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News and notes from the U.S. Open

Clinic at Arthur Ashe

September
8

After Roger Federer’s steamrolled Andy Murray for a fifth-straight U.S. Open title here, an immediate reaction:

How unfortunate for Murray that he thought he ever had a chance. If you’ve read enough about Federer this year, you’d think he would be bouncing second-serves into the net. Instead he was as dominant, brilliant, remarkable—pick a word, any word—as he’s ever been.

I admit, I’m partial to Federer. In an era when tennis is more about power than ever before, he is an artist, a throwback to a different time who tonight regularly ventured to the net. What’s next—a wooden racket? Short shorts?

OK, I’m a fan, but not THAT big of a fan….

Posted by Sam Weinman on Monday, September 8th, 2008 at 7:12 pm
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Embrace the moment

September
8

So there are two options for today’s final: lament that it will not pit Rafael Nadal against Roger Federer, and refuse to watch as a result.

Or embrace the fact that a) Roger Federer still has a chance to salvage this season; and b) that he’s by no means a lock to do so.

I know, I know. Andy Murray doesn’t quite have the same Q-rating that the certain biceped left-hander would bring. I would have liked to cover a Wimbledon rematch, and I’m pretty sure everyone outside of the U.K. feels the same way. But Murray has his own appeal: an up-and-coming talent who could simultaneously enjoy  a career breakthrough, and give Britain its first men’s Grand Slam champion in 72 years.

And then there’s Federer. When you think about it, given the struggles the four-time defending champion has endured this year, it doesn’t really matter who he plays. If he ends up winning today, it’s still a return to prominence for a player mired in a season-long funk.

But again, that’s not neccessarily a sure thing…

Posted by Sam Weinman on Monday, September 8th, 2008 at 4:24 pm
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Jankovic a gracious loser

September
8

A lot will be written about Serena Williams’ remarkable run through this tournament (though unfortunately none of us could use her words—her press conference didn’t start until after 1 a.m., more than 90 minutes after the final point, so pretty much everyone on the East Coast had to write their stories without her thoughts). But I did want to take a second and congratulate Jelena Jankovic, not just for making it such an exciting final, but also for adding some great entertainment value afterwards.

If anyone was still able to stay awake for the post-match ceremony, Jankovic could be heard asking Mary Carillo how much her runner-up check was worth. Later, she also told the media that she thought instead of getting a trophy, she should get an Oscar for all the acting she supposedly did in the earlier rounds (for instance, laying down on the court for 30 seconds, and then claiming she was too tired to even get up). Finally, she complained about having to be there all night because she couldn’t produce a sample for her drug test.

Jankovic was sort-of criticized on the telecast for not being serious enough (during changeovers she was giggling at the big screen, which showed fans dancing, instead of focusing on her next game). Also, she frequently stopped to watch replays of points, and was seen smiling during rallies. But I was glad to see someone show that you can play tennis at an elite level, and look like you’re still having fun doing it.

Posted by Harold Gutmann on Monday, September 8th, 2008 at 12:43 pm
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Murray spoils dream final

September
7

Andy Murray got in the way of the final everyone outside of Great Britain wanted, defeating Rafael Nadal 6-4 in the fourth set.

Murray broke Nadal in a spectacular final game, capping off a 62-minute set. He finished the match 4 of 20 on break point conversions, while Nadal was 2 of 3.

That definitely takes some steam out of the final, but Murray is an excellent all-around player and should give Federer a challenge. I’d still take Federer in four.

Posted by Harold Gutmann on Sunday, September 7th, 2008 at 6:31 pm
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Washout: Play canceled for the rest of the day

September
6

It can’t be counted as a surprise, but seeing how close the USTA got to sneaking in both semifinals, it has to count as a disappointment: Play is suspended for the rest of the day.

What this means is the Murray-Nadal semifinal will be resumed tomorrow with Murray ahead two sets to love but down a break (3-2) in the third. The women’s final will also be played tomorrow, while the men’s final will be pushed to Monday.

The only person happy about this might be Roger Federer, who now gets two days of rest before he has to play again.

