• Category Archives US Open
  • Sloane Stephens, Pablo Carreno Busta Reach First US Open Semis

    Tuesday Sept 5, 207

    Flushing Meadow, NY

    I was lucky enough to get an invitation into Arthur Ashe today and saw Pablo Carreno Busta (PCB) of Spain take out Diego Swartzman of Argentina in straight sets and Sloane Stephens continue her post surgery comeback with a thrilling three set win over Sevastova of Latvia.

    PCB and Swartzman play quite a lot alike but PCB is a bigger stronger version of the tiny (from a tennis perspective) Swartzman. PCB is the highest seed left on the bottom of the draw and was a quarterfinalist at the French Open, so he’d been in this situation before, unlike Swartzman. He played the break points and big points better and overall was a bit better at being a good mover and solid baseliner. He won 64 64 62.

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    After the men’s match Stephens and Sevastova played and it was a great match. Sevastova is a very good tennis player. She alters the pace and location of the ball, mixing in slower and faster serves, drives and slices and drop shots. Stephens won the first set by being patiently aggressive and at the end of the set just patient as Sevastova appeared to be injured. After an injury time out, Sevastova came out playing well again and Stephens was too passive, letting Sevastova control the points and Stephens looked a bit tired. That continued into the third, with Sloane trailing 3-1 ad out before she dug in and leveled the set at 3-3. The two held on from there until the inevitable tiebreak. The points were fun, lots of long ones using much of the court. Sloane has an easy power, and when she chose to use it, was consistent. The crowd really urged her on. It wasn’t the Ole Ole Ole of the Delpotro match but it was Let’s Go Sloane which was effective. It’s noisy inside of Ashe whether or not the roof is closed.

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    I ran into tennis friends Michael Cooke, Burnadette Lehman and Sheila Weinstock today.

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    And that is a wrap on the US Open…on my way home early tomorrow.

    Next up: Super Seniors in Orlando and Seniors in Miami.


  • Delpo Wins a Match and the Crowd; Kanepi Comes Back; Lopez Squared Prevail; Babos/Hlavackova Erase Deficit; Is Gauff the Future

    Monday at the Open is the last day grounds passes are held but I got full value despite arriving mid-afternoon. It was a beautiful day to watch or play tennis.

    I first went to see Coco Gauff, someone born in 2004 (let that one sink in) play doubles in the juniors, since I was told she was very good. She is very good but she still has a lot to learn about playing doubles. But her serve and groundies are really impressive for a 13 year old! She played doubles with Abigail Forbes who had nice feel around the net, helping Gauff hold serve but the duo lost to the 7th seeds from Russia. Coco is the first player, Abigail has on the white top, the Russians are high fiving.

     

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    I decided to see Kai Kanepi from Estonia who is 32 and coming back from a two year injury/illness hiatus. She took on Daria Kasatkina from Russia who took out Ostapenko (the French Open champion) on Saturday. They were just starting the second set when I arrived, Kanepi having won the first 64. Kanepi went out to a 41 lead before Daria fought back to 43 and 54. It was getting windier (see flags below) and  Kanepi seemed to get a bit nervous but at deuce at 43 she hit two monster forehands and was the more aggressive by far. Kasatkina mixed in the loops and slices that befuddled Ostapenko, who is also 20; Kanepi wasn’t rattled by the change ups and kept going for her shots. She was delighted to win and advance to the quarters, as a qualifier!

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    This guy decided it was casual Monday even though he was in the front row. Judging by his sunburn he should have put on a shirt with sleeves earlier.

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    Delpotro and Thiem were to play on the Grandstand just after the Bryan brothers finished a doubles, but figuring it would be SRO, I headed over to Court 17 to watch some doubles. I got to the court at 5-6 in the third in a match between Babos (Hungary)/Hlavackova (Czech Rep) vs Niculescu (Romania) and Hsieh (Taiwan). Niculescu/Hsieh led 4-0 in the third and 6-5 and 5-2 in the tiebreak…and Babos/Hlavackova won and fell to the ground in delight.

