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September 5, 2011

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US Open 2011, Flushing Meadows, New York, USA
September 5, 2011
Editorial by Jane Voigt.


 

Jane Voigt Photo
Jane Voigt

The Big Stories
 
September 5, 2011 -- The 2011 U. S. Open slammed the door on week one yesterday. Thrilling matches, record player retirements, and American Donald Young have headlined. All this before the bite-your-nails matches yet to come.
 
The stir generated by retirements has hung uncomfortably over the tournament. By the end of Saturday, 14 had made their way to the locker room without losing or winning a match. The last two were Tomas Berdych, the 9th seed, and Marcel Granollers, the #31 seed.
 
Include the walkovers, when players don't even step on court for a scheduled match, and official withdrawals, and the total ticks up to 18.
 
If you're one to see the phenomenon from a perturbed perspective, then the 16 (minus the withdrawals) could be categorized as deserters -- throw the bums out. If you sympathize and believe an underlying problem is at cause, then you might sit on the fence. It's the last major of the year, the hard courts do more bodily damage than any other surface, and they should take a long-term view of their health ... retire from the match.
 
According to a story written by Larry Fine of Reuters, this stat has been recorded since the beginning of the Open Era -- 1968. The closest any other major has come was in 2008 at Wimbledon where 12 players retired. No record was mentioned for withdrawals and walkovers.
 
Robin Soderling was the first to officially withdraw. A viral infection has lingered for the Swede, and probable #6 seed, through the summer. He hadn't lifted a racquet during the hard court swing.
 
Venus Williams performed brilliantly in her first match and shocked millions when she withdrew with an autoimmune disease called Sjogren's syndrome. Recently diagnosed with the disease that causes painful joints and fatigue, Venus was grateful she finally had an answer to her lingering ailments. She had felt tired for months.
 
A long year for both the WTA and ATP tours pressure players to work harder and harder, as the standard for fitness intensifies. If you win a lot and have a high ranking, then you work even more hours in the gym and on court. It's a 24/7 job. Not really glamorous when you clock those hours and add travel time.
 
This year the ATP shortened its season, which began in January, by compressing the time between tournaments. It didn't remove any stops on the tour. The WTA schedule effectively closes shop immediately following the WTA Championships. On October 25 the elite top-eight will be in Istanbul, Turkey, for this year's Championships.
 
The women, then, by all calculations could have a good eight week vacation. However, no one who has a mind for keen competition takes eight weeks of relaxation seriously. It's not like they swing on a hammock and sip fruity drinks for two months. The Australian Open looms in mid January. To maintain the edge women gear up in December, never mind the holiday.
 
Same for the men, only worse. If you qualify for The Barclay's ATP Tour Championships in London, you won't see home until the beginning of December. Work hard, win, work harder. That gives the top players a couple days off before pressure from the Australian Open shoves them to the practice courts.
 
Players do take chunks of time off during the season -- after the Australian Open and prior to the clay court tournaments, and after Wimbledon before the summer hard courts heat up.
 
However, as bygone generations have said: one has to make hay while the sun shines.
 
Roger Federer turned pro in 1998 and continues to rock and roll that little fuzzy ball. Pete Sampras, at 31, won his last U. S. Open and retired. And Andre Agassi won The Australian Open in 2003 at 33. Then in 2005 he lost in the final at the U. S. Open to Federer. He retired one year later on Arthur Ashe Stadium, his back a delicate web of fragile bones.
 
This doesn't answer the question 'why did so many retire,' but may have congealed some scattered thoughts. Here are some additional scattered big news anecdotes from week one.
 
Samantha Stosur and Maria Kirilenko played the longest women's tiebreak in U. S. Open history Sunday night. The second set marathon went to Kirilenko 17-15; however, Stosur captured the match in three.
 
Andy Roddick is into the fourth round, the farthest he's gone at the Open since 2008.
 
