Things We Learned on Day 11 of the 2014 US Open


1. Tomas Berdych played an awful match today against Marin Cilic, and also displayed some atrocious behavior, berating chair umpire Louise Engzell for calling a double bounce. The replay proved her correct.

What a missed opportunity for Berdych. Hashtag reusable.

2. This piece on Patrick McEnroe no longer heading the USTA’s Player Development Program by Pete Bodo is laughable. Bodo co-wrote a book with the guy! It should have never been published due to the glaring conflict of interest. It completely whitewashes the biggest controversies of McEnroe’s tenure:

Some people will automatically assume that McEnroe is being pushed out because the program hasn’t shown an immediate impact on the upper echelons of the ATP and WTA. That’s just plain silly. The player development program has not produced a new Pete Sampras or the next Jim Courier, but it’s good to keep in mind that no federation has ever done such a thing.

3. That was a tremendous match between Roger Federer and Gael Monfils. I was so glad that after a busy week of not having time to watch many full matches, I was able to watch the whole thing.

In just under 3 hours and 20 minutes, Federer saved two match points and came back from two sets down to win in five. He displayed some toughness–something that many in the tennis community have denied he possesses–in the scrappy win, never playing his best tennis.

On a day when many were pulling for Monfils to show something different, we didn’t see anything beyond the ordinary from Monfils. The new, steady Monfils was a lot like the old one, building up a two set lead and getting to match point, but blowing it–and worse, hitting an ill-advised front-facing tweener to tank a point in the deciding set. He can generate plenty of excitement in a tennis match, but he is who we thought he was, and that’s a shame. But nobody should really be surprised.

As for Federer, for at least half the match, it felt like one of his 2013 performances all over again. Missed chances on return games, loose errors, inability to get easy holds of serve. The difference here was that whereas Federer had some bad luck in matches he should have won in 2013, luck went his way tonight and he was also able to rein in some of those bad errors on crucial points. He hit just one unforced error in the third set. He stayed alive, giving himself another chance to play better tennis in the semis, and added a crucial win to his legacy if the stars end up aligning for him to win his 18th on Monday.

Though it was a five-setter, it was not a terribly physically taxing one, and Federer has a 5-0 record against his next opponent, Marin Cilic.


1. These translations by the great Mark Nixon from a 2009 book on Wozniacki are very insightful.

It would be dangerous to idealise a child’s internalised parental ambitions, but it’s unclear at times who is pushing whom.

When Caroline Wozniacki won the Pilot Pen tournament in New Haven the week before, I was in the near by beer tent after the trophy presentation and was chatting with her father. He was surrounded by Polish friends and family, the beer was cold and the mood excited, when Caroline showed up and told her father that the car was coming to pick them up shortly, and that she wanted to drive to New York immediately.

“When she was young, I thought, maybe she wants an ice cream or something when she said ‘daddy daddy, get up, come and run,'” relates Piotr Wozniacki, ” but now I see that it’s really because she’s more ambitious than I am. She’s a different person than I am.”

2. This is a fun piece in Slate: Roger Federer Serves Like a Girl.

3. Martina Hingis is back into the doubles final for the first time since 1998. Flavia and Martina really seem to have fun together:

Q. Brava you say the last moment or other words?

MARTINA HINGIS: No, I think that was always my words since we play together.

Q. Just brava?

FLAVIA PENNETTA: I talk with her more in Spanish than in Italian because she’s boyfriend is from Spain. (Martina slaps Flavia.)

Q. Finally inside information.

FLAVIA PENNETTA: No. My boyfriend? Spanish also. He’s Spanish also.

4. Speaking of doubles, the men’s doubles final is the Bryans vs. Lopez/Granollers, which should be a lot of fun. The Bryans are going for their 100th title, and to do that in NYC after a sub-par year would just be incredible. (It also seems too good to be true, but we’ll see.)

Pennetta and Hingis will play Makarova/Vesnina in the women’s doubles final (what an event for Makarova!), while Sania Mirza and Bruno Soares will play Santiago Gonzalez and Abigail Spears in the mixed final, which takes place tomorrow.

5. Marin Cilic. I mean…holy crap. I did NOT see this coming before this tournament, but it is fun. Like a million years ago I watched him absolutely demolish Murray on Ashe in the fourth round of the U.S. Open, and I was pretty certain he was the Next Big Thing. Then, of course, he was not.

But it’s great to see him get his act together.

I thought it was interesting to hear him talk about how he turned his doping ban into a positive:

Q. Where were you during the US Open last year? What were you thinking during that time?

MARIN CILIC: Yeah, I was back in Croatia and I was training. I was preparing for a time when I’m going to play. Definitely, I mean, it was a difficult period. I didn’t know when I’m going to start back. But was also good period for me. I matured a bit more and I was working day after day. I wasn’t, you know, relaxing and doing nothing. So I think that helped me to improve physically. Also, it helped me to have, you know, enough time to put some new parts in my game, which are helping me to play this good now.

Q. What happened to you last year, have you used that as motivation? Or have you just put it behind you and moved on?

MARIN CILIC: In that period, I have used it, I mean, to work hard, to do everything what I can. Of course was a huge motivation for me when I came back. I felt that I was more happy. Like if I would compare it with the times before, I was more enjoying much more in the tennis court and still working hard for it. I was, I felt, more tougher with myself in preparations and during the matches just clearer with my goals.

Q. You know what it’s like to have tennis taken away from you.

MARIN CILIC: Yeah, yeah. So it feels, you know — it’s worth more now.

Although, this is a bit presumptuous:

Q. Have you spoken to Viktor, and do you think there is a drug problem in our sport?

MARIN CILIC: I mean, I have spoke with Viktor in April. I have seen him, but I haven’t seen him since he started to play. He was in Europe. I mean, he also had extremely difficult period. I mean, he wasn’t positive on a test and got suspended for a year. That’s, I mean, difficult to understand. But, I mean, I don’t think there is drugs in our sport. I feel that it’s pretty safe.

6. I started tennis as an Andy Roddick fan, so I will freely admit that I didn’t particularly cherish the PEAKFED years. However, I will say that I appreciate Fed so much more now that winning isn’t such a “given” for him.

You get to know the most about a player when things aren’t going their way. Seeing Fed over the last five years or so go from dominating everything to fighting talented opponents, hot-headed upstarts, and his own periods of mental, physical, and technical inferiority has been fascinating.

Most people still think of PEAKFED when they think of him–the balletic movement, lack of sweat, and effortless tennis that made him one of the greats. But it’s not as easy for Fed anymore, and it hasn’t been for quite some time. Now he has to rely on his feistiness and scrap to get past nights like tonight when players like Gael Monfils are at their best. Truthfully, I like this Fed the best.

As for Gael? Yeah, he’s never winning a Slam. But, he needs to stay relevant enough so we can have more nights like tonight. Because that was fun.

7. Tweet time: