Things We Learned on Day Nine of the US Open


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:

3. By any measure, the match between Victoria Azarenka and Ana Ivanovic was a tight match. Even so, no matter what was happening, I never doubted that Azarenka would win. I don’t know if that says more about Azarenka or Ivanovic.

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 and

Juan José

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.
Q. Sorry?
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:

Speaking of Duval, she was on the Jay Leno show tonight. I’m sure a video will be up soon. I just hope she can handle all of this publicity. It scares me a bit.

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.

7. Yikes.

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.

25 Responses

  1. Steve
    Steve September 4, 2013 at 3:42 am |

    “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.”

    *scraping jaw off the floor*

  2. Bluedylan
    Bluedylan September 4, 2013 at 6:51 am |

    Feels like you guys spend a lot of time criticising Murray and Fed, and a lot of time praising Rafa and Nole, no matter what happens. Some balance occasionally would be appreciated, rather than betraying the same biases over and over. JJ’s obsession with Rafa is particularly hard to listen to/read.

    1. Diana
      Diana September 4, 2013 at 9:00 am |

      Kinda agree with this comment. Should be a bit more balance with the criticism.

      Other than that, it is my favourite tennis source, you guys are funny and informative always, great job!

      Now to the tennis. I’ve watched Istomin play couple of times and was very impressed.He does look a bit too chill and maybe even lazy, explains his ranking.Hope this run will motivate him and we’ll see more of him.
      Ana 🙁
      Although not a fan, I find it hard to understand how Berdych goes from almost unplayable(1st set) to atrocious (4th set especially).

    2. AmyLu
      AmyLu September 4, 2013 at 11:07 am |

      This comment is very amusing to me for a variety of reasons, but I’m curious as to the positives you think should be written about Federer’s game right now. His play hasn’t exactly warranted it, no?

  3. Karen
    Karen September 4, 2013 at 10:16 am |

    Thank goodness someone mentioned the bias. I was beginning to think I was imagining it and don’t get me started on the disdain at times for women’s tennis. Describing a match at the year end championships when all players are pretty much beat up, especially Serena who kept flying back and forth across the Atlantic as an affront to tennis everywhere speaks volumes about the writer’s disdain for women’s tennis. Same old same old

    1. Lindsay
      Lindsay September 4, 2013 at 11:44 am |

      Hi Karen–I’m curious as to what exactly this comment is referring to? If I recall, we covered the WTA Tour Championships extensively (it was the first week of our site!) and had high praise for them. We are all big fans of women’s tennis here, and work hard to promote the sport. We aren’t always perfect, of course, and considering we all do The Changeover as a hobby there is certainly not always time for everything, but there is no disdain for women’s tennis here.

      Hopefully we can clear this up. Thanks!

  4. Bluedylan
    Bluedylan September 4, 2013 at 10:47 am |

    I listen to the podcast religiously, and follow the livetweets during matches so I do really appreciate the work you guys do and the insights you provide. I am not a Fed obsessive by any means, but I do find it odd how JJ and Lindsay seem to continually mock the greatest player ever, or at the very least the joint greatest player ever (with Rafa). So he’s in decline, that much seems obvious. A little more respect, and a little less mockery wouldn’t go amiss.
    Amy is by far the most balanced of the contributors in my view.

    In response to the other comment about disrespecting women’s tennis, well Amy and Linsday do support, defend and promote women’s tennis ordinarily, so I don’t agree with you on that point.

    1. Master Ace
      Master Ace September 4, 2013 at 11:36 am |

      Federer has been struggling lately which is I think is age. His back has not helped the situation when he was trying a new racquet at Hamburg which put him back into his familiar racquet for USO. However, his play against Robredo was not good. If I recall his presser, he said in so many words(not paraphrasing him) that he “stunk” up the joint at Armstrong. I think the real story was that he did not adjust to the conditions on Armstrong during match conditions. He said that he practices there but we all know practice and match play are different situations. But, you do have to admit that Federer missing break chances have been mocked by a lot of people for years even when he was winning Slam after Slam.

    2. Karen
      Karen September 4, 2013 at 12:41 pm |

      Hi Linds, this quote says everything. “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”

      The match may not have been of the highest quality, but I can distinctly recall AO2010 those 2 tie-break sets that Li/Serena played. I also recall their Wimbledon 2010 quarter/semi when both women played terrific tennis. Highlighting one of their not so better ones and then calling it an affront to the sport of tennis shows a disdain for both women and tennis itself.

