Pete’s highlights: The US Open in fourteen facts

Should I have done this earlier? Yes, I should. But a mix of laziness + lack of time + lack of will to sit at the laptop to write delayed the process. Better late than never. Here, I present you, my final analysis of the US Open. A day-by-day commentary on all the action in Flushing Meadows.

 

This girl is gonna be a thing real soon.

Day 1 – The future is bright, my friends – If the first day of the US Open told us something (other than Kvitova’s consistency), it was that there are a bunch of young girls out there ready to make some noise. Americans Irina Falconi, Christina McHale and Madison Keys all survived the August, 29th, with wins over Zakopalova, Wozniak and Craybas, respectively; Heather Watson gave her best to Sharapova – and Maria barely survived; her countrygirl Laura Robson, who debuted at the main draw of a Slam, advanced to the round 2 after Ayumi Morita retired in the second set. Thing is, they may now be winning in the first Monday of Slams. Soon, it could be second.

 

Simona Halep celebrates: The last of the 2011 Slam champions fell to her hands

Day 2 – Meaning of ‘Open Field’ – As Simona Halep finished off with Li Na in two sets – 6/2, 7/5 – another thing was clear, after only two days into the Open: For the first time since 2008, WTA would crown four different Slam champions in the same season. With Kim out for the year-and-maybe-more and Petra Kvitova’s surprising-but-not-so-much loss to Dulgheru, Li Na was the only reining Slam champ alive in the draw. As she lost, 2011 Grand Slam winners left the US Open bearing an outstanding 0-2 record at the remaining Major. Good? Bad? I’m going for the first.

 

Waves after beating Dolonts; Let's just all hope this wasn't her last US Open win.

Day 3 – We are gonna miss Venus Williams – Whether you like the Sisters or not, you must admit they are true legends of the sport. Seven-time Slam champion Venus Williams, after getting through Vesna Dolonts in the first round, set the anticipated, big-serving meeting with Sabine Lisicki. A meeting which never happened – Venus was forced to withdraw due to an auto-immune disease that causes her retirements galore. At 31, and with health problems, Williams’ future as a tennis star doesn’t seem like a long road anymore. Which only shows how we are gonna miss her exotic dresses and big serves when she calls it a career.

 

Day 4 – Some people are stupid and should never be allowed to touch a computer – Seeded #29 and en route to an imminent third-round meeting with Wozniacki, Jarmila Gajdosova, or simply Jarka, had her run halted by doubles-specialist Vania King in the second round. Winning only two games – both in the first set – Jarka, who was born in Slovakia, said goodbye, to Flushing Meadows. And to Twitter. Thanks to some shitheads who offended her, Gajdosova announced she would no longer be part of the TwittFamily. The decision, however, was not permanent, and she is already back. What is, unfortunately, permanent is the prickness contained in some lost souls, who ramble around the Internets to harass players. Go get a life, morons. Or better. GFY.

 

Day 5 – Balance is maintained – Anyone who closely follows tennis could have called it: From the beginning, it was 100% certain Sharapova wouldn’t win the US Open. And I’m not saying that just because Serena was in the draw. No. Just because of this: Maria Sharapova has a 3-2 record in Slam finals, being 3-0 in even numbered years and 0-2 in odd ones. In the event that Masha had been the last woman to survive, I’m sure the balance that keeps the world as we know it would be disrupted, and we would be locked in a black hole that transgresses the limits of time and space. Truth or not, she lost to Flavia Pennetta in three sets, the first big win for the Italian in 2011. That automatically assured an “underdog” in the semifinals – since the other seed in this half, Kvitova, had already said goodbye.

 

Ashe's lights were too much for her and McHale; Soon it won't, anymore.

Day 6 – Easy, USA – First of all, let’s cut this “USA teniz iz dead!!!!!!11111!!!”. It is not, mainly on the ladies’ side. But still, let’s be patient, shall we? For the second consecutive day, the organizers put one of the up-and-coming players to play on Ashe, night session. Just like Christina McHale in the day prior, Sloane Stephens couldn’t show her best tennis, as she fell to (a reborn?) Ana Ivanovic in two sets. Can’t blame neither Sloane or Christina. They are still teens, with lots to learn. Better not expect anyone to sub in for the Williamses like, now. We all know what happened to Oudin. Giving time to time is the key.

