Things We Learned on Day 10 of the US Open


1. I loved seeing Richard Gasquet come through against David Ferrer in five sets today for a couple of reasons.

First, it’s always fun to see an underachiever live up to their potential. And it’s not easy to outlast Ferrer in a physical five-set battle. Second, this:

Pumped Up Gasquet

Gasquet BH

2. The Wall Street Journal took a look at exactly how much tennis action happens during a match:

Fans live for long points. But exactly how much action is there in a tennis match? We took a stopwatch and timed two matches at the U.S. Open last week to find out. The answer: Not as much as you’d probably think. In the two matches we studied, only 17.5% of the time was spent actually playing tennis.

3. I loved this anecdote from Jason Gay’s write-up of Serena Williams’ 6-0 6-0 clinic against Carla Suarez Navarro yesterday:

As 10 p.m. approached, a small gathering of tennis fans wandered through a U.S. Open souvenir shop not far from the entrance to Ashe. Among the customers inside was Carla Suárez Navarro, who’d played in that big stadium just a short while ago. She was with a group that included her mother, who was at the cash register paying for a large bag of gifts.

Suddenly, the staff behind the register began singing “Happy Birthday.” One of them said later they weren’t sure if they should, but they just went for it.

Happy Birthday to You…

Happy Birthday to You…

Suárez Navarro stood there in her sweatsuit, as if stunned. On a rough night, it was a great New York moment. This could not not have been the birthday Carla Suárez Navarro wanted, but she smiled. There was no shame. This happens. She was a tennis player who had run into history. She had run into Serena Williams.

4. This happened:



Juan José

1. Flavia Pennetta and her compatriot Roberta Vinci played an entertaining, tactically brilliant match. That it ended up being brief matters very little, and it was solely due to Flavia Pennetta, who all of a sudden has gotten back her very best tennis.

I had forgotten just how good her backhand down the line is, and how smartly she sets it up with sharp angled cross-court backhands. I had forgotten how good of a competitor she is. It goes without saying that it was nice to remember, and I hope we get to see much more of her in the coming months.

2. Keeping the memory motif going, it was an exhilarating experience to watch Richard Gasquet catch fire and tap into God Mode in the second set of his dramatic win over David Ferrer. Going into the match, I gave Gasquet no chance, given the horrific head-to-head against Ferrer (1-8), and the small detail of his strenuous five-setter against Milos Raonic. However, Richard proved many wrong (including myself), and found a way to squeak through in the fifth set, after watching his two set lead disappear into thin air.

If you like to watch players hit insane shots that make no sense, watch that second set. Heck, if you like tennis, go watch that set. Because Richard was doing some incredible things with his racquet. It was breathtaking to see every little aspect of his game perform at such a high level.

What is Gasquet’s reward for winning two very tough five-setters against a borderline top-10 player and the World No. 4? Rafael Nadal, who’s only dropped one set so far in this tournament, and hasn’t lost his serve since the Cincinnati semifinals. Rafael Nadal, who’s beaten him in all 10 times they’ve played each other.

Like today, very few people will expect anything out of Gasquet. But who knows, he might surprise us …

3. I find it hilarious that the two times Gasquet has made the semifinals of a slam, it has been after five-setters in the quarterfinals. I also love the odd symmetry of those two matches: at Wimbledon years back Gasquet mounted a comeback from two sets and a break down. This time, it was his turn to lose the two set lead. Ah, tennis.

4. I didn’t really expect much out of Daniela Hantuchova tonight, and while the scoreline doesn’t flatter her effort, she sure gave her all in her loss to Victoria Azarenka. In a way, the unfortunately clad Belorussian is the worst possible opponent for Hantuchova; Vika loves to get people on the run, and Daniela Hantuchova is not known for her great court coverage.

Still, Hantuchova fought bravely, which is all a professional athlete can ask of him/herself.