      I can think of many men’s matches that I am still trying to comprehend how they made it to a show court (Granollers/Djokovic) but I am sure you will see what I am saying. I don’t think that match was called an affront to tennis. As a matter of fact, the writer took pains to point out that poor Granollers just did not have the legs to play, as if he stood a chance against Djokovic even if he had 3 days of rest.

      1. Amy
        Amy September 4, 2013 at 12:49 pm |


        You’ll find that JJ referred to a men’s match in this post as a “crime against the sport.”

        Our site may use strong language to talk about bad tennis matches, but we’re pretty equal opportunity.

        1. Jewell
          Jewell September 4, 2013 at 1:42 pm |

          I think one has to be allowed to say a match if horrible if one’s (justifiable) opinion is that it is; that said, worth remembering that criticisms of the WTA take place in a context where people are more generally willing to decry women’s tennis than men’s tennis; where some elements of the women’s game are sometimes unfairly compared to elements of the men, eg strength of serves; where a bad WTA match is too often held up as a reflection of the whole tour, when a bad ATP match is just a bad match; and where the WTA has continually to justify its existence. Sometimes criticism can cut more deeply than it should because of those things.

  5. Steve
    Steve September 4, 2013 at 12:37 pm |

    I’d like to throw my two cents in here vis-a-vis anti-Fed/Murray bias. I actually started following this blog *because* it seemed like it was more objective than other blogs and news sources. I was so sick of the pro-Federer circlejerk that dominates most tennis-related websites that this place was a breath of fresh air with interesting and in-depth articles on guys like Djokovic, who often go overlooked. (Just check ESPN to see exactly one article on the number one player in the world during the US Open.) If people want to see more pro-Federer/Murray stuff, they pretty much can go anywhere for that. When Fed and Murray do something that warrants praise, it gets mentioned here. When they’re sucking, that also gets mentioned here. And the same goes for Nadal and Djokovic. Appreciate what the staff here does and keep up the good work.

  6. Max
    Max September 4, 2013 at 12:40 pm |

    The Change Over is probably the most pro-WTA tennis website. Cronin, Rothenberg and Nguyen are also very WTA friendly.

    On the other hand, any journalist that holds a British passport is a misogynist.

    1. Jewell
      Jewell September 4, 2013 at 12:54 pm |

      Completely agree about the usual-suspect Brit dinosaurs. Piers Newbery though seems ok, and also writers such as Hannah Wilks and Alexandra Willis.

      I think there is a more genuine respect for women’s sports among US journalists. That said there are also US writers who strike me as dodgy. EJW says one thing but often acts another, for example.

      1. Max
        Max September 4, 2013 at 5:20 pm |

        I should’ve specified “male journalist”, you’re absolutely right.

        1. Jewell
          Jewell September 5, 2013 at 1:41 am |

          I honestly didn’t mean that! More of a generational thing.

  7. Jewell
    Jewell September 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm |

    Jewell’s Third Law of Comments: most accusations of bias against writers in comments are actually a reflection of the biases of the commenters themselves.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with fans having biases. Wouldn’t be fans if we didn’t!

    The only time I personally haven’t liked this site’s coverage of the WTA was over some of the Piotr stuff. Got to the point where I started to think the Piotr criticism actually showed a lack of respect for Wozniacki’s ability to choose for herself.

    1. Bluedylan
      Bluedylan September 4, 2013 at 1:21 pm |

      I’m sure we do all have our personal biases, of course. I love all of the top 4 for different reasons. It’s just that some of the twitter coverage of Fed’s loss to Robredo had an air of gleeful mockery about it, as have some of the podcasts this year while he’s been struggling.

      There’s also been incredibly little coverage of Murray’s matches by livetweet (apart from Giffing a volley error, seemingly), whereas the fawning and sycophancy over every single thing Rafael Nadal does or touches gets to be a little much at times. I love Rafa and he’s insanely, brutally, ferally good, but ease off a little with the obsession.

      1. Jewell
        Jewell September 4, 2013 at 1:51 pm |

        See…I remember when JJ was a huge Fed fan and hated Rafa. I won’t give away an old nickname of his that I recall quite strongly, but it was about as insulting as you can get. And then he became a huge Djokovic fan and hated Federer instead, and now that seems to have toned a lot. Also: I think he’s harsher on his favourites than his non-favourites. (apologies for the psycho-analysis, JJ…)

        Agree though that criticism isn’t trolling.

