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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