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