 

This was from her McHale match, but really, I could not leave this pic out.

Day 7 – Ladies’ nite in Queen’s – Anyone who stayed for the night at the BJK complex and truly appreciate this sport can’t say they felt disappointed. On the Grandstand, Samantha Stosur and Maria Kirilenko played an instant classic – besides the longest WTA Slam tie-break, with Sam squandering eight match points and Kirilenko battling her way to a third set. In the end, the Aussie, as you can imagine, survived a clash that showed all the grit, fighting and skills that women’s tennis have, proving that strong is beautiful, yes, but beautiful beyond photoshopped athlete-models and Stella McCartney dresses.

 

Yeah.

Days 8 –  AWESOME. (While it lasts) (And it’s not a lot) – Wasn’t that hard to figure out I was talking about Svetlana Kuznetsova, right? The crafty Russian, who has two Slams to her name, showed once again her enormous potential in the match v. Caroline Wozniacki, in the fourth round. Sveta, alongside Schiavone and Stosur, has one of the most interesting and plastically pleasant styles in the whole WTA. However, Kuznetsova is like a time-bomb these days. She was hitting forehands with a good depth and volleying like awesome (though her overheads were simply ludicrous). She kept the level until the 7th game of the second set, if I’m wrong, when she squandered a break lead (she was holding her games with certain ease before) and everything went boom. Caro won 6/7, 7/5, 6/1, and not only sent Kuznetsova packing, but also “helped” sending Juan Monaco home in a quicker way.

 

Bored Pavs is bored. And cute.

Days 9 and 10 – Rain rain go away rain – The morning of the ninth day of the US Open saw rain. The morning, noon and night. Play was called off before anybody even thought about calling it on. The very next day saw another ‘wet problem’, as the discussion about a roof began to surface again. As a result, only 10 games were played (3 in Muller-Nadal, 3 in Young-Murray and 4 in Roddick-Ferrer) that day, that even saw the ladies’ coming out to warm up. Play was once again canceled, though. HOWEVER, thanks to rain we had this EPIC pic from Anastasia Pavlyuchencute.

 

Day 11 – WTA is not ready for Serena – As I’m used to say, you can’t blame someone for being too good. You can’t also force other people to love it. That’s more or less how I feel about Serena Williams (by the way, I know this topic would fit better in other days, but apparently the other days were already taken by better headlines). Thing is, as she made a typical-WTA first set, but picked up the pace and demolished Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second, it was clear that that woman, who stayed almost a full year away from pro-tennis and was back into a Slam semifinal without dropping a set, is way above the others. You can’t really blame her. Her opponents? Maybe. But still, while she keeps hungry the way she is, only someone playing the match of a lifetime will be able to beat her. As for the others, expect beatdowns and sleepwalks through the late rounds.

 

Day 13* – There is nothing wrong with Caroline Wozniacki’s game – And this affirmative is justified by the last topic. Let’s say Caro suddenly changes from her comfort zone, morphing into a more aggressive – therefore more susceptible to errors, like, say, Cibulkova. I can already see people claiming her style is “dumb”, mere “ballbashing” and that “she doesn’t deserve to be #1”. Caro is what she is, guys. Can’t blame her for dating a golfer, can’t blame her for making whatever capitol sins she commits on Twitter. It’s not pushing – it’s defense-oriented tennis. (I think). It’s not pretty, but has assured her a lead by over than 3000 points on the #2 Maria Sharapova.

 

This pic is pretty lovely

Day 14 – Samantha Stosur is a FREAKING MONSTER – #1, she’s Australian and #2, she is a former doubles #1. These two factors combine into the fact Sam has the variation running through her veins. And she indeed does! Very few players can mix it up like Stosur these days – with an outstanding kick-serve, slices and volley. Sam is, however, also a paradox: her best results as a singles player came in the slow clay surfaces, like Charleston and Roland Garros. And even though she is already a grown woman (27) who’s not part of the “blonde” group of WTA players who sometimes drag more attention thanks to their looks rather than their tennis, she is also keen to having blackouts, walkabouts and then it’s done.

