1. Every time I watch Marcel Granollers play, I am always shocked at how high his ranking is. I understand how the ATP rankings work, but seriously, how is he ranked No. 43 in the world? That just seems … very wrong for his playing abilities.
Speaking of Granollers, he accomplished the dubious feat of failing to win a single one of World No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s service points in an entire set. Djokovic looked dangerous, but probably not that dangerous.
2. Andy Murray’s match was really entertaining. At least, this part was:
A brutal stat: today was the first time Ivanovic won a set against a top 10 player at a Grand Slam since the 2008 French Open.
4. Carl Bialik’s informative piece for The Wall Street Journal on Federer-Robredo explains why Federer’s loss was particularly exceptional:
Robredo won 37% of his return points in his 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-4 win. Federer won 38% of his return points. The player who wins a higher percentage of return points almost always wins matches, for a simple reason. Winning a completed match requires winning more sets than your opponent. To do so, it helps to win more games, which requires breaking your opponent’s serve more than he breaks yours. And that usually requires winning a greater percentage of return points, to have more chances to break. Since 1991, when first match-by-match stats became available, just one of every 15 men’s matches at the U.S. Open have been won by the man who won a lower percentage of return points, according to stats at usopen.org and tennisabstract.com.
1. Djokovic’s path to the US Open semifinals looks easier than what the World No. 1 would have to face at a Masters 1000 (or at an ATP 500, really): Berankis, Becker, Sousa and Granollers have provided very little resistance (unsurprisingly), and the top seed has advanced without losing a set. What’s interesting is that his path presents one more very accessible opponent in the quarterfinals: what’s left of Mikhail Youzhny, who won the AARP classic against Lleyton Hewitt today 7-5 in the fifth.
Of course, Djokovic’s path to the semis seemed like the more complicated one of the top four seeds: Del Potro was supposed to meet him in the quarters, and he should’ve played Dimitrov in the third round, plus either Paire or Fognini in the fourth. Alas, none of those potential matches ended up happening, much to the chagrin of the fans who had to endure today’s massacre of the hapless (and surely exhausted) Marcel Granollers.
Djokovic has looked good by all accounts, but it’s hard to gauge his true level until he faces a real test. And that will have to wait at least until the semifinals.
2. Carla Suarez Navarro, who will be ranked No.15 on Monday, showed very little willingness to at least go down swinging today. The occasion, the stage and most importantly, the opponent had her in a sort of deer-in-the-headlights trance. Twice she handed over a break via double fault.
Regardless, this was the first time Carla made the US Open quarterfinals, which is an encouraging feat worth celebrating. On the to-do list? Win that first WTA title.
3. Ana Ivanovic once again gave Victoria Azarenka hell for three sets, just like it she did in Carlsbad a few weeks ago. However, just like a few weeks ago, Azarenka proved to be the one able to summon some consistency in crunch time. The match featured erratic play, but also great shots (my favorite was a glorious GOLAZO lob by Ivanovic in the third set). It was quite entertaining.
Should Ivanovic fans see this as progress? I think so, but don’t go crazy predicting a return to the top — at this point I think it’s better to sit back and enjoy the rollercoaster.
4. I am absolutely terrified of the Serena Williams – Li Na semifinal. I still remember their atrocity of a match at the WTA Championships in Istanbul last year. It was an affront to the sport of tennis.
5. The Wawrinka-Berdych match ended up being about three quarters as good as I thought it’d be. Berdych came flying out of the gate, and convincingly took the first set. But then, he became the man who’s only managed to make a single slam final despite his wealth of talent. Tomas shrank from his dominating role, let Stan run him ragged, and soon enough, the match was even at one set all.
I thought Stan did a great job identifying Berdych’s groundstroke patterns (rarely something more sophisticated than cross-court, cross-court, down-the-line, ad infinitum, ad nauseam), and finding moments to take over rallies and forcing the self-proclaimed Birdman to play some D.
The key sequence in the match happened at the end of the third set, which was thoroughly dominated by Wawrinka. The Swiss served for it twice, but failed to create a single set point in either service game. You’d think a player of Berdych’s stature would take advantage of this, right? Wrong. Berdych surrendered his serve at 5-all via a double-fault, and somehow lost his early edge in the tiebreaker as well.
Nothing new was learned about Tomas Berdych, but it’s still frustrating to see so much talent go to waste. It’s so glaring how easily he loses his way, and how gladly he cedes control of matches he has firmly in his grasp. Like Ivanovic, I think it’s a waste of time to expect anything to change within him at this point. If you’re a fan, just enjoy the good times, and resist the urge to expect more out of so much natural skill.
6. Andy Murray was far from impressive in his fourth round match against Denis Istomin tonight. Additionally, he was donning the Federer-esque undershirt, whatever that means. It’s clear that the Muzzard will have to improve quite a bit if he’s to overcome the determined challenge of Stan Wawrinka, who lest we forget, took Murray out of the US Open just three years ago.
1. I must admit that I passed out during the Youzhny/Hewitt match, but I have to be thrilled for the Colonel, who made his sixth career Grand Slam quarterfinal. He’s actually 2-0 in US Open quarterfinals, having made the semis in 2006 and 2010. But he plays Djokovic next, so that’s going to be a tough task.
However, the opening to his press conference is hysterical:
Q. How did you make it past Hewitt?
MIKHAIL YOUZHNY: It was a tough match, and I was like in the end. I prefer like question and answer like.
MIKHAIL YOUZHNY: Just question, answer.
Yes, Mikhail. That’s usually how press conference work.
2. This is an adorable photo of Venus and Victoria Duval when Duval was seven:
3. Here’s my write-up of the Robredo and Federer match for Sports on Earth. What a difference a year makes for those two men. Tennis is cruel and wonderful in the way you have to prove yourself over and over again, day after day.
4. I’m working on a longer piece on Ivanovic, which should have been up today but will probably be up tomorrow because my brain is pretty much molasses today since I’ve barely slept for two nights and for some reason I am super, super weak this US Open. I mean, it’s pathetic. Shouldn’t I be thriving on no sleep?
Anyway, Ivanovic’s career path is very depressing, but I must say that today was one of the first times in a long, long time where I’ve remembered how much talent she does have. For a set and a half against Azarenka, she was in complete control of that match. Some of the forehand winners she came up with were jaw-dropping. But then the brain cramps began, and even though she kept fighting–and Vika kept being terrible–she just couldn’t get it done.
But, it’s the first time in a while that I’ve actually felt like she might be getting closer. Now, perhaps, if she stopped scheduling like the was world No. 1 she could get her ranking up and get some better draws.
And–as I’ve said many times before that–I don’t know how you Ivanovic fans to it.
5. That being said, Azarenka’s ability to win when she is far from her best is a really, really handy skill.
6. All credit to Stanislas Wawrinka, who won a thriller against Berdych on Louis Armstrong. Dare I think that he has a chance to upset Murray? He certainly seems due for a big-time scalp this year.
Weird write up by Bodo. On Ivanovic: 'Her body appears sculpted to perfection as if by the wind, or water' . VOMIT http://t.co/5ZBNUzIHco
— Kait (@kait_oc) September 3, 2013
8. Somewhere in New York City, I hope there’s a bar filled with people buying Carla Suarez Navarro lots and lots of birthday drinks. Ouch.
9. That was a fun match, Denis Istomin. More of that, please.