It’s Jonni (@All_Things_TNNS) here again, sharing my trip to the US Open with you! This time, I will take you through the second round action in singles on Wednesday and Thursday from my perspective. If you happened to miss Part I, it can be found HERE.
Wednesday 2nd, September
As was the case on both Monday and Tuesday, I was a little late again on Wednesday. I’m not tardy, it’s just that I like to be fashionably late ;-). It was another hot and humid day in New York – something that a guy like me from Northern Europe definitely isn’t used to – and I made a huge mistake by wearing a dark grey t-shirt, resulting in me being a sweaty mess after a mere 15 minutes in the sun. Anyway, when I made it to the grounds, I went straight to the Arthur Ashe Stadium where Madison Keys and Tereza Smitkova had already entered a second set after the American had brushed through the first set 6-1. The second set didn’t take much longer either, as Keys kept dominating and progressed into the third round with a commanding scoreline of 6-1 6-2.
I wasn’t sure where to go next since there were two different matches that interested me greatly; Mardy Fish against Feliciano Lopez and David Goffin against Ricardas Berankis. I decided to go to the Fish-Lopez match, played on Louis Armstrong, as this was Mardy’s last EVER tournament and he had taken the first set. I got there at the end of the second set and soon Lopez leveled the match at one set all. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, Fish stormed through the third set 6-1 and was now just one set away from a big upset and keeping his tennis career alive. Even though Lopez, seeded 18th, wasn’t at his best, Mardy was playing some inspired tennis and showed no signs of slowing down in the fourth set as he got himself all the way into position of serving for the match and a place in the third round.
That was when it all started to turn, though. Fish played a sloppy service game – probably his worst of the match – to gift the break back to the Spaniard and ultimately lost the set 5-7. Much to the delight of the home crowd, Mardy did have some opportunities to break Lopez’s serve in the beginning of the fifth set but failed to convert. Eventually, Fish started cramping, got broken at a crucial time and Lopez won, making it the final match of the American’s career. The Spaniard had some very kind words for Fish in the on-court interview but I was a little surprised to see Fish not giving a retirement speech. Nevertheless, he got a standing ovation as he saluted the crowd one last time leaving the court. The crowd support for Mardy was great throughout the whole match and it was awesome to be a part of it.
Over on Grandstand, the match between Milos Raonic and Fernando Verdasco had progressed into a fourth set when I got there. Both men playing in red shirts, the set eventually was decided in a tie-break, just like the previous set. Raonic powered into a 6-0 lead and after missing his first match point, soon advanced with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(1) scoreline despite having some trouble with his back.
After Raonic’s match, I decided to stay and wait for another Canadian’s match on Grandstand, as Eugenie Bouchard was scheduled to play Polona Hercog next on that court. I must admit I haven’t seen an awful lot of Genie’s matches lately (mainly because she has been losing in the first round pretty much everywhere…) and only watched the first set but Genie seems to have adopted a game plan where she is looking to come forward to the net. The results weren’t always there and a lot remains to be done with her net game but it takes time to make changes into your game and in my opinion, it’s definitely a positive sign that she is trying something new. Jimmy Connors seems to be a great addition to her team (although he is not officially her coach, at least not yet).
As I was making my way to Court 17 to watch Grigor Dimitrov, I stopped by to watch a few games of Oceane Dodin battling against Mariana Duque-Marino. Dodin hits every ball as hard as she possibly can and I was interested to witness that live. The match itself was a mess though, so I continued onto Court 17 where Dimitrov was in serious trouble against Mikhail Kukushkin as the Kazakh had a 2 sets to 0 lead. I made my way to Court 17 before the third set began and I was happy to see Grigor start playing well as he took the next two sets fairly easily, 6-2 6-4. The fight proved to be in vain in the fifth set though, Kukushkin winning the set 6-4 and therefore, the match.
Dimitrov showed his fighting spirit but also seemed very frustrated throughout the match, occasionally shouting something in the direction of his team. It has been a dire season for the Bulgarian and despite being able to produce exciting tennis to watch and plenty of hot shots – which he showed again in the match against Kukushkin – he seems to be lacking the focus, or at least so it seems to me. He was going for way too big in some critical moments of the match, which eventually came back to haunt him.