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    So that was exciting. The doubles match between Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez of Spain against Martin/Chardy from France was close but somehow not super exciting, too many good serves and missed returns. However Feliciano had some great moves at net and killer inside in forehands down the line. They won in two tight sets.

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    So I was then going to go watch some junior doubles, wanting to see how Sebastian Korda, Peter Korda’s son, played but was seduced by the thought of seeing some of the Delpo match which seemed to be nearly over, with Thiem leading 52 in the 4th and by 2 sets to 1. I wandered in just as Delpo tied the set at 5-5 and actually found a seat without a lot of trouble. There were three layers of spectators standing, watching above the seating area, so I got lucky. The atmosphere was amazing. So many people chanting for Delpo, Ole, Ole, Ole, Delpo! Delpo had been feeling ill with the flu and lost the first two sets quickly and won the third just as quickly before the match got exciting. It felt a lot like a Davis Cup match played in Argentina, though there were plenty of cheers for Thiem too. Thiem had a couple of match points in the 4th set, and fought off a lot of break points in the 5th. However, at Delpo win seemed inevitable after Thiem failed to convert on his match points and that was the case. Thiem pummels the ball…but Delpo absorbed it on his backhand side and returned it with interest on his forehand side.  

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  • Sunday at the US Open: Sloane & Crowd Beat Goerges; Coco & Martina Each Win Mixed; Juniors Take Over Outside Courts

    Sunday morning it rained in NY but by early afternoon the skies, well didn’t clear but stopped crying rain. I got out to the open around 3pm, just in time to see Sloane Stephens take on Julia Goerges from Germany. The first thing I noticed was the extremely vocal group that was in the volunteer seating area in Armstrong. These guys were yelling for Sloane and one or two women too. I figured they were either well lubricated or paid cheerleaders for the Americans. It turned out that at least some were from Harvard and were given tickets in exchange for cheering on the Americans. The ironic thing was that the student (who told me he was from Harvard and when I asked admitted he was given a ticket in exchange for cheering) was German so wasn’t really cheering since Goerges as I said, is German! Some female students also said they needed to sit in the volunteer area since they were given tickets I exchange for cheering. They were quire enthusiastic and in the third set even go the wave going at 41 in the third. Sloane won the match in three sets; in the first set she was down a break but broke twice to win the set 63; in the second Goerges got an early break and held serve throughout the set to win it 63. Sloane looked pretty weary in the second, but, perhaps energized by the crowd, got an early break in the third and cruised from there. Stephens also picked up her pace of shot a bit at the beginning of the third set, while not increasing her error count.

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    After watching that match, I went to see Coco Vandeweghe and Horia Tecau from Romania take on Yung Jan Chan (TPE) and Nand Zimonjic (Serbia). Chan is Hingis’ women’s doubles partner so you know she’s a good doubles player. They played on Court 10 which has stands only on one side and a low stand on the other side. I sat one row up from the court, catty-corner to Coco’s mom and relatives (at least there was a family resemblance). Mixed is fun to watch and these two teams had some amazing points. Both women pummeled returns and volleyed well. Zimonjic has been around so long his beard is flecked with gray (is 41). Tecau is a very good mixed player, great volleys and Coco volleyed better than anyone in the men’s doubles match I watched yesterday! The crowd was avidly cheering for Coco and chanting her name. She enjoyed that, played well and the pair won 64 63.

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    After leaving that match I went to see a junior match featuring Amanda Anisimova from the USA, the #4 seed against unseeded Marta Jose Portillo Ramirez of Mexico. She just turned 16 and is quite tall, listed as 5’10”. I saw her play a couple of years ago and she’s certainly grown a lot. She’s a bit awkward around the court but has a lot of poise and confidence and murders her groundstrokes. The one she hit for a winner on match point Marta just laughed at, it was so powerful. Marta had a brace on one ankle and seemed to be limping a bit but had a rally from 15 to 35 in the 2nd set as Amanda seemed to lose focus. That’s perhaps a big difference between juniors and pros.

