Well Thursday I decided to make my annual pilgrammage
to the US Open and this one was filled w/ close encounters
. I will report as best as I can on everything but focus on the women.
At around 9, I walk out of my Mahattan apartment and decide to stop by the Au Bon Pain shop down the block to grab a little breakfast. As I walk in, I notice that there is a woman and a man with tennis bags sitting outside at one of the tables ABP has set up sipping on coffee. After I make my purchase, I walk back out and realize that it is Emelie Loit
with her coach (looks a bit like Guy Forget but not him). I walked up to Emelie and introduced myself as a fan. She informed me that she is staying at a hotel in the area along with alot of other players. She was dressed in a white warm up outfit and said hi to several Air France employees that were also dining in the area. I told her that it was a shame that she drew Mary first round and wished her luck on the doubles. Emelie was very nice
Next I proceeded to take the Subway to Flushing and bought my grounds pass for the day. After doors opened at 10AM, I sauntered in and started walking around the grounds to catch players practicing before matches started at 11.
Conchita was hitting with another Spanish player I did not recognize ... she had a big smile on her face as she tried some low % shots
Eleni Danilidou was practicing w/ two other girls and one guy. They were taking practice serves when I was watching.
Ancic (w/ his shirt off) praciticing wil Lljubicic ... they were hitting groundstrokes and not really working on doubles tactics ... probably why they lost later in the day to Paes / Riki
Jie Zheng and Zi Yan
were practicing for their doubles match. I have never seen Yan before and she looked pretty impressive. She is at least a head taller than Zheng. They were practicing serves with one serving and the other returning. Two Chinese male coaches were picking up balls.
At one point Yan missed 6 serves in a row into the net causing Zheng to make fun of her in Chinese and pretend that she was bored on the other side of the net.
Nadia Petrova (RUS)
Saw the first set of this match. Stosur was wearing sunglasses and seemed to have trouble dealing with Nadia's power. She would frequently not be able to pick up one of Nadia's drives and dumped it in the net or WAY out. Nadia was surprisingly very focused.
Caroline Dhenin (FRA)/
Silvija Talaja (CRO)
From my seat at Nadia's match, I watched some of this doubles match ... All I have to say is that Dhenin is WIDE. She probably weighs more than Vento and Angie combined ...
Robbie Koenig (RSA)/
Travis Parrott (USA)
Travis was the fan favorite in this match because he is American (former Georgia player) and a decent looking dude. Good thing he dumped Gambill and got a better partner.
The Czechs were frustrated in the 2nd set and gave it to Koenig / Parrott w/ errors ... Travis stayed around after and signed a ton of autographs, hamming it up with the fans
Shinobu Asagoe (JPN)
I was sitting next to Jill's entourage during the end of first set / beginning of the second during this match. It featured much more rallies than the Petrova / Stosur match but Asagoe was a little more agressive, frequently coming to net to finish off one of her forehand drives. She served for the first set at 5-4, was broken, but then broke back and held. The many Japanese tourists in the crowd were delighted
Zi Yan (CHN)/
Jie Zheng (CHN)
Zheng dressed in white top w/ red shorts. Yan in red top w/ white shorts ... I guess the Chinese are still in Olympics mode
This was a GREAT match !!! In the first set, the Chinese were on fire. At one point, Zheng hit like 7 winners in a row from all areas of the court - forehand swinging volley, backhand swinging volley, passing shots in the alley. Yan was also impressive with her two handed from both sides drives. Both girls had great rallies w/ Dulko from the back of the court. Pato was not playing well ... she did not have enough power to rally w/ the Chinese girls and was frequently getting passed at net. Her serves were easy pickings.
In the first game of the second set at 30-30, the Chinese hit a smash on the line that Pato protested as out to the chair umpire. He overuled it very very LATE ... like 1 minute after and wanted the point replayed. The Chinese refused and took a seat until an officlal came out but to no avail. The Argentines won the game. But this set up a series of funny moments in the second set in which whenever a call was in question, the teams stared each other down and questioned the call ... The Argentines were within 2 points of taking the 2nd set many times but the Chinese came through with beautiful doubles tennis. I hope Yan can pick it up in singles soon. She has a nice game to watch ...
For Pato, I guess she was frustrated because this was her last match on the WTA tour
Paradorn Srichaphan (THA)
6-4 7-6(4) 6-0
Caught the third set of this match ... not much to say except Paradorn's backhand was on fire and Paul should retire
Went to the practice courts to try to find others practicing ...
Andy was practicing with a shrimpy looking dude wearing Andy's Reebok outfit ... Brad Gilbert was on hand ... Andy had his shirt off
and all the girls in the crowd were going bonkers
... a few of them looked like they were going to die w/ excitement ... When Andy came over to give autographs, a few almost fainted ... I got him to autograph my Nike hat.
