The 2017 Roland Garros Draws

by Savannah

Every tennis head as seen the draws but I’ll post them in case you haven’t starting with the ATP Singles Draw.

A. Murray [1] vs A. Kuznetsov
WC L. Lokoli vs M. Klizan
M. Baghdatis vs N. Almagro
Qualifier vs Jm. Del Potro [29]

J. Isner [21] vs J. Thompson
P. Lorenzi vs R. Berankis
K. Khachanov vs Qualifier
Jl. Struff vs T. Berdych [13]

A. Zverev [9] vs F. Verdasco
Ph. Herbert vs J. Donaldson
D. Dzumhur vs N. Kicker
Qualifier vs P. Cuevas [22]

S. Querrey [27] vs H. Chung
E. Escobedo vs D. Istomin
R. Albot vs J. Chardy
T. Kokkinakis vs K. Nishikori [8]

S. Wawrinka [3] vs Qualifier
A. Dolgopolov vs C. Berlocq
Qualifier vs A. Seppi
F. Tiafoe vs F. Fognini [28]

R. Gasquet [24] vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs V. Estrella Burgos
T. Monteiro vs WC A. Muller
D. Brown vs G. Monfils [15]

Jw. Tsonga [12] vs R. Olivo
K. Edmund vs G. Elias
K. Anderson vs M. Jaziri
P. Kohlschreiber vs N. Kyrgios [18]

D. Ferrer [30] vs D. Young
F. Lopez vs Qualifier
K. Kravchuk vs F. Delbonis
E. Gulbis vs M. Cilic [7]

M. Raonic [5] vs S. Darcis
R. Dutra Silva vs M. Youzhny
Qualifier vs WC Q. Halys
G. Garcia-Lopez vs G. Muller [26]

P. Carreno Busta [20] vs F. Mayer
Qualifier vs J. Janowicz
T. Robredo vs D. Evans
S. Robert vs G. Dimitrov [11]

J. Sock [14] vs J. Vesely
A. Bedene vs R. Harrison
M. Kukushkin vs WC T. Sandgren
J. Millman vs R. Bautista Agut [17]

G. Simon [31] vs N. Basilashvili
V. Troicki vs E. Donskoy
R. Haase vs WC A. De Minaur
B. Paire vs R. Nadal [4]

D. Thiem [6] vs B. Tomic
Qualifier vs N. Mahut
WC M. Bourgue vs B. Coric
Y. Sugita vs S. Johnson [25]

I. Karlovic [23] vs Qualifier
H. Zeballos vs A. Mannarino
Yh. Lu vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs D. Goffin [10]

L. Pouille [16] vs WC J. Benneteau
T. Bellucci vs D. Lajovic
WC B. Bonzi vs D. Medvedev
Qualifier vs A. Ramos-Vinolas [19]

M. Zverev [32] vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs D. Schwartzman
J. Sousa vs J. Tipsarevic
M. Granollers vs N. Djokovic [2]

Here is the WTA Singles Draw.

A. Kerber [1] vs E. Makarova
L. Tsurenko vs Qualifier
L. Chirico vs J. Ostapenko
M. Puig vs R. Vinci [31]

S. Stosur [23] vs K. Kucova
K. Flipkens vs M. Minella
Qualifier vsE. Rodina
J. Boserup vs P. Kvitova [15]

C. Wozniacki [11] vs WC J. Fourlis
Qualifier vs WC T. Andrianjafitrimo
C. Bellis vs Qualifier
A. Tomljanovic vs K. Bertens [18]

S. Zhang [32] vs D. Vekic
V. Golubic vs A. Sasnovich
C. Giorgi vs O. Dodin
C. McHale vs S. Kuznetsova [8]

G. Muguruza [4] vs F. Schiavone
A. Kontaveit vs M. Niculescu
J. Larsson vs N. Vikhlyantseva
WC M. Georges vs Y. Putintseva [27]