Before I made my way into Arthur Ashe to watch the night session matches, I stopped by Court 5 to watch the third set between Tommy Robredo and Sam Groth. On an adjacent Court 4 I could also see Martina Hingis and Leander Paes playing their first round mixed doubles. Robredo won over Groth in three sets and I headed to Ashe, where Venus Williams was leading by a set and a break over countrywoman Irina Falconi. She failed to hang on to that lead though and the set went into a tie-break. Venus isn’t necessarily the most reliable player in tie-breaks and just like in her first round match with Monica Puig, Venus lost the second set in a tie-break and was forced to play three full sets. She never really looked comfortable in the decider but somehow pulled herself into the victory to keep her tournament alive.
The second match of the night session featured the world number one Novak Djokovic and Austrian Andreas Haider-Maurer. I was bummed about Vasek Pospisil‘s loss in the first round to Haider-Maurer because Djokovic-Pospisil would have probably been a more entertaining match, even though I doubt Pospisil could have seriously challenged Novak. Anyway, as I mentioned in Part I, the night matches at the US Open are always special so I wasn’t complaining. Djokovic was sailing through his service games in the first set but so was his Austrian opponent who was serving well. Djokovic soon showed why he was ranked number one in the world though, as he broke when it mattered the most, when he was leading 5-4 in the first. Set number two and three were much more straightforward for Djokovic and he wasted little energy in a 6-4 6-1 6-2 win.
Thursday 3rd, September
HOT. So, so, so hot. That’s the only way I can describe what the weather was like in New York on Thursday. I had forgotten my sunscreen back home (what a fail, I know!) so I bought some from a grocery store near my hotel before heading to Flushing Meadows. Another surprise was waiting for me when I was trying to get into the grounds. I was told that I couldn’t bring my sunscreen with me, apparently because it was in a metal bottle, so I had to leave it at the gates… Naturally, I was gutted about this sudden turn of events.
A little worried for my skin, I headed to Louis Armstrong. Samantha Stosur was completely dominating her Russian opponent, Evgeniya Rodina, who looked to be physically exhausted in the heat. When Stosur was already a set and a break up, I left to watch a bit of the match between Victoria Azarenka and Yanina Wickmayer that was happening on Arthur Ashe before returning to Louis Armstrong in time for Stan Wawrinka‘s second round match. Stan was playing Korean youngster Hyeon Chung, who has risen to the Top 100 this season. I would describe Chung’s groundstrokes as “unorthodox”, but if you haven’t seen him play and you would like to know more about his style, HERE is a good read by Juan José Vallejo on The Changeover back in April. The match itself was very tight and Chung did a great job in keeping up with the world number five. All three sets went to tie-breaks where “Stan the Man” showed his class to win all three of them, prevailing in straight sets. It was exciting to see Stan playing live and all in all, this was a very entertaining match. Moreover, I met some nice people in the stands who were kind enough to lend me some much-needed sunscreen!
Not long after Wawrinka-Chung had ended on Louis Armstrong, there were two big-hitters, namely Sabine Lisicki and Camila Giorgi, ready to battle for a place in the third round over on Grandstand. I was actually supposed to watch Jack Sock‘s second round match on Grandstand before this match, but only arrived to see him being walked off the court after retiring. Back to the women’s match, there were some big winners and aces hit as well as plenty of errors, just as expected from these two. Sabine got the upper hand in the first set, winning 6-4, and then rolled through the second, serving up a bagel as the errors started increase from the Italian. Lisicki served well in my opinion, regularly clocking serves over 120mph and serving 13 aces to 5 double faults.
I then went to have something to eat and returned to the last match of the day on Grandstand, an all-Aussie battle between the veteran Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic. And it was quite a match! Tomic took the first two sets without much trouble, 6-2 6-3, but that’s when the fighter in Hewitt became evident to everyone as he battled to win the third set 6-3, much to the delight of the heavily pro-Hewitt crowd. It looked like Hewitt’s US Open career was nearing its end, when in the fourth set Tomic got on a 5-3 lead and stepped to serve for the match at 5-4. Hewitt had other ideas though, as he reeled off four consecutive games to take the match into five sets and the crowd went nuts.
Hewitt continued to showcase inspired tennis in the fifth and got himself into a 5-3 lead with two match points on Tomic’s serve and the crowd was excited. Just like Hewitt had done in the fourth set, Tomic then reeled off four straight games to knock his Australian compatriot out of his last US Open. It was a fun match to be a part of, the atmosphere on Grandstand was great. There were some “Aussie Fanatics” in the crowd and I’ve heard some people find them very annoying but personally, they don’t bother me that much – it was a fun atmosphere all around.
That concludes Part II, I hope you enjoyed it! I have one more part in store so stay tuned. 😉 And as always, if you have something to ask or you would like to comment on something, feel free to do so in the comments below or on Twitter!