NEW YORK, NY, USA - World No.1 Naomi Osaka has long felt at home at the US Open, once calling New York "my city" after spending part of her childhood on Long Island. One of the rites of passage for every Long Islander is the commute into Manhattan - or, simply, "the city" - using any combination of trains and New York City subways.
"I went with my mom to work sometimes, because when she used to work here she worked in the city," she recalled after her first round win over Anna Blinkova. "We would take the train there, and she would always be holding my hand very tight."
"I think the subway experience here is definitely something, if I had to classify it."
With various methods of transportation available to the tournament's main draw players, the 7 subway into Flushing Meadows isn't necessarily the given it is for fans traveling to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to watch them, making it a mystery to most.
"I'm not a big fan of subways," admitted former World No.1 Karolina Pliskova on Monday. "We also have it in Czech, but I never really use. There can be strange people."
Rogers Cup champion Bianca Andreescu has only experienced it from afar.
"I actually just followed @SubwayCreatures on Instagram yesterday," she laughed after knocking out California-born Katie Volynets on Court 10. "One of my drivers told me to follow it, because we were talking about the subway, right? I saw a lot of crazy things happening there.
"Hopefully I could actually get a chance to see it with my own eyes. I don't know how that's going to go, but I think it's going to be fun."
British No.1 Johanna Konta rides the subway like a local, documenting some of her trips on Instagram before the tournament began.
"It’s actually quite easy to use," she said on Monday after outlasting Russia's Daria Kasatkina on Court 17. "It’s quicker, a lot of the times, than taking an Uber or a taxi."
Georgian qualifier Mariam Bolkvadze - who trains in London and is making her Grand Slam main draw debut - agreed.
"There are a lot of different lines and transfers on the London Underground, so here I asked, ‘Which platform do I go on?’ The guy was like, ‘There’s only one.’ You couldn’t get it wrong! I also like how the stops light up for which stop you’re on, because in London you don’t get that, either. You have to look around and check."
Like Konta and Bolkvadze, reigning WTA Finals champion Elina Svitolina has experience with both subway and tube, but would rather explore the city on foot - though boyfriend and fellow player Gael Monfils is more comfortable in a car.
"I took subway four years ago with my brother," she explained after winning over American Whitney Osuigwe. "We were staying in Brooklyn and wanted to go to Manhattan. We took a subway because there was lots of traffic. We only took it once because we almost got lost and somehow went to a different area, which wasn't really nice.
"Now most of the time we're staying in Manhattan. Everything I do is walking. Sometimes when we go for dinner, for a walk with Gael. He always wants to take Uber, but I'm not a fan of it because you're staying in traffic most of the time."
Kristina Mladenovic, who upset 2016 champion Angelique Kerber to start the fortnight, stays within walking distance of Manhattan's Theater District, allowing her and doubles partner - fellow top seed Timea Babos - to take in a performance of the Frozen musical on Broadway over the weekend.
"I’m not even sure I’ve taken the subway once. I actually prefer walking. Everything is pretty convenient and close by, and even in an Uber or taxi, it would take longer than just walking. I really enjoy the energy of the city."
Mutua Madrid Open champion Kiki Bertens split her time in the week before the tournament, cheering on countrywoman Richel Hogenkamp - who qualified for the main draw on Friday - and exploring the city through the most environmentally-friendly option.
"I haven’t been on the subway, to be honest, but what I did do was go on the Citi Bikes and rode around the city. I think that might be more of the Dutch way of exploring the city. We went from Central Park to Soho. That’s not so far, but maybe we’re more used to bikes."
For players and locals, it seems, the subway earns a mixed reception, but as far as two-time US Open champion Venus Williams is concerned, it does what it needs to do.
"I think," she said, pausing once for emphasis and later for laughter, "it works."