Things We Learned on Days 1 and 2 of the US Open

1. American tennis is looking good.

Day 1 featured some thrillers between American players — both the John Isner/Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock/Taylor Fritz matches had their share of nailbiter moments. Tiafoe was oh-so-close to a huge win, and even right after he lost, was looking forward to “doing some damage” next year. Jack Sock almost let his first round match get away from him late in the fifth set, especially after a particularly nasty fall, but managed to come through against Taylor Fritz.

As for the ladies, Cici Bellis made it past Swiss up-and-comer Viktorija Golubic, two years after Bellis’ star turn here as a 15 year old wild card. Madison Keys battled a late start, and a very sharp Alison Riske to get through her first round shortly before 2:00am. Not bad for a first day at all.

2. We do need to reconsider these late nights.

I love a thrilling late night US Open match as much as the next guy, quite possibly much more. But it’s not reasonable to ask players to start a match after 11pm, especially at the beginning of the tournament where the late night start could have an impact on future rounds. Also, most of the crowd on-site can’t or won’t stay for a match that starts at 11pm, and I doubt very much that TV audiences are huge either.

It’s one thing if the late start was caused by a long first match, but here, the real culprit was the late start. The opening ceremony at the US Open is lovely, but it pushes the evening back significantly, and could be scheduled better — perhaps an earlier start to the night session on day 1? It’s rare that the day session goes until 6 anyway on day 1. File this under tennis players need a union, but I am concerned about these working conditions.

3. It’s not over until it’s over.

Apparently 4-6, 1-6, 2-5, 0-40 is a winning position, or at least it was today for Stevie Johnson against Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy, who ended up on the short end of a thrilling 5-set win for the American. Johnson is on a nice run, winning the bronze medal in doubles in Rio with Jack Sock, and getting up to a break lead in the final set against eventual gold medalist Andy Murray. Today’s win was a show of determination over form, where Johnson redoubled his efforts to grind it out when his shots were not working well in the first half of the match. He won’t have much time to relish this one, as Juan Martin del Potro waits in the next round.

4. This is not Genie Bouchard’s favorite tournament.

With her lawsuit against the tournament still pending, Genie Bouchard lost her first round match against Katerina Siniakova in three sets. It’s hard to imagine that Bouchard isn’t affected by the fact that she suffered a concussion on site last year, but her play has been up and down for the better part of the last two years. Given what she went through last year, a solid run would have been poetic justice, but the inconsistent play we saw today shows there’s still a lot of work to do.

5. It’s oh, so loud.

For anyone who has been in Arthur Ashe Stadium this week, the crowd buzz reflected by the roof has been quite noticeable. In fact, during many matches, chair umpires have frequently asked the crowd to quiet down, but I can’t say crowds are getting any rowdier — it’s the roof that is raising the volume all on its own. During a five set thriller, this might be a good thing. But for most of the one-sided matches we see in Ashe during the first week, it serves to disengage the crowd from the match even further. I’m certainly no acoustics expert, but there must be a way to either reduce the noise reflection or to mic the court as they do for TV and broadcast that in the stadium, so that the crowd is more engaged during play.

2 Responses

  1. catherine bell
    catherine bell August 31, 2016 at 7:57 am |

    I totally agree – late night matches are ridiculous and unfair to both players and spectators. If the schedule’s so crammed, start earlier.

    The Open has always been the worst offender in this unwanted feature of modern tennis.

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