5. As with Hantuchova, I expected very little out of Tommy Robredo today. Nadal has dominated their encounters with relative ease; he always bullies Tommy’s backhand, banishing his older compatriot far behind the baseline for most of their rallies. To make matters worse, Tommy has usually struggled to get deep returns off of Nadal’s serves, and today was no exception. It was an uphill battle for Tommy, and it didn’t help that Nadal’s level in the first set was so good even his uncle deemed it “unbelievable.”

The 12-time champ rolls on. The stars seem to be aligning for him at this US Open, though he’s almost guaranteed to face a very tough test in the final.


1. Oh geez.

2. This is a wonderful piece by the incomparable Christopher Clarey on Federer, Hewitt, and shifting expectations. He drew some beautiful parallels and really made me think.

Hewitt, like Federer, is 32 and was once No. 1 in the world; was once the planet around which the tennis moons orbited. But the intense Australian has moved on from those increasingly distant days and found meaning at a new, lower level.

Public expectations have adjusted with Hewitt’s own, which is not yet the case with Federer. Though it is quite difficult at the moment to imagine a day when the sport might view Federer losing in the fourth round of a major tournament as a solid result, the expectation game can shift quickly.

What is already clear is that Federer, now ranked seventh and in the midst of his least convincing season in a decade, has downshifted into a genuine underdog’s role, with Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray occupying higher ground.

Now it is a question of whether he can or truly wants to adjust to that status. Now it is time to find out truly how much he loves the game when he is not dominating the game.

3. Speaking of Clarey, I completely agree with this tweet:

I’m not saying there aren’t storylines … there are, of course. But overall, it’s felt very predictable and low-stakes. I do feel like, on the men’s side, the fact that Murray now has two Grand Slams really changes the dynamics. Plus, all three of the top guys remaining have US Open titles already. I mean, I understand that a major is always a big deal, but it’s just not quite as compelling of a storyline.

I do think there’s a potential for a strong finish for the men and the women–with Azarenka, Serena, Li, Djokovic, Murray, and Nadal still in the draw, there could be some epic clashes on the horizon. And, of course, if Pennetta, Gasquet, Wawrinka, or Youzhny want to really make things interesting, that would be welcome as well.

4.  What a wonderful day for Richard Gasquet. I must say, I did not know if he had it left in him to get a win like this, and I’m so glad he proved me wrong.

This exchange from the press conference is adorable:

Q. We don’t know for sure who your semifinal opponent is, but if it is Rafa, your record on the pro tour is not so great, but can you talk about I was trying to be nice but can you talk about the match you played when you were 13?

RICHARD GASQUET: I saw on YouTube that video sometimes. People are talking about this video, you know, when I played against him, against Rafa. YouTube and I can see I’m winning against him, so I don’t believe it sometimes (laughter).

Q. Can you tell us how weird that was?

RICHARD GASQUET: No, I didn’t know him when I played him, you know, when I was 13 years old. He was already fighting a lot already, already running so much, and I remember I won maybe 6-4 in a set, and I told my father after, He’s a big fighter. I didn’t lie; I was true. In the future, this one is biggest player in the world in the history. So for sure I won that time at 13 years old, but since this match I didn’t…

Q. Where was that, do you know?

RICHARD GASQUET: It was a match in Tarbes, one of the biggest tournaments for the younger children under 14. You know, it’s good to win under 14, but is better to win on the pro, and I didn’t. But life is long, huh? We are only 27 years old. Even me. So why not? We will see.