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    As that match finished, Martina Hingis and Jamie Murray dropped the second set of their mixed match. The third set is a match tiebreak for mixed at the US Open and it was an exciting one. They played Kveta Peschke, Czech Rep.  and Marcelo Demoliner from Brazil. Both men got nervous towards the end of the match. Marcelo double faulted in the tiebreak and at 8-7, Murray to serve, he hit a half volley wide and double faulted. HIngis returned Marcelo’s serve and they won the point to level the tiebreak and won the next two points to advance to the quarters.

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    The last match I watched a bit of was Hurricane Tyra Black, USA and the 15th seed from Russia, Sofya Lansere. Lansere seemed a bit quicker and more disciplined on the court than Black who was alternating between blasting the ball (out a lot) and chipping forehands. I only watched a few games but the Russian won 63 75.

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    Oh, and that doubles match I was watching yesterday…Taylor Fritz/Reilly Opelka were edged by the Frenchmen Martin/Chardy 76 (5) in the set they played today, which I unfortunately arrived too late to witness.

    And that’s a wrap on my Sunday trip to the US Open. One more day here and I’ll be watching mostly doubles and mixed and juniors tomorrow. It’s fun to do that, I can get courtside and the crowds really get into it too.


  • US Open Tennis 2017: Bye Bye Ostapenko, Hello Rublev, Rafa Rallies, Fritz/Opelka TBF

    Today, Sept.2, 2017 is the first Saturday at the US Open. I’ve been coming to the Open every year since 1999 and this is the first time I was wearing jackets and long pants during the day session. It was quite pleasant watching, just weird.

    Today was my first time out to the Open this year. Every year recently there have been pretty big changes and this year is no different. Louis Armstrong and the old Grandstand were finally demolished to make room for a new and improved (and covered) Louis Armstrong 2.0. This year it’s a work in progress, covering most of the area of the old Armstrong and Grandstand combined. There’s a temporary Armstrong stadium behind where the old Grandstand was located and it has some of the feel fo the old Grandstand with benches, not seats and the size.

     

    I headed to Armstrong first because I wanted to see Alona Ostapenko in person. In a rematch of the Charleston final against Daria Kataskina, Kataskina prevailed again, this time on a bigger stage and a different surface. Ostapenko, the French Open champion, took the first three games. Daria hung in there, winning a bunch of close games, rope a doping her with slices off both sides, loopy shots, and then harder shots when the court was open. It was smart play. Ostapenko took a mto at 3/0 I the second and during the mto Kasatkina had the ball men toss her balls and she drove them to the corners. From 0-3 down Kasatkina won 11 straight games, then dropped two before winning the final game with a 39 shot rally. Ostapenko thrives on pace and a solid ball but she didn’t get them. The crowd was trying to will Ostapenko to victory but the other 20 year old won the match. It finished with a “drive by” handshake from Ostapenko. The announcer courtside kept asking Daria if it was hard to play a friend..but I don’t’ think these two are friends!

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    I stayed at Armstrong to watch a set of Monfils/David Goffin, since I’d never seen Goffin play. Both men sported lots of kinesio tape on one knee, Goffin on his left, Monfils on his right. Both tested each other with long rallies and drop shots. Monfils seemed to have the upper edge and had some break points midway through the set, but didn’t convert. I actually thought Goffin was limping more (till I reviewed my photos…Monfils looked stiff moving to his right). But at 5-5 Goffin had a break point, converted and won the first set 75 I left to watch Andrey Rublev play and Monfils ended up retiring down 75 51.

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    Rublev, another youngster, 19, was impressive against a solid player, Damir Dzumhur. Rublev was up 2 sets to none when I joined the match on court 5, a nice court for watching. I got a seat pretty quickly. Rublev is sold of both wings and came to net quite a lot, though bricked a volley to lose the 2nd set. He broke with the help of a net cord winner in the third set and held on to win in four. Good mover too but still needs to fill out  a bit, very skinny!