The former #4 did, however, leave all the downsides of her game in the closet when she left the hotel room that day. Samantha brought her A-game into the final and, counting with Serena’s inability to work with the first set, the Aussie literally ate her up with the 2nd serve forehand return winners to clinch her first Major title, 6/2, 6/3 scoreline. Quite good for her debut on the Arthur Ashe stadium, huh?

I would also like to leave my sincere wishes that this title triggers Stosur’s A-game more often. I know she has been in the top-5 and now she is a Slam winner, but with her skills, she should have way more than three singles titles. She should be a permanent contender for any and every WTA tournament held.

 

* – The day 12 of the US Open was used only to play the ATP semifinals.

Advertisements

Guts

It is truly a pity that in the other end of an amazing, almost unbelievable comeback/heart-warming history of overcoming there is always someone heartbroken, lonely packing his/her stuff, throwing the towel behind the neck and leaving, head-down, timid waive to the crowd and some tears in the eyes.

It happened today.

After the match point converted. This pic says a lot

Flavia Pennetta, straight out of a big win vs. Maria Sharapova and Peng Shuai played each other on the Louis Armstrong Arena, for a place in the US Open quarterfinals – Flavia had been there before, twice, but for Peng it would be a first.

Saying it was an instant classic won’t make justice to the match. O.K., I only watched it from the second set on, but still, it was a pretty boring tennis match. When it comes to tennis, however, the skills of the two players involved are never the only reason why a match is interesting. There is a very rare, almost unique, sauce out there, common in many sports, but only the professionals of tennis have mastered it to another level. For this rare spice, we call Drama.

And this we had galore today, mostly from the Italian part involved. From the very beginning of the second set, Flavia Pennetta started feeling ill under the blazing New York sun. From the middle of it, she was barely moving and sweating – a lot, like, really a lot, in an uncomfortable way even from viewers. But of course she wouldn’t let it go without a fight – after all, she was closer from the win than her Asian counterpart, since she had the first set already in her Adidas (I’m assuming it’s Adidas) bag.

So they played, with the constant threat of Flavia throwing up, the same way Peng was missing chances. Pennetta served for the set at 5/4, Shuai broke her, typical WTA thing. But the real deal was the tie-break.

Dry-heaving – and I’m not sure this is a verb, but what-ever – and with her movement heavily compromised, the Italian saw Peng open a 5-0 advantage, that became a 6-2 lead, with multiple set points for Peng – and who knows what would have happened to Pennetta in an eventual decider?

In the end, no decider was needed. I wish I had the video for the entire breaker, but unfortunately, I don’t. So the match point follows. It was Flavia’s fourth of the afternoon, and crowned one of the most emotional and dramatic comebacks I have seen in a while. Pure guts. In the end, you can’t just not feel bad for Peng and pumped for Pennetta.

But still, I believe it’s worth thanking Flavia – not just congratulating her for reaching the Open quarterfinals for the third time in the last four years – for sending us another reminder why we love this sport. Forza!

HERE A LINK FOR THE VIDEO, since I can’t incorporate it to WordPress.  Meh.

In the quarterfinals, Flavia Pennetta will play unseeded Angelique Kerber; whoever will prevail, will debut in a Grand Slam semifinal.

Happy Birthday, Andy!

Today is a veeeeeeeery special day. On this day, in a town east of Omaha (Bob Seger, anyone?) Andrew Stephen Roddick was born. Twenty-nine years later, here we are.

The number represents his level of awesomeness - in a 1-100 scale.

For the top-ranked American for many many years, and the last Yank to top the rankings, no words make a fair tribute. So I decided – alongside my friend and biggest fan of A-Rod I know, @cacwhere – to put together 29 Andy Roddick facts for you – and, even more important, for him.

There we go. Be ready to take a fucking bow to the man who was the GOAT before the term came into popular use and still is, up to date.