Here’s a video of the match that Gasquet was talking about:

And here’s an adorable photo of the two of them:

5. On that same theme, a photo of Gasquet on the cover of a French tennis magazine when he was nine:

And tomorrow’s paper:

6. Kudos to you, Flavia. Great to have you back. We need your badassery.

39 Responses

  1. Faye
    Faye September 5, 2013 at 2:27 am |

    I’m from the Philippines so I usually stay up really really late (like midnight onward) to watch USOpen matches. And boy was Gasquet-Ferrer worth it. I could just watch Gasquet hit that backhand all day. Both are a joy to watch especially in the wee hours of the morning.
    After all the chaotic excitement of Wimbledon, you can say that this is a letdown. I’ve personally enjoyed a couple of matches but I think it just needs at least one “epic” match, you know? Like a Djokovic-Wawrinka Australian Open 2013, DelPo-Djokovic or Lisicki-Radwanska Wimbledon. But who knows? There are still a lot of matches to come! Some exciting match-ups and potential upsets, I’m looking at you Stan. 🙂

  2. Joshua
    Joshua September 5, 2013 at 3:18 am |

    That picture of tiny, goofy Nadal and Gasquet is amazing. Although, for my money, the best is still the photo of the two of them standing back to back and looking like the cover of a, ahem . . . “erotic box office blockbuster.” I don’t know if I can post links here so you’ll have to find it yourself!

    I’m ridiculously happy for Gasquet! A little artfulness is something tennis could use a lot of these days. Plus, I’ve always had a thing for adorable headcases who pull out of majors with a sore throat. Seeing one of these delightful weirdos win against Ferrer (who strikes me as the least interesting top five player quite possibly in history, although all credit to him for getting things done) is a good day.

    1. Aysha
      Aysha September 5, 2013 at 6:51 am |

      Think this is the photo you’re referring to 🙂

      1. Aysha
        Aysha September 5, 2013 at 6:52 am |

        Back when they both had a lot more hair…

        1. Aysha
          Aysha September 5, 2013 at 6:54 am |

          And finally, will stop spamming, but an adorable one of Tsonga, Gasquet and Nadal (though you can’t see his face!) –

      2. Faye
        Faye September 5, 2013 at 9:12 am |

        Adorable!! Very teen magazine! 🙂

  3. mat4
    mat4 September 5, 2013 at 9:28 am |

    Great post, as (almost) always.

  4. mat4
    mat4 September 5, 2013 at 9:45 am |

    Just read the article in the link Amy posted, about effective time of play in a tennis match. I made myself some calculations last year, concerning the match Djokovic-Nadal in the final of the AO. At that time, you could found some stats about the average length of a rally, and the mileage of both player. I can’t find those posts now (on another site), but it was clear to me that this wasn’t a superhuman effort from any of them.

    This makes me think about another problem, that was in the focus of this recent interview with Andy Murray,

    the problem of doping in sport. It becomes clear, seeing those stats, that tennis players don’t need so much to improve recuperation as they need to be stronger and faster.

  5. mat4
    mat4 September 5, 2013 at 10:00 am |


    It seems that Novak is near to finally sort the problems he had with his FH. I noticed, in the second and third sets against Granollers, that he started to hit a very flat, low rebounding FH jumping or almost jumping, a bit the way Federer does. If he can improve and stabilize that shot, the change of racquet would be an excellent investment in his future career.

  6. Kimberly
    Kimberly September 5, 2013 at 10:20 am |

    hi mat4, followed you to check it out. I agree with the writer so far the US Open has been not incredibly compelling. I guess there is not as much at stake as some recent tournaments, French Open—djoker carreer slam, WImbledon ending british drought. However, if Rafa manages the win I’m sure I will find it in my heart to consider it an extrememty satisfying us open.

  7. jane
    jane September 5, 2013 at 10:29 am |

    I was very happy for Gasquet. Such a fun game to watch; it was wonderful to see him finally pull through a couple of slam 5 setters. Unfortunately, I don’t see him going any further at this USO. But he should be making the late rounds of slams regularly. He’s always had the talent.

    (mat4, I came here -mainly- to wish you condolences. Remember the happiness.)

  8. mat4
    mat4 September 5, 2013 at 10:55 am |


    Just hope you will stay here. You were probably the best poster on the old site (with a refined sense for poetry), not to mention that I hate to lose friends, even “etheral” friends.

