Things We Learned on Day One of the 2014 US Open


1. I wondered if Andy Murray’s opener against Robin Haase could match the horrendousness that was their last US Open meeting in 2011. I think it succeeded. On the bright side, at least this one didn’t go to five sets.

2. It was nice to see Maria Kirilenko playing some good tennis for the first set against Maria Sharapova, since she’s barely played this year. Ultimately, she collapsed under the Sharapova’s pressure, but I hope we’ll be seeing more of her this fall. I also hope that the issue she took an MTO for doesn’t make her miss more time from the WTA Tour. She’s had awful luck with injuries since entering the top 10 last year.

I was just remembering this legendary tiebreak at the 2011 US Open between Kirilenko and that year’s champion Sam Stosur. That match was incredible.

3. I’ve always enjoyed Simone Bolelli’s odd clothing choices, with the ubiquitous skull logo. He’s like the hipster version of Radek Stepanek.

4. A rare A+ to Uniqlo for Novak Djokovic’s US Open outfit. I love the color of the shirt.



1. Simona Halep was in trouble early against the surprisingly impressive American Danielle Rose Collins, an NCAA champion and wild card in NYC. She survived in three sets, though, and then gave one of the most revealing on-court post-match interviews with Rennae Stubbs that I’ve ever seen.

She’s clearly having  a tough time rectifying her success–at points during the interview she talked about it being the time of her life, and at other points she seemed overcome by the pressure.

She talked about it again in her presser:

Q. How does it feel coming into a Grand Slam being No. 2 in the world?

SIMONA HALEP: It’s not easy. It’s a little bit of pressure. I can say more pressure because everyone is telling me that I have chance to win this title. But still I’m very far. I have to take match by match and to see if I can win more matches here. Every match like today was tough, and every match is tough here. I have just to try my best always and to do everything on court to win. We will see how far I can go in this tournament. Even if I’m second place, doesn’t matter at all.

Q. But you do feel extra pressure?

SIMONA HALEP: I feel, yes. I feel, but I manage well till now. We’ll see.

Q. But you’re not No. 2 in the world for no reason. You’re playing really well. You could also say maybe you’re confident from that?

SIMONA HALEP: I am confident in my game. I played really good matches these months. Also I did finals of Grand Slam in French Open, so it’s a good thing. I have confidence in myself. I believe in my chance, but still I want to take match by match. We’ll see.

2. This is just a must-read S.L. Price piece on Serena. Lots of new information and insights:

Mouratoglou had been watching her closely for years, but more so since he stumbled upon her notebook in a tournament car at Wimbledon in 2010 and found himself entranced: page after page of meticulous notes on strategy, practice habits, tennis at large. He has coached Marcos Baghdatis, Aravane Rezai, Jeremy Chardy, Grigor Dimitrov. “I’ve never seen a player who has a notebook where he or she would write during practice what she needs to think about, when she serves, what she needs to focus on,” he says. “She doesn’t want chance to be part of the result. This is a very professional approach that I’ve not seen many times. Players don’t write.”

3. Venus Williams beat Kimiko and the bee today on Ashe, and it was nice to see her get through a tough first-round match despite her patchy play and obvious nerves. This time last year, I’m pretty sure she would have lost.

But seriously, the bee stole the show.

Q. You had another adversary out there in the flying form. What about that?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, she has so much class she didn’t swat it. So once it was my turn, then I think I would have been remiss to swat it myself. Kind of came up with a strategy to hopefully, you know, follow her example in that. Just let the fly land on the racquet and in the towel. I guess he’s on his way now.

4. More Venus, on Althea Gibson:

Q. Today is Althea Gibson’s birthday. How has she inspired you during your career, and what did it mean for you to be out there on Arthur Ashe stadium on her birthday?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, what she accomplished is something no one else did, to be not only the best player in the world during that time where she had no support and in a time when it was hard to feel good about yourself because who you were was something that was considered inferior. So that was very difficult. I can’t imagine how she felt. She did it with class and she did it with grace. I’m very fortunate not to have had to play under those circumstances. I have had an opportunity to play well and be myself, and because of her, I’m really proud of who I am. Really, what she has done, you know, goes beyond words.

Q. What role do you think you and your sister have played in terms of diversity throughout the course of your career?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Serena and I played in a different time. I think we played in a different time where you’re able to have opportunities. And people love to be on the side of a winner, so, you know, the things that everyone did, women’s rights, civil rights, all of those things are a different time, thank God. I’m not saying it’s a perfect time, but it is a different time. So, yes, I think that Serena and I influenced lots of young people, lots of African-Americans, hopefully all kinds of people all around the world, to live a better life through sports or even if they never played.

5. For the sake of all humanity, no more Robin Haase vs. Andy Murray matches. I cannot take it.

6. It’s been 10 years since Sveta won the U.S. Open, which is terrifying for me because that means it’s also been 10 years since I moved up to NYC to start college at NYU. Time flies.

Anyways, I talked with Sveta at the Citi Open a few weeks ago, and I wrote about her for I’m not sure I’ve ever had that much fun talking with and writing about someone. She is a character.

7. Ben Rothenberg talked with Sergiy Stakhovsky about the Ukraine crisis and Davis Cup being moved to a neutral site, and it’s definitely worth a read.

8. I continue to be cautiously optimistic about Sloane Stephens. She looked great out there today against Beck, and was most importantly able to up her game and make adjustments when the second set became tricky. Positive body language, aggressive play, and seemingly a rekindled desire to compete all summer. What’s not to like?

Meanwhile, this article is not looking to be one of my most prophetic. Oh Donald. Why?

9. Nice to see Nick Kygrios showing up in New York ready to play. It would be great to see a teenager actually gain some steam.

10. Random tweets I favorited: