Match Recap from Announcer Andy Taylor, Voice of the US Open
Victoria Azarenka: First US Open Semifinal since 2013
Tonight, Victoria Azarenka earned her first Grand Slam Quarterfinal victory in seven years. Her last Major Semifinal appearance happened in 2013, right here in New York. That year, she defeated Flavia Pennetta, then fell to Serena Williams in the Championship match. Serena and Vika were Champion and Finalist in 2012, as well.
So how fitting is it that tomorrow night, Azarenka and the Greatest of All Time will meet again here in Arthur Ashe Stadium. A rivalry reborn. 6-time US Open Champion versus the 2-time Finalist who has yet to lose a match in New York’s “Tennis Bubble.”
At the Western & Southern Open, Vika won 5 matches en route to the title. Notch 5 more with her return to the US Open Semifinals. Winning breeds confidence. Confidence fuels winning. And so on.
Tomorrow night, if Azarenka can deploy the same level of intensity and tactics displayed tonight, her 24th career meeting with Serena will become an instant classic. (Serena has 18 victories to Vika’s 4). Elise Mertens had no answers. The aggressor from ball-up, Azarenka never allowed Mertens to establish rhythm. She punished returns and ended points quickly, avoiding long rallies where Mertens could use Vika’s pace against her. Superior game plan. Exquisite execution.
Head to Head: First meeting between these two players
Mertens and Azarenka squared-off last year in the 2019 US Open Doubles Final – where Elise and partner Aryna Sabalenka captured their first Grand Slam title. Azarenka and partner Ashleigh Barty also fell to Mertens and Sabalenka in last year’s Miami Semifinals.
Victoria Azarenka -27- (BLR) | Quarterfinal Announcer Introduction
Undefeated here in New York’s “Tennis Bubble,” she captured her 21st Singles title at the Western & Southern Open – and tonight, competes in her 5th US Open Quarterfinal. From Belarus, 2-time US Open Finalist Victoria Azarenka.
- QF — W |  Elise Mertens -18- (BEL) | Score: 6-1, 6-0
- R4 — W |  Karolina Muchova -26- (CZE) | Score: 5-7, 6-1, 6-4
- R3 — W | Iga Swiatek -53- (POL) | Score: 6-4, 6-2
- R2 — W |  Aryna Sabalenka -11- (BLR) | Score: 6-1, 6-3
- R1 — W |  Barbara Haas -139- (AUT) | Score: 6-1, 6-2
 Elise Mertens -18- (BEL) | Quarterfinal Announcer Introduction
Last year’s US Open Doubles Champion — On Monday night, she earned her 7th career top-10 victory – defeating World #4 and Australian Open Champ Sofia Kenin to reach her 2nd consecutive US Open Singles Quarterfinal. From Belgium – Elise Mertens.
- QF — L | Victoria Azarenka -27- (BLR) | Score: 1-6, 0-6
- R4 — W |  Sofia Kenin -04- (USA) | Score: 6-3, 6-3 | RECAP
- R3 — W | Caty McNally -41- (USA) | Score: 7-5, 6-1
- R2 — W | Sara Sorribes Tormo -82- (ESP) | Score: 6-3, 7-5
- R1 — W | Laura Siegemund -64- (GER) | Score: 6-2, 6-2
A New Reality | 2020 US Open Tennis Championships
In late February and early March, announcer Andy Taylor compèred two of the final professional tennis events before the global coronavirus pandemic put the skids on the 2020 season. In Doha, he hosted Aryna Sabalenka’s relentless run to the Qatar Total Open title. Then in Honolulu, he emceed Team USA’s Davis Cup Qualifier victory over Uzbekistan. Including Bob and Mike Bryan’s final professional match.
As U.S. coronavirus cases continued to mount, the day following Team USA’s 4-0 victory, all professional sports came to a grinding halt. Over the next five months, as Americans stayed home and “socially distanced,” nearly 6-million contracted the illness. Tragically, over 180-thousand perished. Worldwide, COVID-19 killed over 840-thousand and sickened 25-million (at the time of this writing).
New York hosts the resumption of the 2020 tennis season
Early on, New York City was the epicenter of COVID’s outbreak. The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center became prime real estate for New York’s coordinated pandemic response. Additionally, the state used Louis Armstrong Stadium as a warehouse to pack meals for patients, front-line workers and students dependent on the city’s school lunch program.
In late July, after New York “flattened the curve,” Governor Cuomo green-lighted the USTA’s plans to resume the 2020 tennis season in Flushing. Without fans. Without qualifying. Rather, the Western & Southern Open moved from Cincinnati to the grounds of the US Open. Furthermore, the USTA implemented strict COVID-19 testing policies. It limited the number in each player’s entourage. Additionally, it created a protective “Bubble” for all tournament participants at nearby hotels and on-site.
Announcer Andy Taylor | 19th US Open Tennis Championships
After a five month pause, with the coronavirus “politicized” and still spreading unchecked through portions of the population, Andy was hesitant when asked to be a part of the sport’s return. However, after carefully considering the USTA’s extensive health and safety protocols, he soon realized the US Open could in fact be one of the safest environments to avoid COVID’s spread.
Masks are mandatory. For crew, testing occurs every fourth day. To ensure best broadcast quality, the USTA understood that Arthur Ashe Stadium’s announcer would need to work without a mask. Therefore, they isolated Andy in his own booth. Thus, keeping production team members free from aerosols emitted during player introductions.
Rather than fly, Andy drove to Flushing. He uses his own vehicle to shuttle back and forth from the hotel to the venue, which limits his exposure to others. Additionally, this allowed Andy to bring his own hot plate and coffee machine, completely eliminating the need for others to bring him meals and supplies. Essentially, the Voice of the US Open is working from a bubble within “The Bubble.” Responsibly limiting contact with colleagues and players as much as humanly possible.
A new Grand Slam Global Pandemic Presentation
With the global emphasis on social distancing to avoid further outbreaks of COVID-19, the world of sport production is reinventing “the show” by harnessing new technologies that have emerged over the past decade. As always, the core goal is to meet fans where they are.
In other words, with fans exclusively watching on television – or on-the-go through mobile devices – the 2020 US Open “stadium show” is now geared toward the camera, rather than the ticket holder. This year, Andy and the stadium production team are working closely with ESPN to integrate the broadcast and stadium presentations. Instead of narrating player introductions exclusively for fans on site, intros and all aspects of the stadium show are now part of the broadcast product streamed to fans worldwide.
The true creator is necessity, who is the mother of our invention.
Jowett | English translation of Plato’s “Republic”
Live sport presentation is a brave new world. Through perseverance and bold experimentation, the US Open continues to innovate; determined to feed each tennis fan’s hunger after five months of the world’s new and humbling collective-reality.