M. Lucic-Baroni [22] vs C. Buyukakcay
M. Erakovic vs S. Rogers
Qualifier vs M. Doi
J. Brady vs K. Mladenovic [13]

V. Williams [10] vs Q. Wang
WC A. Anisimova vs K. Nara
J. Jankovic vs Qualifier
E. Mertens vs D. Gavrilova [24]

T. Bacsinszky [30] vs S. Sorribes Tormo
M. Brengle vs J. Goerges
Qualifier vs Qualifier
L. Arruabarrena vs D. Cibulkova [6]

E. Svitolina [5] vs Y. Shvedova
M. Barthel vs T. Pironkova
WC A. Lim vs M. Linette
D. Kovinic vs A. Konjuh [29]

A. Sevastova [17] vs A. Beck
R. Ozaki vs E. Bouchard
K. Bondarenko vs Qualifier
A. Barty vs M. Keys [12]

E. Vesnina [14] vs Qualifier
V. Lepchenko vs A. Petkovic
S. Cirstea vs S. Peng
M. Sakkari vs C. Suarez Navarro [21]

D. Kasatkina [26] vs Y. Wickmayer
Qualifier vs WC A. Hesse
Yy. Duan vs T. Maria
J. Cepelova vs S. Halep [3]

J. Konta [7] vs Sw. Hsieh
Qualifier vs T. Townsend
WC C. Paquet vs K. Pliskova
N. Hibino vs C. Garcia [28]

B. Strycova [20] vs A. Riske
A. Cornet vs T. Babos
N. Osaka vs Qualifier
WC F. Ferro vs A. Radwanska [9]

A. Pavlyuchenkova [16] vs Pm. Tig
V. Cepede Royg vs L. Safarova
M. Duque-Marino vs I. Begu
M. Rybarikova vs C. Vandeweghe [19]

L. Davis [25] vs C. Witthoeft
I. Khromacheva vs P. Parmentier
E. Alexandrova vs K. Siniakova
S. Zheng vs K. Pliskova [2]

 I’m beginning to think more and more of Grand Slam draws as snapshots, a rendering not only of ranking but of what has been happening in tennis in the months leading up to these events that are called “majors” in tennis.

Both tours are coming to this event in states of flux. At the present time neither tour has a dominant number one, someone that everyone wants to beat even if it means they’ve expended so much energy that they lose badly in the next round.

Tennis commentators are always talking about the element of fear in the locker room and how that affects on court play. That player everyone fears and loathes is usually ranked number one. Going by that standard both the mens and women’s tours are afraid but for different reasons. On the ATP side the British finally has a male player ranked number one. Unfortunately talk of illness has dogged him of late and it’s a legitimate question as to whether he’s physically up to a grueling seven match march to the final of the tournament held on his least favorite surface.

Then there’s the somewhat astounding mental and physical collapse of the man who had been dominating the tour before Andrew Murray took over the top spot. It’s as if we’re watching the previous incarnation of the man when he would begin to falter and fade physically during a match. It’s all happened rather suddenly and there is no easy explanation for why it happened. Some are pointing to a self declared guru who now travels with him especially since he fired not only his long time coach but his trainer and everyone else he’s been working with for years. Personally I don’t see what someone like Andre Agassi can do to help him. I know some will argue that people said that about Ivan Ljubicic and Roger Federer. Everyone loves a good story though and in the final analysis this work with Agassi seems to be more about Agassi and his family getting an all expenses paid trip to Paris than him seriously going back to the grind of traveling. It also gives the USTA the chance to brag that’s it’s former champions, who never played the modern game for more than a short period of time, do have something to contribute. We’ll see.

There are some young players who could surprise, among them Alexander Zverev. He’s in the top of the top half of the draw and his immediate section, aside from the tricky Pablo Cuevas, shouldn’t present too many problems for him. If he ends up facing Nishikori Kei that will be his first really big test.

It should be mentioned in passing that the ATP has done a good job promoting the young “Next Gen” players. I don’t think any of them is ready to do major damage at this, the most demanding of the Slams, but they could do enough to ruin some players day.

And now to the WTA.

The only player they’ve been promoting will not be playing at Roland Garros, and rightly so. When she and her agent couldn’t strong arm the FFT or the AELTC for that matter the WTA was left scrambling to get a good PR push going for its other players, you know, the ones who haven’t doped. They could’ve promoted their number one but she’s gone back to being the player she was before winning two Slams in a year. It’s almost by default that they’re now pushing Petra Kvitova who is coming back, I hope not prematurely, from an injury sustained during a home invasion.

