Thursday, September 10, 2009

US Open Day 10 Impressions

by Savannah

It ended as it had to. The stage was huge, the hype was out of control, and the junior who had been overlooked for so long played her age and experience. Melanie Oudin never really relaxed last night. With so many people talking at her, including Fed Cup Captain Mary Jo Fernandez about what to do against Caroline Wozniacki it seems as if the voice of her coach got drowned out.
He said as much in his brief talk with Pam Shriver.
What happens now? Will she continue to play juniors with occasional forays onto the main tour or will her team encourage her stick to the main tour. As we saw last night she is really not ready to play the big dogs. She needs to work on her game if she's going to compete with the top seeds. It would be nice if she continues to do what she's been doing but the hypebeast is merciless and needs to be fed. Let's see what happens to young Ms Oudin over the next year. Oh, and look out for the Russian Fed Cup team. You, Melanie, are on their radar.

As for Caroline Wozniacki she played a beautifully focused match. She did not let the moment get to her. She was the seed and she played like it. Anyone who has raised children knows the two years from seventeen to nineteen are crucial for emotional and physical growth. Caroline has been playing the main tour for some time now. She's had her share of spectacular failures and glorious wins. She won the Pilot Pen tournament, the warm up for the US Open after taking some much needed time off. There was never a doubt as to who would win the match, all the quips about starting the match in the second set aside.

Caroline will face Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium in her semi final match. I'd never seen Wickmayer play before and unfortunately all I knew about her was from an incident earlier this year where she had a spectacular meltdown and threw a ball that hit a lines person causing the person to have to go to the hospital. I had no idea how she would play Kateryna Bondarenko who is also a fiery character.

The match was not bad. I've seen worse played by higher ranked players. The major disappointment was K-Bond who showed none of the fire that got her a love and love victory in the prior round. She was playing cautiously and never let herself relax enough to get into the match. She picked up a little in the second set but it wasn't enough. Wickmayer flared up but quickly calmed down and stifled any hope Kateryna had of forcing a third set. Yanina showed sound fundamentals and a good tennis brain. Her match against Caroline will test her new found calm, and her skills.

Hype, the US Open, and Privilege

It was the above mentioned Pam Shriver who got booed last night but long before that bizarre on court interview with the loser of the match while the winner stood by the people who run the tournament showed the worst judgement of the event so far.

Anyone who goes to the night session knows that if the day session on Ashe runs long there can be a substantial wait while the cavernous stadium is cleaned - believe me it needs to be cleaned - and prepared for the evening.

Anyone who has been to a tennis match knows that once play starts fans are allowed in only at changeovers. With last nights highly anticipated women's match the lower tier seats were going to be full early because people wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

If normal protocol had been followed the women's match would've started about 8p Eastern time. Not bad right? I mean if push came to shove one of the matches could simply be moved to Armstrong. That's what happened the other night right?

As it turned out the cleaning people were told to scram and the women took the court about seven thirty, plus or minus fifteen minutes. The seats were empty and ESPN did show the fans still trying to enter Ashe even as the women were playing the first set. Needless to say there were delays on the first couple of changeovers until the fans were seated.

Now why would that happen? Was ESPN anxious to get tennis off the air and so pushed for the match to start no matter what or was something else at work here?

Let's get real. There was no way the women's match was going to be moved. There was absolutely no way the mens match was going to be moved. I don't think Caroline or Melanie have enough juice to dig in their heels and say "we ain't moving" but someone else playing last night did. Could it be that someone was anxious to get back to his Carlyle apartment at a "decent" hour so he could rest his sacred head on his silk monogrammed pillow cases and contemplate his glory? I don't have a clue. I just found it odd that they literally threw the women on the court the way they did. Since no one in the main stream tennis media will ask the question I just thought I would.

As for Pam Shriver's behavior I give her a pass. She is told where to go and who to talk to. She doesn't have control over her actions in and around the court. Some asshole told her to grab Melanie right after the match ended. Melanie could clearly be heard asking Pam "Right now?" in total shock. She asked Pam if she was sure more than once before the interview started. I'd love to see what would happen if they tried to interview any other player, male or female, in that situation. I don't blame Pam, I blame the idiot produceer. There are those who will say she should have just said no. She has children.

