Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The 2010 US Open - A Look Back and A Look Forward

by Savannah

The tennis pundits, those who get paid for doing what I do for free, were proven wrong once again. Rafael Nadal came, saw, and took names at the 2010 US Open. He made it to the US Open Men's final without dropping a set, an amazing feat for a man they said didn't have the head for hard court tennis. He made it serving in the 130 mph range, something "they" said he'd never be able to do with his "limited" game. You can count the number of times his serve was broken. You need both hands but those breaks didn't come until his semi final and final matches. These are amazing stats and would be no matter who made them. That it was Rafa makes it even more pleasing from where I sit.

The reason I don't talk about men's tennis that much is because I know I'm a fan girl and I try to stay out of a lot of the debates about goats and what have you. I still don't think the argument is worth me losing a few brain cells over. I do think the stats published on the 2010 US Open site are worth a mention since the debate will take place regardless of whether or not I deem it worthy.

By Joshua Rey

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rafael Nadal completed the career Grand Slam Monday, adding the 2010 US Open championship to his five titles at the French Open, two at Wimbledon and one at the Australian Open.

He is more than two-and-a-half years younger than Roger Federer was when the Swiss accomplished the Slam sweep at the 2009 French Open.
As of Sept. 13, Nadal is 24 years, three months and 10 days old. Federer was the same exact age on Nov. 18, 2005.

By the Numbers: Nadal vs. Federer

Federer vs. Nadal at the Very Same Age

........Nadal on 9/13/10............ Federer on 11/18/05

Overall Record.... 460-98 ..............390-119

Winning Pct.............824................766
Titles..................... 42................. 33

Major Titles............ 9................... 6

Majors Played........ 26................ 27

Davis Cup Titles..... 3.....................0

Olympic Gold......... 1..................... 0

Longest Win Streak 32................. 34

Rank..................... 1........................ 1

Weeks at No. 1...... 60..................... 93

Record vs. No. 1.... 14-6................... 2-3

This should add fuel to the fire for those who like to engage in this argument. There are 4,880 points between the top two men's players. The Asian swing begins next week with the Shanghai Masters beginning October 11. It's going to be an interesting time for Men's tennis no?

I should mention Rafa's opponent in the Final, Novak Djokovic. I'm a long way from being a fan but you have to give the devil his due. When he cuts out all the bullshit and drama and simply plays tennis even I could see that he plays very well. Guile and deception are of course part of the game but the whole "I'm dying" followed by sprinting around the court like a gazelle gets boring after awhile. He played up to his #2 ranking this Open. Let's see if he continues to do that.
I'm going to be upfront and say I have never cared for Kim Clijsters as a tennis player.
She has gone from being called Cupcake Kim for the soft draws she used to get that enabled her to rack up ranking points to Saint Kim, the only woman in the history of the world who has ever given birth. And I apologize to Kim's fans but all that sweetness and light grates. She is a professional athlete. You are not a pro athlete by accident. It takes a lot of grit and a large helping of determination and ego. Again I am speaking of the professional tennis player. I don't know her well enough off the court to have an opinion of her as a woman. She seems to be well liked by her peers and that says a lot.
That said the WTA cannot be pleased by the Women's Final that was televised live in Prime Time in the United States. To say Vera Zvonareva froze is an understatement. I said it before the Final and I'll say it again. I don't understand why players, including Venus Williams and Serena Williams have so many problems with Clijsters. She is a pusher. She plays very quickly. It's easy for me to say force her to play and take away her timing I guess but when you force her to do just that she folds. Venus went on walkabout in the second set and never came back from it. In her US Open promo commercial Venus said she loves hitting the ball hard. In the semifinal she dug in her heels and did just that. Error after error ensued. As a long term Venus fan I know how stubborn and wedded to her game she is. There are times when you have to think outside the box though. At 30 that may be a difficult proposition for Venus.

I suppose I should be happy that two pushers weren't across the net from each other in the Final huh? I suppose I should also be glad that women's tennis still gets shown in prime time on a Saturday night. It's too bad the WTA is a steaming hot mess right now though.