So who has a chance? Top of my list would be Elina Svitolina. She’s got the game and if she can hold up has a good chance of going deep. Keep in mind the French Open is about endurance and sometimes those with good games can’t physically hold up.

Garbiñe Muguruza? As I’ve said before I saw her play live a couple of years ago now and she almost lost to Carina Witthöft. Since her French Open win she’s done nothing to write home about. Her opening match against Francesca Schiavone, a previous French Open champion as well, should give her a good work out and give us an idea what her chances are of repeating her title run. I think if she could get it through her head that no one is really afraid of her she would be able to raise her level of play and commit to what she needs to change. She must like having a celebrity coach though. If I were Sam Sumyk I would’ve told her long ago to kiss where the sun don’t shine and gone away although after the crappy way he treated Victoria Azarenka his stock may have gone down a bit. He needs her to do well as much as she needs to do well.

I’m not ready to get on the Kristina Mldenovic bandwagon just yet. The woman wants it and wants it bad. I’m not sure that will be enough to get her through though. She still has those little mental lapses that you can’t afford to have in best of three matches on the premier clay court in the world. You can make corrections in a best of five match. A mental lapse in best of three can break you in more ways than one.

Karolina Pliskova? She may end up in the top spot by default but she has too many problems with her game to be a favorite to win in my mind. She doesn’t bend her legs. She doesn’t like the low ball. Her movement is shit and that’s after she says she’s been working on it. With the weakness of the WTA tour right now she could still find herself in the semi’s or even the Final though. To me she’s a younger version of Daniela Hantuchova, another player who needed to dominate using her serve to control the center of the court.

By the way I read a fan comment saying that Karolina’s legs are too long for clay. The world wide web has room for every body.

The only other name I want to mention is Johanna Konta. I don’t get it. I don’t see it. I can never get past that horrible service motion of hers which for some reason always goes unmentioned by the tennis comms I’m used to hearing. I think that her heart is set on Wimbledon but again, the weakness of the WTA could see her wind up playing in the second week.

I’m starting my French Open with a breakfast of croissants with butter and honey. Or maybe thick cut English marmalade. The sleep deprivation won’t be as bad as it is during the Australian Open but it will be real.

End Note

There’s been a lot of controversy about the latest homophobic comments by Margaret Court, a relic of a bygone era and a fundamentalist preacher of some kind. Ever since her importance to tennis was raised by some who wanted the current GOAT to have another hurdle to overcome she’s been opening her mouth and breathing sulfur all over the tennis landscape. You lay down with dogs you get up with fleas. The tennis world gave her this platform and like any preacher she’s going to shout her message from the rooftops. It’s the height of hypocrisy to act as if you’re shocked and appalled by what she says especially if you’re part of the contingent that opened the door of her cave and let her out. People are calling for the arena named after her to be renamed. They’re asking that she stop being invited to Slams outside of Australia. I doubt if any of this will happen.

 

The Week That Was: ’17 AO Week 1

by Savannah

I was a bit upset with myself for not writing a post about the first week of the 2017 Australian Open Saturday (or was it Sunday? I get so confused about what day it is this time of the year). After the matches last night and early this morning here on the east coast of the United States I’m glad I didn’t.

Up to last night the big story was the ATP #2 losing early, racist comments by an ESPN commentator re Venus Williams who is gleefully introducing herself to a new generation (what was that you said Duan Yingying?) and a three hour plus WTA match between Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Jankovic (JJ will be working with Guillermo Canas for a bit), and Agnieszka Radwanska  being escorted to the exit by Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Going into last night’s matches I had two wishes: That Jo-Wilfried Tsonga would beat Dan Evans and that Angelique Kerber would find a way to beat Coco Vandeweghe. One out of two ain’t bad. I had no idea that Mikhail “Mischa” Zverev would decide that last night was the time to remind the tennis world that there are two Zverev brothers on the tour. I should’ve known that when Kerber needed three sets to see off the brainless Carina Witthoef (I’ve seen Witthoef play live and will stand by my judgement of her tennis brain) that Kerber would be vulnerable to the obnoxious Vandeweghe.

