Wednesday, August 28, 2013

2013 US Open Week 1

by Savannah

Day 1

The USTA needs to stop trying to make Lauren Davis happen. Watching her being dismantled by Carla Suarez-Navarro was painful to watch. Lauren, like fellow American Taylor Townsend, makes beautiful shots. What she needs to learn to do is put them together into a cohesive whole. In other words construct points, have a plan to get from A to B to C. Try to think one or two plays ahead instead of making a beautiful shot only to have it whiz by you because your opponent has positioned themselves not only to return it but to get it past you for a winner.

And it's not just the women. American men are having the same issues. They don't know how to think on court. When they are pressured you see frustration and melt downs not to mention thrown racquets or balls hit in anger. I keep thinking about the woman who was raging to no one in particular after Taylor Townsend lost her last qualifying match. She kept saying that Americans don't have the mental toughness of the Europeans. They don't.

 photo dd8ba5f3-6462-44b3-96a3-b035db59faba_zps76ccf104.jpg

Venus Williams drew Kirsten Flipkens in the first round. Unseeded and with physical issues that can render her ineffective on court no matter how strongly she wants to play no one knows what to expect from her. Playing Flipkens, who beat her in three sets in Toronto, I know I was hoping that Venus didn't embarrass herself. She didn't.

I would say Venus came dressed as the Pink Ranger but the dress was actually a floral print of the kind that is popular today. It also had a lingerie feel to it, another popular motif being shown for Fall.

For today Venus was her old domineering self. She defeated Flipkens in straight sets. I was glad to see her back to her old self. I hope she hangs around.

One of the bigger surprises for me was Ernests Gulbis loss to Andreas Haider-Maurer. I shouldn't say big surprise because during his hit with Jeremy Chardy the other day he was not happy with himself and was cursing up a storm. I didn't see the match today so I don't know what happened but he was missing stupidly Friday. I don't know if Haider-Maurer played the match of his life or not. I'm sure Ernests was practicing his cuss words again today.

The younger Williams sister opened the night session. As usual there was an opening ceremony which, as usual, I refused to watch. I was watching a food show I DVR'd Sunday so when I got to the tennis Serena Williams was in the process of pounding Francesca Schiavone into the pavement. For a minute there it looked as if Fran would be the second woman to be served a double bagel on Day 1 but she managed to get one game. That only infuriated Serena who closed out the match love and one in an hour. It seems the gods were on Serena's side because as soon as her match ended it began to rain. The second night matches were cancelled and rescheduled for Day 2. I hope people took note that after the match was over Serena didn't jump up and down, shake her fist in her opponents face or disrespect her in any way. Sportsmanship. It's a beautiful thing.

I should mention that there was a lot of talk about Serena's kit too. I'm not a fan of handkerchief hems. Never have been. But the cut of the skirt works on Serena. It's not something I would recommend for anyone else.

Day 2

Victoria Duval 8/27/2013 by Mike Segar/Reuters photo a3878f9a-a048-4de1-8e11-c2d5758fbf2f_zps9e88bef5.jpg
via Mike Segar Reuters

This was my Day at the Open. it almost didn't happen because despite great seats at Ashe there was no one playing on that court we particularly wanted to see. We went so far as to try and sell our tickets back but waited too long to post them for sale and with no buyers we got on the #7 train and headed out to Willett's Point.

I could go on about how hard it is to watch Caroline Wozniacki play live but I won't. The woman she played, Duan Ying-Ying, hits a very hard flat ball. She's also tall like Li Na. Hopefully she'll play more top tier matches and gain confidence in her game and shot making. With more confidence she could've pulled off a big upset.

We wanted to see Gaël Monfils match but we met a friend for a snack so we went to Armstrong to wait for Victoria Duval's match.

Oh. My God.

Before Victoria took the court we suffered through one of the worst matches I've ever seen. Sara Errani took the court against Olivia Rogowska who was playing in place of Ayumi Morita who withdrew due to injury. Errani has no serve. None. And she's in the top five. Rogowska has no game though so I guess that's why the match turned into a romp for Errani.

