So much tennis, so little time. So here are some more tennis moments this week…
5. Roger Federer is promoting his brainchild, The Rod Laver Cup, a new three-day, team-format event billed as Europe against the world. Played annually except during Olympic years, it will feature the four highest-ranked players for each side and have designated captains. There will be 12 matches played over three days (nine singles and three doubles). All the matches will be best-of-three, but if the first two sets are split, they will go to a 10-point tiebreaker. The inaugural Laver Cup tournament is scheduled for September 22-24, 2017 at the O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic.
Though the team lists have not been released, it is clear that America will be the underdogs. The question is, will this tournament rise above the level of an exhibition? This is a nice acknowledgement of Rod Laver’s contribution to the foundation of the sport. But was there another way to recognize him? Adding yet another tournament to an already unyielding schedule highlights the sport’s inability to govern itself. Tennis’ growth is much like an amoeba, parasitic cell, or English ivy. The sport refuses to innovate to its detriment.
4. ESPN continues to make questionable match selections. On Friday, two Americans were playing at critical junctures in their matches, Keys and Sock, and the decision was made to showcase the tiebreaker of Tsonga/Anderson. Tsonga was up two sets and playing a compromised player, though minimally. Keys/Osaka and Sock/Cilic were more compelling narratives and matches. This is neither the first nor will it be the last confounding decision ESPN will make during the US Open. This fopas or incompetence is only exceeded by the continued use of horrendous commentators. Chris Evert is a tennis legend, but her commentating lacks any sensibility. When she is coupled with Cliff Drysdale, it is best to simply watch the match on mute. However, I totally enjoyed Goodall and Fernandez for the Keys/Osaka match. They were knowledgeable and had good rapport.
3. Djokovic has had the easiest draw in the tournament. R1 he defeated Janowicz 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1; R2 walkover Vessely; R3 Youzhny retired after six games. He is scheduled to play Isner/Edmund in round 4. If he makes it to the quaterfinal or semifinal, he may not be ready for a top 4 opponent, especially given his wrist.
2. Monfils is quietly having a terrific year! The six-four, thirty year old is ranked eleven and recently won Washington, DC (Premier 500). He has made some positive changes to his game. His serve has changed a bit, he does not play as far back and he plays more at the net. He is still engaging athletic feats but he is much more focused. Thus far he has not had to play five sets at this slam. R1 Mueller 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(5); R2 Satral 7-5, 6-4, 6-3; R3 Almagro 6-4, 6-2, 6-4. He will play Bagdahtis next. When commentators call Monfils entertaining, it feels synonymous to the overused he is so articulate mantra.
1. Naomi Osaka (JPN) has officially arrived as a power player on the woman’s tour. In her third round match against hard striking Madison Keys, she matched her serve and forehand power. With a flat affect, she remained calm, almost apathetic. She lost the first set, won the second and roared to 4-1 in the third. Things got complicated when she served for the set and Keys stepped-up to break her.with excellent play. Still up 5-3, Keys secured her fourth game pushing Osaka to serve it out. She began the game slow, losing the two first points. At 30-30, her lack of net play showed and experience showed as she sent a volley long. And a forehand error lost her the game and the match. She broke her veneer and cried, but in the next game, down 0-40, she buckled down to push for the tie-breaker.
Key’s demeanor on court was impressive. She has stepped into her potential and stardom at a time when the pressure made it the most difficult! From 5-2 down in the third set she roared back to victory 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(3). What a victory! This was the best example of the future of women’s tennis. Note, keys will play a rebounding Wozniacki in round 4.
BONUS– Almagro has the best haircut this slam. que guapo!