I thought that this year would be tough for Kerber. Her game is not the strongest and despite her obvious attempt to be even fitter than she was last year it was always going to be a battle for her to hold onto the number one ranking. She mostly played her way into number one if you remember her 2016 schedule. She got a ton of points winning Australia and the US Open last year but in between those wins she played a lot and lost a lot. All of the PR surrounding her ascent was more the WTA wanting (needing?) someone not Serena Williams as its number one. I mentioned their unseemly haste in kicking Serena to the curb to elevate and promote Kerber. I have nothing against Kerber. She seems like a very nice person. But the WTA betrayed its anti Venus Williams and Serena Williams bias once again by insinuating that Kerber was somehow “saving” women’s tennis. Don’t forget they’ve been trying to give the savior title to Eugenie Bouchard for awhile now.

But enough of that. Kerber was vulnerable as the hunted and she lost badly to Vandeweghe who was, from what I saw of the video, her usual obnoxious self at the end. The USTA is going to try and push her as the heir apparent to the Williams but they’re going to have a hard time doing it. Vandeweghe is known and hated by many, many fans and changing that view of her will be hard. Her attempted intimidation a chair ump the other night was only the latest in a list of horrid things she’s done on court. Garbiñe Muguruza we’re counting on you.

Andy Murray‘s loss is a bit harder to understand. He had a fairly easy draw and Mischa Zverev was supposed to be roadkill not a bump in the road. There is a huge difference between modern tennis and old school serve and volley tennis and to this viewer Murray was not able to force Mischa out of his game plan. I’m calling the older Zverev by his first name to differentiate him from his younger brother Alexander (Sascha) Zverev. Add to that Mischa’s forehand was on fire and you had a recipe for disaster. It was Murray who, when confronted by a man playing like it was 1989 had his brain freeze. His vaunted (by US and British tennis media) Ivan Lendl had nothing to contribute. For most of the tournament he seemed to be asleep in his front row seat. He played when serve and volley was still fairly common and should’ve been able to give his player some guidance as to what to do. You knew Murray was in trouble when ESPN stopped showing him and began showing Murray’s real, full time coach Jamie Delgado.

One of the things I’ve said over my years of doing this blog is that a soft draw does not a champion make. Murray has had a lot of soft draws lately and this one was no different. When you’ve been phoning it in for your early round matches it’s hard to kick it up a notch when facing someone you’ve rarely seen play and who was not considered a threat by you or your team. Sometimes it’s better to have to face the players who are going to give you a hard time early instead of tennis version of the “bum of the week” from the world of boxing.

Both number one’s are out now and it’s interesting seeing the mental gymnastics the so called tennis pundits are putting themselves through. The US spring hard court swing is looming large now. Will it confirm 2017 as the “Year of Living Dangerously” for top players? Will older fan favorites be able to reassert themselves? Will new jacks, sorry, Next Gen players be able to step up? Did Nishikork Kei take a shower during his match last night? Enquiring minds want to know you know.

©SavannahsWorld 2017. All Rights Reserved

The Rear View Mirror: The 2016 US Open

by Savannah

us-open
via http://www.sportslivenews.com/

 

2016 Champions
Men’s Singles
Switzerland Stan Wawrinka
Women’s Singles
Germany Angelique Kerber
Men’s Doubles
Brazil Bruno Soares / United Kingdom Jamie Murray
Women’s Doubles
United States Bethanie Mattek-Sands / Czech Republic Lucie Šafářová
Mixed Doubles
Germany Laura Siegemund / Croatia Mate Pavić
Boys’ Singles
Canada Félix Auger-Aliassime
Girls’ Singles
United States Kayla Day
Boys’ Doubles
Bolivia Juan Carlos Aguilar / Brazil Felipe Meligeni Alves
Girls’ Doubles
United States Jada Hart / United States Ena Shibahara
Men’s Champions Invitational
Australia Pat Cash / Australia Mark Philippoussis
Women’s Champions Invitational
United States Lindsay Davenport / United States Mary Joe Fernández