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    It was starting to spit rain by then, around 5pm but I wanted to see Taylor Fritz and Reilly Opelka, two 19 year old Americans play doubles. The match was good. They were playing two veteran French players, Chardy/Martin and lost the first set because they couldn’t hold Fritz’ serve. Opelka is about 7 feet tall and his serve didn’t come back much…Fritz is “only” 6’4 or 6’5” and when his serve came back to Opelka…well let’s put it this way…7” 19 year olds aren’t great at low volleys. However, they are great a high balls and anything floating high was dispatched into the back fence. The Americans won the second set in a tiebreak, as they improved their returns and volleys from the first set. By then it was raining steadily and I assume they will finish tomorrow.

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    Since I had a ticket into Ashe which has a roof, and since Rafa dropped the first set to a lucky loser, Mayer, I went into Ashe. The noise is better this year. The stadium was packed. I never did go up to my perch near the top of the stadium, but stayed a bit lower and took photos and watched till Rafa finally broke (he was 0-14 till he broke the first time!). After that, the floodgates opened and Rafa was up 4-1 in the third when I left and won in four sets.

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    I’m going back Monday to watch…and hoping it’s dry since I didn’t buy an Ashe ticket for Monday!


  • Labor Day in the Heat at the US Open: Williams, Murray, Tsonga, Bouchard, Makarova, Fritz, Penetta, Azaranka

    The Labor Day matches at the US Open ended on Tuesday at 2:26 am or thereabouts, though by the time Nishikori finally ousted Raonic from the Open (bad day at the office for the Canadians), I was asleep.

    Carol Wood invited me to the Presidents’ Suite at the US Open Monday, which was a treat. (Carol is a USTA delegate, part of the executive committee of the USTA). We got out to the site just after 11 am and went up to the suite (it’s where the celebrities often are during late night matches). The suite is below the announcers’ booth on the end of Ashe stadium and the camera used for end shots for the matches is in the “box”. The view of the matches is excellent and so are the amenities.

    The first match up was Flavia Pennetta from Italy (a semifinalist here last year) and Casey Dellacqua of Australia.Dellacqua near a career high ranking and Penetta is a former top 10 player (and is playing doubles with Martina Hingis here). The first 11 games of the match were all won from the south side of the stadium. Dellacqua is a lefty so it makes sense that she’d struggle hitting into the sun, but Pennetta is a righty. At any rate, Pennetta figured out the puzzle and won 75 62.

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    However, Carol and I left the suite before the match ended to go watch a junior match, Taylor Fritz vs Tim Van Rijthoven  (in green). Taylor is from Rancho Santa Fe, CA and Tim is from the Netherlands. To add  to the intrigue of this match, Fritz and Van Rijthoven are playing doubles together this week. It was hot out there (and everywhere else actually.). Fritz is the 14th seed and the first set was close; Fritz converted one break point and won the set behind it 63. He seemed to be in control and we left to get lunch. The match turned out to be a barn burner, won by Fritz 63 67 75 and he rallied from a break down in the third to win it. (Today Taylor won his singles easily and he and Tim advanced to the round of 16 in doubles..they are seeded 5th.) We were there a bit early and saw the last game of the Donaldson match (in red top)

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    After a nice lunch we caught the second set of Serena and Kaia Kanepi of Estonia. Kanepi hits hard; so does Serena and she moves better and is more consistent…she won 63 63, but failed to serve out the match at 52 (she seemed to get tight), but broke to win the match and reach her first quarterfinal of the year at a Grand Slam. She was quite happy about that!

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    After the Serena match, Andy Murray (GBR) and Jo Wilfred Tsonga (France) were next up. I thought that could be a very long match. Tsonga won their last match, in three sets in Toronto, and went on to beat Federer in the final as well as Djokovic, so he seemed to be in form. I’m a Murray fan, so I was concerned. Andy won the first set, though it was tight. He has a better backhand and serve return in general than Tsonga and was moving well.

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    We left the match then to go see a set of the Genie Bouchard/Ekaterina Makarova match on Armstrong. The first set was long and tough, won by Makarova, who beat Diyas the round before. Makarova won the second set 64, but by that time we had returned to Ashe to watch the end of the Murray/Tsonga match.

