god, it's everywhere. The whole yard smells of weed.”

Plagued by stories suggesting the US Open grandstands were the sporting equivalent of a phish concert in the wake of Monday's Sakkari match, the US Tennis Association conducted a sort of investigation of its own to locate the source of the odor close.

Spokesman Chris Widmaier said the USTA questioned officials and reviewed video of the midday game and found “no evidence” that anyone had smoked weed in the Court 17 stands, leading to speculation that it was just outside the gates of the small stadium Corona Park could have come from the neighboring stadium.

And maybe he's not just blowing smoke. Sakkari herself suggested just that when she complained to the referee with a 4-1 lead in the first set: “The smell, oh my god. I think he's from the park.”

After her 6-4, 6-4 loss to Rebeka Masarova, Sakkari told reporters, “Sometimes you smell food, sometimes you smell cigarettes, sometimes you smell weed. I mean, that's something we can't control because we're in an open space. Behind is a park. People can do whatever they want.”

Flushing Meadows security guard Ricardo Rojas, who worked the gate outside Court 17 on Monday, said he was taking a break in the park at the time of Sakkari's game and “it definitely smelled like weed.” However, he noted that he was in the park While the USTA enforces a strict no-smoking policy at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the park is “outside my jurisdiction.”

In New York, it is legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to three ounces of cannabis and up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis for personal use, and they may smoke or vape cannabis anywhere tobacco smoking is legal.

Adam Placzek, who attended Monday's game on Court 17 with two friends from Hartford, Connecticut, said he smelled weed but didn't see anyone in the stands for it to come from. He admits he “takes part from time to time” but would never dream of shining at the US Open.

“My boss heard about the pot story at the US Open and texted me,” Placzek said. “We told him we were there and he was like, ‘That explains the smell!'”

Other players have complained in recent years about the weed smell emanating from Court 17, a 2,500-seat arena that opened in 2011 in the far southwest corner of the complex, a short distance from the park.

Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova, who confidently won her match on Court 17 on Tuesday, told a similar story: “I actually smelled it today too. You smell it very strongly. I think it's only court 17. That court is so far away it's almost in the park. I think it's coming from the park.

Sakkari, a semifinalist at the US Open two years ago, said the smell didn't bother her while playing. Still, some fans at Flushing Meadows had little patience for the idea of ​​a top player being mentally upset by the smell of weed.

“It's New York. It's everywhere,” said fan Diane Patrizio, of Southampton, New York, as she queued to enter Court 17. “But what will you do?”

“There are so many distractions at the US Open. Focusing on one thing and letting it get you down? It just doesn't work,” she said.

Security guard Rojas said cannabis smells have become an inescapable fact of life. “You can smell it on every corner. It's part of our world now. You have to get used to it.”

So what would he say to Sakkari or any other player complaining about pot during a world-class competition?

“Try it. … It might help you relax.”

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