Thursday, September 4, 2008

Commentary US Open Day 10 9/3/2008

by Savannah

I was out most of the afternoon so couldn't make any comment on Day 9. I will later on. Meanwhile lets talk about the Women's Championship Match that was played last night. My bad. It was the women's quarterfinal between Venus Williams and Serena Williams that was played last night on Ashe. You know it was a big deal because the A-list was in the stands last night. No guys from USA or HBO shows that are beginning their new seasons. Local station NY1 said the atmosphere was that of a final not a quarter final. Not much I can add to that.

Tennisheads often complain about the matches played between the sisters saying they are lackluster, lacking in drama and, some say, prearranged. I often thought Venus deferred to Serena in their match up due to family dynamics. I don't think that anymore since Venus seems to have adopted her younger sisters attitude and plays Serena like she would any other WTA player and that, for tennis fans, is a good thing.

The match? Serena took it from her sister but not without a fight. Both sets went to tiebreaks and in both tiebreaks Serena had to fight her way to the win. Venus was outplayed when it mattered and it is Serena who will move on to play Dinara Safina who many are predicting to make the on court final against Elena Dementieva. Just remember that matches are played on court and not in print. Jelena is just as hungry as Serena is right now. Just sayin'.

The other match last night just happened to involve the world number one against American Mardy Fish. All things being equal the men's match could've been played on Armstrong once it became clear that the last match of the day session between Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro would run into the evening. That match ended just before eight in the evening. Serena and Venus took the court close to 8:30p to warm up. The talking heads thought that Serena and Venus match would be moved to Armstrong the way Jelena Jankovic's match against Sybille Bammer was moved the previous night. Only when it looked like Venus might pull out the second set did the commentators say that maybe it would've been better to put the men's match on Armstrong. No kidding!? The USTA, determined to showcase what they thought would be a great showing by Mardy wanted that match on center court no matter what. Who cared that the next day was a work day and that most of the fans would leave after the sisters match? There was a chance that Mardy would beat Rafael Nadal who had gone to Beijing unlike Andy Roddick or Mardy and had to be tired no?

No matter how much help Mardy got off court it was not going to be enough and it wasn't. Now that that particular pipe dream is over the men's semi's are almost set. Roger Federer plays Gilles Muller of Luxembourg and Andy Roddick plays that other media darling Novak Djokovic. Novak complained that the crowd was behind Tommy Robredo in his on court interview the other day despite all his on court acting, something Tommy rightly called him on in his post match presser. Tommy said he had pain too but that it was part and parcel of the game and nothing to whine about. Good for you Tommy. Too bad Djokovic's on court antics are treated as part of his appeal and not the bull they really are.

I already touched on the Murray vs Del Potro match. All the tennis young Juan Martin has played this year finally caught up with him. Many expected this to be some sort of grudge match since there had been an on court spat between the two men earlier this year. Both men showed their respect for their sport by not taking the red meat that the press was throwing at them and played a good match. The four setter that Murray won 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 7-5 could easily have gone five. Juan Martin looked done in the fourth set although he fought valiantly. I believe Murray will come out of the Open ranked #4, something no one could've predicted at the beginning of the year.
Oh, and all that animosity?

The Rear View Mirror - Day 9

In the States baseball is called the timeless game. Since tennis ranks low on the radar screen here no one says the same thing about tennis but the analogy is valid. Novak Djokovic vs Tommy Robredo on paper should've been a three setter. Tommy is a pretty good player. His style may not set the world on fire but he's in the top 10 over the last few years. He's fallen to number 15 as the competition at the top gets more cut throat and looked to be cannon fodder for the publicity machine that is Djokovic.

Proponents of the WTA keep saying all the flux is evidence of the depth of that product. No people, the fact that number 15 in the rankings played number 3 in the rankings to within a few points of victory shows the depth of the ATP product. The final scores were 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 and the match was exciting up until the end. I've learned to ignore Djokovic's nonsense and laugh when the commentators attempt to make tennis fans think all that panting and leg gripping is for real when anyone who has watched tennis for a few years knows it's not.

The next match up was more of the same. On paper Roger Federer, world number two, should have had a cake walk over Russian opponent Igor Andreev, ranked number 23 in the world. I guess no one told Igor he was supposed to be beaten before he took the court. The second set was the crucial set in this match. Andreev should've won it but didn't and while he fought valiantly losing that set got Roger back into the match. Not that Igor played dead, he knew he'd lost the edge he would've had if he'd won the second set. Instead, in a marathon match Roger won 6-7(5) 7-6(5) 6-3 3-6 6-3.

As if these two matches weren't enough what can be called an upset did take place on Armstrong where Gilles Muller of Luxembourg took out Nikolay Davydenko 6-4 4-6 6-3 7-6(10). Nikolay, who has admitted to being distracted this year usually guts out this type of match. Instead he lost in a thrilling fourth set tiebreaker. Reports are that his name will be cleared regarding the match fixing allegations which have swirled about him. Davy is another guy whose on court presence underwhelms but who has a solid game. He did have some good wins early in the year. I'm sure he's looking to rebound.

