U.S. Open Early Observations

I didn’t weigh-in on Federer getting put into that top half, but I suppose I did mention the draw was a joke. Murray’s pull-out highlighted the stupidity of the draw; it was lopsided US Open Tennisand a joke even before Murray’s exit. I think we’re all pretty skeptical of there being some kind of objective draw. I am not part of the big “fix” conspiracy, but we know match-ups are desired for the paying audience. This is a business. People cry about draws all of the time, especially when they feel like their player got a bad one.

Why in the world wouldn’t the U.S. Open want a possible Fedal final? They’ve never played in NYC, the tournament is pretty much all about their fate, their race to #1, their rivalry, etc.

Perhaps the tournament thought: let’s put them in the same half so no one can accuse us of playing favorites, doctoring the draw, etc.

Instead, USO, we’re accusing you of being fucking morons. Yeah, the obscenity is needed here because what they did (the Murray scratch only clarifies – the fuck-up was already made) is a terrible dis-service to the sport.

The SF could be epic, if both make it that far, but this makes no sense, at all.

In most tournaments, the 1 gets the 4 and the 2 gets the 3. Does that make sense? Of course it does. If you are the No. 1 seed, you get to play the lowest of that top four. You earned that. At least that’s how most tournament seedings and draws work.

Either way, the draw sucks.

I have seen a bit of tennis, so let’s jump around and have a look.

Couple of things from our Preview:

“Federer:

R1 American Frances Tiafoe, a 19 year-old we’ve talked about a lot; you know we’re excited about this guy.”

This was not as shocking as everyone wanted to say it was. Tiafoe is for real, played Roger tough in Miami in March, beat a flagging Zverev in Cincinnati and basically has the goods to be a very dangerous player on this tour for years to come.

His athleticism, serve and FH jump-out as game changers. Not sure if it was the back, but Roger let go of several of those CC FH from the American.

As I echoed on twitter, we will forgive Federer from going five with this talent, but getting broken at 5-3, serving for match in the fifth? That was abominable. However, Federer breaks back to take the match 6-4. You got me, Roger. Pretty ugly, but a win is a win. If he serves-out at 5-3, the match is almost exactly 2 hours and 30 min. Not a back breaker if you know what I mean.

Even blowing that and having to break Frances for the win didn’t make this the marathon that a five-setter might sound like. This match was good for Federer though he better tighten-up the serve and everything else. It’s now or never for the Swiss king.

Federer will not have Kyrgios in the 4R; the Aussie lost today, which, again, is not a big surprise. I said this about Kyrgios in my preview: “I am not positive that Kyrgios will be in as good a place as Dimitrov, coming off the Cincinnati final.”

Conversely, Dimitrov cruised through R1, but still has to play well, and take care of business in order to find that QF with the Spaniard.

Preview: “Dimitrov, ladies and gentlemen, is the Cilic of WB 2017. Where Dimitrov lands would have been my biggest interest or concern. Think of the context of such a QF [vs. Grigor+Dimitrov+2016+Open+Day+2+ssHYrGqCPWelNadal] given their 2017 AO SF. Dimitrov should react very favorably to the Cincy win, his first Masters title. Given his experience, his early 2017 HC run and his coach, I would not want much of any of Dimitrov in NYC.”

That win in Cincy was big for the Bulgarian. Glad to see my stethoscope is still working.

As for Nadal, I watched some of his match with that Serbian. What did I say there: “R1 with a Serb. . . who looked dangerous vs Federer in Wimbledon, as they went to a first set TB. Or so I heard. Or not really.” Okay, it was a fairly routine match, but it did actually resemble the Federer match at WB quite a bit. A first set TB and then a one-sided affair.

But here’s my concern with Nadal. First, his tennis is not made for this surface even though the main stadium has apparently been slowed-down this year – a travesty if the rumor (from Brad Gilbert) is true.

He’s not as comfortable and secondly, he doesn’t like the roof. Have a look around to find his comments about the roof and this was apparent if you watched the match as he paused and stalled often on serve and at other times, looking at sections of the seats, looking pretty aggravated.

When the roof is closed, aside from that cleaning-up the tennis, the acoustics apparently drive any crowd noise down onto the court. In other words, it’s loud in there. Nadal was quite bothered by this factor.

As for the tennis, his straight-set victory was only slightly marred by a wayward FH, but we won’t read much into that as it’s the first round.

Lastly, I thought it was pretty funny when a reporter asked Nadal and Federer about facing each other in the SF. Federer, ever the buttoned-up PR machine, said he would love to play Rafa in NYC since it would be great for the sport and they’ve never faced-off at the USO, etc. etc. What did Rafa say? Ha ha. I love the honesty. He said he would rather play someone “easier.” Priceless stuff from Nadal.

So, I think he’s a bit uneasy as he normally is this time of year. I still have my eye on that Berdych R16. We do not get the Tommy Paul R2 match as he faded drastically to the Japanese Taro, losing 26 26 in the 4th and 5th sets. WTF. Nadal looks unchallenged until that Berdych match, if the Czech big-man can take care of his end.