This and That

Fernando Verdasco played through pain and finished his match against Novak Djokovic yesterday afternoon. Novak will face the Monogram next.

Lots of chatter among the talking heads about the Marin Cilic vs Juan Martin del Potro match, most of it having to do with their height. They're very tall. We know that. How do their games match up guys? Does either one have that one shot or element in their game that will neutralize the other? Oh wait, they're tall. My bad.

I've been trying to figure out why all the hate towards Yanina Wickmayer. Could it be because she went to Florida to train and then went back to Belgium? I don't know. It's just bizarre. I mean people train in Florida all the time and then play for their home country.

Rumors started flying last night about Justine Henin coming back to the tour. Soon. Guess that involuntary vacation must be over soon.

It should be mentioned that the McEnroe family has always had rather close ties with Novak Djokovic. Was the other night staged? Maybe. Did Novak's people want to rehab his image with American tennis fans? Probably. Did it work? Cute is good the first couple of times. After a couple of times it gives you cavities. Oh and John, now there really is only one American left.

Reports are that none of the top Russian women will play the Kremlin Cup. With the Roadkill schedule the way it is it makes perfect sense for them not to play. Rumors are that Elena Dementieva will be added to the draw via a WC so that if she does withdraw she doesn't end up with a zero pointer. As of now I'm reading Dinara Safina, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Sharapova will also skip the event.

The WTA corrected itself regarding the number one ranking. Serena Williams has to win the Open in order to regain the top spot. Film at eleven.

End Note

There are people who don't like Andy Roddick. That is their perogative. I'm not a big fan but sometimes he shows flashes of the person he was when he first came on tour. In a startlingly frank online piece The Guardian did a pre US Open assessment of the American tennis scene. Andy's fans may read it and weep but the end of the article is what made me sit up and take notice. I have to thank tennis head "Special600" for posting this article.

Aficionados have long known about the talents of the 17-year-old Melanie Oudin, who beat the former world No1 Jelena Jankovic at Wimbledon this year, but casual observers – and there are always plenty of those in the stands at Flushing Meadows – embraced her second-round victory over the No4 seed, Elena Dementieva, early on Thursday as the second coming of Billie Jean King. Likewise, the local media heralded Oudin's progress into the third round, where she will meet Maria Sharapova, as a landmark moment for US women's tennis.

"Everyone keeps waiting for the American girl. You went through that being a boy," was the questioned posed to Roddick after his victory over Gicquel. There is one major flaw with that question and it is that no one is "waiting for the American girl", at least not if they acknowledge that in Venus and Serena Williams the host country has the two most dominant players in the women's game.

Indeed, while America's male players have floundered since Roddick's victory here in 2003, the Williams sisters have won eight grand slam titles between them. Serena currently holds three of the major trophies. It is hardly Oudin's fault that in the rush to diminish the Williams sisters her achievement has been elevated beyond its true status, but it doesn't diminish the ugliness of the sentiment.

Perhaps if the question had been "everyone keeps waiting for the 'white' American girl" there would have been no ambiguity.

As it was, Roddick, who is a close friend of Serena Williams, did not let the moment pass without kicking back.

"From what I have been looking at and reading, it doesn't seem like Venus and Serena are in any hurry to go anywhere,'' he said, with noticeable sarcasm. "Everyone is always looking for the next big thing. Well, the present, as far as the women's game goes, is pretty good. It feels like [people] will only really appreciate that once they are gone."

Don't count on it.


rabbit said...

Love the words from Andy!

Nothing about the Federer-Soderling match? I think it was the highest-quality match yet on the men's side.

Karen said...

Hey rabbit, where ya been? That was a good match last night by Soderling. He gave me a bit of a fright.

rabbit said...

Me too, Karen. But Roger kept a pretty high level of play all through the match, and he didn't buckle under the crowd pressure. Hoping for another Cincy-type semi and final :)

vw said...

I'm hoping for a Djokovic- Nadal final