Djokovic Determined After First Round Win

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – In his postgame interview after his first round drubbing of Conor Niland, 6-0 5-1 (Withdrew), Novak Djokovic was posed this question:

Speaking of entertainment, for years you were trying to pass Roger and Rafa.  In terms of entertainment, Rafa is almost like a rock star.  He’s so appealing.  And Roger is beautiful and perfect and graceful.  How do you think you’re taken and received here in North America?

To that the No. 1 seed responded: “What about me?”

Well some people call him the space cowboy and some the gangster of love.

To the rest of us he’s The Djoker and he very well can be on his first US Open title.

Actually, Djokovic is having a very good year, winning both the Australian Open and Wimbledon, while getting to the Semifinals of the French Open. If he continues on his torrid pace and takes the crown in Flushing Meadows, it may go down as the best year for a player in history.

 

Sounds big,” he laughed when asked the question. “No, this year has been tremendous, best so far in my career, and there has been a lot of talks about history making and this incredible run.

“No doubt I’m extremely honored and privileged to be part of the elite of the players that have made, you know, the history of the sport in some ways.

“But my main focus is really on the court.  I need to take one match at a time.  That’s the only way I can really perform well.”

For any athlete, especially one like Djokovic, staying healthy is the most important aspect to winning. After Wimbledon, the 24 year had shoulder problems, which caused him to sit out the rest of the summer after the Cincinnati Open.

“Well, the shoulder in Cincinnati didn’t feel good obviously, and throughout the whole week I was carrying the, you know, kind of pain and discomfort in my shoulder,” Djokovic said. “But after Cincinnati I took some time off, and I did everything in order to recover the shoulder.  Today I didn’t feel any pain.  I served well and I played well, so I have no concern.”

Yet the rest of the field may have some concerns, especially with this champion stepping up his game. Although an American audience will root for Mardy Fish or Andy Roddick to advance, the tennis watching world probably is pulling for a Djokovic to take on Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer.

Yet, that’s still pretty far off in the future, as it’s a long two weeks. The Dark Knight will wait for the Djoker. Up until then Flushing Meadows will enjoy this young attacker, who is enjoying a resurgence after ticking off the crowd with some on the court comments a few years ago, making him an arch villain.

“Well, you know, it’s equally important, of course, to play well on the court and to do your job to win, you know,” he said. “As much as you’re successful and as much as you win, you get more attention from the media and from the people, and you get more respect, obviously, from your colleagues.

“But I think it’s really important as well to carry yourself off the court in a good way.  I have been learning that throughout my whole career, and last couple of years I have experienced some good and bad situations on and off the court.

“But I accepted that all as a big lesson in my life and, you know, something that can serve me well for my future.  You know, I’m aware of the responsibility that I have as a present No. 1 to, you know, represent the sport as well in some ways off the court.

“So I need to do that in a best possible way.  You know, I’m trying.  You tell me, how am I doing?”

Pretty well, Novak. Pretty well.

 

 

 

Life Lessons From Professor Querrey

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Bradley Klahn learned a few lessons today and the first one is Sam Querrey plays hardball. Maybe it comes from his love of his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers, or maybe it’s just the only thing he knows.

One thing’s for certain, though, Klahn learned that the hard way during the first set of Querrey’s first round match, when Klahn took a shot right to….well you know.

“That was an accident.,” Querrey said. “I mean, he hit a dropshot, and I ran up there and it was kind of better than I thought.  So I kind of got a little confused where I was going to hit it.  I kind of went at him.  I didn’t mean to hit it there.  I felt bad because he’s my buddy.”

What the 23 year-old LA Open Champion didn’t feel bad about were the results, a 6-3 4-6 7-5 6-4 win over the his practice partner and Stanford  junior, who is just learning the play with the professionals.

“You definitely have to learn,” Querrey said.  “I remember the first time I played Roger when I was 18.  I went out there knowing I was gonna lose.

“I was 18.  He was like amazing.  It was in Miami.  It was a night match.  I didn’t know I was going to lose, but I assumed I was gonna lose.  First time, I don’t want to embarrass myself out there.

“But the more that I played, you know, Roger and Rafa and Andy and practiced with them, you know, you take the occasional set off them in practice and take a set here or two in the match and you beat a top 10 guy, then you kind of start to get the belief.