Doubles was quite a bright spot during this years Open. Bob and Mike Bryan won the mens double competition over Rohan Bopanna and Aisam Qureshi of India and Pakistan respectively. Unless you've been living in a cave the two countries don't get along and have been at war from time to time. That the two men play together is sports diplomacy at its best. The Ambassadors from both countries attended the Final and this was truly a case of the result not being the entire story. The shawls Bob and Mike are wearing were given to them by the Pakistani ambassador for their donation towards helping victims of the devastating floods that took place in that country. It was nice to see such a nice gesture from the twins.
I'm not a big doubles fan. I don't like three ring circuses because there is too much going on at one time and I lose focus. That said the team of Yaroslava Shvedova and Vania King are a pure joy to watch. I've nicknamed them the Smiling Assassins. They play with joy and vigor and smile while cutting their opponents to pieces. Tennis Channel has started their replays and if you see nothing else see the third set they played against the team of Nadia Petrova and Liezel Huber. I don't know enough about the mechanics of doubles play to comment on what Vania and Yaroslava did. All I know is that I enjoy their tennis. From nowhere they've won two Slams in a row. Great work by both women.
blog Jack Sock
There was a lot of attention focused on the Junior Boys this year. A lot of it had to do with newly minted American player Andrea Collarini who came in unseeded but there were also other young Americans who were worth paying attention to. Among them was the eventual winner of the tournament Jack Sock from that hotbed of tennis Nebraska. I didn't get to see much junior play even though some of the matches were held on television courts. Men get a kick out of the young man's name. I think it has to do with activities that are not part of the purview of this blog. As the only American male who ended up with a trophy the pressure is on. Mention should be made of Ryan Harrison who, along with Collarini is in Colombia for the Davis Cup tie. He's also being touted as the next big thing in American tennis. Donald Young, who seems to harbor the belief that he should be mentioned in the same breath as the top American players called out Patrick McEnroe on Twitter about his not being on the US Davis Cup team. Someone must have planted that idea in his head "Inception" style. He truly can't be serious. If he has beef with PMac that should not be dealt with on Twitter. I'd rather keep track of what Fernando Verdasco, Serena Williams, and others are up to there. Wrong move Donald. Good luck with making the team now.
blog Daria Gavrilova
American Sloane Stephens had a very good US Open but it was Daria Gavrilova of Russia who won the Junior Girl's trophy. From what I've seen of her play - one YouTube video where she almost decapitated a Chinese opponent earlier this summer in Singapore leads me to believe that she's cut from the same cloth as Victoria Azarenka although Victoria hasn't, to my recollection, gone after opponents on court. I should note that Victoria is posting on Twitter again. That's a good thing. With the state of women's tennis in Russia somewhat in flux it'll be interesting to see how Daria transitions to the Main Tour. Let's hope she doesn't bring her head hunter routine with her.
The Boy's doubles crown was won by the South American team of Duilio Beretta of Peru and Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador.
The team of Anerican Sloane Stephens and Timea Babos of Hungary won the Girl's doubles competition in a walkover.

