Well, it was a busy and exciting Labor Day at the Open. We tried to get there at 11am, since we had the groundspasses, but a quest for Vietnamese steamed buns made us run late. We got there right as Jankovic took out Kuznetsova. I wasn’t shocked – seeing Jelena play big time in Carson, she’s obviously a contender. Wonder how far she’ll go? I saw that she already beat Dementieva today, just a couple weeks after losing to Elena in 3 sets in the Carson final. Love her fight, love her sass, and love that she’s going to college inbetween winning tournaments (majoring in math of all unglamorous things!)
Okay, right after JJ beat the Kooze, we got into the Grandstand and scored some seats in the second row! What a great spot to bask in the beauty of Marat Safin, although girls, he looks freakishly tall in person. Of course, the fact that he was playing Rochus, a guy who is about my height (5’6″) really screwed up the proportions. It was definitely David and Goliath, both heightwise and gamewise. Surprising, because I honestly thought Rochus would be tenacious enough to get inside Safin’s head, make the moody Russian insecure and get the win. But oh, ho, Safin’s playing well (and while on a “break” from his coach) and I think Marat’s now officially become the BIG THREAT at the tourny.
So after catching two sets of Safin pounding the lines, we met a long lost friend and went off to see Fish and Gonzo lose to Knowles and Nestor (who have a small groupie contingent who yell “Go NK!” between every point.) That was fun – we were in the front row for that one, and put our hands up like catchers when Gonzo served from the far end of the court, hoping he’d aim it at us. No such luck. But you can tell Gonzo is a really nice guy, he even smiles and talks to people in the crowd when they cheer him on. My hubby is convinced that Gonzo recognizes him from our past two Indian Wells tournaments. Ha!
We also stopped by the nearby practice courts (as opposed to the ones that are basically off the grounds)and saw Amelie hitting in the near court. The practice courts suck here! In Indian Wells they’re open on all sides. You can practically sit on the court with the players. There, we’ve strolled by Gasquet and Baghdatis (who were practicing together), Hingis, Kimmy, Monfils, etc. like we were wandering around the public courts. So why are the practice courts at the Open all fenced and covered with nylon fabric or whatever, so you only have a close up view of the long side of one court? Serena was practicing at the same time as Amelie, but way at the end, so you could barely see her.
So we checked out Ivonovic and Kirilenko playing some dubs against Groenefeld and Shaughnessy, but it wasn’t quite as exciting as the Fish/Gonzo match. We mainly discussed whos outfits were cuter (I liked Maria’s Stella number quite a bit, with its pleated skirt and plunging aqua tank but I think Ana’s trapezey tank top is more wearable.) Hey, when the match up isn’t riveting, it’s nice to have something else to discuss. I think my hubby really enjoyed Maria’s gams, too.
A better match was the Mirnyi-Bjorkman – Waske-Kohlmann dubs. We caught the end of it and had a great time watching the Beast and the classy Swede win. (I’m a big fan of Max, with his lanky reach at net, big, swaying serve and low key demeanor. He has a great nickname, too, which makes cheering fun. We started growling like crazed beasts ourselves whenever B-M won a point. Maybe I should start a fan club.) There was a great point when all four men were at the net, volleying like crazy, and everyone was shrieking with excitement at the end. I guess the big personal story for me during the US Open is realizing how much I enjoy watching doubles. Put it on T.V., network flacks! Stop blaming doubles’ demise on a lack of “star players” and realize that you can’t have a huge television audience for something you never televise. Most of the doubles courts were crowded with spectators yesterday, so it’s not really that doubles isn’t popular, it’s just not made available to the majority of tennis fans who aren’t lucky enough to attend these events in person. It’s official – I’ve joined the doubles revolution (but I refuse to watch the Bryan Brothers’ band or Mark Knowles try his hand at graffiti art!)
The Amelie-Serena match was really good. Even from the nosebleeds, we could really see the contrasts in the two players’ games. Amelie, changing up the pace with her loopy spins and slices, and Serena drilling winners off both sides. It was so strange how Amelie just lost it during the second set. She couldn’t get a first serve in and Serena kept playing well. By the time my hubby came back with my beer, the set was over, 6-0 Serena. What I found fascinating was how Amelie willed herself back in the third set, pumping her fist, jogging to her chair at changeovers and jumping around when she scored a point. It was a sign of mental fortitude and having that champion’s confidence that she’s had to work so hard to establish. Serena played well in the third, but Amelie stepped up. It was also nice to see Amelie get some good audience support throughout the match, despite the understandable partisanship of the Arthur Ashe crowd.
We were tired at the end, and had to pick up our American Express pins, eat some waffle fries, etc., so I admit, we didn’t catch much of the Gasquet-Hewitt match. You should thank us, because of course it turned out to be a thriller in our absence. Sad that Hewitt won – I’m not a fan. But it was great that Gasquet summoned up the guts to go for the 5th set. (What’s up with all the cramping at the Open this year,btw — is this normal?) The young Frenchy has a lot of positive things to take from this summer.
More random tips from the US Open:
The margaritas are good, though pricey!
The salads are decent – you won’t regret them nearly as much as the sausage.
Waffle fries are just okay, but will fufill a carb n ketchup craving.
American Express really gives out the goods – we got 10 more metro cards last night (to give to our bro-in-law, the newly minted poor NY Public School teacher), a pedicab ride from the metro to the main gate, two tiny little radios that really work, and two collectable pins (okay, you have to charge a bunch of money on your AM Ex to get them, but it’s really easy to do, given the price at the concession stands.)
We also got free caps from Heineken on Sunday (really nice ones with the US Open logo on the back) and free bottles of Polo cologne last night (another donation to the bro in law, who’s a bachelor.) So, thank you corporate sponsors, for adding some fun to the tournament! Otherwise, I’d be more pissed about the often rude and unprofessional staff (I’m thinking of security and concessions, especially) and the really gross bathrooms and litter all around Ashe stadium. They hold the night ticket holders outside, making announcements that they’re cleaning the stadium, and then you’re met with putrid puddles and no toilet paper in the bathrooms and oily pizza boxes under your seats in the stadium. Classy.
Ack! This is too long! Maybe I’ll do a little summary tomorrow, just for closure, and add some photos.
Glad to be back in sunny L.A.! Can’t believe it was rained out again today at the Open.