Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Commentary US Open 8/26/08 Day 2

by Savannah

I was home so I got to watch and listen to the USA network coverage. More on the talking heads later.

As I said in a little Day 2 preview the match of the day session was the one between Tommy Haas and Richard Gasquet. For four sets it was. Gasquet seemed interested in the match and played Haas really close with the two splitting the first four sets between them. By the fifth set Gasquet seemed to decide he wanted to be elsewhere and Haas ran away with the set 6-2. Tennisheads get on
Donald Young about not living up to the hype but maybe it's time to have that discussion about Richard? I mean he's been through like six coaches already - JMac reeled off their names yesterday - and nothing seems to stick. JMac also said Richard's father is telling anyone who will listen that they need to help motivate his son. Okay M. Gasquet. It just seems that when the pressure is on - who can forget his behavior during Davis Cup versus the United States - Richard doesn't respond well. Is it because he's been touted as the future of French tennis since he was nine? All I know is that a lot of people were calling Richard a spoiled, pampered brat, someone who has been coddled by parents and the French Federation right after the DC debacle. And these were people in France.

Donald is 19. Richard is 22. French players seem to mature later so at this point we'll just have to wait and see if the young man with the beautiful shots will get his act together.

I wish I could tell you more about the actual play of Haas and Gasquet but USA switched to coverage on Ashe where Ana Ivanovic, who romped to a 6-1 first set over Vera Dushevina suddenly seemed to go on walkabout and lost the second set to Ms Dushevina 4-6. Someone in the booth said that the top WTA seed had never gone out in the first round at Flushing Meadows. The fact that the statement was made shows the level of play that Ana had sunk to in that second set.

There was a long discussion of Ana's thumb injury - it wasn't wrapped - and the fact that coming into the Open she had only been able to practice about an hour and a half each day. Tracy Austin said that most players practice twice a day coming into a Slam, and that the practices can be lengthy. The commentators also mentioned that Ana's camp did not tell her that she would become number one until after the fact and said that she has major confidence issues.

Be that as it may her play yesterday in the third set was tentative to say the least. I guess Ms Dushevina got more nervous than Ana because she began to play tight, well, tighter than Ana. The one sign of life Vera showed was when Mariana Alves, who else, made a poor call making Vera have to play out a game she'd already won. I still don't get how Alves is still chairing matches but that's a post for another day. After that Vera handed the third set to Ana who fist pumped as if she'd just won the French again. The commentators went on for a few minutes about how pretty Ana is and how lovely her smile is as if that means she should be number one. I have this quaint idea about the number one player being the best player on the tour. Silly me right? Funny how Richard with his confidence issues (I'm being nice here) is ranked #12 while Ana sits on top of the WTA heap. It's going to be very interesting to see how things shake out on the concrete in Queens for the women.

No one expected Vince Spadea to beat Marat Safin unless Marat decided he didn't care. When Marat lost the first set I wondered if he'd steady the ship and win in four. Ever since little sis has decided she wants to win we haven't seen much of the now patented emotional, mind gone blank not accountable Marat on court. He's been playing pretty well and keeping his mind focused on the match understanding and accepting that shitty calls go with the territory.

But yesterday a lines person called a foot fault on him while he reportedly still had a couple of balls in his hand. The obscure ruling that Chief Umpire Brian Early cited boiled down to this: If it even looks like you're going to serve and your foot crosses that little line on the baseline and you don't serve you've foot faulted. All well and good except I don't think too many people put two balls in play. Some fact checker found that the same call had been made against Nadia Petrova a couple of years ago. Nadia, who is not a known racquet thrower, went ballistic. I don't have to tell you what Marat did do I?

With the microphones on we got treated to cursing in English, Spanish and Russian. Marat, who speaks fluent Spanish, got into it with Carlos Bernardes who backed his team member. Marat then stalked off the court but was persuaded to come back. The cursing started up again. One of the talking heads apologized but no attempt was made to turn off the microphones. Fun and games. The good part was that Marat channeled his anger and went on to win the match in five sets 2-6, 6-2 6-3 4-6 6-4. Michael Barkan, who does the on court post match interviews for USA, was going to wave a rule book in Marat's face. Marat stuck to his guns saying he was right and Barkan rightly let him have his say. When every fan in the place cheered for Marat when he spoke I guess they decided to put the rule book away. Bernardes is a good chair unlike Alves and did the right thing by backing his person especially since the rule apparently exists. Whatever. It was good to see Marat the flame thrower and Marat the good could be great tennis player coexist within the same time frame.

The final match on Ashe was Serena against Kateryna Bondarenko. Serena won. Not much else to say. K-Bond made it closer in the second set but there was never any doubt.

I have a confession to make. I barely watched last night's matches. Venus was playing Sam Stosur who had a snowball's chance in hell of winning against Venus. Once you're on either Venus or Serena's radar you're toast. Venus did look nice by the way.

The USTA broke their Americans only rule for the night matches so far by showcasing Roger Federer against Maximo Gonzalez. Fernando Gonzalez played during the day. Maximo tried his best and for that he gets some credit but it was Maximo's first US Open appearance. On the huge center court. The scoreline, 6-3, 6-0, 6-3, speaks for itself.

End Notes

There were a couple of surprises away from Ashe, Armstrong and the Grandstand, the three main courts. Ryler de Heart, ranked number 261 for the United States, defeated Olivier Rochus in five sets, 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. The last couple of years have not been good for Olivier.

Ivo Minar
Nicolas Kiefer retired against Ivo Minar 4-6 6-1 6-4 4-1 RET. Not sure what the the reason was. Speculation is that it was a shoulder problem.

Anna-Lena Groenefeld
Anna-Lena Groenefeld showed Daniela Hantuchova to the exit defeating her 6-4 6-2. Anna-Lena is trying to play her way back into the conversation. She still has some fitness issues to deal with but from what I gather she played Dani very well.

Alona Bondarenko defeated American wild card Jamea Jackson 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. Jackson was coming off of an injury lay off.

Amelie Mauresmo defeated her country woman Nathalie Dechy in three sets 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

About the commentators. A lot of people like Jim Courier. I think when he talks about tennis he is pretty knowledgeable and gives some interesting insights. But every now and then he says something that makes you go "huh"? He said something yesterday about the style of European play versus the American style, saying that the Euro's tend to slash at the ball while Americans don't. When asked for examples he said that was just his experience and that he had nothing to back the statement up. Can't say things like that without being able to cite examples Jim.

Otherwise things aren't as bad as they could be. Ted Robinson is maybe still jet lagged and hasn't made any totally outrageous statements yet. Tracy Austin seems to have calmed herself down. Except for worshiping at the Shrine of the Siberian Bean Sídhe which I missed she's been all right too.

Jr is himself. You know what you're getting with him.

Someone, maybe Jim Macatee, just asked Courier if he saw the current number one and number two as co number ones. Courier said no. I'm not sure who Courier is paired with. When I find out I'll update this comment.

I have tickets for tonight. Lindsay and Andy Roddick are playing. I have decent seats. I hope I get to see some good tennis.


oddman said...

I love that color on Serena. Beautiful.
I do like Jim Courier's commentating, unless he's doing a Haas match. Then I get uncomfortable. I'm going to miss the theme music of USA network next year when ESPN takes over. So far, this slam has been underwhelming to watch, other than a bit of Rafa's fight with Phau. Hope it all gets better soon.

Savannah said...

There are a couple of men's matches Courier shouldn't call. Haas is one.