Television Coverage
Coverage in the Unites States was split between ESPN2, Tennis Channel, and CBS. Tennis Channel once again triumphs over the other two networks in terms of the quality of their coverage and commentary. ESPN2 would place second in my opinion with CBS bringing up the rear. CBS gets points for bringing both Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal into the broadcast booth to talk about their sport but Serena's commentary - no talking while a point is in play, and Rafa's despite his limited but vastly improved English, threatened to be better than that of the men and women being paid to provide fans insight into what was happening on court. It was Serena who waxed poetic about Rafa's footwork. Her comments were repeated over and over, without accreditation by the way, by the CBS/ESPN2 broadcasters. It goes to show you how much they talk to each other in the booth with very little regard for what is taking place on the court.
David Wagner, Wheelchair Quads Men's Champion
Be that as it may Tennis Channel and ESPN2 split their coverage. Tennis Channel came on at 11a and featured matches played on the Louis Armstrong and Grandstand Courts as well as the early match on Arthur Ashe Stadium. ESPN2 would start their coverage at 1p hoping to start with the featured match for that day on Ashe. Did coverage overlap? Sometimes. I tended to stick with Tennis Channel coverage supplementing it with the coverage provided online by We weren't graced with the presence of Robbie Koenig this year but Doug Adler was around online and provided nice analysis.
Esther Vergeer, Women's Wheelchair Champion
Tennis Channel also made great use of a "loung" where players could come and talk about their just completed matches in a much more relaxed environment that the set used by ESPN and CBS. Still though it was CBS that got Venus and Serena to interview each other. Serena has a future in broadcasting people.
David Wagner and Nicholas Taylor Men's Quad Doubles Champions
Overall I'd say that the coverge, what we got to see, was great this year. You got to see players not often seen in the United States and anytime that happens it's a plus. There was the inevitable cheerleading but you got it less on Tennis Channel. As long as ESPN2 and CBS continue to throw money at those guilty of sloppy commentary they'll have no reason to change. Did I mention Justin Gimelstob and Tracy Austin? No? Good. I haven't lost my sanity.
Esther Vergeer and Sharon Walraven Women's Wheelchair Doubles Champions
The Future of American Tennis
I know, I know. My eyes glazed over just typing the heading. I really think that the American tennis establishment saw it's worst nightmare come true.
If you remember one of the first things I blogged about was why the playing surface of choice in the States went from clay to hard court as well as the "reasoning" behind it. The sentiment was that tennis by countries outside of the Axis, Great Britain, Australia and the United States should not be allowed to grow and possibly overshadow the tennis played in the United States. If you remember there was a time that Americans could play a decent clay court game. The change to hard courts in the States was followed by the rise of the tennis factories in California and Florida. A new generation of players grew up unable to think their way through a match. They were taught all about ball placement but not about developing and constructing shots. They were taught that if you hit the ball hard and lost the point hit the ball harder the next point. We're paying the price for that now when there was only one American in the semi finals and her name was Venus Williams.
Maikel Scheffers and Ronald Vink Men's Wheelchair Champions
Has Andy Roddick tired of the mental strain of being the top American? When he fell out of the top ten rankings earlier this summer it was noteworthy because that marked the first time in a long time that no American was ranked in the top ten. Will Sam Querrey ever be more than a top twenty player? Will Mardy Fish? John Isner? Will the Ryan Harrison's, Jack Sock's and Andrea Collarini's of the world have the cojones and mental strength to make it past the Europeans who dominate the top twenty in men's rankings? Will someone like Blake Strode be able to make a name for himself in the upper echelons of tennis?
Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan Mixed Doubles Champions
Serena Williams and Venus Williams are still at the top of the women's game but many fans went into spasms thinking that Caroline Wozniacki might join the ranks of such notables as Jelena Jankovic and Dinara Safina as WTA number one. It could still happen since we don't know how Serena's injury will affect her level of play on her return. She's taken the boot off now but with the type of damage she sustained it's going to take awhile for her to recover.
I guess the United States can take comfort in the fact that unlike Great Britain or Australia we do have players ranked in the top thirty. I think the fear is that like Great Britain we can be rebuilding for years to come.
I give Patrick McEnroe credit for recognizing the need for up and coming players to be taught on clay. He is fighting an uphill battle but one I think he has to win if tennis in the United States is to regain it's ascendancy. He also has to make sure that the talent search reaches beyond the country club and goes out into Appalachia and middle class suburbs as well as urban areas to find kids who will have the spirit and talent needed to succeed in professional tennis. The time is past when so called elite players can say that it's no big deal if they lose because they can go home and drive their mother's Porsche. It's time to end the Blonde Ambition recruiting tactics on the women's side and develop players who may not be able to make the cover of Vogue but who want to play and win tennis matches. Can it be done? Sure. Just remember that as the saying goes Rome wasn't built in a day.

NOTE: Shingo Kunieda of Japan won the Men's Wheelchair singles trophy in a walkover.

End Note
This is the first year in many that I haven't made it out to Queens for at least one day. Did I miss it? Hell yeah. I usually go during the first week and splurge for court side seats so that I can see my favorites up close and personal. The highlight was last year when my daughter and I sat about three rows behind Richard Williams and his wife and when we were the same number of rows behind the Nadal family the year before that.
It's a shame that real fans can't enjoy the tennis up close and personal. Instead, to paraphrase Mozzie from "White Collar" the male and female suits get the best seats and real fans are only allowed to come court side if a match runs late.
That said the intimacy of the Grandstand Court came through perfectly on television. Louis Armstrong Stadium, the former center court, turned out to be not as windy as Ashe is. Despite the wind and the rain it's not likely that the USTA, an organization that makes ground breaking decisions at glacial speed, will make plans to cover Ashe. Will they build a new center court? Who knows? They keep crying that they have no money. Here's a novel thought. All those corporate fannies sitting court side work for spme of the largest companies in the world. They seem to be prospering. Here's two words for the USTA. Fund raising. How is it the hide bound Brits and the party hearty Aussies have managed to beat both France and the US in ensuring that their majors get played in conditions that show the best of the sport? The US Open is the only sporting event held in New York City that doesn't rely on subsidies from the City. It pays for itself. Let's hope that sometime soon we see construction out at Corona Park that will make sure that fans don't faint in the heat or players get blown off court.