 

1- Grand Slam title, the ’03 US Open

2- Miami titles (2004/2010). He’s also won the Cincinnati shield twice (2003/2006)

3- Times a Wimbledon finalist, in 2004, 2005 and 2009

4- Continents on which Andy Roddick has won a title: America, Europe, Asia and Oceania

5- Masters Series titles.

6- Titles in 2003 – his most prolific year: St. Poelten, Queen’s, Indianapolis, Montreal, Cincinnati and the US Open

7- Ranking of Carlos Moyá, Andy Roddick’s very first opponent as the leader of the ranking, at the ’03 Masters Cup; Roddick won, 6/2, 3/6, 6/3

8- Finals reached in 2003 and 2004 – best marks of his career; Roddick went 6-2 in 2003 and 4-4 in 2004.

9- Consecutive years with a top-10 year-end ranking. Only Roger Federer, among actives, has a similar record

10- Titles outside the United States: Queen’s (4x), Brisbane, Lyon, Dubai, St. Poelten, Montreal and Beijing

11- Consecutive years winning at least one singles title: He’s one of two active players to do so; this is the 5th longest streak of all-time

12- Decisive Davis Cup wins – the clinchers; Also his US Open participations completed in 2011.

13- Weeks as #1 – from 13.11.2003 to 01.02.2004, ranking him as the 15th all-time.

14- Year-ending ranking in 2001 – his first full year as a pro; He had finished 2000 at #158

15(5) – Miles per hours, his fastest serve – an ace struck at a Davis Cup tie v. Vladimir Voltchkov, from Belarus. For years to come, this was the fastest service ever recorded

16- Age on 17.05.1999 – date of his first professional match, at the Vero Beach F4; He lost to then-512 Nicolas Todero from Argentina, losing 3/6, 3/6.

17- Years when turned pro, in 2000

18- Years old – his age when beating a top-10 for the first time: #4 Pete Sampras at the 2001 Miami Masters; Roddick was also 18 when won a title for the first time, at ’01 Atlanta.

19- Matches won between Montreal and the US Open, in 2003 – his longest winning streak.

20- Titles won in the United States: Memphis, San Jose, Houston, Washington (3x), Miami, Cincinnati, Indianapolis (2x), Atlanta and the US Open

21 – Wins shy of his 600th career triumph, ranking him second among active players.

22- Player to ever top the ATP rankings since the introduction, in 1973.

23- Tournaments played in 2003 – still his record for most events played in a single season.

24- ATP 250/500 titles.

25- Ties played for the United States Davis Cup team – with 18 wins.

26- His age in April/2009 – when married actress and model Brooklyn Decker

27- Matches at Challenger level – with an outstanding 23-4 record, three titles and one final.

28- Years-old – Andy’s age when he won Memphis earlier this year – his 30th career title.

29- candles blown by the birthday boy today. Happy birthday, Andy! And please, never ever change.

 

"What? Me? Nah, I'm just relaxing."

30 Days of Tennis Challenge – Day 30: Favorite tennis related pic

It’s done. It’s over. It ends today. Oh my God, I will miss it, but hope the readers and friends the Tennis Challenge brought to Daily Scores will remain. Life goes on, friends.

Finishing it, here’s my favorite tennis related pic.

There’s no much to say about it. It was, in fact, the first post of Daily Scores history. I will quote here what I said there:

 

“As the soon-to-be Major, Mikhail fondles Igor’s hair, I can totally see on his face that expression, that says: “Roughly two decades from now I will be the biggest bad-ass on the circuit”.

As for Andreev, I totally read on that childish smile of his:  “I will be a good player. But one day that little Maria girl will grow up and become a gorgeous woman, and she will be the one fondling my hair, and that’s okay and totally enough for me, because who needs to play high level tennis when you share the bed with a grown up MaKiri?”

Oh, those future tennis stars from the post-Soviet Russia of the 1990s…”

 

Thanks for sticking around, fellas. A goodbye post will follow.

30 Days of Tennis Challenge – Day 18: Favorite men’s outfit

Three words, one for each stripe: Three Stri Pes. (Ehhhh, poetic license?)