Some thoughts:

Not one main tour US singles player made it to the Finals. Serena Williams made it to the semi finals and was barely able to move in that match. Steve Johnson , the man who said former champion Juan Martin del Potro shouldn’t get a Wild Card over what I assume he felt would be a more deserving US player didn’t survive his match vs del Potro. US Wildcards? Pfft. Gone. If you blinked you missed seeing them crash and burn. New US men’s #1 Jack Sock ? he was exposed as being nothing more than a forehand. He was almost the least fit man I saw play.

Despite all of the US juniors getting so much hype in the press it was Canada’s Félix Auger-Aliassime who took home the boy’s trophy. Kayla Day of the US who doesn’t look a day over twelve, was the only singles player to win a title.

The stadium for the Women’s Final was reported to be about 85% full. Tickets prices for the women’s final fell through the floor going for about $31 each. If there’s a compelling match fans usually storm the gates and grab up any available ticket. That didn’t happen. It’s widely reported that the men’s final was a sell out.

Does that mean the men’s tour is stronger? Let’s look at how the two finalists got there. The ATP #1 spent less than 10 hours on court.

Novak Djokovic

1st rd: bt Jerzy Janowicz (POL) 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1
2nd rd: bt Jiri Vesely (CZE) walkover
3rd rd: bt Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) 4-2 retired
4th rd: bt Kyle Edmund (GBR) 6-2, 6-1, 6-4
QF: bt Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x9) 6-3, 6-2 retired
SF: bt Gael Monfils (FRA x10) 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2

Stan Wawrinka

1st rd: bt Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 6-4
2nd rd: bt Alessandro Giannessi (ITA) 6-1, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5
3rd rd: bt Dan Evans (GBR) 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (10/8), 6-2
4th rd: bt Illya Marchenko (UKR) 6-4, 6-1, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3
QF: bt Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
SF: bt Kei Nishikori (JPN x6) 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2

There was a lot of talk about the cake walk Djokovic had in Paris. This draw made that one look competitive and he still only played two full matches. In my opinion he didn’t deserve to win and fortunately he didn’t. I’m not a great fan of Wawrinka but at least he had to play tennis to reach the final. Apologists are saying it wasn’t Djokovic’s fault he played a total of four matches including the semi final and final. If any other player, with one exception, had that happen there would be question marks and asterisks next to his name if he had somehow managed to win.

As for the women the Final proved that there is only one draw in women’s tennis and that is Serena Williams. Some want to sneak Maria Sharapova‘s name in there but to be honest that is just not true. Tennis media loves her and she does have stans but when it comes to putting butts in the seats outside of semi finals and finals where people have bought tickets so they can say they were there I’ve never seen a stadium packed to overflowing just to see her. Tennis media of course buys into the hype around her because they need access. Fans don’t have to suck up.

It’s hardly been mentioned that Angelique Kerber played her way into the number one spot. Once again when discussing the WTA we’re talking more about ranking than proficiency. Keep in mind how Kerber was dismantled in the Olympic Final by Monica Puig and how she did almost nothing coming into the US Open. The best that can be said is that she’s not a Slamless number one.

Her opponent, Karolina Pliskova will always be able to say she beat Serena in the semi final of a major. The part about Serena being injured will always be left to fans to point out just like it was with Sloane Stephens who still thinks she’s a super star. Pliskova is one of the worst movers in tennis. It’ll be interesting to see how she does in 2017.

Overall I think tennis came out of the US Open in a holding pattern. The Asian swing will feature heavily in who does and doesn’t make the year end finals of both tours. Will players enter events they normally wouldn’t so that they can stumble into the finals of their respective tours? We’re already seeing some changes in where top players will begin play in 2017. Does anyone think Kerber, without a lot of assistance from her draws will hold on to the top spot especially if she cuts back on the amount of tennis she plays? Will the ATP top player continue to deserve his nickanme of “Fakervic” especially after yesterday’s shenanigans? Will some continue to make excuses for him?