    What happened “there”? Why did you stopped posting? Skeezer excepted, and a few others, there’s nobody left of the nice, regular posters there: Wog Boy, Alison, grendel, TennisLover, TennisFansince76, Harry, Kimmi…

    About my father: thank you. It is in the order of things, “dans l’ordre des choses”. But, to quote — by memory — Marcel Proust: “Rien ne dure, pas même la mort.” And that’s one of the things that makes death so tragic.

  9. skeezer
    skeezer September 5, 2013 at 10:59 am |

    Hey gang,

    Nice reading here and easy on the eyes. Hi mat4, Kimberly and jane!
    Gas was amazing, a bright spot in the tourney, and the Wawa match was a good one. Maybe the tennis fireworks are coming in the next few rounds.

    1. RZ
      RZ September 5, 2013 at 1:04 pm |

      Hey Jane, Skeezer, and Mat4,
      Nice to see you all here. I’ve been here for a while. Decided to quit Tennis-X since I was tired of every thread turning into a Roger vs. Rafa debate. Plus the analysis here is better.

      1. mat4
        mat4 September 5, 2013 at 3:12 pm |

        Hi, RZ. Nice to “see” you too.

        I like also the animated gifs here, the twitter excerpts, and the fine mixture of tennis analysis, psychological insight and trivia.

        On tennisx, it isn’t any more a debate about the respective qualities of Fed or Rafa (in a certain way, I feel they deserve it), but has really degenerated. But there were a few of you that made me stay, but if most of you switch over here, I’ll switch completely eventually.

  10. Patrick of La Verne
    Patrick of La Verne September 5, 2013 at 11:01 am |

    Loved the CSN birthday story.

    I would disagree with Mr. Clarey as to compelling matches, although if one confines one’s viewing to the big TV matches, especially on Ashe, there haven’t been a lot of thrillers. I’m sure Serena fans (like me) enjoy watching her steamroller her opponents, but my lack of interest in watching Nadal do the same thing on the men’s side leads me to the believe that only the real partisans enjoy these one-sided encounters. It’s a big problem for the broadcasters; who’s going to tune in to see Hantuchova-Glushko, even though it turned out to be one of the most exciting encounters of the tournament.

    But serious kudos to the US Open for streaming all the matches on the main courts each day. I wouldn’t have seen some of the entertaining matches that follow below (or at least not much of them) if it hadn’t been for that feature.

    Venus-Zheng, CSN-Kerber, Duval-Stosur, Giorgi-Wozniacki, Hantuchova-Glushko, Hantuchova-Liske, Ivanovic-McHale, Azarenka-Cornet, and, for a set at least, Serena-Stephens.

    Also, this is my first year with Tennis Channel and I have largely been disappointed with their coverage. But to their credit they have shown some very entertaining doubles matches the last couple of days, and not all of them included anyone named Bryan or Williams.

  11. mat4
    mat4 September 5, 2013 at 11:02 am |

    I didn’t watch tennis last night (was too tired), so I missed Gasquet completely. On the other hand, I was very impressed by Wawrinka. For both of them, the mental moment is crucial (although neither of them like lack of time, when an opponent takes the ball very early, perhaps because of their BHs).

    Wawa used Novak strategy of dismembering Berdych’s FH, and he also made him play a lot of low, sliced balls on the BH. Overall he looked very, very good.

  12. mat4
    mat4 September 5, 2013 at 11:04 am |


    I expect two excellent matches today, probably two awful semis, and a great final.

  13. skeezer
    skeezer September 5, 2013 at 11:09 am |

    Re; Wawa
    Good obsevation mat4, and I thought Stan just hit the ball aggresively when needed to. Totally impressed he could stay with Birdsh!t in the power hitting category, whilst dismantling him strategicly like you mentioned.

  14. mat4
    mat4 September 5, 2013 at 11:09 am |


    There are three writers here! Glad you’re all here. I am a regular reader of this site, but now I will post more often (although, sometimes you feel there’s nothing to add to the brilliant articles).

