Top Five Moments in Tennis This Week 8/31/16

us open tenntis lupita

This is my first mid-week report. So you already know this slam is producing some great tennis! Lupita’s presence at the US Open should have alerted me that though this open has not garnered the mass media coverage it did last year for Serena’s Golden Slam Run, it would be even more intriguing. From the unveiling of Ashe and Grandstand renovations to the many opportunities for new records, this slam promises to give fans memories for a lifetime.

Check-out my five top mements this week and let me know yours?

5. Racquet Magazine is a new quarterly sixty dollar print only subscription. Though I too love print magazines, it is odd and likely not a viable model in 2016; this venture neglects the massive online readers. The kick starter raised $55,059 with 643 backers as of June 19, 2016. It would have been nice if one of the pieces from the first edition was available on-line. The ten articles listed are intriguing, from a commonly heard mantra, “The Davis Cup is Broken” to “Tennis is Not a Literary Sport” which explores an essay about an essay that has defined much of tennis writing. Racquet aspires to the intellectual dexterity of well knowns like The Nation or The New Yorker, but its rate far exceeds its tennis competitors and it does not appear to be targeting the active online tennis community. This totally disregards millenniums even though it is using an indie magazine model. Focusing on a niche segment of an already niche elite sport is daring to say the least.  There is room to compete if not eclipse the competition, Tennis and   Tennis View but this print approach is limited and a rather unusual way to reach its stated goal: to broaden the tennis conversation and bring a diverse set of voices to the sport. I have not done the research to definitely answer this query, but I wonder how the editorial staff, approach and end product of this venture would do on a diversity/inclusion inquiry?

4. No news on Maria Sharapova appeal. At this point, they may wait until the September 19th deadline hoping to bury the decision minimizing front page scrutiny. The Washington Post  has noted her many activities during the suspension. She has attende Harvard and done internships with Nike and the NBA. I guess a suspension does some bodies good. Most interestingly, the article also notes that “the NBA will add meldonium to its banned-substance list in time for the coming season.”

3. On twitter freelance writer Bobby Chintapilli (noted that Venus Williams has set the record for the most Grand Slam main draw appearances in the open era at 72. With this US Open she ellipses Amy Frazier with 71. Her first round match was a bit confounding. Though she looked to be closing the match in two sets, she went away in the second set, blowing a considerable lead but she righted the ship and closed out the match 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.

2. Some of our favorite players had major injury asterisks on slam draws: Serena (shoulder), Del Potro (Wrist), Djokovic (Wrist) and Venus (Health). They all pulled through their first round matches. Of the group Serena looked the best. Her serve questions were put to rest in the first game with three aces to win the game 40-0 and the match 6-3, 6-3; There was no slow start. Serena dispatched a tough competitor with the kind of vigor we last saw a couple years ago when she went of a tear for twelve months. We will have to see how her shoulder holds up for subsequent matches, but her draw moving forward is favorable. She is on her way to Slam #23 to displace Graf from her long-held record of #22 slams and 186 weeks at #1. Though there is less media hype surrounding this venture the stakes are high for Serena and she has her game face on so the field should be shaking!

1. The most perplexing match of the US Open thus far is Kuznetsova vs. Wozniacki (Round Two). The match began with some questionable commentating implying that Wozniacki had the upper hand record or skill set at the start of the match. She has had a terrible year, is coming off an ankle injury, dispute with her federation and simply has no weapons to upset her opponent’s play even though their head-to-head is 6-6. Kuznetsova has been playing really good tennis and she came-out swinging. Wozniacki had to dig deep; she was down 0-4. And when she hit an ace at 15-30 the commentators practically did somersaults. Much like Bouchard, I never understood the hype surrounding Wozniacki’s game. Her serve, forehand, backhand, net play and on-court IQ are average. She does not take the ball early like Bouchard and she also is not aggressive or imposing. Her game has centered on her ability to consistently run down and return balls. It’s like her game plan is to exhaust and frustrate her opponent. She does not make winners but she also does not sprinkle unforced errors on her stat sheet. The ninth game perfectly illustrates her true gift. It was nearly nine minutes long and though her first serve was MIA she still won it. Wozniacki then roared back with six straight games to take the set. In the second set she was up 5-2 before Kuznetsova found a bit of what she opened the match with but it was too little to late. Kuznetsova was a prize fighter dazed by a combination she knew was coming but could not avoid. The steady player won the match 6-4, 6-4. I’ll have to re-watch this match for more clarity. I saw it but I still don’t quite believe it.

Though power and guile are far more appealing to watch, focused and relentless backboard play can take down the greatest players. Wozniacki beats many opponents with her focus. She just does not go away; she does not lose focus; she sticks to her game. She may have found her confidence and grove but she is unlikely to win a slam with her game. Like Radwanksa, she excels at what she does, but she will need a draw blessed by God Himself to maneuver through the depth of weapons on the tour. It is nearly impossible for her to fell a WTA giant server, strategist or mover. However, with this match she reclaims her niche as a disruptor and solid tennis player.

BONUS-I really miss Federer’s presence, play and style. The highest paid tennis player will hopefully arrive on wings at the top of the year as he has announced his season is over on medical advice. Speaking of tennis ambassadors, given Kaepernick’s stand on the National Anthem, I wondered if any tennis player on tour would voice such strong views. What do you think?

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