I’m an Adidas fanboy. There’s no reason to deny it. Since 2007, I only wear Adidas shoes. My favorite football teams – Palmeiras, Bayern München, Liverpool and Ajax – all are sponsored by Adidas, which me gusta. I have this admiration for the German company. And it’s not because of this personal preference I like their tennis apparel. Nope. It’s the other way around, in fact.

 

This one.

Jurgen Melzer’s 2009 Indian Wells outfit. Was the first tennis outfit I glanced at and said: ‘WANT!’. Even today, I’m still looking forward to acquire the green Barricade – though I’m reluctant in paying 400 bucks on a pair of shoes.

 

Special mentions:

Andy Murray, Australian Open 2011 

Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros 2010

Richard Gasquet, Lacoste 2011 

Florian Mayer/Gilles Simon, Hamburg 2011 

Roger Federer, US Open 2009 

 

Useful:

Prologue and explanation

Day 1 – Favorite men’s player

Day 2 – Favorite women’s player

Day 3 – Favorite doubles team

Day 4 – Least favorite men’s player

Day 5 – Least favorite women’s player

Day 6 – Most memorable match

Day 7 – First player you became a fan of

Day 8 – Earliest tennis memory

Day 9 – Favorite retired men’s player

Day 10 – Favorite retired women’s player

Day 11 – A player nobody would expect you to love

Day 12 – A player that you aren’t a fan of but you respect

Day 13 – Favorite Grand Slam tournament

Day 14 – Favorite non-Slam tournament

Day 15 – Most attractive women’s player

Day 16 – Most attractive men’s player

Day 17 – Favorite women’s outfit

 

30 Days of Tennis Challenge – Day 1: Favorite men’s player

Let’s start from the start. You totally didn’t guess that, eh?

 

The kid with the red shoes. Watching Davis Cup like a boss

No tough call here at all. In a modern world where the two super-potencies (now three) call the plays like the Cold War (and it’s a cold world in ATP these days), I have a manly sweet spot for Andrew Stephen.

His closest opponent on this race was beaten by a good margin – I’m sorry Soderling, you will always be my #2.

Now, why Roddick? Good question, eh? Always is. I don’t find him hot, so this hypothesis is automatically ruled out. I didn’t follow him back in the glory days of 2002-04 – when I started dedicating my time to tennis, he was already a mid-top-10 character.

But he still had the big serve. And the personality. Enough.

Andy is all but robotic, differently from some of today’s big stars. He screams at umpires, throws his racquet, have his tantrums in the old fashioned way. And still, he has enough conscience to recognize his opponent was better than him in his losses.

And even though he has slightly declined in the past year and a half, maddening and saddening me a little more, I refuse to give up. Even though the backhand is now mostly a lousy slice, and the volleys are far from being super effective, I will hang on there. Until the end.

Call him underachiever. Call him a serve-only player. Call him overrated. But better don’t do that in front of me 😉

Keep rocking, An-DAY!

 

Also on this list:

 

2- Robin Söderling

3- Tommy Haas

4- David Nalbandian

5- Julien Benneteau

 

USEFUL:

Prologue and explanation

 

Kirilenko in two vids

So, as you, tennis fans, probably already know, Kirilenko attempted a tweener – or the famous Gran-Willy, immortalized by both Willy and Rodger – today, in her match vs. fellow Adidas-sponsored Petkovic.

And she made it! /Shocked

I have seen some WTA players trying it recently, but I can’t recall any of them being successful (*cough* Ana?). In fact, the last tweener effectively hit by a girl that I can remember is the one Schiavone did at the US Open (will also post the video).

So, if you’re now asking “what’s the meaning???”, I answer: Does it have to be meaningful to be nice???

Think about it.

Oh yeah, before I forget, the vids:

Kiri’s tweener vs. Petko (she lost the match, btw)

BONUS – Schiavone’s tweener

OH YEAH, I NEARLY MISSED IT. The title says “Kirilenko in two vids”, correct? Correct, because I wrote it.

The second is from her match vs. Kuznetsova in Rome last year. It’s pretty famous too (I guess) (100% sure it is among tennis fans).

Kirilenko – the master of the tricky shots