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    When we returned, Murray was down 1/0 which constituted a break and lost the next game. The turning point of the set was the third game; Tsonga had multiple chances to break but didn’t succeed; Murray held and broke and broke again at 65 for the match. Murray had cramped badly first round at the Open, and it was much hotter Monday. I thought he looked like he was going to cramp again, but he was delighted to finish off the match in just under three hours, in straight sets. He plays Djokovic next.

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    We were ushered out of the suite after the Murray match. Carol and another tennis friend went off to Armstrong to catch the Wawrinka/Robredo match while I hit the Nike store and wandered the grounds a bit before joining them. Wawrinka and Robredo have beautiful one handed backhands, but Wawrinka is a little stronger, hits a little harder and earlier…but Robredo never gives up and is super fit too. Wawrinka won the set we watched before getting dinner and going over to Ashe for the night session.

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    The last women’s match of the day was Victoria Azarenka and Aleksandra Krunic, a qualifier from Serbia. It was highly entertaining…even from our high viewpoint, you could see the change of pace Krunic uses, interspersed with sonic boom serves and groundstrokes. We arrived with Azarenka up 43 (she’d been up 40) and watched her implode, losing the set 64. She improved her court position and Krunic made a few bad shot choices, and Azarenka won the final sets 64 64. Krunic is a lot better than 145…but she’s tiny..anyway, she should be a more familiar name in the tennis world in the future. She’s 21 and up to yesterday had won about $45,000 this year; she won $187,000 for reaching the US Open fourth round.

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    It was nearly 10pm by the time that match ended so we left; I watched a good deal of Nishikori (wearing Uniqlo apparel) and Raonic but fell asleep before it ended.

    It was another good trip to NY, good by NYC, see you next year.

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  • US Open Sunday: Heat and Rain, Thunder and Lightning; Late Night Tennis

    Today I got out to the US Open a bit earlier, though I had a couple of meetings today, and, not having had lunch, went to “Dave’s Place” (Dave Haggerty is the USTA President/Chairman of the Board), a hospitality area for volunteers where lunch was being served. It was really hot at the time, midday, and very humid. The lunch was a good opportunity to network…and eat lunch.

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    So, after lunch, I wandered over to Armstrong stadium and caught the second set of the Williams sisters’ rout of a Spanish team, Muguraza and Suarez-Navarro. They really had fun playing together…at one point Serena poached, made the shot but not as a put away, so bent over and tried to reverse and get the response (fail) while Venus was laughing in the background.

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    After watching that set I went down to the volunteer lounge, caught up with friends (Cathie Anderson, Carol Clay, Katie Koontz and Anne Schwartz) and watched the final set of Sharapova Wozniaki on a screen there.

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    Then I took off for the new courts 4-6 and the practice courts. I really like that area! Gael Monfils was practicing but I didn’t take photos…instead I went to watch a couple of US junior players on courts 4 and 6 with a mixed doubles pro match  in between. It was interesting watching the juniors…on one court (Blinkova, Russia, in black vs Ivanova (USA though she was born in Russia) points were short, lots of errors. I only watched three games but Blinkova seemed faster and had more racquet head speed, though Ivanova was ranked higher. Blinkova led 41 when play was suspended.

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    Then I saw Kenin (also born in Russia, but also playing for the USA, in Nike blue and pink) vs Grende (INA). Those points were longer, Kenin, who just played in the Youth Olympic Games representing the USA is slight, quick, and gets a lot of balls back; Grende is bigger and stronger and won the only game I watched before the match was suspended. Grende led 3/2 on serve.

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    It was getting dark and there was thunder and lots of lightning (and it apparently hit the ESPN booth) and finally, about 15 minutes after the first lightning I saw, they called matches because of lightning. Then the heavens opened up and it started to pour just as I was in line to get on the bus to go back to the hotel around 5:30 or so. So I saw only a little of this mixed doubles match, but it was a good one.

