Things We Learned on Day Eight of the 2014 US Open


1. Victoria Azarenka singing Happy Birthday off-key to her “best friend” Gael Monfils in front of the Arthur Ashe crowd with nobody singing along after winning her match was one of the more bizarre moments of this US Open. I don’t think I’m the only one who thought so.

2. Al Trautwig’s tennis commentary is an abomination. He doesn’t know anything about the game. When I recently moved, I got rid of my cable TV, so I’ve been inundated with ESPN3 commentary from Trautwig. Between confusing Venus and Serena Williams, not knowing what an ace is, and whatever this was …

… it’s been painful listening to him. His gymnastics commentary has been similarly awful for years, yet he seems to keep getting gigs talking about sports he knows nothing about. I wish ESPN would keep him away from tennis.

3. Despite Azarenka’s less-than-impressive form tonight, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her roll over Ekaterina Makarova in the quarters. A tough win might give her the boost she needs, and I just have a feeling about Makarova. As Lindsay notes below, Makarova’s been playing well, so I may be wrong.

4. The Vika netcord winner apology was fun:

Vika Apology
5. The Vasek Pospisil/Jack Sock “Vasocktomy” partnership’s incredible summer came to an end at the hands of Carlos Berlocq and Leonardo Mayer, 6-2, 6-2. Still, a great stretch for both players. Their doubles success seemed to lead to better things for their singles careers. I’ll be interested to see how much they continue to play together.

6. This sounds like it was an illuminating presser with Philipp Kohlschreiber.


1. Vika-Krunic. Ohmygod, you guys. I need a timeout after that match. It was too much fun and also it terrified me.

I mean, where do you start? Krunic comes out looking like a scared kitten looking for a couch she could hide under, telling Mary Jo that she had gotten lost on Ashe and that she just wanted to stay out on court as long as she could. She got down an early break, and it seemed like that was that, but then Vika started missing and Krunic started PEAKING. The Serb never gives up on a ball. She’s so tiny that her arms never get in the way of her racket, she just uses it however she needs to, to block shots back, to pummel winners, to lob, to volley. It was just all clicking.

It’s interesting that because she’s so little she has to take so many more steps than the average tennis player to cover the court, but that means her feet are always moving and it helps her tennis so much. There is nothing lazy about her game and she is ready for everything. Footwork counts. Plus–that serve? HELLO.

That being said, Vika was able to withstand the assault and do what she really does best: Compete. It’s been a great year for the WTA, but things will be 100% better with Azarenka around and in good health.

Blah blah blah, the match was super entertaining and that was enough and we were happy and then we realized that was only the warm-up act.

It was just all so much. From the end of the match being decided on a challenge and Cliffy getting crazed by the call, to Krunic staying on Ashe (I don’t think she knew she could leave without Vika!) and then Vika telling everyone that they had to sing Happy Birthday to her BEST FRIEND Gael Monfils, and then being unable to let it go and singing it for them off-key, it was just incredible theater. Jamie Hampton capped it all off.

I was dying laughing throughout the whole thing, and also feeling so much secondhand embarrassment. I completely agree with Jason:

2. Except, you know, Jason spoke too soon because about 15 minutes later this happened:

I cannot. I just cannot.

3. I really can’t even remember what happened the rest of the day right now, and I was covering golf so I didn’t get to watch much of it, but I’ll try and dig deep into the memory bank for you guys.

Honestly, other than that it was a fairly straightforward day. Kohlschreiber offered barely any resistance to Djokovic, Murray made Tsonga looked like a tucked-in fool, and Pennetta did a great job staying solid against Dellacqua. The best was saved for last.

4. Obviously Genie Bouchard was the higher seed today, and her dismissal made it so that Serena was the only top-eight seed left, so her loss to Makarova today was notable. But it really wasn’t at all surprise when you look at their forms coming into this tournament. Makarova’s been deadly consistent over the past few years, and this year she’s been playing some particularly superb tennis.

