1. This tournament needs something extra
Now, I’m watching in Switzerland so I a) only have access to French Eurosport, who are focusing entirely on French players when they can and b) can only watch the day session because I need sleep…BUT I think it’s fair to say this tournament hasn’t really come to life yet.
It’s quite a difficult ask for a tournament that is 95% built on the shoulders of one player, Serena Williams, to come to life before that player is threatened or pushed. Still, there hasn’t really been a marquee encounter so far in the tournament. I like to think this means everything is warming up for a stellar second week…let’s see.
2. Wickmayer fights, but can’t overcome Vika
Victoria Azarenka has finally grabbed herself a spot in a draw that is comfortably far away from Serena, so it’s important she take advantage of this opportunity to build her ranking back up to where it ought to be. Yanina Wickmayer, of Belgium, is not the player she was a few years ago but can still offer some tenacity when she’s on her game. She needs to work on her yoga, though:
When Nike tells you your next outfit won’t contain pink pic.twitter.com/R66LiSD7Rj
— WTA Reactions (@WTAreactions) September 3, 2015
Azarenka wasn’t interested in splitting sets with her opponent though, holding off attempts from Wickmayer to extend the match and winning a not-exactly-comfortable 7-5 6-4. It came down to mental strength, ultimately, and in that department there could only be one winner. Vika still doesn’t look like the impossible force she once was, and if she does face Kerber in R3 (at the time of writing, Kerber’s match has not yet started) that could be a very tough challenge.
I’d lean towards the German coming through it…
3. You can reach the Wimbledon final but Britain will bite you back
Wimbledon runner up Garbine Muguruza was sent home today by lesser-known British player Jo Konta. Now, I know that it’s a cardinal sin for a Brit to bring up a British player but IT’S MY BLOG, MUAHAHAHA. No, but really, this match was notable for being the longest ever women’s match at the US Open, clocking in at a hefty 3 hours and 23 minutes. The winning score for Konta was 7-6 6-7 6-2. It also marked the 15th straight match victory for the Brit, who has not lost a match during her hardcourt summer season. So…there is reason to bring it up. Honest.
Don’t think she’ll WIN the tournament. Okay. Glad we got through this.
4. Wawrinka is looking just fine
I wondered, given recent drama, if Wawrinka would flunk out of this tournament in an early round. He’s not had MASSIVE competition yet, but young Korean Hyeon Chung kept him honest with a solid display in the second round today. Wawrinka played as well as he needed to – nothing extraordinary, but good tennis to come through in three tiebreak sets.
If Wawrinka can keep up the steady play, a quarter-final with Murray could be a really interesting encounter. Murray has looked good in recent weeks, but Wawrinka is a recent slam champion and somebody not to be underestimated – even with off court distractions having been bigger stories than his summer play. He’s a pro, and for now he looks focused on what matters: winning the next match.
5. Barbora Strycova should never, ever change
She is glorious. Love her. Love everything about her.
6. We’re STILL not protecting players enough
I’m not going to upload a picture of Jack Sock collapsed out on court today, because it was a distinctly unpleasant sight. It has been extremely hot in New York during day four and it is absolutely not right that a heat rule is in place for the women and not for the men. If this is some kind of macho “men can cope” thing, it’s ludicrous. The rule should be in place.
Sock was in BAD SHAPE. This is one of the promising, big home names in the tournament. It is amateurish of the tour to not protect these guys. Tennis needs to step up.
7. Genie Bouchard can not play doubles
Turns out the Canadian is not comfortable with the intricacies of sharing a court. Just…watch:
Genie was like, ‘oops….’ https://t.co/BfoQsO8U2x
— Ratazana (@Ratazana) September 3, 2015
Apparently all the action happens after Switzerland goes to sleep, Andrew!