As for Nadal’s potential QF with Dimitrov, obviously there is a lot of tennis to play. And Dimitrov actually has some potential difficulty in his next match vs. the 19 year-old Russian Rublev, and then a potential R16 match with Monfils.

Back to Federer really quick, he now has Youzney, a Spaniard (Verdasco/Lopez) and then whatever comes-out of that Kyrgios section, headed now by Kohlschreiber.

Like I said in my Preview, I thought Nadal had the tougher draw on paper because of his potential match sequence of Berdych, Dimtrov and Federer. Federer had a tough R1, but things have opened-up a bit.

Again, lots of tennis to play.

In the bottom half:

Although Zverev seems to have a half of the draw to himself (many picking him to win the U.S. Open), he’s got trouble including right now, down 2 sets to 1 to Coric, in the 2R. If he can pull himself out of that hole, he gets the winner of Anderson v Gulbis (Anderson serving for a 2-0 sets lead). Zverev has his hands full.

Like I said in my preview and I’ll say again now: if Cilic is healthy, he’s going to be very tough, obviously his history here in NYC playing a role the deeper he goes.

I will say the Pouille v Cilic R16 (if that transpires) could be a big match (remember last year when I called the Nadal v Pouille as the potential match of the tourney? And it was? haha).

I just watched Pouille survive the American 20 y/o Donaldson in five sets. Donaldson went down 0-2 and came back to force the 5th set.

But Pouille is finding his stroke. Some big hitting at the end of that match. I hope Pouille can keep that bracket honest down there and reach and represent in that potential R16 monster against the 2014 champ. Keep your fingers crossed.

The other player I’m keeping an eye on is the young Brit Edmund. He spanked Haase in R1 and now looks to be doing the same vs. Johnson right now, going-up 2 sets to zip.

Everyone tune-in tonight to watch Jo-Willy v Shapovalov. The one-hander seems to love the big stage and he’s on the big stage tonight. Look for Tsonga to put-up an early push to crush the youngster. I like the Canadian to stay in the match and feed off the NYC zoo.

Hope you’re enjoying the tennis.

3 comments

  1. Our boy shapovalov did ok, no? I read that his net play was improved but in the highlights I saw he still didn’t look like a dependable volleyer. But he can work on that. His attacking instincts and glorious groundstrokes make him a joy to watch. He’s trying to do the right thing. It’s depressing how so many talented young players lack the skills and instincts needed to finish points at the net (e.g tiafoe). This ties in to your well made points about homogenisation of styles and the ascendancy of the baseline grinding game. I want to see players who have a full armoury of skills and can produce moments of magic instead of just wearing the opponent down.
    On another note I’m going to take some credit for being skeptical about zverev’s chances, though I thought he would last longer. I agree that dimitrov ‘still has to play well’ to get to the QF and nothing can be taken for granted. When a guy has a record like he does of failing to deliver he has to prove that that’s not who he is. We’ll see.

    1. “But he can work on that. His attacking instincts and glorious groundstrokes make him a joy to watch. He’s trying to do the right thing. It’s depressing how so many talented young players lack the skills and instincts needed to finish points at the net (e.g tiafoe).”

      Good stuff, Clint. I agree, but I will defend my American youth in that he’s been raised in this style – it’s inescapable and probably a safer bet on the tour. Tiafoe will be battling the Canadian in future big matches.

      But indeed, Shapovalov is a genius watch. The one-hander is such a more sophisticated and classy style. He’s got the style (beyond the OHBH) in spades.

      He has improved at the net and another good point you make is his instincts and timing. It helps that he knows when to approach. Federer came to net a bit vs. Tiafoe and the timing was off, the approach was. . .panicked or at least a bit off.

      That bottom half looks wild.

      Make sure you watch that Shapo v Edmund 3R. Could be a whale of a good time.

  2. This USO keeps defying expectations especially for the seeds! Now we have A.Zverev ousted in 4, Dimitrov in 3, Berdych in 4. Nadal lost a set to an exhausted Japanese. And of course…Federer in another 5-setter against an opponent used to be cakewalk for him.

    In a way, these opened up the draws for the remaining seeds. But whats more interesting is the question of what made them underperform.

    Looking at Nadal’s draw, I dont see anyone who can stumble him. But who knows…maybe Dimitrov’s conqueror could prove to be the unexpected bull slayer?

    Federer was just too up and down, with extreme swings. One time he was leading 6-1 and a break, suddenly he was 2 sets to 1 down. On the surface there doesnt seem to be any injury, it was just sloppy, erratic performance. Could this be due to lack of prep due to the need of nursing the back injury weeks prior? Or is there really an issue with the injury, making those errors inevitable. Can he tidy up his game in time? I think what transpires with the upcoming Lopez match will tell us further. But one way or another, if he gets sucked into another 5 setter or long match, I believe his chances for the 20th is slim.

    I think with his last 2 matches, we get a preview of how Federer will retire one day. His errors will just mount and suffocate his own game. He will have this day in and day out…unable to control it any longer. But this way, he will have retire from the game on his own terms: due to errors flying off his racquet, not opponents hitting him to submission.

What say you?