Let’s take a look at Makarova’s losses to lower-ranked opponents this year:

No. 26 Svetlana Kuznetsova, Citi Open semis (she was ranked No. 20)
No. 23 Lucie Safarova, Wimbledon QF (she was ranked No. 22)

That’s it. She also has five top-10 wins on the year. Needless to say, I’m really excited for her match against Azarenka in the quarters.

5. I’m not sure how Stan won that match against Robredo–every time I glanced up he was playing atrocious tennis, seeing the trainer, or doing this:

I also saw that he and Tommy had a bit of a tussle during the match, but I’m not sure what that was all about.

But anyway, I think it’s a good sign that Stan can get through spotty matches like this, and I like seeing him so fired up. Upsets are fun during the first week, but during the second week I tend to root for the players who I think can push the favorites the most. An in-form and feisty Stan certainly fits that bill.

6. This made me emo:

7. Other random tweets I favorited:

10 Responses

  1. Master Ace
    Master Ace September 2, 2014 at 9:12 am |

    Believe Al Trautwig is doing the commentary for USO Live and not hired by ESPN. Not 100% sure but everything else is spot on about him.

    1. Amy
      Amy September 2, 2014 at 5:05 pm |

      You could be right. I just know I’ve gotten him on some of the ESPN3 streams at the US Open. He is really difficult to listen to.

      1. Brent
        Brent September 3, 2014 at 10:32 pm |

        Ugh….so much this. Trautwig is the absolute worst. He doesn’t know tennis nearly as well as he thinks he does. His voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me. Loud bassy nails on a chalkboard. And he says, “IT’S GOOD!!!” after almost every winner no matter how far in it was, as though he has eagle eyes and us “normal eyes” have to be told if it was in or not.

        Have you noticed that the ESPN3 matches he calls always have the court audio way too low compared to the commentary? So you turn your volume up to hear the court action and then out of nowhere you get pelted with a 150 decibel “IT’S GOOD!!!” after a routine put away.

  2. The Professionals | Attacking the Net
    The Professionals | Attacking the Net September 2, 2014 at 11:38 am |

    […] ways, and a friend of this blog — the crew at The Changeover — did a terrific job of summing up the balance of the day before the late-night show involving Nishikori and […]

  3. skip1515
    skip1515 September 2, 2014 at 12:57 pm |

    Try as he might to assume the #1 position as *the* wearer of ugly shirts in pro tennis – and the quantity of his entries *is* impressive – Stepanek’s drive for the top spot is futile. The pole position is now and forever owned by Victor Hanescu (I believe), who years ago wore a pink-ish shirt at the Open with 2 rear vent holes, each filled with some kind of mesh fabric. I’ve not been able to find a photo, so I could be wrong and it wasn’t Hanescu, but I’m not wrong about the shirt. It was clearly the result of someone’s fevered dream.

    1. Lindsay
      Lindsay September 2, 2014 at 1:01 pm |

      I think you’re talking about Dominik Hrbaty’s 2005 U.S. Open gem:

      1. kwando
        kwando September 2, 2014 at 10:17 pm |

        … Man, that is one hideous shirt. Yikes.

  4. skip1515
    skip1515 September 2, 2014 at 6:48 pm |

    Thanks, Lindsay. I think. (Oy, that shirt.) I’m glad I hedged my bet on who wore the shirt, and I’ll admit to being wrong about the color (how could I not get that right?). But I’m way happy that I was 100% dead solid perfect about the design. #1 with a lock. #2 is not even close, whatever it is.

  5. RZ
    RZ September 2, 2014 at 8:52 pm |

    It’s gotten very little attention in the U.S., but how about Ross Hutchins reaching the US Open mixed doubles semifinals? He wasn’t playing at this time last year!

  6. The Top 10 Stories Of The 2014 U.S. Open | Attacking the Net

    […] Makarova, whose solid career was impressively examined by Lindsay Gibbs of The Changeover in this multi-item piece, written after day eight of the tournament (Labor Day, to put an identifier on it). Unlike Nishikori […]

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