      2. Anya
        Anya September 4, 2013 at 9:20 pm |

        I think the lack of Murray coverage is a not-so-subtle f u to british press members… lol

  8. Bluedylan
    Bluedylan September 4, 2013 at 1:26 pm |

    On a positive note, you guys all do a fabulous job of writing and podcasting about both tours, educating us about lesser known players, giving interesting, independent opinions about a whole variety of different things, and I’m extremely grateful for that. Any comments made are not intending as ‘trolling’, as suggested by Juan Jose, but an attempt to feedback a couple of frustrations that I have. Feel free to completely disregard them, it’s only my opinion.

  9. Karen
    Karen September 4, 2013 at 3:26 pm |

    Amy and Lindsay, as you both know I respect you two ladies a lot, Amy for your excellent reporting on Drop Shot Dispatch and Lindsay for your everyday take on women’s tennis. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can say the same for Juan Jose. I know that I can get quite prickly with the way women’s tennis is covered, but if you would permit me, I just want to point out why I took issue with Juan Jose’s comment regarding a Serena/Li re-match. If you look at paragraph 4 of the previously quoted comment, you will see that it is said with such disdain that one has to believe that Juan Jose would prefer if the match were being played by 2 other players other than Serena and Li. That is his purview and I completely understand that. He uses as justification for his views the match that both ladies played at the YEC in Instanbul last year. He is of the view, incorrectly in my view, that another match like the one they played at the YEC, was so bad that it was an affront to sport, that it should never ever happen again. Maybe I am taking his meaning much too literally, but when a word like affront is used to describe the play of 2 of players, one of whom is the greatest player of her generation, then I take exception to it.

    Go further in Juan Jose’s post and you will see that he is describing Berdych’s loss to Wawrinka. While he grudgingly praises the Swiss for winning the match, he can’t for the life of him figure out why Berdych, with his wealth of talent, is unable to muster up said talent when the time calls for it. He is finding all manner of reasons to explain away Berdych’s penchant for being his own worst enemy. For me, I consider Berdych an affront to the sport of tennis in particular, and to sport in general.

    It is inexplicable to me that Berdych with a game that can basically kill any player on court has only made it to 1 Grand Slam final, has a measly 8 singles titles, despite being on Tour since 2002. If he were a paid employee in any organisation he would have been fired for lack of effort, and lest I forget, he is ranked No. 5 in the world.

    So yes, I know I sometimes take these things too seriously and yes I may have given the whole writing team a hard time regarding the comment about the disdain for women’s tennis, and despite knowing Amy and Lindsay’s continued fight on behalf of the women who play tennis.

    Finally, I do understand that you guys are doing this as a hobby and less of a job. I think most bloggers, including myself, operate in the same vein. We all want to change the conversation, especially as it relates to tennis conversations. However, I just felt the need to point out this small, perhaps inconsequential item that made its appearance today.

  10. Bluedylan
    Bluedylan September 4, 2013 at 8:36 pm |

    Vika’s outfit is officially the worst I’ve ever seen at a Slam. It’s not flattering, it doesn’t look particularly comfortable, it’s horrendous from a sweat point of view, and…well it doesn’t match. What on earth were they thinking when putting this monstrosity together?

    1. Fig
      Fig September 4, 2013 at 9:36 pm |

      It makes me sad – Vika in shorts was AWESOME. Vika in an ill-fitting dress is… well… uncomfortable. She’s an elite athlete. She’s in great shape. Why does she look like my the ladies in my doubles tennis league who think that if they spend 110 dollars on a tennis dress will make them look like Maria Sharapova.

      It is atrocious.

  11. Fig
    Fig September 4, 2013 at 8:41 pm |

    OH DEAR LORD. Pam Shriver is making me want to join twitter just to criticize her ability to commentate. First the AWFUL pre game interviews, which asked both players to address their weaknesses as they walked onto a big important stage, and now she’s talking through points from the front row to get her lame plug for Strahan’s new show on record? Abysmal.
    She’s been around tennis long enough to know that there is no reason to talk while the players are in the middle of a point. Not even booth commentators do that.

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