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Jankovic finally gets through semis

September
5

No. 2 Jelena Jankovic advanced to her first-ever Grand Slam final, defeating No. 5 Elena Dementieva 6-4, 6-4 today at the U.S. Open.

Jankovic, from Serbia, had lost in her four previous semifinal appearances at majors. She won four straight games to win the first set, and then broke Dementieva to win the match. Dementieva, the runner-up in 2004, committed 42 unforced errors, including six double faults.

The second semifinal between No. 4 Serena Williams and No. 6 Dinara Safina is up next.

Posted by Harold Gutmann on Friday, September 5th, 2008 at 4:39 pm |
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Football or tennis?

September
5

That’s the choice sports fans might have to make on Sunday. The weather report for Saturday isn’t promising, obviously, so there’s a distinct possibility the men’s semis and women’s final will get pushed to Sunday (I think it’s more likely that there’s room for a two-hour women’s final, and extremely unlike there will be a window for 5-7 hours of men’s tennis).

There has still not been an announcement about the weekend schedule, but I’ll post something as soon as I know.

One interesting side note: If the juniors tournament is rained out Saturday, the matches will be played at Sound Shore in Port Chester instead.

Posted by Harold Gutmann on Friday, September 5th, 2008 at 1:36 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Djokovic earns fans’ ire with comments about Roddick

September
5

Novak Djokovic’s four-set win over Andy Roddick was interesting enough before the postgame. Then Djokovic, the No. 3 player in the world, took swipes at Roddick after the match, earning a shower of boos from the crowd. Suddenly it became really interesting.

Unknown to everyone, Djokovic had been ticked off by comments made by Roddick two days earlier. Roddick had teased him about his frequent use of trainer during matches for a variety of injuries. It must have hit a sore spot.

“Andy said I have 16 injuries,” Djokovic said on court after a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (5) win. “Obviously I don’t, right?”

He took Roddick’s comments as a suggestion that he was faking the injuries. The implication, he said, turned the U.S. Open crowd against him. That may have had some validity. The fans were fully in Roddick’s corner during the match, even making distracting noises while Djokovic served. There’s no way to know how much, if any, was from Roddick’s comments.

Djokovic sang a different tune 20 minutes later during his press conference. He apologized for exaggerating and chalked the whole thing up to a misunderstanding. Seems the source of the turnaround was a meeting with Roddick in the locker room in which they straightened things out to some degree. So the Serbian mostly ran away from his swipes while defending his use of the trainer. Interestingly, he said he wanted to use the trainer tonight but didn’t because of what people would think.

For his part, Roddick insisted he had been joking all along in his comments about Djokovic. That was mostly true — he’d included cracks about SARS and anthrax. But he also said: “If it’s there, it’s there. There’s just a lot. He’s either quick to call a trainer or he’s the most courageous guy of all time.” Some other players had also alluded to Djokovic’s injuries, so it was a real issue at least in the mind of the Serbian.

It’ll be interesting to see how the crowd reacts during his semifinal against Roger Federer.

Posted by Jake Thomases on Friday, September 5th, 2008 at 3:10 am |
| | 3 Comments »

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Bad weather expected Saturday

September
4

Forecasts are grim for Saturday. Hurricane Hanna may be sitting off the coast of the southern states but its effects will reach New York. We’re supposed to get heavy rain and wind starting in the wee hours and lasting all day.

This is no sprinkling the players can dance around. Unless the hurricane changes course drastically there doesn’t seem any way the U.S. Open will get in either day or night session. Expect both to be canceled.

The USTA is being cagey about what its plans are in case of cancellation. It said only that there are “several contingency plans in place.” The only thing it promised was to give ticketholders access to the rescheduled session. But you probably knew that. I’m pretty sure charging people twice would have violated some kind of law.

It’ll be too bad if the men’s semis and women’s finals get rained out, but you can’t complain about the weather overall. These two weeks have been sunny and beautiful. You’ll take one bad day, even if it is the second-to-last day.

Posted by Jake Thomases on Thursday, September 4th, 2008 at 9:15 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

No rest for the weary

September
4

It’s not yet noon, temperatures are approaching 90 degrees, and the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is half-empty.

So what does Serena Williams do the morning after her inspired straight-set win against her sister?