1. Oh, Andeh
Of the Big Four, it’s fair to say that Andy Murray had the toughest draw — starting with Nick Kyrgios in the first round, and slated to meet Wawrinka, Federer and Djokovic if he were to make the final. One name that didn’t seem to cause worry was Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, whose previous best showing at a Slam was reaching the fourth round of 2013’s Wimblegeddon. Yet, Mannarino came out firing, and Murray failed to impose his game over the first two sets. But, no one was worried yet.
Mannarino can play as well as he wants….. His legs are gonna get tested for the next couple hours. Far from over
— andyroddick (@andyroddick) September 3, 2015
You didn’t have to be an Andy to see that Murray was going to steamroll his way to a comeback in 5 sets, rendering the whole exercise a bit anticlimactic (and creating a huge logjam onsite for night match ticketholders). At this stage in his career and with his incredible fitness, Murray should be able to recover from his long match today without too many after effects. But, given how difficult the rest of his draw is, he could ill afford to expend more energy on a seemingly easy match.
2. The Aussie Way
It was fitting that what turned out to be Lleyton Hewitt’s last U.S. Open match ended up being on the Grandstand Court. This time next year, neither will be a part of the U.S. Open. It seemed like Hewitt would make a quick exit, after losing the first two sets in quick succession to Tomic, who played solidly, but not more than that. But, anyone who has watched a Lleyton Hewitt match could have guessed that Hewitt would redouble his efforts when faced with elimination. It wasn’t a storybook ending — Hewitt did serve for the match at 5-4 in the fifth, but feeling the pressure of the occasion, failed to close Tomic out, and ended up losing 7-5 in the fifth. While Lleyton Hewitt the competitor was surely disappointed that he did not close out this match, Hewitt the Davis Cup captain must have been heartened to see Tomic hold his nerve, when most of the crowd was willing Hewitt to victory. Given that the main job of a Davis Cup captain these days is to convince the nation’s top players to participate, it was a good sign that Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis were able to move past the recent scandal to support their compatriots in the crowd today.
Improbable as it is, it could just happen that Hewitt is the one to rekindle “the Aussie way” among his younger compatriots.
3. Heartbreak for Caro
The crowd that stayed to watch Caroline Wozniacki play the last match of the night were treated to one of the most dramatic matches of the tournament thus far. Those of us who left after the second set assuming Caroline would win handily were left to stare at our soup dumpling splattered phones until we could rush back home and watch the recorded match.
Petra Cetkovska deserves praise for coming into Arthur Ashe Stadium and taking it to Wozniacki — playing assertive tennis, and capitalizing on Wozniacki’s tentative play. Racing out to a 6-4, 4-1 lead Cetkovska looked like she was going to pull off the upset in quick order when a combination of Cetkovska errors and solid play from Wozniacki enabled Wozniacki to win the second set and even the match. Wozniacki seemed have things under control earning 4 match points, but Cetkovska erased each one with a winner before running away with the third set tiebreak to defeat Wozniacki for the second time in a Slam. In the end, Cetkovska’s aggressive play at key points was the difference, which has to sting for Wozniacki, who reached the final last year, in part, due to her more aggressive play.
It’s a strange crossroads for Wozniacki — aside from her run to the U.S. Open final last year, the last time she made it past the fourth round in a major was her quarterfinal appearance at the 2012 Australian Open. Over her whole career, she has only made it past the fourth round in 7 of 35 Grand Slams played. She is only 25 years old, and could have a long career ahead of her, if she wants it. But, she needs to win matches like tonight’s to give herself a chance of being around in the second week. It is undoubtedly difficult to change the DNA of one’s game — Caroline’s game is built on consistency and playing without error, which can leave her more tentative than she should be in big moments. But, it’s hard to imagine her winning a Slam with the tools she currently has.
4. Goodbye Flushing, hello couch
I’ve been lucky enough to attend the night sessions this week as well as some of the days as well. Watching in person has its pluses (seeing Edberg warm Federer up, hanging with Amy in the Ashe nosebleeds), but I’ll get a lot more sleep watching and blogging from home.