Things We Learned on Day Two of the US Open


1. Juan Martin del Potro likes to watch the TV show Prison Break.

2. I enjoyed this interview with Maria Kirilenko at TennisNow. You rarely see Kirilenko doing a lot of English-language interviews. There are some fun insights into her relationship with her parents, her personality, and her tennis goals.

3. Check out Jeff Sackmann’s analysis of advanced serve statistics from Roger Federer’s win today against Grega Zemlja.

  • Fed went down the T with just under half his first serves (47%), but up-the-middle offerings accounted for 11 of his 12 aces.
  • Zemlja hit a shocking 27 serves into the net–almost half of his faults, and just over 20% of all of the serves he hit today. (Watching the match, it felt like even more.)
  • Roger’s first serves were somewhat more dominant in the deuce court, as he lost only three first-serve points in that half, and won two-thirds of his first-serve points in the deuce court by his second shot. In the small amount of data on offer today, he was noticeably weaker with his deuce court second serve, losing 5 of 12 second-serve points in that direction, compared to only 3 of 18 second-serve points to the ad court.

This kind of detailed analysis is the next step in understanding tennis strategy. Having done some testing of Jeff’s project while he irons out the details, I can attest that it’s going to be amazing and groundbreaking. Stay tuned.

4. This needs to happen:

5. Anne of translated an in-depth Benoit Paire interview from L’Equipe into English:

“My summer has been strange. All aspects of it. I left my girlfriend three weeks ago. I wasn’t feeling comfortable in my own skin. On court, I didn’t feel like competing and I didn’t play well. In my head, it was very difficult. I was annoyed and I fell back into my old habits, throwing all my rackets. It was general fatigue. I wasn’t at all feeling like going to practice and playing tournaments. I just wanted to go out and party, to see my friends, my parents, and to have a bit of fun. I’d go to a tournament to win one or two matches, then I’d go home. I was messing about. I felt like my season was over. I had gained so many points at the start of the year that I felt like I’d surely finish in the top 40-50. It was difficult to find motivation to finish in the 20s. I had a very good first part of the season and everything happened very fast. Maybe I should have taken a month off after Roland, to really get back into it.”

Juan José

1. Sometimes good luck can come bundled with some very bad luck. That was the case of Jerzy Janowicz, who received a gloriously accessible draw – one that had many (including me), putting him in the semifinals. That was the good luck part. The bad luck was injuring his back, to the point where the young Pole ended up using a poor man’s version of his usually dominant serve for most of today’s straights sets loss to Machi González.

The Argie veteran (who made it into the main draw via the qualies), was solid for most of the match, and had his task simplified by not having to deal with Janowicz’s monster serve, which averaged 130 mph on first serves and over 120 mph on second serves. Today, Jerzy barely averaged 109 mph on first serves and 89 mph on second serves today vs. González. That’s quite a decline, eh?

I love that during slams you can view speed of serve stats. Because in Janowicz’ case, they help tell the story of his misfortune.

2. I’ll say it once, and I’ll happily say it again: watching Victoria Duval today was akin to watching Novak Djokovic way back in the 2006 French Open. What I saw was a very young player who was pretty much ready to mix it up with the very top of women’s tennis. And she’s only 17. Vicky showed off her very polished game, as well as her competitive spirit. Lindsay and I chatted during that match, and you can read that by going here.

It goes without saying that it was a lot of fun.

3. Nicolás Massú, who Novak Djokovic defeated in his very first ATP final back in Amersfoort (then Serbia Open, then nothing) in 2006, retired today. Massú was a hard worker who made the most out of the abilities that were given to him. In fact, you could argue that he overachieved, since he ended up winning the first gold medal in his country’s history back in the 2004 Olympics.

He had been toiling away in Challengers, so this announcement wasn’t really a surprise. What is sad is that the remaining Chilean in the top 200 is journeyman Paul Capdeville, who is ranked at No. 140. My guess is that they’re all hoping for the fast rise of top prospect Christian Garín. But he’s only 17 years old, and ranked barely inside the top 400.

4. This made me laugh:

5. Uniqlo might have made a sad mistake with Kei Nishikori’s kit for this US Open, but they certainly did not mess up the World No. 1’s outfit:

The clothes, coupled with the red Adidas Barricades, are simply phenomenal. Tip of the hat to you, people at Uniqlo.


1. Micaela is the best. I mean, we already know that, but this picture of her signing an autograph is the most adorable thing ever.

2. I have a problem with the way we talk about Varvara Lepchenko. When they switched over to her incredibly close match against Dulgheru today, Mike Tirico introduced her as “naturalized American Varvara Lepchenko.” And, I haven’t kept data on this, but I feel like this happens every single time she’s introduced.

And, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps her trouble getting sponsors has something to do with this.

I heard it happen with Vicky Duval too, as she was always referred to as “Haitian-American.”

Of course there is time when commentating when it’s appropriate to talk about a player’s back-story, and both Lepchenko and Duval have amazing backgrounds that make them who they are today. But it just rubs me the wrong way when they’re not presented simply as “Americans.”

I think Jason sums it up best:

3. Get rid of pre-match interviews. Does Zemlja really need to have the color of his shirt pointed out right before he goes out to play Federer? Does he really need to be forced to talk about his battle with mono right before he steps out on Arthur Ashe Stadium for the first time?

As a replacement, may I suggest that we start interviewing coaches more often? I feel like tennis coaches should have to give interviews before big matches–I think that would be pretty interesting. I realize there are language barriers, but I feel like that’s the exception as opposed to the norm. I feel like an interview with a coach would be more revealing than a pre-match interview with a player, while still providing insight and entertainment that we’re looking for.

I mean, coaches in other sports are required to give interviews all the time–why not tennis?

4. Seriously Dimitrov???? Seriously??? Seriously. Someone’s not getting any Sugarpova tonight.

5. John Isner can win matches easily. This is news to me.

6. Rough day for Janowicz.

7. Somehow, I’m already brain-dead and we’re only through Day 2. It’s going to be a long two weeks, but a lot of fun.

3 Responses

  1. Steve
    Steve August 28, 2013 at 2:36 am |

    Djokovic’s outfit would have been better suited for Beijing or Shanghai, but it does look like the best outfit they’ve given him since he signed with them. Oh, and Lindsay your first link isn’t working.

  2. Joshua
    Joshua August 28, 2013 at 5:01 am |

    I think the tendency to mention where players like Lepchenko (and Raonic and Pospisil and Rogowska and Dokic and, and and . . .) were born has more to do with the fact that viewers and journalists alike associate these names with other parts of the world. If her name were Barbara Lepchenko, I bet we’d hear a lot less about this, simply because the commentators wouldn’t see a need to “explain” the origins of her name — and likewise is Milos was Matt. (For the record, the commentator who seems most aggressive about this is Cliff Drysdale, himself of South African origin. I think that for him, especially, it’s not at all about “real American-ness” as it is about the immigrant narrative and passion he shares with them.)

    Of course, that doesn’t mean it isn’t more than a little gross — with the exception of players like Huber, who actively competed at a high level for another country and thus there may exist legitimate confusion as to the USA beside her name.

  3. Master Ace
    Master Ace August 28, 2013 at 9:27 am |

    Agree with you on talking to the coaches before the match instead of the players. I believe talking to the players messes up with their focus

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