  15. Kimberly
    Kimberly September 5, 2013 at 11:55 am |

    mat4—–so why would the two semis be awful? What is your predictions for the remaining men? Here is mine
    Djokovic over Youzney in 3
    Murray over Wawrinka in 4
    Djokovic over Murray in 4
    Nadal over Gasquet in 4

    nadal—–djokovic too close to call—5th set tiebreaker!!!!!!

  16. Kimberly
    Kimberly September 5, 2013 at 11:59 am |

    Williams over Li Na in 2
    Azarenka over Penetta in 2
    Williams over Azarenka in 2

    Bryans to win CYGS??????????

    Hi Jane, hope all is well with you. Have missed your balanced posts and the reasonable temper you add to tennisx. I hope you are enjoying the US Open. My kids and I have been having a blast with it especially in the early rounds but I agree with the writer it does seem a little flat. Perhaps because the top three contenders have already won the tournament? I think the Bryans CYGS is the most exciting part.

  17. Kimberly
    Kimberly September 5, 2013 at 12:02 pm |

    @Patrick—i was hoping they would show some of the smaller matches that were great and not just stick with the Arthur Ashe feature matches, they did in parts Wawrinka Berdych, Raonic Gasquet, tipsarevic ferrer, haas youz, wawrinka baghdatis etc.

  18. mat4
    mat4 September 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm |


    To tell you the truth: I don’t see how Murray can beat Wawrinka, Djokovic Murray, Murray Nadal, Nadal Djokovic… You know that I am null at making picks.

  19. jane
    jane September 5, 2013 at 3:51 pm |

    Hi mat4, that story is best left for another place/time. Don’t want to bore others. 😉 But definite “change over” there – and I too miss a number of old regular posters. Ah well, such is life. I have been posting a bit on Dan Martin’s side “Tennis Abides” – Dan’s such a great person that I wanted to offer my support.

    Hi skeezer, hope you’re well.

    Hi Kimberly, thanks for the sweet words. I’ve “seen’ you a bit at Dan’s site, which is nice. Hope all is good with you and your 2 boys, heading back to school, etc. Agree with you that the USO has been a bit flat so far. Hewitt created 2 great match though, esp against the Captain. Both Hewitt and Youz played well. And Wawrinka has made his way through a tough draw too. And how about Gasquet, and Pennetta? So there have been some stories. But lots of routs too. Your guy looks like an inexorable force these days; you must be over the moon.

    1. mat4
      mat4 September 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm |

      Can’t watch this game. Wawa usually misses in critical moments, while Andy plays his best… Anyway, I’ve almost never made a good pick (“I don’t see how Murray can beat Wawrinka”), so… Meanwhile, Wawrinka won the second set. Is it possible? He plays like he’s from another planet.

      Went to “Tennis Abides”. Great site at first sight, but I need to read a few articles when I get some time. I’ve at least 5 or 6 books waiting… and I am wasting my time watching tennis.

      Rafa plays (unfortunately) very well. He has more confidence and more focus than ever. I also have the impression that he has improve both his FH and his BH.

    2. Kimberly
      Kimberly September 5, 2013 at 7:21 pm |

      Rafa is playing great, I wonder if the 7 months off rejuvenated him, made him appreciate playing on the tour, knowing its not forever. He really looks like he is having fun this hard court season. Funny because during the Clay Court season he looked tired in Rome and early in Roland Garros. Then by the RG quarter he looked quite energized but again in Wimbledon didn’t look like he had a good attitude. Loving it! But Novak looks so tough and unbeatable too. They both look great. I hope they play in the final and its amazing but I also hope they don’t injure each other!

  20. Amy
    Amy September 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm |

    Just wanted to drop into the thread and say welcome to everyone, and glad to have you posting here! We’re always happy to have more discussion going on in the comments. And thanks for all the kind words about the site.

    1. Lindsay
      Lindsay September 5, 2013 at 4:04 pm |

      I agree with Amy–thanks for stopping by, everyone! Thrilled to have you.

      1. mat4
        mat4 September 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm |

        Thanks for the welcome!