Next Jen was practicing with 2 junior players ... I think one may have been Donald Young. One of the junior player's coach was picking up balls on their side of the court and Stefano was picking up Jen's balls
... Jen was wearing an orange shirt with an orange sweatband ... It was 2 against one but Jen frequently won the practice points that were played, showing more power than both male players
At times Jen would complain to Stefano(nothing surprising here) but in general she was acting like the diva of the court
The Bryan twins were also practicing and I stood in the first row to watch. Bob smashes an overhead which after one bounce in the court, bounces out of my court and knocks my sunglasses from the top of my head to the ground. One of the lenses fell inside the court ... Bob came over to pick it up and told me that I could sue him if I couldn't fix it but I was able to fix it ... Got him to sign my hat too ...
Lisa Raymond (USA)
4-6 7-6(3) 6-2
I saw the first set of this match. Maria was playing well. Lisa was trying to rally w/ Maria from the back of the court and that is why she lost the first set. Maria is
but she should have won this match
Elena Dementieva (RUS)/
Ai Sugiyama (JPN)
6-1 6-7(3) 7-5
I saw the third set of this match. Elena and Ai were the crowd favorites and looked stunning ... Elena in pale pink and Ai in pale Blue. The partisan Japanese crowd was behind them as was the rest of the crowd.
Ai was definitely the steadier of the two w/ crisp volleys and nice serving. Elena on the other hand would follow an ace / powerful groundstroke w/ 2 or 3 double faults in a row or an UE (letting out a high pitched yell afterwards). Ai was very encouraging to Elena though and would console her. Mara had some good serving as well. After the match, a crew of 10 Japanese cameramen surrounded Ai / Elena and proceeded to conduct an interview. I heard Elena saying that her Japanese is not very good. Both players stayed after the interview and signed many autographs
Rainer Schuettler (GER)/
Mikhail Youzhny (RUS)
6-7(4) 6-4 6-3
Rainer and Mikheil were wearing matching Fila outfits ... Canas came up with some HUGE serves but team Fila was steadier than the Argentines. Got Rainer to autograph my hat.
Michal Tabara (CZE)
6-3 3-6 1-6 6-3 6-3
Made it into Arthur Ashe to catch the 5th set of this match ... Mardy had the crowd behind him but he couldn't pull through, not even holding his own serve in the last game of the match. Some fans I sat next to suggested that he go play for the Mets instead ...
Most of the fans were just there so they could see Masha in the next round
Maria Sharapova (RUS)
6-0 6-7(5) 6-1
Armstrong stadium was filled with adolescent boys for this match
When the chair umpire introduced Masha she got a bunch of catcalls ... The first set was much closer than the score ... Jelena hung in with Mash in the rallies but couldn't win the game points. In the second set Jelena stepped up her game and Masha made more errors ... Basically Masha's game is just to hit as hard as she could with HUGE backswing, mostly crosscourt shots ... Jelena read this and started forcing Masha into errors. In the tiebreak, Jelena lead 6-3 and Masha won 2 great points to force it to 5-6 but then dumps a backhand to give the set to Jelena.
In the third, Masha jumps out to 3-0 and Jelena takes medical timeout
to no avail. After the match there must be 200 kids screaming Masha's name for her autograph ... she signs 3 and then turns around and stalks out, leaving kids
Mary Pierce (FRA)
def.Virginia Ruano Pascual
This is the match I came to the open to see but it dosen't even get on court until after 8:30 PM because Massu's match goes 5 sets
... Finally they stick it on the smaller court 10. I am tired of USO organizers not giving Mary the respect she deserves in scheduling.
She is a 2 time Grand Slam champion and should not be on the outside courts while stupid Americans like Mashona, Fish or Dent are on bigger showcourts. The stands are PACKED for this one with some Spanish fans shouting "Vamos" but most fans were for Mary.
Virgina's serve / backhand let her down in the match ... the powder puff serve and slice had no power and Mary was able to pick it off for winners.
Mary's whole game was on fire and there was nothing Virgina could do. Vivi frequently slammed her racquet into the backboard to vent her frustration. Mary came into net alot, usually successfully but she also appluaded Vivi
when she made a pass ...
That is why Mary is great: she is so gracious as a person ... After the match, I got Mary to autograph the picture of us I have from last year's USO. She stayed after to sign every autograph and pose for pics.
Yet showing how great of a person she is. I tailed Mary back to the locker area and on the way people were pointing her out. One fan said "Look, there goes Hantuchova
This contrasted sharply to Masha's attitude during her match and that is why I hope Mary kicks her ass tommorow during the Blond Ambition showdown.
Well that is it from my day at the USO ... I hope you enjoyed the tidbits ...