Wild card Donald Young has defied the odds and finds himself on the brink of his first slam quarterfinal. He came from behind to defeated #14 seed Stanislaus Wawrinka in round two; and, yesterday he defeated the #24 seed Juan Ignacio Chela in straight sets. Andy Murray is next for the 22-year-old Young.
 
Bob and Mike Bryan lost their first round of men's doubles, surely disappointing themselves. They were on track to equal the record set by the Woodies -- Australians Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge -- of 11 Grand Slams.
 
Madison Keys, the youngest woman in the draw and a wild card winner, jetted to a 5-0 lead over Lucie Safarova in the first 12 minutes of their match. Safarova, though, went on to win in three sets. Keys was exhausted.
 
Rafael Nadal was called for a time violation against David Nalbandian on Sunday. Even with the five extra seconds grand slams lend players, Nadal still dawdled.
 
No matter what, Caroline Wozniacki will remain #1 player in the world -- win or lose. She'd rather win!
 
Finally ... the heroine of week one has to be Flavia Pennetta, the #26 seed. About to lose it all on the courts due to fatigue and high humidity, she battled back from 2-6 in the second set tiebreak to defeat a spry Shuai Peng yesterday. They played over two and a half hours and two sets.
 
Her victory means she has played in the quarterfinals three out of the last four years at the Open. Angelique Kerber is her next opponent.
 

 

 
[20] Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) {red shirt} d Juan Carlos Ferrero (ESP) 75 67(3) 65 62
 
Juan Carlos Ferrero 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Janko Tipsarevic 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Juan Carlos Ferrero 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Janko Tipsarevic 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Juan Carlos Ferrero 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Janko Tipsarevic 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Juan Carlos Ferrero 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Janko Tipsarevic 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Juan Carlos Ferrero 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Janko Tipsarevic 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Janko Tipsarevic 2011 US Open New York Tennis
2011 US Open New York Tennis
Juan Carlos Ferrero 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Janko Tipsarevic 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Juan Carlos Ferrero 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Janko Tipsarevic 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Juan Carlos Ferrero 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Janko Tipsarevic 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Juan Carlos Ferrero 2011 US Open New York Tennis

 
 
[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) d [22] Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) {red and white shirt} 76(16-14) 64 62
 
 Novak Djokovic 2011 US Open New York Tennis
 Alexandr Dolgopolov 2011 US Open New York Tennis
 Alexandr Dolgopolov 2011 US Open New York Tennis
 Novak Djokovic 2011 US Open New York Tennis
 Alexandr Dolgopolov 2011 US Open New York Tennis
 Alexandr Dolgopolov 2011 US Open New York Tennis
 Novak Djokovic 2011 US Open New York Tennis
 2011 US Open New York Tennis
 Alexandr Dolgopolov 2011 US Open New York Tennis
 Novak Djokovic 2011 US Open New York Tennis
 Novak Djokovic 2011 US Open New York Tennis
 Alexandr Dolgopolov 2011 US Open New York Tennis
 Novak Djokovic 2011 US Open New York Tennis
 Novak Djokovic 2011 US Open New York Tennis
 Alexandr Dolgopolov 2011 US Open New York Tennis
 Novak Djokovic 2011 US Open New York Tennis
 Novak Djokovic 2011 US Open New York Tennis

 
Earlier Columns from this Event:
 
September 4, 2011 US Open: The Outliers - Nadal, Nalbandian, Roddick, Benneteau
September 3, 2011 US Open: Embellishments - Wozniacki, King, Monaco, Haas
September 2, 2011 US Open: Moving Closer - Pennetta, Sharapova, Isner, Ginepri
September 1, 2011 US Open: Will the Real Top Seeds Please Stand Up - Federer, Sela, S Williams, Krajicek
August 31, 2011 US Open: Big Day - Murray, Devvarman, Stosur, Vandeweghe
August 30, 2011 US Open: A Kid In a Candy Store - Nadal, Golubev, Blake, Huta Galung
August 29, 2011 US Open: The Youngsters, Plus One - Fish, Kamke, Dulgheru, Kvitova
August 28, 2011 US Open: Before It All Begins
 

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