NEW YORK -- Many things differentiate the US Open from Wimbledon, but one of the most noticeable is when you're sitting in the grandstand at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center listening to the tunes DJ Mode is blaring over the loudspeaker.
That's right, the US Open has a DJ standing behind a turntable during tennis matches, mixing songs he will play between sets. By comparison, the All England Lawn and Tennis Club has armed forces members serving as stewards who, at best, might allow you to stretch quietly between sets.
"Fans are here to watch world-class tennis and athletes, but this is an added value when you come to a live sporting event," said Adam Merced, who as DJ Mode has served as the music director for NYCFC games at Yankee Stadium since 2015. "Hopefully I can make it a little more enjoyable."
Between games and certain sets, Merced will get about 60 to 90 seconds to play music that he has prepared. Between matches, he has 15 minutes to keep the crowd engaged with songs ranging from Justin Timberlake's "Let the Groove Get In" to Bruno Mars' "Treasure."
"It's different than other sports in terms of match-play and the amount of music that you get to play," said Merced, who was the associate music director at Madison Square Garden from 2011 to 2014, working Knicks, Rangers and Liberty games. "But you do have these opportunities between the sets to hype up the crowd and get them going. The music is always upbeat. The goal is to get them dancing."
Merced has worked the US Open the past two years and said that Juan Martin del Potro's comeback win over Dominic Thiem earlier this week was one of the best events he has ever worked.
"It was very much like a World Cup vibe in here for that match," Merced said. "When there was a lull and quiet, the fans got up and got their own chants going. When they music came on, they were dancing and had their hands in the air. There was an incredible energy in the room."
Tennis isn't necessarily known for loud music and in-game entertainment, but then again, that's what makes the US Open unique.
"It's a great atmosphere and the fans are very diverse, but they want to hear the hits, and you play what you think will get them going," Merced said. "Tennis crowds want to have a good time, too."