America's professional tennis players may no longer be dominating the game, but the U.S. Open in Flushing, New York -- the fourth and final Grand Slam championship tournament of the year -- is alive and well and playing to full crowds. Once again, corporate sponsorship is up and at a new high. JPMorgan Chase, IBM, Continental Airlines, Tiffany and other big brands are there as usual.
The tournament, which runs from Aug. 27-Sept. 9, will an international showcase more than ever. The U.S. once dominated the men's competition, but this year only two players -- Andy Roddick and James Blake -- are seeded. Last year's winner and world No. 1, Roger Federer, is the top seed and a clear favorite to win.
On the women's side, it is a very competitive field. Venus Williams, returns home after a surprise victory in Wimbledon, where she beat rising Serbian star Ana Ivanovic. Anna Sharapova of Russia will try to repeat her winning performance of last year. No.1 seed Justin Henin of Belgium and eighth seed Serena Williams, who won the Australian Open in 2007, will also be looking to take the prize.
Ana Ivanovic Interview
Ivanovic is seeded fifth and comes into the tournament as a rising star and something of a poster girl. Her athletic ability and good looks has made her a sports marketing executive's dream. Ivanovic, 19, has already notched sponsorship deals with Adidas,Wilson and others. CNBC's Darren Rovell spoke with Ivanovic before the tournament started.
Tennis Courts, Food Court
Much like the athletic competition, food at the Open is an international experience. Levy Restaurants, a subsidiary of the U.K.'s Compass Group, has the exclusive contract to cater the event, from the luxury suites to the row of food stands. Some 500,000 people will attend the Open over the 14-day tournament; that's a lot of mouths to feed. Darren Rovell talks to Levy CEO Andy Lansing about the logistics and economics of the business.
Staying In The Game
One ofthe Open's sponsors, American Express, has come up with a fun idea to help fans -- and card members -- keep track of the all matches, especially in the early days of the tournament when almost all the courts are in use at one time.
A TV-like device -- made by a San Diego company -- allows fans to watch up to six live games at a time as well as the one right in front of them. All you need is a hefty security deposit to rent the device for the day.
"It probably will change the game, " reports Rovell.