Tuesday, September 14, 2010

25 Thoughts on the US Open

This is sort of a ripoff of Jon Wertheim's 50 Parting Shots, although it's only 25 thoughts and all of the thoughts are mine. And so:

  1. Why is Arthur Ashe Stadium such a failure? Don't engineers exist in order to ensure that phenomena such as swirling wind bowls don't happen? Surely the budget for the construction of this stadium was enormous--the best minds and materials should have been available, and yet the result is a useless monolith. Good job.

  2. I hope Caroline Wozniacki is not the next Kim Clijsters--friendly, engaging, and nice--too nice to win when it really counts. I don't really understand what it means to be "too nice to win," although I guess it sort of ties into a lack of true competitive spirit and power. This isn't to say that Wozniacki can't compete--she can--but everyone is still holding their collective breaths to see whether she can really do what she should be able to do.

  3. Novak Djokovic redeemed himself and reworked his image in a big way in the later rounds. I've always seen him as a sort of whiny choker--and it will take a few more big matches before I am fully convinced otherwise--but in his win against Roger Federer in the semifinals he showed some real guts, and in the final against Rafael Nadal he showed not only deep fight but real sportsmanship and compassion. Despite the racquet-destroying anger he showed early in the first set, Djokovic actually crossed the net after the match to give Nadal a hug.

  4. As annoying as the rain was, why haven't people embraced it as a part of the early September experience? For years the rain at Wimbledon was embraced with an exasperated sort of attitude, and some purists even felt that putting a roof over Centre Court was a destruction of hallowed tradition. I'm all for putting a roof over Ashe, although apparently it's structurally impossible, but why do people hate the rain at the US Open so much more than they do at Wimbledon?

  5. If I were the betting type and tennis was a betting sort of game, then my money would be on Beatrice Capra never really making a significant statement again. Same for Melanie Oudin, whose star has probably already peaked. Even Ryan Harrison seems a bit iffy to me. Usually you can tell when a teenager is really going to make an impact (predicting Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka most recently come to mind), and their junior hype was never all that legitimately excited.

  6. Everyone kept extolling the virtues of live streaming on USOpen.org, but it never worked for me. Not once. Sigh.

  7. Earlier this year, David Nalbandian claimed that the only real difference between Federer and Nadal, and the rest of the ATP, was their mental toughness. Although I disagree with this statement--Federer and Nadal have amazing placement, pace, and shot selection--I was really re-impressed by Nadal's head throughout the tournament. Despite the losses he had suffered in the summer hardcourt season, I never really believed during any of his seven matches that he could possibly lose. He simply wouldn't allow it. Two years ago, when I watched Kei Nishikori vs. Juan Martin del Potro, I was impressed by Nishikori's attack and speed, but much less so by his inability to hang onto leads. Nadal knows how to make that happen, and very rarely does he ever let a match slip out of his control. When he does, it is an "amazing disaster." Hah.

  8. Speaking of Nishikori, way for him to come back! His retirement against Albert Montanes--an entirely beatable opponent, particularly on hard courts--was a disappointment, but one can't ignore his win over Marin Cilic.

  9. Do players really doubt the linespeople's calls this much, or is it just because they have the challenge system at their disposal?

  10. I wonder about Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova. Supposedly they are major forces to be reckoned with, and they are--except they're not. Williams is consistently erratic, and Sharapova is generating unforced errors left and right. Reputation and an intimidation factor can go a long way in tennis, but when will everyone realize that the two's days may be over?

  11. So CBS can't be bothered to air the men's final in full, so ESPN2 picks up the broadcast... with CBS's logo still on it. I'm not nearly knowledgeable enough on the dealings of TV stations to actually comment on this, but does anyone care about anything when it comes to this sport? The USTA bowed to TV pressures throughout the tournament in scheduling matches, but at the very end everyone just pulled out and left the USTA with a truncated acceptance speech from Nadal.

  12. The wheelchair competition is inspiring, overlooked, and mostly a foregone conclusion.

  13. Although Nadal is supposedly ahead of where Federer was at 24, and has already completed a career Grand Slam, I can't shake the feeling that he is simply not the Greatest of All Time. This is not a knock on him as an athlete at all--I am a huge fan and also respect his dedication and talent very much--but there is something about the high-energy style of his play that seems to detract from his status when compared to Federer's. That is, while I respect various styles of play, the cost-benefit ratio of Nadal's and Federer's respective styles seems to tip the historical balance in Federer's favor. Sure, part of it is their personalities--Federer never seems to panic or break a sweat, while Nadal is all about fighting as hard and as intensely as possible--but there is an inherent ease and smoothness to Federer's playing that Nadal will probably never achieve. Both are impressive, though, and perhaps what all this rambling means is that a GOAT is impossible to definitively anoint.

  14. Hello, Tomas Berdych. Back to your old disappointing ways, I see. After a brilliant run to the Wimbledon final, all you've done is complain about lack of preferential treatment at the Washington DC event and lose in the first round of the US Open. Impressive.

  15. As long as we're on the subject of talented disappointments: Ernests Gulbis seemed up, and then was down. He lost spectacularly in the first round, whining about inevitable and across-the-board factors like the heat. Seriously. As James LaRosa wrote, "If Novak can hang, so can you."

  16. A little less disappointing, but another disappointment nonetheless was Richard Gasquet. He seemed to finally put two and two (or is it one and one?) together and fought his way into the fourth round, where several expert analysts picked him to beat Gael Monfils. Instead he loses in straight sets, despite his superior talent and his desperate need for a solid result. God.

  17. Umm... Gael Monfils... What exactly is all the hype about him, anyway? Sure, he may be talented and athletic, but I simply don't understand how a professional athlete can insist on being so immature. If he wants to wow the crowd with tricks, he should have become a circus performer. If he wants to win matches, then he's going to have to figure out a way to grow up.

  18. I'm not really sure what to make of Jelena Jankovic anymore. I would still love to see her do well and win something big, but she always finds a way to not deliver. Sure, she's talented, but she's so--what?--fragile. Is she committed? Does she believe? I feel like there's an air of complacency and "c'est la vie" about her that doesn't bode well for anything.

  19. Is Ana Ivanovic back? Is she not back? Personally I don't care all that much anymore--her media-groomed statements about working on putting all of her practices together in matches are growing old--but one does have to notice that any other player who fell so ingloriously down the ranks would have been long forgotten. It really pays to be beautiful, huh.

  20. If we are to believe Rafael Nadal (and history, I suppose), then Federer should not be considered done. And yet...

  21. Being a moderate fan of Andy Murray can be pretty trying, more so than being a moderate fan of Gulbis and Gasquet. For one thing, I actually expect him to win and stay (gasp) positive, and it's always a huge letdown when he fails, again and again. A few years ago Brad Gilbert predicted that Murray would be the next (new) world No. 1. While that has not yet been proven untrue, I don't really see it being proven true either.

  22. The Andy Roddick tirade has been discussed to death. Next, please. And by next I mean next story, next player, next success... whatever.

  23. Why does everyone knock on "pushers" so much? Sure, it might not be interesting, and it seems BETTER somehow for a player to generate his own power and really go for the shots, but the point of tennis--no, of sport--is to find a way to win, within the rules. Some people do this with high-risk tennis, others do this by crafting points and using spin, and others do this out of sheer consistency. Who cares?

  24. James LaRosa is my new journalistic discovery. He and Jon Wertheim should keep me occupied a good bit. Brad Gilbert is still abrasively awesome, and I live for Dick Enberg actually calling Daren Cahill "Killer" on television.

  25. I love Rafael Nadal.

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