The 2012 US Open begins Monday, August 27th. Of course there is a chance of thunderstorms for both Monday and Tuesday. As of now there is also a thunderstorm threat for Saturday September 1. I'll say it now so I don't have to say it again. Instead of playing musical arena's - splitting up the Grandstand and Armstrong - the USTA should be taking a serious look at either putting a roof on Ashe or building a new center court. Gimmicks are not going to get it anymore. Yes they're spending a lot of money to affect the announced changes but it's more like putting on a ball gown after your morning work out without taking a shower.
Short of a roof hows this for innovation - covering the hard courts during a rain event. The AELTC has found a way to cover Wimbledon's grass courts cutting down on the time it takes to restart play but once again the USTA walks away whistling when the subject comes up. The time when the only way to dry the courts was a bunch of kids using pristine white towels followed by that really new invention - a Zamboni. Usually by the time the court is dry the rain has started again. I don't see why they don't use the British system where the tarp is tented and air blown over the covered court while the water drains off to the sidelines. It's not rocket science people. I don't think that will stop the men's final from being played on a Monday again this year if the weather holds true to form but we'll see.
The Men's Singles Draw
The man coming into the US Open with the most to prove is Andy Murray. Tennisheads saw at Wimbledon what an aggressive and focused Murray can do. Coach Ivan Lendl also has a lot riding on his pupil's US Open performance.
With Rafael Nadal out with injury someone had to get his usually shitty draw. It looks like that person is the above mentioned Andy Murray. He's facing a potential murderer's row this go around while the Monogram gets another cake walk. Roger Federer's soft draws are getting so ridiculous even his most rabid fans are not denying it anymore. Of course draws are random and not fixed and the reason Monogram's draws look so easy is because he's beaten everyone in sight but come on throwing Donald Young under the bus? I can hear Federer's apologists talking about his "dominating" performance agains the struggling American and I'm not talking about his online fans I'm talking about the ones in the broadcast booth.
I'm sure everyone has seen the draw already but here it is in case you haven't or want to give it a second look.
Roger Federer SUI (1) v Donald Young USA
Qualifier v. Bjorn Phau GER
Albert Ramos ESP v Robby Ginepri USA
Rui Machado POR v Fernando Verdasco ESP (25)
Mardy Fish USA (23) v Go Soeda JPN
Nikolay Davydenko RUS v Qualifier
Ivo Karlovic CRO v Qualifier
Michael Russell USA v Gilles Simon FRA (16)
Nicolas Almagro ESP (11) v Radek Stepanek CZE
Nicolas Mahut FRA v Philipp Petzschner GER
Blaz Kavcic SLO v Flavio Cipolla ITA
Jack Sock USA v Florian Mayer GER (22)
Sam Querrey USA (27) v Yen-Hsun Lu TPE
Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo ESP v Somdev Devvarman IND
Denis Istomin UZB v Jurgen Zopp EST
David Goffin BEL v Tomas Berdych CZE (6)
Andy Murray GBR (3) v Alex Bogomolov Jr. RUS
Qualifier v Ivan Dodig CRO
Thomaz Bellucci BRA v Pablo Andujar ESP
Robin Haase NED v Feliciano Lopez ESP (30)
Marcel Granollers ESP (24) v Denis Kudla USA
Lukas Lacko SVK v James Blake USA
Paul-Henri Mathieu FRA v Igor Andreev RUS
Santiago Giraldo COL v Milos Raonic CAN (15)
Marin Cilic CRO (12) v Marinko Matosevic AUS
Qualifier v Adrian Ungur ROU
Qualifier v Qualifier
Qualifier v Kei Nishikori JPN (17)
Jeremy Chardy FRA (32) v Filippo Volandri ITA
Tatsuma Ito JPN v Matthew Ebden AUS
Martin Klizan SVK v Alejandro Falla COL
Qualifier v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga FRA (5)
Janko Tipsarevic SRB (8) v Guillaume Rufin FRA
Brian Baker USA v Jan Hajek CZE
Qualifier v Qualifier
Cedrik-Marcel Stebe GER v Viktor Troicki SRB (29)
Philipp Kohlschreiber GER (19) v Michael Llodra FRA
Grigor Dimitrov BUL v Benoit Paire FRA
Mikhail Kukushkin KAZ v Jarkko Nieminen FIN
Xavier Malisse BEL v John Isner USA (9)
Richard Gasquet FRA (13)v Albert Montanes ESP
Jurgen Melzer AUT v Qualifier
Steve Johnson USA v Rajeev Ram USA
Ernests Gulbis LAT v Tommy Haas GER (21)
Mikhail Youzhny RUS (28) v Gilles Muller LUX
Tobias Kamke GER v Lleyton Hewitt AUS
Qualifier v Daniel Gimeno-Traver ESP
Kevin Anderson RSA v David Ferrer ESP (4)
Juan Martin Del Potro ARG (7) v David Nalbandian ARG
Benjamin Becker GER v Ryan Harrison USA
Lukasz Kubot POL v Leonardo Mayer ARG
Tommy Robredo ESP v Andreas Seppi ITA (26)
Andy Roddick USA (20) v Qualifier
Carlos Berlocq ARG v Bernard Tomic AUS
Edouard Roger-Vasselin FRA v Fabio Fognini ITA
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez ESP v Juan Monaco ARG (10)
Alexandr Dolgopolov UKR (14) v Jesse Levine USA
Marcos Baghdatis CYP v Qualifier
Steve Darcis BEL v Malek Jaziri TUN
Sergiy Stakhovsky UKR v Stanislas Wawrinka SUI (18)
Julien Benneteau FRA (31) v Olivier Rochus BEL
Dennis Novikov USA v Jerzy Janowicz POL
Rogerio Dutra Silva BRA v Qualifier
Paolo Lorenzi ITA v Novak Djokovic SRB (2)
I love that Argentines David Nalbandian and Juan Martin Del Potro meet in the first round don't you? How nice to have one of them eliminated early instead of staying around and wreaking havoc in terms of who gets through to the later rounds. Wonderful.
