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News and notes from the U.S. Open

Archive for August, 2007

Irony much?

August
31

So how’s that for irony? *Rafa* is supposed to be on the brink of leaving the U.S. Open due to injury, and not only does he look much better than in the first round but his opponent, *Janko Tipsarevic,* retires because of a rib injury.

In his post-match interview, Nadal said he felt better than Wednesday. Obviously that’s a great sign for the U.S. Open. USA just breathed a sigh of relief. (Actually Johnny Mac admitted it on the air.)

Posted by Josh Thomson on Friday, August 31st, 2007 at 11:14 pm |
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Open sold out through Monday

August
31

Just received a press release in the media center. The U.S. Open, day and night, is sold out through Labor Day.

That means it’ll be eight days of sellouts by the time Tuesday rolls along. The USTA says there are still a limited number of tickets available beginning Tuesday, but that there are no tickets or grounds passes available before then.

Posted by Josh Thomson on Friday, August 31st, 2007 at 8:23 pm |
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Saturday sked

August
31

This is the best day so far, no question about it.

*ASHE —*
Day: No. 30 Agnieszka Radwanksa vs. No. 2 Maria Sharapova, 11 a.m.
Thomas Johansson vs. No. 5 Andy Roddick
No. 1 Roger Federer vs. John Isner

Night: No. 13 Nicole Vaidisova vs. No. 18 Shahar Peer, 7 p.m.
Stefan Koubek vs. No. 6 James Blake

*ARMSTRONG —*
No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko vs. No. 28 Nicolas Almagro, 11 a.m.
Feliciano Lopez vs. Donald Young
No. 16 Martina Hingis vs. Victoria Azarenka
No. 31 Anabel Medina Garrigues vs. No. 4 Svetlana Kuznetsova (not before 3 p.m., may be moved to Ashe)

*GRANDSTAND —*
No. 7 Nadia Petrova vs. Agnes Szavay, 11 a.m.
No. 10 Tommy Haas vs. Sebastien Grosjean
Tamira Paszek vs. No. 11 Patty Schnyder
No. 19 Andy Murray vs. Hyung-Talk Lee

*COURT 11 —*
Maria Kirilenko vs. Julia Vakulenko, 11 a.m.
No. 6 Anna Chakvetadze vs. No. 26 Sania Mirza
No. 9 Tomas Berdych vs. Fernando Verdasco

Posted by Josh Thomson on Friday, August 31st, 2007 at 7:08 pm |
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Nadal looking fine in warm-ups

August
31

*Rafael Nadal* probably won’t take the court for another couple hours, but I just watched him practice for about 20 minutes. He looked pretty good from my vantage point (about four or five courts away), and didn’t appear to be favoring his knees. After a series of overheads, Nadal sat down for a few minutes before resuming, but I don’t know if that’s customary for him or not. It didn’t seem like an injury break.

I sort of expect Nadal to roll tonight. He’s young and will have had more than 48 hours of rest. At some point later in the tournament his tendonitis may be an issue, but I don’t think tonight’s the night.

Two funny observations after watching him. 1) He wears his Wimbledon outfit to practice. Sleeveless white shirt, white shorts, white shoes, backwards white hat. 2) It must be pure hell to be his coach. *Uncle Toni Nadal* stood there and just takes a constant pounding, helplessly trying to return Nadal’s groundstrokes, which are low, deep and sizzling. Probably not so much fun.

Posted by Josh Thomson on Friday, August 31st, 2007 at 7:00 pm |
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Marat out, Jokers wild

August
31

Novak Djokovic did manage to beat Radek Stepanek, but it took 4 hours and 44 minutes. The final score was 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (2). It was a wild match — Djokovic did a scissors kick after winning the second set, and Stepanek high stepped back to his chair after winning the third.

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After that it was a free for all of fist pumps, leg cramps, net dances and waiving for the crowd to get involved. At the end, both players got a standing ovation from the Louis Armstrong crowd and Stepanek jumped the net to give Djokovic a big sweaty hug.

“I smell my shoes,” Djokovic told the crowd. “They are so stinky.”

Marat Safin should be so lucky. His feet couldn’t have been that gross after a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 loss to Stanislas Wawrinka.