It’s a shame most of the play in Asia will go unwatched by the majority of tennis fans in the West due to the time difference. There should be some exciting results with so much at stake.

© SavannahsWorld 2016 All Rights Reserved except where indicated

The WTA Has It’s Work Cut Out For It

by Savannah

No One Wants to See the U.S. Open Women’s Final Without Serena

 

The above piece, by Eben Novy-Williams at Bloomberg greeted tennis fans and fanatics late Friday evening, early Saturday morning as ticket prices for the women’s US Open Final once again fell precipitously below three figures for the second year in a row. There was immediate outcry of course with German tennis fans jumping in to say they’d most definitely be watching and some hard core fans on this side of the Atlantic Ocean saying they’d be watching too. And that is, sadly, the point.

When told new #1 Angelique Kerber will play Karolina Pliskova many will reply “Who?” after giving the proverbial blank stare. And for that the WTA, followed closely by the USTA is to blame. Don’t forget it’s Nike that has done the lion’s share of promoting Serena. Not her Federation that seems to do all it can to make sure she fails, and not the WTA that ignores her unless it absolutely has no choice. People can bitch and moan about the Bloomberg piece but he is saying out loud what everyone in sports knows: there is no women’s tennis without Serena Williams . Yes the sport will go on and there will be new top players but who will care? If the WTA promoted women’s tennis as a sport and not as a “look” women’s tennis wouldn’t be in the position it is. People would want to see the two women who will play this afternoon. People would care.

Lost in the story of cheap tickets is the fact that there were so many tickets still available. Fans dumping previously purchased tickets or never sold before tickets?

Serena Williams is 34 years old. Her body is not going to do what she wants it to do without a lot of rest and pampering. Everyone in her box was wearing a concerned look during the semi final but that isn’t newsworthy. And her coach doing his job and becoming a lightening rod for criticism is vilified.

We all knew this day was coming. It’s so sad that once again unless there’s a miracle women’s tennis will fall back into the shadow of men’s tennis.

It didn’t have to be this way.

Let’s Be Real Here…

by Savannah

If Serena Williams , who is still ranked #1, had most of her opponents retire and she’d played only two complete matches on her way to the semi finals what would tennis media be saying? I think I can guess. Weak. Not real tennis. Why are they getting equal pay? Serena’s achievements aren’t valid. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Instead tennis media has been silent on the shit show that’s been the draw for the ATP #1. Why? Because it stinks to high heaven? I’ve been watching tennis for over twenty years and I can say I have never, ever, seen anything like what is going on in the men’s draw. I thought he got a cake walk at Roland Garros. This makes that draw look like Murderer’s Row.

Accepting that all the injuries are real making the semi finals by playing the halt, the weak and the lame, men who can’t even play a full match, will, if he wins, put an asterisk next to the ATP #1’s name. Anastasija Sevastova badly twister her ankle last night but she found a way to play her entire match.

I’m not saying if a player is severely injured he or she should play. We all remember what happened to Venus Williams career when she insisted on playing with an abdominal muscle tear don’t we?

Still, to label what is going on as nothing more than a farce is wrong. An exhibition would offer more competition.

©2016 Savannahs World Tennis All rights reserved

My Two Days at the 2016 US Open Part Two: The Matches

by Savannah

The best part about going to the US Open during the first week with Grounds Passes is that there is so much tennis being played by the famous and hopefully on their way to be famous, as well as the infamous, that sitting for an entire match isn’t done that often. Fans usually stay for at most a set before moving on to try and catch another match that features a player they want to see for one reason or another. The first match I visited, and stayed for, featured Coco Vandeweghe and Naomi Osaka. I was really anxious to see young Ms Osaka after becoming a fan when at some god forsaken hour of the morning I watched her win the undercard in Singapore late last year. I was also curious about Vandeweghe, a woman I’d heard so much about, mostly negative. I told myself that no one could be that bad as I took my seat on the newly remodeled Court 13. I looked out over Courts 14, 15 and 16, glanced at the fans who had found a way to look into the standing room only Court 17 where Gaël Monfils was holding court and from which amazed shouts of wonder erupted from time to time. That was the day Monfils inadvertently broke one of the on court clocks.