“You know, even if ‑‑ you know, I beat Roddick next last year who was ranked 7.  When you see him beat these guys, it kind of gives you the belief that you could beat these guys too.  It definitely takes a couple of years to get used to, you know, practicing with them, playing with them, and, you know, then you can beat them.”

So consider that Lesson No. 2 for Klahn and no onto Lesson No. 2, keeping up with the heat. With temperatures in the Mid-90s today, Querrey said he was definitely feeling it, as was Klahn, especially in the fourth set where the No. 20 seed was up 5-2, but Klahn came back, because the more experienced player was starting to cramp up.

“Yeah, I mean, if he would have won that set, that have been an entertaining fifth set,” Querrey said.  “I mean, he was cramping worse than I was.  I don’t know what that would have been in the fifth set.  Just serve and one shot.”

Querrey said he felt he didn’t hydrate himself properly before today’s match, which could be why he cramped up. He also said that the weather today was no worse than the Legg Mason tournament earlier this month. In fact, he is against any rule changes that will allow for weather breaks.

“We talked about that in the council meeting the other day, whether or not they should close the roof if it gets to be, you know, over a certain temperature,” he said. “I think, you know, tennis is a physical sport.  You should be rewarded with the hard work you put in.  If the heat is too much for some guys, you know, if you’re the more fit player, you shouldn’t get penalized for that.  I don’t think so.”

Nadal/Gonzalez Suspended Along with Fans

A really good men’s quarter between Rafael Nadal and Fernando Gonzalez was suspended due to incoming rain. The entertaining match to take on previous winner Juan Martin Del Potro in the semis had already been stopped twice and apparently, reports of more rain made it impossible to complete before disappointed Ashe spectators who patiently waited it out.

What they did at least get were two high quality sets in which neither player broke with Nadal leading 7-6 (4), 3-2 in a second set tiebreaker. Despite a visit from the trainer along with a three-minute injury timeout to treat his strained abdominal muscle, the gritty No.3 seeded Spaniard was in front thanks to fighting off two set points in the 12th game of the opening set- getting a little help from Gonzalez who had a soft 92 mph second serve but misfired a return forehand.

The set went to a tiebreak where Nadal proved to be more consistent playing superb defense while Gonzalez self-destructed contributing a few of his 18 unforced errors including a wild forehand to give the six-time grand slam winner the set.

That’s when an ailing Rafa was visited by the trainer before action continued. Neither player changed their strategy much in a gunslinger second set where Gonzalez continued to pound away against the counter punching Nadal whose defense made it increasingly tough for the 11th seeded Chilean to find any momentum.

The first rain delay came at two all lasting exactly an hour. When they returned, it looked like they might get the rest of the set in which included three huge saves by Gonzalez to get out of trouble in the 10th game. He fought off three set points delivering with a pair of service winners and a monstrous forehand into an open court. Two more big forehands down the line allowed him to hold for five all.

Each then held to force another breaker. Unlike the first one which Gonzalez fell behind in 1-4, he and Nadal exchanged mini-breaks thanks to great defense forcing errors to make it 2-3. But with Gonzalez ready to serve, a few drops came making wild conditions which already included swirling winds impossible to continue.

The players first sat in their chairs hopeful it would pass but eventually went back to the locker room thanks to another rain delay.

As the clock struck midnight, returning fans clapped expecting the players to return to a dried court ready to do battle. Unfortunately, veteran chair umpire Pascal Maria delivered the bad news to some jeers and “Ohhhh’s and Awwww’s.”

Who could blame them? If only the USTA had enough common sense to plan ahead. Would it have really hurt to move the two doubles matches to Louis Armstrong?

What they could’ve done was keep the mixed doubles championship on Ashe while asking the Williams sisters to play on Armstrong due to the weather forecast. While that might not have been too popular a decision, at least it would’ve made sense with the popular Serena and Venus Williams playing a women’s doubles semifinal they prevailed in the old stadium so the men could at least get the final quarterfinal in.

Now, the winner will have to play consecutive days and potentially three which could really be a disadvantage the rest of the weekend. Had they been more prepared, it also wouldn’t have been such an inconvenience for fans who paid hard earned money to see a high quality match.

