A busy, surprising and hot, hot, hot day (and night) in NYC on Wednesday. Take this, for example:
Pre-tournament favorite and No. 10 seed Victoria Azarenka suffered the second Major retirement of her career on Wednesday at the US Open (she retired against Serena Williams at the 2009 Australian Open), literally falling to Gisela Dulko in the second set of her second round match today. She was carted off the court in a wheelchair and taken to a hospital. Azarenka released this statement later in the day:
“I was warming up in the gym prior to my match against Gisela Dulko when I fell while running a sprint. I fell forward and hit my arm and head. I was checked by the medical team before I went on court and they were courtside for monitoring. I felt worse as the match went on, having a headache and feeling dizzy. I also started having trouble seeing and felt weak before I fell. I was taken to the hospital for some medical tests and have been diagnosed with a mild concussion.”
What do we learn from this, kids? Working out is dangerous. Skip the gym and hit the bar instead. (Just look out for falling beer bottles.)
After all the therapy sessions in the press room the past couple seasons, it’s nice to hear (and see) Ana Ivanovic making some progress. Here she is after beating Zheng Jie, 6-3, 6-0:
“I feel like I’m playing like a top 10 player, you know, and I have confidence that I can beat these players. That’s huge for me.”
Oh wait, I spoke too soon:
ANA IVANOVIC: I see myself also as two different persons. Once you’re actually coming up and you have no expectations, you are hungry for success, and you really don’t know what the stakes are. You just go for it. You have no fear. You play freely against anyone you come up against. Once you actually get in a position to defend some points and there is more outside pressure coming in, it is a lot different story. Because even though you perceive yourself the same or maybe even better, if you’re improving, still there is a lot of outside effect. That creates some doubts and obviously pressure. Everyone deals with it differently. That’s what I feel it was the biggest change with me, is that I managed to sort of let go of this. Now I feel, you know, as I am just coming up again, and I have really nothing to lose. I got that joy of competing again.
15th seed Ivan Ljubicic lost to World no. 220 Ryan Harrison today. Then he was asked this:
Q. You’re a veteran. I’m wondering if through the years the amount of hair gel players are using has increased.
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, it’s definitely a problem. (Laughter.) No, the guys are it’s difficult. The older you get, the more difficult it is, of course.
Q. But are you surprised? I mean, when you came on tour, did you see that there was as much use of that as there is today?
IVAN LJUBICIC: No. Well, depends of the mentality of the player. Doesn’t really mean you know, some guys are really careful how they look. The others don’t. So it’s up to them. For me, it’s not about a look, but it’s not like I have something to play with. (Laughter.)
Anyone know why this all important subject came up?
Ivan said he struggled in the extreme NYC heat today. He has a better solution that the heat rule:
Q. Would you be in favor of a heat rule for the men?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I would be in favor of indoor tour altogether, if you ask me. (Laughter.)
Melanie Oudin was put out of her misery on Wednesday, losing in the second round to Alona Bondarenko. Her post match comments surprised me – if only for their candor:
Q. Is there perhaps a bit of an emotional relief at having gone through this cycle, I’m back, I’ve seen how this could go? MELANIE OUDIN: I guess kind of, because now it’s like over. I guess I’m a little tiny bit relieved now. I can kind of start over, I guess like start over from all the expectations from like last year. And now I can just go out and hopefully do really well the rest of the year and keep working hard. And then, uhm, gear up for the next Grand Slam, which would be in Australia. And I lost first round this year, so, uhm, hopefully I can only do better.
Exit Cinderella, hello Cinderfella! Ljubicic-slayer and 18-year-old American qualifier Ryan Harrison is ready for his close-up:
Q. Who is the next big American star. Do you embrace that and want to be that guy?
RYAN HARRISON: Absolutely I want to be that guy. I have a ways to go. I’ve qualified and still have a ways to go to get there, but I’m definitely working has hard as I can. I’m really putting all the work in. I’m trying to stay open minded with everyone who is giving me their opinion and really trying to listen as much as possible and take in as much as advice as I can. Then just trying to work on the game and work on transitioning up to trying to hopefully being a full time tour player.
Ryan’s mentor, Andy Roddick, flamed out in four sets to a brilliant Janko Tisparevic in the late-night special. Tipsarevic is just really fun to watch.
Not so fun to watch was Andy Roddick’s temper tantrum against a lineswoman. He got irritated to the point of downright nasty when she misspoke about which of his feet had touched the line while he was serving. The replay showed that she was right-on about the foot fault but wrong about which foot. (It was his left foot, not his right, although I realized that from her position, it was the foot to her right.)
So what’s more mortifying – having someone threaten you a la Serena or harangue and belittle you a la Roddick? Honestly, I think the latter scenario would send me running off the court in tears faster.
Let’s hear it for my boy! Yes, it’s too bad for the tournament that No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych lost in the second round. But he lost to Michael Llodra – he of the throwback game and jubilant displays of public affection! I feel an ode coming on. . .
Just a blogging advisory – “wraps” may be a little spotty over the next couple weeks due to pesky day job getting in the way. I’ll do my best and look forward to hearing your own takes on the action in and around Arthur Ashe Stadium.