Not that Rogowska didn't have her chances. At one point she had a chance to break. Or win the game. I don't even remember. All I remember is that Errani won that game and I face palmed. If Ms Duan had played Rogowska she would've won. That's how bad Rogowska was.

Once the stench was cleared from the court Victoria Duval took the court to play Samantha Stosur, the 2011 US Open Champion. People are going to make excuses about what happened, temporary coach and all that, but they'd be missing the point. The match was a war. Stosur had a ton of unforced errors - 56 if I remember correctly - but that is how tough Duval was playing her. Vicky was not afraid to stand toe to toe with Stosur who may have been guilty of looking past her first round opponent.

Vicky, with her father Jean-Maurice standing almost the entire match, played aggressively. She adjusted to whatever Stosur threw at her. An example: Duval tried a drop shot that didn't work and on the very next play made the very same shot. Duval made some nice shots but in context of the match she was playing. She wasn't making shots just to make pretty shots. She was using them as weapons in an arsenal that few thought she had, especially at her age.

I came in a fan. I've been following Duval since she was a young girl. I think I can say I was one of the first to blog about her in the early days of this site. By the middle of the second set Victoria had the Armstrong crowd lifting and carrying her on its back. During the third set it was a sight to behold as the ever swelling crowd lived and died with every shot. There were vocal Stosur fans in the crowd, especially one kid sitting behind me but their voices were drowned out by the shouts, cheers, moans and groans of the now pro Duval crowd.

To be hones I don't think Stosur knew what hit her. They'd set her up with a seemingly easy draw and I don't think she was expecting the teen with the high pitched voice to be able to neutralize her game and defeat her.

I wanted to hold off writing about Mlle. Duval until she played her next match but she deserves the glory she's receiving. She knows how to play and understands tennis at the pro level. She needs some work on her first serve but the rest of her game seems solid.

Along with everyone else I'm looking forward to her next match. I wonder what court she'll play on?

End Notes

James Blake announced that he will retire after the US Open. Wild Cards have kept him playing on the Main Tour, especially in the United States. I don't have much to say about Blake because I've never been a fan. Still he used his modest skills to have what many would call a successful tennis career. He's said that he wants to be Davis Cup Coach one day.

Good luck to James in his future endeavors.

Rain is predicted for Wednesday afternoon. It's likely I will be back out to Queens on Friday.


Randy Burgess said...

I am so envious you are getting to see the Open! And from what you write & what I have read elsewhere, the atmosphere for the Duval match in particular seems to have been super-special.

Out here in the hinterlands watching streaming, I saw Duval lose the first set & figured that alas probably she was done in by her relative inexperience & nerves - this despite what had been some truly impressive ground strokes for someone so young & so small in stature. Life called me away and this morning when I pulled up, I was flabbergasted to see Duval had won. Stosur has a well-deserved reputation for mental brittleness, but I'm guessing that Duval contributed to that with those sharp groundies. Wish I'd been able to see the full match.

I do think that Duval has some major work to do on that serve, though - and I wonder if her lack of height & muscle is going to be a problem. But we'll see. Anyway congratulations are due.

Randy Burgess said...

P.S. Now I am reading that Duval is 5'10"?! She didn't look like that on my eensy teeny computer screen. But if that's her real height she ought to be able to develop a cranking serve as she gets older & stronger.

Savannah said...

I was surprised at how tall she is!

You are 100% right about that serve Randy!

Karen said...

Randy I too was shocked when I heard she was 5/10. I am like really? I really don't see it at all.

The untold story of the USO though is the influence of one Venus Williams on young players. Not only did she provide coaching for Saschia Vickery, but she also provides clothing for Duval.

Randy Burgess said...

That's interesting to hear of how Venus has gotten involved supporting young players. It seems to go w/her general interest in people.

And just to get back to Duval's height for a moment - Tignor wrote a nice piece about her loss last night to Hantuchova and he includes this observation:

"Duval, who is already 5’10”, says her doctor has told her she’ll grow to 6 feet. The one shot of hers that isn’t professional-grade is her serve; a couple more inches of height can’t hurt, but she needs a more dynamic motion. What she does have is time."