Things We Learned on Day Four of the 2014 US Open


1. It was inevitable that CiCi Bellis’ match after upsetting Dominika Cibulkova would be overhyped, but hype aside, the 15-year-old played really well in her three set loss to Zarina Diyas. She handed the Kazakh a second set bagel after dropping the first set, ripping some winners with her big forehand, showing great variety on the backhand side, and freely coming to the net. No prospect is ever a sure thing, but there’s a lot to be excited about with Bellis. I also loved that she drank a Sprite between sets.

2. I couldn’t watch the match, but it’s good to see Victoria Azarenka had an easier time dispatching Christina McHale than she did in the first round against Misaki Doi. I would expect her to be able to handle Vesnina next, but if she faces Petra Kvitova in the fourth round, she’ll likely need to play one of her best matches of the year to reach the quarters.

3. I realized that I’ve been avoiding watching men’s matches at Slams lately, partially because the one-sided matches don’t appeal to me, but also because the WTA is so compelling right now. The best-of-five format seems so tedious, particularly in the early rounds when many of the top players are just blowing out the lower-ranked guys. The average women’s match is far more entertaining, so I’ve just tuned out. I was surprised at how many people responded in agreement.

For me, it’s probably a combination of growing interest in the WTA, and the fact that Juan Martin del Potro has been sidelined. However, I do wonder about the future of the ATP when players like Milos Raonic and Nick Kyrgios who can barely return serve are edging higher in the rankings. You couldn’t pay me enough to watch a Raonic match at a Slam with multiple tiebreaks.

4. Ryan Harrison tweeted something (now deleted) about Borna Coric’s poor attitude in a US Open qualies match I was at, which I disagreed with. I didn’t expect this response when I RTed his comment and pointed out that he had quite a temper as a young player, himself.

He had some other thoughts about the young Americans, which I’m sure come from personal experience:

5. This is just adorable, particularly the handshake between young Andrea Hlavackova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova:


1. Here’s my feature on the confident Milos Raonic for Bleacher Report. He told me at the Citi Open that he would be going into this U.S. Open “feeling like I could probably change my life in a big way.”

2. Christopher Clarey does a great job with this profile on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Jo is just so French and so, well, Jo:

To be able to win this kind of tournament, you can’t wait for the little window to climb through,” he said. “You have to build yourself a big door and walk through it because there is no luck in this milieu here. There is no room for luck, no room to say this guy’s not here and so you’re going to sneak through.

“Because when this guy or that guy are not here, there are others who have just as much burning desire to win and who play their best tennis. And so I don’t believe that winning a Slam is possible because the others aren’t here. It’s possible because you did what had to be done in training and what had to be done in your daily life. Voilà. And after all these years, I don’t have any desire to win my Grand Slam by coming in through the little window.”

Also, later in the piece he describes his French side as his more “reserved” side, which, I mean, oh dear.

3. Tom Perrotta has an interesting look into the practice schedules of doubles parters.

4. I didn’t see any of Ana Ivanovic’s loss to Karolina Pliskova, but that just seems like one of her worst losses in a while considering her form coming into the tournament.

But I did find it, well, interesting, that I was watching Tennis Channel and there was ZERO mention of Ivanovic’s loss as it happened or for quite some time afterwards. (I switched to ESPN about 45 minutes after her match ended and there had still been no mention of it.)

I must say that I’ve been pretty impressed with the U.S. Open coverage so far, but that’s particularly because ESPN does a great job bouncing around the courts and seems to have found a good broadcast rhythm. (Commentary is another issue.) But TC really dropped the ball on this one. Ivanovic was the No. 8 seed and was playing on the second-biggest court–you at least take us to match point or show highlights immediately after the fact. It just struck me as a very odd match to ignore.

5. So, I was just gutted for Jack Sock because he’d been having a great summer and seemed to be really using his success in doubles to propel him in singles and he had a great draw, and so it sucked that he got injured during his first-round match and had to retire.

Then, I read this:

Well then. I, just…yeah. While I am not one to question a player’s injury, I do think this is a bit ridiculous. Players such as Steve Johnson and Andy Murray have been hobbled by full-body cramps this week, and both attempted to fight through despite being in obvious pain. (Murray won his match, Johnson had to retire because he could barely walk.)

Sock looked mildly uncomfortable, if that, when he pulled out.

Yes, cramps suck, but only under extreme conditions are they a reason to pull the plug on a match. Unless there’s more to the story, this is a disappointing move from Sock, whose work ethic and competitive fire have been openly questioned by many in-the-knows for quite some time.

6. Meahwhile, did Isner and Querrey both just have straight-forward wins? In a Slam? Weird.

7. Nicole Gibbs was one of the stories of the day, taking out Pavs in three after blowing a big lead and multiple chances in the second set.

Looks like there will be another American woman in the Top 100 after the U.S. Open–that will make 13!

8. Random tweets I favorited:

5 Responses

  1. More on the South Carolina ‘upset’ | Palmetto State Racket

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  2. Jason
    Jason August 29, 2014 at 10:56 am |

    Jack Sock: doubles specialist?

    You didn’t miss a whole lot with Ivanovic-Pliskova. The quality wasn’t terrible per se, but…yeah, possibly her worst loss of the year. her Wimby loss was on her possibly-worst surface to someone who previously had plenty of success against her, but this…I’m not even very upset about it, just sort of disappointed.

  3. Wimbleton
    Wimbleton August 29, 2014 at 12:13 pm |

    You missed Andy Murray’s tribute to the absent Rafa at the end of his match. Shirt off, towel down, jacket on, interview.

  4. George
    George August 30, 2014 at 3:42 am |

    “However, I do wonder about the future of the ATP when players like Milos Raonic and Nick Kyrgios who can barely return serve are edging higher in the rankings. You couldn’t pay me enough to watch a Raonic match at a Slam with multiple tiebreaks.”

    For a Del Potro fan, that’s an odd opinion to have considering he’s a poor returner as well. In fact, Del Potro’s RPW% is only 1.5% better than Raonic and 0.5% better than Kyrgios (although with worse competition in Nick’s case).

    1. Amy
      Amy August 30, 2014 at 1:50 pm |

      I don’t think 2014 is a great sample for Delpo for RPW, because he has been injured all year and played pretty badly, but if we do look at the numbers from 2014, Del Potro has broken in 21.3% of return games to Milos Raonic’s 16.8%. Looking at Raonic in 2014 (because allowing that Raonic may have improved in this department), he won 33.9% of return points. Del Potro in 2013 won 38.2% of his return points. These are pretty significant differences in skill level on the return. Delpo isn’t my favorite player because he’s the best returner in the game, but he’s pretty middle-of-the-road compared to players like Kyrgios and Raonic.

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