I think the USTA is going to have a lot of 'splaining to do this Open. I don't see any American man making it to the second week. Thanks to CBSSports Network US Open Qualifying was televised this past week and we got to see a lot of young American prospects especially the men. As usual US television is more focused on the men than the women so I didn't get to see young Samantha Crawford. I did get to see Madison Keys who failed to make the cut. She's got to learn to make better decisions on court and show some patience. She's 17 so there is time.
The Women's Singles Draw
Anyone can win this. The proliferation of headcases in the women's game has grown exponentially and I don't think it's going to get any better. People are talking about Serena Williams being the favorite and if appearance is any indication the way she looked on David Letterman the other night hints that she is ready both mentally and physically. I have never seen Serena so thin. Never ever. Not that she gives a shit about what I have to say but I would tell her keep the hair, leave the glamour in the hotel, tape those feet up and go to work as only you can. She seems to end up in trouble at the US Open as of late but that comes from her competitive spirit and desire to win. Let the haters hate Serena. You know that if you curse, toss a racquet or show a flash of temper you're bringing down the sport. You're not the fair haired boy Andy Roddick who can do all of the above and be called passionate. You're called something else.
As for the rest of the draw I go back to the anyone can scenario.
Victoria Azarenka BLR (1) v Alexandra Panova RUS
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova CZE v Qualifier
Su-Wei Hsieh TPE v Qualifier
Virginie Razzano FRA v Jie Zheng CHN (28)
Julia Goerges GER (18) v Qualifier
Mandy Minella LUX v Olivia Rogowska AUS
Stephanie Foretz Gacon FRA v Anna Tatishvili GEO
Sorana Cirstea ROU v Sabine Lisicki GER (16)
Na Li CHN (9) v Heather Watson GBR
Qualifier v Casey Dellacqua AUS
Qualifier v Laura Robson GBR
Victoria Duval USA v Kim Clijsters BEL (23)
Varvara Lepchenko USA (31) v Mathilde Johansson FRA
Qualifier v Julia Cohen USA
Qualifier v Qualifier
Petra Martic CRO v Samantha Stosur AUS (7)
Maria Sharapova RUS (3) v Melinda Czink HUN
Lourdes Dominguez Lino ESP v Sesil Karatantcheva KAZ
Timea Bacsinszky SUI v Mallory Burdette USA
Lucie Hradecka CZE v Anabel Medina Garrigues ESP (27)
Nadia Petrova RUS (19) v Jarmila Gajdosova AUS
Simona Halep ROU v Iveta Benesova CZE
Alexandra Cadantu ROU v Aleksandra Wozniak CAN
Melanie Oudin USA v Lucie Safarova CZE (15)
Marion Bartoli FRA (11) v Jamie Hampton USA
Romina Oprandi SUI v Andrea Petkovic GER
Kristina Mladenovic FRA v Marina Erakovic NZL
Daniela Hantuchova SVK v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova RUS (17)
Yanina Wickmayer BEL (25) v Qualifier
Pauline Parmentier FRA v Michaella Krajicek NED
Nicole Gibbs USA v Alize Cornet FRA
Polona Hercog SLO v Petra Kvitova CZE (5)
Caroline Wozniacki DEN (8) v Irina-Camelia Begu ROU
Silvia Soler-Espinosa ESP v Qualifier
Tsvetana Pironkova BUL v Camila Giorgi ITA
Ayumi Morita JPN v Monica Niculescu ROU (26)
Francesca Schiavone ITA (22) v Sloane Stephens USA
Akgul Amanmuradova UZB v Qualifier
Kimiko Date-Krumm JPN v Sofia Arvidsson SWE
Qualifier v Ana Ivanovic SRB (12)
Maria Kirilenko RUS (14) v Chanelle Scheepers RSA
Agnes Szavay HUN v Greta Arn HUN
Galina Voskoboeva KAZ v Arantxa Rus NED
Andrea Hlavackova CZE v Klara Zakopalova CZE (24)
Shuai Peng CHN (32) v Elena Vesnina RUS
Ekaterina Makarova RUS v Qualifier
Mirjana Lucic CRO v Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez ESP
Coco Vandeweghe USA v Serena Williams USA (4)
Angelique Kerber GER (6) v Anne Keothavong GBR
Bethanie Mattek-Sands USA v Venus Williams USA
Qualifier v Timea Babos HUN
Olga Govortsova BLR v Tamira Paszek AUT (29)
Christina McHale USA (21) v Kiki Bertens NED
Qualifier v Irina Falconi USA
Vera Dushevina RUS v Qualifier
Garbine Muguruza ESP v Sara Errani ITA (10)
Dominika Cibulkova SVK (13) v Johanna Larsson SWE
Bojana Jovanovski SRB v Mona Barthel GER
Vania King USA v Yaroslava Shvedova KAZ
Urszula Radwanska POL v Roberta Vinci ITA (20)
Jelena Jankovic SRB (30) v Kateryna Bondarenko UKR
Qualifier v Shahar Peer ISR
Ksenia Pervak KAZ v Carla Suarez Navarro ESP
Nina Bratchikova RUS v Agnieszka Radwanska POL (2)