Personally I can't wait until next year.


Yolita said...

I appreciate the effort you made to be fair to Novak Djokovic. I could tell by reading it how hard it was.

Maybe after yesterday's post you realised you were in a minority of 1, Novak having gained the respect of even the most recalcitrant critics after his performance during the last 2 weeks.

I enjoyed this summaru very much.

lynney62 said...

Great summary of a wonderful 2 weeks, Savannah! I can't wait til next year either!

Anonymous said...

The stats from the US Open site were typed wrong. Federer has 16 major titles not 6.

Sunny-Sogn's wife

Savannah said...

I believe that the numbers from the US Open site are from when Federer was the same age as Rafa not their present stats.


Wayne said...

How is it the hide bound Brits and the party hearty Aussies have managed to beat both France and the US in ensuring that their majors get played in conditions that show the best of the sport? Did you meant for that to sound as condescending as it did? It was great watching the trophy ceremonies over the weekend and hearing that the U.S. open is the best tournament in the world when the debacles of the past 3 years shows otherwise. Rod Laver Arena was opened in 1988 and Hisense Arena came online in 2001, giving us not 1 but 2 show courts with roofs. Yeah don't know how we managed that.

Say all you want about Kim Clijsters but she has shown the world that, unlike Serena, it's possible to be a great champion of the game without being arrogant and so dismissive of her opponents when she loses. As you said, there is a reason is a reason why she is so well liked.

Ugh Tracy Austin. I'm still trying to figure out why Channel 7 insist on flying her down here every year to cover the Australian Open. It's bad enough they feel we must have an American voice telling us what is going on but if I have to listen to the same backstory about a player a million times through the match I'll snap. She has got to be the most vanilla women in the world.

Savannah said...

Sorry if I offended Wayne. Unfortunately the image of Australia here in the states is that of a country where everyone walks around with an open beer in one hand and talking about putting some shrimp on the barbie. Blame the ad agencies I suppose.

Could you keep Tracy Austin? Please? I'm sure her family would miss her but those of us forced to listen to her inanities during a broadcast would have a sigh of relief.

Talking about repeating the same stories over and over did you know Mardy Fish lost 30 pounds?

Helen W said...

AFAIK, this is the only blog anywhere on the Internet that showcases all the winners, including doubles & wheelchair athletes. Thank you, once again, for your complete love of our sport.

TennisAce said...

Thanks very much for the write up Savannah. One thing that I would love if fans of tennis could do is for just one minute put away the rhetoric and just appreciate what a wonderful time this is for those who are fans of men's tennis. I am a fan of women's tennis myself and a fan of 2 players on the ATP Tour, so if those guys are not playing, I really do not watch.

That being said, the level of vitriol that I have seen being spewed on the internet and by some bloggers just makes me want to crawl back into my hole.

One wonders why people feel the need to compare the careers of 2 men who have brought so much exposure to the game of tennis. There are no comparisons that can be made between Federer and Nadal. They are 2 completely different players and to compare their accomplishments by looking at age does a disservice to one and makes him seem as if he has not accomplished much in his life.

If we are going to look at a player's career and then compare it with a view to denigrating it just to elevate our faves. In the midst of all of this pointing fingers and saying I told you so, someone's prophetic words seemed to have slipped by everyone. In the words of Roger Federer after defeating Nadal at the 2007 Wimbledon "I better try and win as many of these as I can before he starts winning them". Many people thought it was just nice words being said but clearly the man whose career is being ground to dust saw something that many of the so-called experts did not see, but Federer will never get credit for saying this.

Anyway, it is mostly the American and British media who are seeking to denigrate Federer's achievements. After all it is due to Federer that no American or British man has been able to win a major for the last 150,000 years.

Savannah said...

Thank you Helen. You have to really hunt for some of the pictures especially the juniors and wheelchair players.

The Daily said...

I believe it was ESPN2 that had Serena in the booth, ESPN2 that had Rafa in the booth, and ESPN2 that had Serena interview Venus. CBS wasn't broadcasting any of those sessions.