Really, Roger, you just had to do it, didn’t you?
The US Open organizers couldn’t have been happier with tonight’s “showtime” feel in Arthur Ashe stadium, what with RF and MJ letting the crowd join their mutual appreciation/marketing society. It really was “good fun” (as Roger described his passing shot prowess after the match) if a little exhibition-like in feel. At least Matosevic put up a fight in the end. I think his non-reaction to Roger’s cheeky shot was the perfect reply.
So, it seems that with Rafael Nadal out and Novak Djokovic coming off a post-Wimbledon cold streak, Roger Federer has become the man to beat at the Open. This is an absolutely wonderful, and well-earned development for Federer and his fans. He’s earned the second seeding and the attention the old fashioned way – by winning a lot of matches, recently, and not just at the Majors. And, as luck would have it, there’s no doubt he finds himself in the lighter half of the draw in NYC. Not that he should underestimate the likes of Berdych, Gulbis or Dimitrov, but I’m sure he’s happy to let Nole have first dibs on the likes of Milos Raonic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Andy Murray and/or Stan Wawrinka.
On the ladies side, we had Serena Williams on the double bill tonight with Roger, taking out the young Taylor Townsend in straights. In many ways, this tournament is also the “Serena Show” – of course, that’s what we say about every major until she’s upset in the first week by a random journey woman (will she be dreading that third round versus either Barthel or Lepchenko?). There’s no doubt Serena’s looking for redemption at this US Open, which should make for some dramatic tennis, and, if history holds, some theatrics as well. At the very least I’d love to see her play Sam Stosur again, though this time it will be in the round of 16. Actually, Serena’s draw is filled with so much juicy potential, that it’s hard to imagine there won’t be some major drama in the business end of the tournament as well: Ivanovic in the quarters! Kvitova, Azarenka or Bouchard in the semis! Venus in the final! (Okay, maybe that’s going just a bit too far. . .but you know the USTA is setting up a little Williams sister altar in some backroom, somewhere.)
Though if Roger and Serena are for some reason unable to provide more first week fireworks, we always have fifteen year old Cici Bellis to cheer on. I mean, come on, she’s ranked #1208 in the world! I didn’t even know the rankings went that far. And yes, she beat the thirteenth ranked Cibulkova today in 3 sets. The USTA couldn’t ask for better if they had called central casting. I know I’m going to be paying rapt attention to her next match against Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan. It’s these kind of fun little surprises, mega-fied by the Open’s marketing prowess, that makes this tournament so much fun – and yes, so American.
Also, I very much like Roger’s night time jacket.
So, how are you feeling about the Open so far?