Wall Street Flocks to U.S. Open as Djokovic Denied Grand Slam

Weekend finals action at the U.S. Open may well have provided Wall Street with its largest reunion since the start of the pandemic.

Russia’s Daniil Medvedev ended Novak Djokovic’s unbeaten streak at majors in 2021, dominating the top seed 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 on Sunday night to clinch the 2021 U.S. Open men’s singles title. The memorable 2 hour and 16 minute contest was enjoyed by a crowd that included the titans of Wall Street, who sat alongside corporate barons and Oscar winners, all descending upon Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, New York.

Many had expected a different outcome. 

“I admire Djokovic,” General Atlantic Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Ford, said at the start of the event. “He’s going for history,” he added, referencing the Serb’s pursuit of both a record-breaking 21st major title and the calendar-year Grand Slam, a feat last achieved by Australian Rod Laver in 1969.

Another executive cheering on the heavily-favored Djokovic was Jas Khaira, a Blackstone Group Inc. senior managing director. “I’m also rooting for New York City — it’s great to see everyone here and feel the energy,” he said. Last year’s tournament was played without fans due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

Leaping to his feet alongside thousands of fans urging Djokovic on during the third set was Pershing Square Capital Management founder Bill Ackman. A keen tennis player himself, Ackman this year joined the advisory board of the Professional Tennis Players Association, an initiative co-founded by Djokovic. 

“The future of great tennis depends upon tennis being a sport where you can compete and succeed without having a trust fund,” Ackman said. “Professional tennis players receive the lowest percentage of revenue of any major professional sport — PTPA is about making sure that the players get their fair share and contribute toward continued global growth and success of the sport.”

Also taking in Sunday’s encounter between Djokovic and Medvedev was SoftBank Group Corp.’s Marcelo Claure, Paulson & Co.’s John Paulson, Coatue’s Philippe Laffont, GoldenTree’s Steven Tananbaum, New York Islanders co-owner Jonathan Ledecky, Blackstone’s David Blitzer, Providence Equity Partners co-founder Jonathan Nelson and Iconiq Capital’s Michael Anders. KKR & Co.’s Scott Nuttall was present, as was his colleague Peter Stavros, who as a youngster competed in tournaments including the Orange Bowl.

“The game was epic and uplifting!” Ida Liu, Citigroup Inc.’s global head of private banking, said of Medvedev’s heroics. Also on hand for the men’s final were Lloyd Blankfein, along with corporate giants Leonard Stern, Barry Diller, David Zaslav, Mickey Drexler and Rich Gelfond.

Kicking off the weekend, Blackstone’s President Jon Gray held court at Friday’s men’s semifinals, and was seen greeting Raymond Svider, chairman of BC Partners, at Eataly within Arthur Ashe Stadium’s coveted lower bowl. 

Eldridge Industries founder Todd Boehly, co-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Dodgers, and Thoma Bravo’s Orlando Bravo, made appearances on Friday, as did JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon. Dimon hosted clients including Starwood’s Barry Sternlicht, Johnson & Johnson’s Alex Gorsky, MSCI’s Henry Fernandez, Union Square Hospitality Group’s Danny Meyer and S&P Global’s Doug Peterson.

Fewer faces from corporate America showed up for Saturday’s highly anticipated women’s final, in which 18-year-old qualifier Emma Raducanu overcame Leylah Fernandez to become Britain’s first female Grand Slam singles champion since 1977. Still, Spark Capital’s Jeremy Philips and Santo Politi; and BNP Paribas USA CEO Jean-Yves Fillion were among the 24,000-strong crowd who celebrated the teen’s breakthrough win. 

Later that night, Fillion attended the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Legends Ball at Cipriani 42nd Street, an event that counted Alan Mnuchin, as well as Andrea and Erik Lisher, among its co-chairs.

Raducanu and Medvedev each collected $2.5 million in prize money, checks cut from the $57.5 million in total player compensation.

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