Junior News
Asia Muhammad takes on fellow American Melanie Oudin in today's play. In another all American match up Ryan Harrison will play Rhyne Williams. Coco Vandeweghe, who took out Kristie Ahn, will play Katarzyna Piter of Poland.

For the boys top seed Yang Tsung-Hua from Taipei will play Peerakit Siributwong of Thailand. Devin Britton of the US is playing Bradley Klahn also of the United States.

Many of the juniors are also playing doubles today as well.

End Notes
The NY Times reported in yesterday's editions that the WTA head, Larry Scott, is in the running for Etienne de Villiers old job. That this would be a disaster for the men's game is putting it mildly. I don't think one person should be in charge of both tours. I don't think the European men will sit still for it. I do think the American's on the ATP board would welcome him more than JMac Sr who has been a player advocate. I wonder who Scott would pick as his Golden Child in the ATP?

Speaking of the McEnroe's John Jr's ignorance was on display last night. Teddy noted that Antoni Nadal has to be considered among the coaching greats of the sport and JMac Jr agreed. He then asked what Toni's tennis background was wondering if Toni, like Richard Williams, was self taught. I don't say that JMac should be on fan boards but that history is easy to find out for any researcher tasked with keeping the on air talent abreast of everything regarding a player. JMac Jr didn't stop there. He then asked if Mallorca is the type of island you can drive around in an hour. Again, a researcher should have been able to go on Wiki and get the basic information on that island so that JMac could state facts on the air. We did get to see Mrs JMac Jr on air in the broadcast booth. I was thrilled.(Sarcasm alert)

Isn't it ironic that two of the greatest tennis minds of the current era didn't come from the US, Britain or Australia? I'm talking about Antoni Nadal and Richard Williams. Just sayin'.

They're replaying last nights Nadal vs Fish match instead of showing the womens doubles semi final match currently being played on Ashe. They showed the entire first set and are now showing the fourth set. There were a lot of complaints about putting the doubles on first yesterday. That match ran long and pushed the entire schedule back. They do plan to show the mixed doubles final though. I could be cynical and say that they're showing the mixed doubles final because
Liezel Huber of the United States is partnered with
Jamie Murray of Great Britain but they wouldn't dis womens doubles just to show an American and a Brit playing would they? Nah.

Just thought I'd mention that USA has gotten interviews with every B lister who graced Ashe with their presence but didn't go near Anna Wintour, Denzel Washington, Kim Cattrall, Candace Bergen or Star Jones. The Donald did manage to make it onto the small screen.

I liked how Fish, when a drunken fan, shouted out his name while Rafa was getting ready to serve, stopped playing until the idiot, who was ratted out by the tennisheads still present, was escorted from the premises. Class move Mardy.


oddman said...

A very classy thing for Mardy to do. And the look in his eyes... I could have hugged Fish right then, and he was the 'enemy', lol.
I was screaming 'put the men on Armstrong' when it got to be so late and it looked like the Williams sisters might go three sets, but alas, no way in hail would they do that - ever. Thank goodness Rafa came ready to play, no matter what time, what the conditions, the crowd, nada. Someone said he looked nervous b/f his match, no, to me he looked quite focused and ready.
I'm entirely fed up with the inane chatter in the booth by JMac, Teddiebear, Dickie Doodoo, and others - it's getting worse every year. Rambling on about the Olympics and Boris Becker's experiences then, the Ryder Cup, and this 'does Uncle Toni play tennis?' stoopidity - yes, he does. He has... for a long time. Look it up, JMac... I wish they would just STFU during play - but no, they blather on right over top of the actual game being played.

Despite the tough crowd and a fabulous start by Fish, Rafa is now through and into the semi's - what an achievement! Vamos, Rafito!

Savannah said...

Oddman I refuse to go into Toni's resume. They pay people to do that for them and I for one am not giving them one stop shopping.

Rafa did not look nervous. They wanted him to be nervous.

I like Boris Becker. When those idiots asked him about his recent engagement and how it felt to be getting married again he answered them by talking tennis. They haven't asked again.

oddman said...

I like Boris too. And his thoughts about his Olympic experiences and so on were very interesting, and he tried to not say too much during play, but JMac would (of course!) just butt in again with the everlovin' flow of words.... sigh.
Did not catch the Andy-Nole match last night (curse you, TSN!) but what about that flash of rage displayed by Nole after? I thought Beercan tried to handle that whole thing not too shabbily, considering... he did try to smooth Nole's ruffled feathers.
Hee hee!

oddman said...

So, how's the weather forecast for you tomorrow? Hope it's looking good. What will happen if there's no tennis for you - will you get to come back the next day, or are you screwed for 08? I wonder what'll happen - might we see a Monday final?

Savannah said...

It's not. I have tickets for the men's semifinals. They just announced that Fed vs Djoke will go first since they see a window at 11a.

No surprise.