Although it is late in the afternoon, there are still plenty of matches to play since the five-setters have backed up the schedule. No. 8 Tommy Robredo beat Mardy Fish 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7), 6-4 in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Fish had been up 4-1 in the fifth, but really lost it.

Posted by Jane McManus on Friday, August 31st, 2007 at 4:33 pm |
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Safin, Djokovic in trouble

August
31

Look’s like Harold’s prediction of an upset were off by a day. Former champ and No. 25 seed Marat Safin is down a set against the other Swiss player, Stanislas Wawrinka. At the same time, No. 3 Novak Djokovic of the easy side of the draw split sets with Radek Stepanek and is down a break in the third.

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Top-seeded Justine Henin got through on the women’s side 6-0, 6-2 over Ekaterina Makarova.

No. 8 Serena Williams is slated to play later on Ashe. She looked shaky in her first match but much better last round. And No. 2Rafael Nadal looked awful in his first round, but has been getting worked on by trainers and a massage therapist. He plays in the last match tonight.

Posted by Jane McManus on Friday, August 31st, 2007 at 1:41 pm |
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Blake gets that 5-set win

August
31

Every once in a while, James Blake says something so smart and funny it reminds you he’s the only player on the ATP Tour who has spent two years at Harvard. Last night after winning the first five-setter of his career, Blake was asked how it felt to “get the monkey off your back.”

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“I’d find another cliche that fits better,” said the Yonkers native.

Good win for Blake, great match for the crowd. He said that he wasn’t bothered at the end by Fabrice Santoro’s tendency to milk the 25-second limit between points. And he said he hoped his career could extend as long — which is the ripe old age of 34. The life span of a tennis player is not long and, at 27, Blake is about right for a midlife crisis.

Posted by Jane McManus on Friday, August 31st, 2007 at 11:49 am |
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Add it to the vault

August
31

Well, you must know one thing: If there is a rain delay at some point during the U.S. Open, USA and CBS will have plenty to show. *James Blake* vs. *Fabrice Santoro* was that good.

The best part of the match may’ve been Santoro, who played the role of villain-turned-hero better than Rocky in Rocky IV. His act was that believable, as he stole the Ashe crowd — with the exception of an unruly J-Block — from the usual hometown favorite.

For tennis on this night, Santoro was probably the story. But for the tournament, it’s Blake.

He finally knows what it feels like to win a five-setter (he came in 0 for 9) and perhaps someday — whether it’s here or somewhere else — the experience will serve him well in a match against a *Nadal* or a *Roddick* or a *Djokovic.* After dealing with the pest that is Santoro, Blake will be quite prepared.

Plus, this tournament needs Blake and *Andy Roddick* around as long as possible, so to see Blake prevail was huge for American tennis and the U.S. Open.

Posted by Josh Thomson on Friday, August 31st, 2007 at 1:04 am |
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A Mountain Dew night

August
30

I’m sitting here just inches from an open can of Mountain Dew. It is the devil. So powerful that it wakes me up in a few sips, but also so powerful that it keeps me up forever.

Unfortunately for *James Blake,* I may need the boost tonight, because we both may be here for a long time. Blake’s currently in a battle with Fabrice Santoro, the little, old Frenchman, who will be hell in a fifth set if he takes Blake that far. Right now they are even in the fourth.

Perhaps I’ll post my thoughts for the match at 4 a.m. when I’m fighting off the caffeine high. I’m really enjoying this right now, even if it’s not a great sign to see Blake in such a battle this early in the draw.

Posted by Josh Thomson on Thursday, August 30th, 2007 at 10:53 pm |
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Oh the Whitestone

August
30

Ever had a nightmare that your car breaks down at the top of the Whitestone? Well, I got to live the dream. The good thing was that my ’99 Beetle made it to the tennis center, with a dislodged splashguard acting like a plow in front of my car.

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Great fun.

The bad news is that I wasn’t making it back to 287 that way. So I called AAA and they sent a tow truck. Let’s just say that you have to be real clear about exactly where you are, and security is so tight that it’s hard for them to get through. But the local tow trucks know the place and the guy who came for my car was terrific.

So be forewarned, and get a tuneup.

Posted by Jane McManus on Thursday, August 30th, 2007 at 9:05 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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