I spent Saturday afternoon at my sister's with family and friends. It was an enjoyable end of summer get together with good food and conversation. As a tennishead my mind did drift from time to time towards the US Open. I'm sure you'll all understand that.
I also missed the end of the men's diving competition where an Australian beat out the Chinese divers to take the gold medal. I did see the 4x400 mens and women's relays that everyone in the world had seen in real time except for those of us in the United States. Oh well. We rarely get to see track and field at all here. Maybe after these Olympics the meets will get the coverage they deserve. Constant reference was made to the World Championships in Osaka during the coverage. World Championships? Osaka? Who knew?
Speaking of deserving coverage this is the last year the USA network will cover the US Open. A pity. ESPN2 will take over in 2009. I for one am sorry that USA lost out. It was USA network that showed that late night match between Pete Sampras and Alex Corretja where Sampras emptied his guts on the court and still managed to win. I remember my then husband and I sitting riveted watching that match until it ended. If ESPN2 had the coverage we would've seen a highlight clip the next day. For USA it didn't matter if the players in a match were American or not. If the match was good we saw it. If a match went over the time limit for coverage USA simply extended it's coverage. If a court was not wired for TV someone was dispatched to bring tennisheads as much coverage as could be gotten. Late night match? No problem. I'm hoping I'm wrong and that ESPN2 will realize that tennis, like baseball, is timeless. Scheduled starting times are there as a guideline not a hard and fast rule. They have no problem covering hours long baseball or American football games. More often than not if the Little League from Podunk Nowhere is playing it's championship match tennis has to wait. Again I hope I'm wrong. Meanwhile I'll enjoy the coverage from USA the next few days. I'm going to miss it.
Regular readers know I am a clay court junkie. I get used to hard court play after awhile but nothing beats the sublime beauty of the match of wits, endurance and tennis skill that is clay court tennis. Apparently some folks in Australia are stirring the pot by hinting that the demise of Australian tennis is directly related to the demise of clay court facilities down under. So what does Tennis Australia do? Yank the offending magazines from news stands. I didn't know the Red Queen from "Alice in Wonderland" was running things tennis wise down there. Here is an excerpt from the Australian online paper The Age
(Pat)Rafter, normally loath to stir the pot, has joined Stoltenberg in questioning the direction of TA.
"There is a bunch of respected past champions willing to make a contribution to the development of elite juniors, yet currently at Tennis Australia there is only one view and one way forward," Rafter writes. "I believe it's time to hear much more from those who have been there on the tour, and know what it really takes to succeed."
McNamee said that the "fall from grace of Australia as a tennis superpower was highly attributable to the demise of clay courts".
At least the Aussies are engaged in a debate about this up to now taboo subject. I can't wait for a brave soul in the USTA to stick his or her neck out and say the exact same thing. I wonder what Darren Cahill will have to say about it?
The so called Brave New World of the ATP is set up to take power away from clay court events and shift it to hard courts just at the time when some see that the problem is the lack of clay court knowledge and discipline, again something I've been ranting and raving about for some time. It's going to be interesting to see what happens in Australian tennis going forward. I wait for the American reaction.
PMac on the practice courts coaching Andy Roddick. Haruka was out at the qualies all week and says that every other player started their warm ups and practices with their ground strokes. Yesterday she watched Andy working with Patrick and says the only thing Andy was working on was his serve. He came out swinging for the rafters with no other prep. She says he did do a few minutes working on his ground strokes before playing a game but the time allotment was very different from the other players. It could be that he worked on the other parts of his game elsewhere of course but it struck her as odd.
If you live in the NYC area and can drive or take public transportation to the Billie Jean King center you miss a golden opportunity to see all of the world's players warming up for the US Open if you don't. You also get to see the Qualifying Tournament which is FREE people.
Haruka was also a volunteer at Arthur Ashe Kid's Day and said it's so much more than what you see on television. The players who are not participating in the festivities are wandering the grounds. She was standing on the grounds when Marat Safin and Gael Monfils walked by deep in conversation yesterday. And yes, Marat is every bit as hot in person as he appears to be on television. Just sayin'. Meanwhile here are some still pics from the event yesterday.
The party scene continued. Roger and Serena seem to have enjoyed themselves once again. Here are pics from the Wilson Party they attended. Oh, and that Djokovic guy was there too.
Serena dear please wear the rest of your dress the next time.
The Order of Play for Monday will be out later today.