The big news out of the US Open this Friday? Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal both needed four sets to get through to the third round. They both lost their second sets – Murray beating Paul Capdeville: 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 and Nadal beating Nicolas Keifer: 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Capdeville is currently ranked 82 in the world, and before Friday, Rafa hadn’t lost a set to Kiefer in any of their four previous matches. Are these stumbles by the top seeds minor mishaps or major blows?
I like Murray’s take: “I played three, you know, very good sets and one poor one. But you’re allowed to play a bad set sometimes.“
Speaking of Andy Murray, this was the first headline that came up on my Roger Federer Google search on Friday evening: “Roger Federer admits Andy Murray is a US Open threat.” (from the Daily Mirror)
I was ready to read some big revelation, until I scanned the article and found Roger’s money quote: “Not everybody can pick me, so it’s fine (if some pick Murray to win).” HA!
Roger plays Lleyton Hewitt on Saturday at 11am Eastern. The match will be shown live on CBS in the States – if the match is delayed (ugh!) in non-Eastern timezones, click here for some live streaming options. Hopefully one will actually work!
18th seeded David Ferrer was taken out on Friday by Jose Acasuso, but most everyone else who was supposed to get through did on the men’s side. Juan Carlos Ferrero (24) and Marin Cilic (16) each needed five sets, but both found a way to win. And big props to Taylor Dent for beating Spaniard Ivan Navarro 11-9 in the fifth set tiebreak!
The women’s side lost another top seed on Friday – when Victoria Azarenka (seeded No. 8) lost to Francesca Schiavone (seeded No. 26) in three sets. I was lucky enough to watch this match from a toasty-warm seat in the Grandstand stadium, and was taken by how enthusiastically the crowd supported Schiavone. Do NYC fans really love the underdog or really don’t like Azarenka? Or were they just won over by the Italian’s feisty, throwback game, complete with loops, lobs, sneaky volleys, and a slice-a-licious one-handed backhand?
Schiavone’s countrywoman, Flavia Pennetta, continued her impressive form on Friday with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Aleksandra Wozniak. Part of me wondered if Schiavone’s victory over Azarenka came from the need to represent for Italy. Perhaps her younger compatriot’s historic success (becoming the first Italian woman ever to make it into the Top 10) has inspired the 29 year-old Schiavone to join her? Francesca shot down my theory in her post-match presser:
Q. Do you take inspiration from the way Flavia is playing?
FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE: No, but is good to have good rival at this. I learn from her, she learn from me. That’s good.
Serena Williams avoided seed-itis, advancing to the fourth round after being tested by serve-and-volley fanatic (and French Open cheater) Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez. For those who complain that Serena is not always gracious towards her opponents, here’s a quote from her press conference: “She (Maria) was serving really well, and I think especially in the second set, and especially in that game she started serving really, really well.”
“Can’t spell dynasty without nasty.” Hmmmm. . .
Venus Williams did the dy-nasty proud with a third round victory over Magdalena Rybarikova. But that mummy-wrapped knee of hers is looking more Cleopatra than Williams.
On a kind-of side note, after Daniela Hantuchova beat Vania King on Friday: 6-2, 6-2, she was asked about her recent sponsorship switch from Nike to Adidas. She confirmed that part of the deal involves going to tennis camp in Las Vegas with Darren Cahill & Co.
Q. Are you practicing with Adidas player development?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yes, also that’s part of the deal, which I’m very, very excited, obviously. The names they’ve got on there, it’s pretty overwhelming. So, you know, just having that kind of support behind me I think definitely gives me so much more confidence. Just the advantage that I can use them any time I need to and use the knowledge that those guys have. I mean, it’s just pretty amazing, so I’m very proud to be part of that team, as well.
Q. You’re working with Cahill and Sven, Gil?
DANIELA HANTUCHOVA: Yeah, all those guys. You know, when you just talk to somebody like that that’s he’s been coaching Andre for many years. He’s been a great player, as well. It’s amazing, and I’m very, very proud to have this opportunity.
Yes, this may give Daniela the extra boost she needs to overcome her mental fragility and fulfill her considerable potential. But what about the prospect of her becoming Fernando Verdaso’s next Adidas girlfriend? We bloggers will need a good story to follow for the off season.
It was a treat to meet my fellow blogger, Van, from Tennis Talk, Anyone? on the grounds on Friday. He proved as charming and knowledgeable in person as he is on his blog. His US Open title picks: Serena and Roger. Click here to chat with Van about all things tennis.