     

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  • US Open, New York City

    New York City is LOUD! No wonder New Yorkers sometimes talk loudly…they have to do so to be heard over the din. Though there are an awful lot of people in NY who just tune out…either they are listening to something on their phones or texting while walking (slowly walking). In other words, it’s not San Diego, but that’s ok, it’s fun and exciting to be here.

    I walked from the Hyatt yesterday through Grand Central station (totally bustling at 8:30 on a Friday night) over to the Fifth Avenue (checked out Uniqlo on the way up and the Lindt chocolate store), to Central Park then walked back down Madison Ave…lots of tourists (quite a few French tourists I think) and back to the hotel.

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    Today I went to the US Open after our meetings and saw a smorgasbord of matches. I checked out the new practice courts (Federer was there, practicing with Stepanich and also had Edberg and two other coaches on the court; Bouchard was there too with Nick Saviano). Of course since Federer was practicing there was a line. By the time I got a seat he was mostly done and just practicing some trick shots and a few serves. He was having fun and really seems to be able to hit almost any shot he wants, incredible spin shots for example. He served and volleyed a fair amount too.

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    After Fed finished, I checked out the new courts 4, 5 and 6, which were redone this year and are quite nice. I saw Makarova beat up on Diyas (who took out Bellis a couple of days ago); Makarova, a tall lefty, had too much power for Diyas and was pretty consistent with it, so she won 62 64, but it was a fun match.

     

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    Next up was mixed doubles. I watched the first set of Lisa Raymond and Scott Lipsky vs Peschke/Matkowski. Peschke played for the San Diego Aviators I think but I found myself rooting for Raymond/Lipsky. They won the first set but it was tight, they won a 3-3 point for the only break of the set; margins are narrow in mixed which uses no ad and a match tiebreak in lieu of a third set (the only slam to do so); they lost 11-9 in a match tiebreak later in the day. What I noticed about the mixed is that everyone seems to be at least 35 and the players don’t look like singles players, but it was still fun to watch.

     

    IMG_0371 US Open Starred photos Aug 30 2014-032 US Open Starred photos Aug 30 2014-034 US Open Starred photos Aug 30 2014-036 US Open Starred photos Aug 30 2014-037 US Open Starred photos Aug 30 2014-039 Dot formation rarely works...it didn't here. US Open Starred photos Aug 30 2014-041 US Open Starred photos Aug 30 2014-043

    After watching the mixed I headed back to Armstrong to see if Isner could beat Kohlschreiber. I watched the third set; Isner had a break point, didn’t convert and lost it in a tiebreak…in fact he lost all three tiebreaks he played today against his German foe and lost in four sets. But by that time…

     

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    I headed over to Grandstand to see the Bryan Brothers play another American team, the unlikely pairing of Michael Russell who is 36, short and about as fit as anyone could be and 17 year old Jared Donaldson who is a lot taller than Russell…seems to be in the 6’4” or taller range and has the look of a Labrador puppy…all arms and legs and very lanky with toothpicks for legs. The Bryans won very easily, though Donaldson held serve twice in the second set…Donaldson had trouble returning and volleying (which may be why he was at the baseline when Russell returned…he missed a lot of volleys! After the match, the Bryans stayed a long time, Bob autographed half a bag of tennis balls (not just the normal three) and Mike hit them into the stands; then they both stayed and signed dozens of autographs. I saw Mike in the hallway under Armstrong after the match and mentioned how nice it was that they signed so many autographs and he just said it was fun. They are really good for tennis.

     

    US Open Starred photos Aug 30 2014-061 US Open Starred photos Aug 30 2014-064 US Open Starred photos Aug 30 2014-065 US Open Starred photos Aug 30 2014-066 Bryans signed dozens of balls and hit them into the stands,  then dozens of autographs for fans. Bob autographed the balls and Mike hit them into the stands. Teamwork on and off the court. US Open Starred photos Aug 30 2014-071 US Open Starred photos Aug 30 2014-072

    And that’s the end of Saturday in NY…more good tennis tomorrow and more good meetings.