What happens now? They’re screwed because as Maria sadly announced, Session 22 was considered complete. On the official U.S. Open site, the following message reads:

We are currently planning to play the Friday day session # 23 as scheduled. Due to weather, we recommend you continue to check USOpen.org for weather and scheduling updates.

The big question is what does this do to the two women’s semis scheduled for later today with Caroline Wozniacki taking on Yanina Wickmayer while Serena battles Kim Clijsters. Originally, the first match between the ninth seeded Wozniacki and unseeded Wickmayer is supposed to go off at 12:30 today with the battle of champions to follow.

Why not move the ladies back allowing Gonzalez and Nadal to complete their match on Ashe? It all depends on the weather which while not expected to be as bad, could be sketchy with possible rain.

Complicating matters is that the men’s doubles final between fourth seeded Lukas Dlouhy/Leander Paes and third seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles was supposed to be played on Ashe at approximately 3:30 PM.

If you go by the emergency schedule, they list Nadal-Gonzalez not before 2 PM with a possible relocation to Armstrong. Apparently, that option is also available for Wozniacki-Wickmayer and the doubles championship.

It wouldn’t be fair to move the ladies to Armstrong as each has earned their place on center stage at Ashe. Something they’d never consider for Williams-Clijsters.

Shouldn’t the guys get theirs in as early as possible due to having to go on Super Saturday against a more rested Del Potro? One would think so. But that’s the dilemma facing the USTA due to CBS. With three networks covering the final grand slam, this shouldn’t be such an issue. But thanks to CBS who has exclusive rights the rest of the event including the women’s semis and men’s doubles final slotted between 12:30-6 PM, it’s a dicey situation for viewers.

Unless you have high speed internet access, you’re likely to get the shaft in terms of missing either the Nadal-Gonzalez conclusion or Wozniacki-Wickmayer which definitely isn’t fair.

Oh. CBS will do the best job possible moving between venues to update. But it kinda sucks if you’re a hardcore tennis fan.

These two weeks have been kind to New York with last night the first rain interrupted session. You almost never can make it through one slam without at least one of these situations arising.

We just wish the USTA had done a better job planning with the biggest weekend ahead.

Match Notes:

Gonzalez drops first set in tiebreak to Nadal 7-6 (4).

-Gonzalez hit big striking more than double winners (16-7) while also serving 5 aces to keep serve during tight set.

-But Nadal saved 2 set points with one huge Gonzalez forehand return netted on a 92 MPH 2nd serve.

-In tiebreak, Rafa took a 4-1 lead thanks to more consistency. Gonzalez miscues including a wild forehand handed him the set. Nadal made just four errors while Fernando committed 18.

-At end of set, trainer visited Nadal treating his injured abdominal muscle.

2nd Set

-Nadal and Gonzalez on serve 2 all when rain suspends play for first time all tournament.

-1 hour rain delay

-No breaks of serve

-10th game gusts fly up blowing things around and Gonzo stops to watch trying to stay in set. Nadal then plays amazing D getting to possible winners drawing an errant overhead for 0-30. Double hands Nadal 2 set points. 2 service winners save them.

-3rd set point on long backhand in memorable 10th game. On set point after great Gonzo save, tennis ball blows onto court for let. Weird. On let, Gonzo shows heart with forehand winner into open court saving another pumping self up. Gonzalez then wins challenge for forehand winner on line. Another cross court forehand gives him big hold.

-Nadal holds at love for 6-5 putting pressure on Fernando, who holds easily for another breaker.

-Rafa plays great defense forcing long forehand to earn mini-break for 2-1.

-Gonzo comes back drawing Nadal backhand miss to earn mini back for 2-2.

-At 3-2 Nadal, rain drops suspend play again and players go to locker room after waiting to see if it would stop.

-Over an hour delay again as they ready court with tiebreak on serve with Gonzalez to serve 2-3.

-With reports of more rain as the court was dry and ready to go with fans who stayed excited, play is officially suspended ending Session No.22 to the dismay of those who stuck around, throwing a wrinkle into Friday’s Session 23 that includes both women’s semis and the men’s doubles final.