2008 US Open
Flushing Meadows - New York - September 2-3, 2008
Editorial by Jane Voigt
Photos by Harvey Rubin
America's Biggest and Best
September 3, 2008 -- Attendance records broken. More travel by mass transit. Change... Big change. Nothing small at the U. S. Open.
Arthur Ashe Stadium attests to big, seating over 22,000. It's the largest tennis venue in the world. Fans vocalize their likes and dislikes. They roar when the tennis rocks. They moan when it's flat. Or, they leave. That's easier sometimes. They take themselves to another court, watch a favorite player practice, catch an up-and-coming junior player, or sit in on a set of doubles or even past champions. For some, they play a style of tennis from an era some can relate to easier. Tennis with finesse. These elder statesmen of the game won't strike a winner using an inside out swinging volley.
As play narrows and winners rise to the occasion, people line up for the show courts. (The Grandstand Court saw no action today.) Serena and Venus have met sixteen times. They are tied 8-8. To watch the sisters play for the seventeenth time on Arthur Ashe Stadium sends chills down the spine of even jaded ticket holders, who must temper their usual comment, "I've seen them play before," or miss a match that possibly everyone will talk about tomorrow. That makes a difference for these predominantly New York fans because they are extremely well versed about the game, its players, and the stats that follow them around. They mean to impress.
Juan Martin Del Potro was the hottest man in tennis until he stretched himself against Andy Murray in a four set match that lasted well over four hours: 76 76 46 75. The match started late and ended late. Evening session ticket holders stood by the thousands in the South Plaza, heads tilted up toward the jumbo-tron screen, waiting for Murray to close it out... yes, please make Murray the winner otherwise they will have to play another set and we'll never get in. We'll be too happy from the Heineken and rum fantasy drinks and Grey Goose vodka... break now Andy!
He must have heard them or perhaps Del Potro simple ran out of steam. The trainer came out at least three times for a knee problem with Del Potro. It was wrapped and could have contributed to his demise. Either way this lanky Argentine deserves kudos for a superb season with as many tournament wins as he entered, except, of course, this one. He will be back.
The media and marketing arms of sponsors sell big names at the U. S. Open: Nadal, Federer, Djokovic... Andy Roddick... America's hope on America's biggest stage. Andy's chances in the semifinals against the supposedly ailing Serbian Novak Djokovic shot way up yesterday. Nole struggled through a five-set thriller over Tommy Robredo, who hinted in his post-match interview that Djokovic's hip, stomach and fatigue were inauthentic. History sides with the Spaniard, too. Novak has retired several times. This spring at the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters Series clay court tournament Novak retired against Federer in the semifinals. We later were told that Nole had a soar throat. How this young man thinks he'll be the number one player is anyone's guess.
On Court 13 this morning Ryan Harrison, the #9 seed in Junior Boys, played a big match against Hiroyasu Ehara, a qualifier from Japan. Ryan shut out his opponent in the first set 61, but toward the end of the second called the trainer obviously bothered by the heat. He lost the second set 36. In the third he gathered himself, came to the net, shortened points, and hit perfectly sublime down-the-line winners. Ryan was down 0/40 in the last game of the match, but erased Ehara's hopes. The kid from New Braunfels Texas, home of the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch, saved all three break points and sealed the match 61 36 62. The stands on Court 13 were full. They rose in applause for Ryan Harrison, a promising example of American tennis.
Ryan Harrison (shown here earlier in the year
at the US Clay Court Championships).
Juan Monaco played top-of-the-line singles in 2007 and into the beginning of 2008. He made a run to the round of sixteen at the Open in 2007, too, when he played a wildly entertaining match on Arthur Ashe Stadium against Novak Djokovic. It went four sets, although the Serbian had match points in the third. Monaco's ranking zoomed to 19 by mid September 2007, and to 14 in mid May 2008. But then he sprained his ankle at Vina del Mar playing doubles one day before he was slated to play in the finals. Many concerned think he returned too soon. That he needed to rest more.
Seeded #27 at this year's Open, he lost in the first round to Japanese sensation Kei Nishikori. However, with his doubles partner Maximo Gonzalez he posted better than expected results. In the third round, these two Argentines destroyed the hopes of #4 seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles. Monaco and Gonzalez made it all the way to the semifinals where they played Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy, seeded 7th, today on Louis Armstrong Stadium. Paes and Dlouhy proved too efficient for the Argentine team. In just over 45 minutes the match was over 62 60. Dlouhy and Paes were brilliant at the net, from the baseline and, especially, with their drop shots and intelligently angled shots. Paes and Dlouhy will meet Bob and Mike Bryan in the men's finals. The Davis Cup heroes will most assuredly have home court advantage with enthusiastic fans pumped for an American victory.
Martina Navratalova retired from tennis in 2006. The USTA invited her and Jana Novotna back this year to play in the Women's Singles Invitational Championships. Fans at Louis Armstrong Stadium welcomed them with a standing ovation. Although the stands were only a third full, the volume most assuredly filled the two women's ears and hearts. Martina is loved by the game of tennis and its fans. She pioneered the way in fitness for women, demonstrating it to all athletes of both genders especially those over 50. "Tennis is a game you can play all your life," the saying goes. Novotna and Navratalova exemplify that adage.
Two other Champions Invitational matches were played today, too. Mary Jo Fernandez and Mali Washington played mixed doubles against Iva Majoli and Andres Gomez, while Mats Wilander and Todd Martin played men's' singles.
9/2:  Andy Roddick (USA) d  Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) [yellow shirt] 75 62 62
9/2:  Novak Djokovic (SRB) [green shorts] d  Tommy Robredo (ESP) 46 62 63 57 63
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