Sleep in? Go on a mad shopping spree in Manhattan? Break down word-for-word the Sarah Palin speech last night at the Republican National Convention?

No, if you’re Serena Williams, you’re out practicing with hitting partner Bajin Aleksander under the watchful eye of father Richard. The semifinals are tomorrow after all, and last night’s victor wants to avoid the inevitable letdown against sixth-seeded Dinara Safina.

I don’t see it happening. Serena’s performance “last night was defined by a number of things:”:http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080904/SPORTS01/809040507/-1/SPORTS her tenacity in fending off 10 Venus set points, her dominant serve. But I was most struck by her ability to run down so many balls she had no business returning. That stuff doesn’t happen magically. Williams has appeared fitter this week than she has in previous trips to the Open, which is one reason why she’s the clear favorite to be hoisting a trophy Saturday night.

But as her appearance on the practice court today proves, she’s not leaving anything to chance.

Posted by Sam Weinman on Thursday, September 4th, 2008 at 11:39 am |
| | 1 Comment »

Another late start

September
3

For the second straight day, a long men’s match during the day will push the night session into the late-night session. This time, they won’t move the women’s match to Armstrong, either.

 Andy Murray just got done beating Juan Martin del Porto in four sets — though those four sets somehow took four hours, longer than Federer’s and Djokovic’s five-set wins yesterday. And that, combined with an almost-three hour doubles match to start the day session, means the Williams match won’ t start until at least 8:30. And skipping ahead, the Rafael Nadal-Mardy Fish match won’t start until at least 10-10:30, and might start after 11.

By the way, I can usually come up with a prediction on any match (Nadal in four, for instance), but I honestly have no idea who will win this Venus-Serena quarterfinal. Anyone want to try?

Posted by Harold Gutmann on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008 at 8:10 pm |
| | 2 Comments »

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Roger still here

September
2

It’s been quite a long time since Roger Federer lost two sets in a U.S. Open match — the 2004 quarterfinals against Andre Agassi. It happened again today in the most unlikely scenario — a round of 16 match against Russian clay-court specialist. But Federer pulled out a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win as day turned to night here in Flushing.

The gates are finally open at Ashe for the night crowd, but the players haven’t gotten on court yet, so it will be at least 9:15 before Andy Roddick-Fernando Gonzalez starts.

Posted by Harold Gutmann on Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008 at 9:03 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Schedule change

September
2

The women’s quarterfinal between No. 2 Jelena Jankovic and No. 29 Sybille Bammer, which was originally scheduled to start now at Arthur Ashe, has just been moved to Armstrong and will start at 8:30.

The reason is that Roger Federer is in a dogfight with Igor Andreev that no one outside of Russia anticipated, and coming off Novak Djokovic’s five-set win, the day session has run way over.

Andy Roddick-Fernando Gonzalez will begin on Ashe after the Federer match ends and the stadium crowd can be turned over, which will take awhile.

Without this change, Roddick might not have seen the court until after 11. Still, I’d be interested to hear if anyone on here had a night ticket for Ashe and now will only see one match instead of two.

Posted by Harold Gutmann on Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008 at 7:33 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Djokovic survives

September
2

One of the big three (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic) was finally tested today. Novak Djokovic needed all five sets to beat Tommy Robredo of Spain 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.

He has problems throughout the match with an upset stomach, and then he tweaked both his right hip muscle and his right ankle. Afterwrads he told the crowd, “Whoever I play (next) will be physically fitter than me, that’s for sure,” and “If I start to talk about what’s bothering me now it will go until tomorrow,” and “I need to stay next to the net, otherwise I will fall down.”

But all kidding outside, he gutted this one out. Still, this has to be good news for Andy Roddick, who would play Djokovic next if he beats Fernando Gonzalez tonight.

Posted by Harold Gutmann on Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

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Quick work

September
2

Just how dominant have the Williams sisters been so far? They have combined to spend a grand total of 8:36 on court — just 57 minutes more than Jelena Jankovic did in her four matches.

Also they have won 96 games and lost just 29. Other contenders Jankovic (38) and Safina (32) have lost that many by themselves.

I know this isn’t an original thought, but it’s such a shame that Venus and Serena have to play each other now. On the other hand, at least it gives everyone else a chance to get to the final.

Posted by Harold Gutmann on Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008 at 2:01 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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