  21. skeezer
    skeezer September 5, 2013 at 4:57 pm |


    Wawa vs Murray. LOL…should I go back trusting Jamie’s predictions?
    😉 j/k

    Stan continues to impress with awesome tennis….ut sorry to see Andy go…

  22. mat4
    mat4 September 5, 2013 at 5:09 pm |


    Don’t mention Jamie, please. I feel bad when I read his posts.

    If Novak makes the final, he won’t lose it, be certain. But it will be a very difficult semi.

    Some remarks:

    We usually write a lot about Murray’s tactical acumen, but we have seen that he, too, doesn’t like when his opponents changes pace and spin. Wawrinka played well, but Murray made a lot of unusual errors, and Wawrinka’s slice bothered him (it was an exceptional shot in the whole match: low and long). JJ will present us with the stats, but to sum up, Andy made about the same number of UE, playing with less risk, and making three times less winners.

    Under pressure, Andy plays with more spin on his forehand, and reverts to his old motion it seems. Not quite sure, but I’d say that he plays it more with the hands than with the shoulder and upper body (hope you understood my pidgin).

    Wawrinka’s return on second serves was absolutely outrageous. It won him the match.

  23. Kimberly
    Kimberly September 5, 2013 at 7:17 pm |

    THanks for the welcome, love to talk to tennis! The articles are great. I am just so disappointed by the Bryans. Well at least maybe the Williams will win the womens dubs!

    I like Tennis Abides too. Dan Martin is a great person and a great writer.

    At this point, unless my math is off, with Murray losing to Wawrinka in the quarter, the battle for number one is pretty much a two way Rafa Nole fight which will likely be a nasty battle right into the World Tour Final

  24. Patrick of La Verne
    Patrick of La Verne September 5, 2013 at 8:25 pm |

    The #1 thing we learned on Day 10 at the US Open is that the scheduling for Day 11 is an absolute travesty of injustice. How can they possibly justify scheduling Azarenka’s match first when Serena has a doubles match to follow “after suitable rest.”

    Serena should go play all out against Li Na, and then, win or lose, tell the tournament director that she needs about three more hours rest than the tournament considers “suitable,” and dare them to default her.

    And Venus, I know would stand with her, no matter how badly she would like to win another doubles title.

    This is shameful.

  25. skeezer
    skeezer September 5, 2013 at 10:06 pm |

    Disappointed in the Bryans also, but Step is one sneaky good player. Not surprised he would have been a part of taking the Bryans down. Nonetheless, the Bryans are fun too watch and a must study if you like to play doubs.

  26. skeezer
    skeezer September 5, 2013 at 10:07 pm |

    Thanks all for the welcome BTW, keep up the interesting articles 🙂

  27. Kimberly
    Kimberly September 5, 2013 at 10:35 pm |

    no, they scheduled azarenka first? That is just silly. And Serena’s match is the tougher match obviously. I think they do the scheduling based on the fact that tennis fans are late arriving and they Serena/Li Na match is much spicier than Azarenka Penetta which will likely be a straight forward affair.

  28. Patrick of La Verne
    Patrick of La Verne September 6, 2013 at 12:38 am |

    “I think they do the scheduling based on the fact that tennis fans are late arriving …”

    Regardless of the obvious arguments as to the fairness of having the player with two matches to play having to play them back-to-back, the “late-arriving” theory results in a self-fulfilling prophecy. The schedulers, being fearful of the “late-arriving” theory, typically schedule what they think are their less attractive matches first off on each court.

    And what do you think happens? The less attractive matches draw fewer fans and the schedulers pat themselves on the back for their marvelous insight.

  29. Kimberly
    Kimberly September 6, 2013 at 7:39 am |

    The smart thing to do would be to force peoe to come early. That way they will spend more time and money on the food and merchandise booths. But I’m sure the organizers know how to turn a profit better than me. Still it’s unfair scheduling and unless for some crazy reason Serena requested it its really unfair.

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