Commentator Rennae Stubbs said that the top of the draw is tough and that whoever comes out of the top half will have been through hell while the bottom half is the softer of the two.
Of course the random draw sets up a potential second round meeting between Angelique Kerber and Venus Williams. Venus has been playing very well of late showing the ability to compete physically. We all know that Kerber is the latest favorite of US tennis commentators. Do I think that some would be happy to see Venus go out early? Yes I do.
And isn't it cute that Vania King will go up against her doubles partner Yaroslava Shvedova?
Meanwhile Petra "I need a bra" Kvitova just expended a ton of energy defeating Maria Kirilenko in New Haven. Petra has to play Monday. She's the biggest threat to Maria Sharapova in that section and you have to wonder about the amount of rest she'll have coming in. If she goes down early Pova should have no problems in her section of the draw.
The thing that amazes me is that so many women are still ranked so high. Jelena Jankovic and Francesca Schiavone immediately come to mind but my jaw dropped when Stubbs pointed out that Kirilenko, who hasn't won a tournament all year, is pushing into top ten range. To be honest the ATP isn't much better. There's the top four or five and everyone else. I mean Tommy Haas had a great European swing and is coming into the Open rested and ready to do some damage.
I'm not sure I'm going to make it out to the Open this year. I usually go during the first week and with so much rain around I might try and get out there Wednesday or Thursday.
Equal Pay For Equal Work
The above phrase was the mantra of the women's movement back in the day. It now seems to be the mantra of the ATP and not in the way it was meant when the phrase was first coined.
Several ATP players have spoken out about women getting the same pay scale as the men when they play shorter matches and have less drawing power.
The difference in approach to their product between the ATP and the WTA has been a frequent subject of this blog. The ATP sells it's tour and it's players. There seem to be marketing strategies for geographic areas, a world wide audience, and fan groups which can be multi national in the sense that it's not only Spaniards who like David Ferrer's game.
The WTA has focused on selling a look not it's tour. This goes back to Anna Kournikova, the original long haired blonde. In my opinion this approach is what destroyed her tennis career. Let's look at today's tour. The WTA acknowledges that Serena is great but boy that Sharapova is really beautiful isn't she? And she's mentally strong. And she fights hard. And she's got her own candy. Serena is all of the above (minus the candy line)but Serena's passion is interpreted as something sinister.
And hey what about Angelique Kerber? She's blonde. She has a nice game and hey, she's blonde. Andrea Petkovic never got the kind of hype that's poised to get behind Kerber.
The only blonde who doesn't have the hype beast behind her is Victoria Azarenka. She gets lousy court assignments and is pretty much ignored until the second week of tournaments when they can't avoid her. I'm not sure who she offended but she is the only exception to the blonde rule of the WTA.
As a result of the different marketing approaches when given a choice between a women's match and a men's match fans head for the ATP match. This happens almost all the time. Even if a women's match is featured on a Slam center court unless it's followed by a men's match the stands are pretty empty. This is what the men are griping about and why they feel its unfair that women make the same amount of money as the men. I'm not saying its right but it is what it is. You pay more for a Louis Vuitton bag than you do for a generic no name brand for a reason. Right now the WTA is a generic no name brand.
This is going to change. Tennis is a sport that is always in flux. New players blast their way up the rankings all the time and more often than not come out of the blue for casual fans. Some have called this the Golden Age of the mens tour and say it will start to look more like the WTA going forward. That may be but I'm willing to bet that even when that time comes unless the marketing approach changes fans will still vote with their feet for an ATP match over a WTA match.