Posted by Sam Weinman on Saturday, September 6th, 2008 at 3:23 pm
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Federer looks like…well, Federer

September
6

We should all have down years like the one Roger Federer is having.

The four-time defending champion, in a well-documented season-long funk, was still brilliant in his four-set win over Novak Djokovic today. Serving and moving as well as he has all season, Federer now has a chance to match his Wimbledon mark of five straight titles here. The only downside is that he might not be squaring off against rical Rafael Nadal in the final.

The Spaniard is down two sets to Andy Murray in their semifinal at Louis Armstrong Stadium. And they were just pulled off the court because of a passing shower.

Or at least here’s hoping it’s just a passing shower…

Posted by Sam Weinman on Saturday, September 6th, 2008 at 2:48 pm
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Change of plans

September
6

A stampede of people just roared out of Arthur Ashe Stadium just now. Was the U.S. Open giving away free lobster rolls?

No, the Rafael Nadal-Andy Murray was bumped to Louis Armstrong Stadium because of the ominous forecast, and seats are to be awarded on a first come-first serve basis,

The mass exodus was fairly comical, especially when you consider the poor U.S. Open ushers doing their best Kevin Bacon in “Animal House” imitation (“Nothing to see here. Please disperse”) in an effort to get people to stop running.

“Please, slow down,” one usher said as he tried to stand in front of people. “The match hasn’t started yet.”

Meanwhile, the skies that have been gray all day are turning a shade of charcoal. And it doesn’t look like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will be winding down anytime soon. Djokovic just broke Federer to claim the second set.

Posted by Sam Weinman on Saturday, September 6th, 2008 at 12:33 pm
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Serena also advances

September
5

No. 4 Serena Williams advanced to the U.S. Open final with a 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 6 Dinara Safina today.
She will face No. 2 Jelena Jankovic in the final tomorrow night at 7 p.m., weather permitting. The winner of that match will earn the No. 1 ranking.
Safina broke Williams in the first game but soon struggled with the windy conditions, hitting 41 unforced errors to Williams’ 21.
Williams improved to 12-2 in Grand Slam semifinals. She advanced to the U.S. Open final for the first time since 2002, when she won her second title in Flushing Meadows.

Posted by Harold Gutmann on Friday, September 5th, 2008 at 6:29 pm
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More information on tomorrow

September
5

The Federer-Djokovic will go on first at Ashe, immediately at 11 a.m. If there is a window without rain, the Nadal-Murray match might get moved to Armstrong so that both matches will be competed.

Posted by Harold Gutmann on Friday, September 5th, 2008 at 6:22 pm
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Saturday schedule

September
5

The USTA has announced the schedule for Saturday. Weather permitting, the men’s semifinals will start at 11 a.m. (instead of noon), and the women’s final will go on as scheduled Saturday night at 7.

This is what happened in case of rain:

Scenario 1: Both men’s semis and women’s final rained out.
The men’s semis will be Sunday at 1 p.m. The women’s final will be Sunday at 9 p.m. The men’s final will be Monday at 4 p.m.

Scenario 2: Only women’s final rained out.
Both singles finals will be played Sunday, one at 4 p.m. and one at 9 p.m. Which final is when will be decided tomorrow.

Posted by Harold Gutmann on Friday, September 5th, 2008 at 5:54 pm
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About this blog
This is the time of year the tennis world descends upon New York. Jane McManus, Harold Gutmann and Josh Thomson will be sending dispatches from the courts and corridors of Arthur Ashe Stadium. Come back for advice on tickets, parking and whether to go for the hot dog or the lobster roll.
About the authors
Harold GutmannHarold Gutmann Harold Gutmann joined The Journal News in 2002 after graduating from Duke University. He currently focuses on high school sports — he has covered state championship games in 10 different sports. READ MORE
Jane McManusJane McManus Jane McManus has covered sports at The Journal News for eight years, writing about everything from the Final Four and the U.S. Open to rock climbing. READ MORE
Josh ThomsonJosh Thomson Josh, who is 26 and a native of Carmel, graduated from Boston University in 2002 and began working for The Journal News the following March. READ MORE
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