The 2023 US Open is officially underway, and some players are saying there is something in the air at Flushing Meadows — particularly in Court 17.
“The whole court smells like weed,” Alexander Zverev, the world No. 12, said after his first-round match. “Court 17 definitely smells like Snoop Dogg’s living room.”
The German star wasn’t the only one to notice. Maria Sakkari, the world’s eighth-ranked women’s tennis player, brought it up while on the court, and she was asked about it during the press conference following her loss to Rebecca Masarova. Sakkari explained the smell was not enough of a distraction to have affected the match, but she said “it was smelling quite a lot.”
Sakkari said that playing in an open-air stadium next to a park, it’s something athletes probably just need to let slide.
“Sometimes you smell food, sometimes you smell cigarettes, sometimes you smell weed,” Sakkari said. “It´s something we cannot control because we’re in an open space. There’s a park behind. People can do whatever they want.”
According to the Associated Press, the United States Tennis Association conducted an investigation to try to figure out where the smell was coming from. A spokesman reportedly said the USTA questioned officials and reviewed video of the midday match.
However, they did not find evidence of any spectators smoking marijuana in the stands, which means a likely explanation is the smell came from Corona Park, located right outside the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
The smell of marijuana is nothing new for the US Open. Last year, Nick Kyrgios — who is not competing this year because of an injury — also noticed the smell, and he wasn’t too happy about it because of his history with asthma.
“When I’m running side to side, I’m struggling to breathe,” Kyrgios said. “Probably not something I want to be breathing in in between points.”
Click here for everything you need to know about the 2023 US Open, including schedule, scores and how to watch.