But I digress. Vandeweghe got the full star treatment from Rupert Murdoch’s rag the NY Post the day before. She was displayed on a court in high heels, a shiny silver dress and wind machine blown hair with a racquet in her hand and sitting amidst tennis balls.

The USTA has decided that she is one of the players they want to promote I supposed thinking about the fluff piece. She fits the criteria of the WTA as far as looks go and has had decent results of late so I thought I’d be cheering for Naomi to do well not to win. Boy was I wrong.

From the moment Vandeweghe stepped on court she was throwing her sense of entitlement around. She was rude to the ball kids. She was rude to the chair. She stood hand on hip because her water wasn’t brought to her fast enough. And all of that was before the match started. When it became clear that Naomi was more than happy to be there she went into her act. She banged her racquet on the net. She used hand gestures to disparage her opponent whenever she made a good shot which was often. She banged her racquet on top of the barrier between the court and fans barely missing hitting a fan in the face. The fan had turned to say something to the person next to them (tennis people talk to each other during matches whether you know the person or not) and that was why they weren’t hit.

Then came the break between the second and third sets. Vandeweghe flounced off the court after the chair had spoken to her about not taking showers I presume and wasn’t seen for the next twenty minutes or so. Osaka waited patiently for the normal time and then asked the chair if she could change. He said yes. Osaka was back before Vandeweghe who wandered back about ten minutes after Osaka came back. The chair spoke to her. Vandeweghe went “whatever” and play started. Is it any wonder the crowd, with the exception of one small group, was cheering for Osaka? I’m willing to bet that most of that behavior did not make it to US television screens. If this is the woman the USTA wants to promote they’ve got their job cut out for them. People excuse her behavior as “bratty”. I’d say her behavior is better described by the words “entitled bitch”. And that isn’t strong enough.

The next match I watched, or attempted to watch, was Taylor Fritz vs Jack Sock . Both men are considered future top ten players by the US tennis establishment so we found good seats on Armstrong and prepared to watch the much ballyhooed future of men’s tennis. I should say that I had taken a break and sat down in the air conditioned comfort of one of the onsite restaurants. I had a skirt steak with chimichurri sauce and a side of fries. A glass of rosé accompanied my meal and I had a fruit cup for dessert. I don’t eat fries so most of my meal was the steak and fruit cup. Still it was hot that day so I attributed my urge to nap to a combination of the food and the heat. I was surprised to see a lot of people leave at the first changeover. I was determined to try and make it through the first set. We left after the second changeover.

Neither Sock or Fritz have star power, that “je ne sais quoi” that some have that separates the average player from the superstar. Add to that the preferred USTA style of play – forehand, forehand, forehand, error – and it’s no wonder so many people left to find another match especially since young Frances Tiafoe looked to be making a run at John Isner . I missed my first chance to visit the new Grandstand complex but saw the end of that match where lack of match play thwarted an emotional Tiafoe who knew he should’ve won the match. I watched on the jumbotron outside of Ashe. I wonder how many people were in the stands for the end of Fritz vs Sock.

I was back out to the NTC on Wednesday with the intention of watching matches on Court 17. Picking what day to go to the Open is always a tricky thing. You buy your admission before the order of play is out, before the draws even, so you “pays your money and takes your chances”. We paid our money and picked the “off days” this year as far as matches we were interested in went. Keep in mind we no longer buy tickets for Ashe preferring to wander the grounds and see the best available. We used to buy expensive seats at Ashe and once you’ve spent money you’re obligated to go sit in a mostly empty sun drenched stadium watching matches with predictable outcomes.

It seemed as if everyone was hip to Court 17’s schedule and had camped out early. They were at capacity and it wasn’t even noon. I met a friend and my daughter and her friend went off exploring. Our biggest decision looked to be where we were going to eat. The young people went to the Old Grandstand to watch Benoit Paire vs Marcos Baghdatis while I went to eat. Ryan Harrison vs Milos Raonic had also begun. I was content to watch on the screens inside the restaurant where I had a burger, rosé and the fruit cup again. The fruit cup is really, really good. I made it to the Old Grandstand in time for Naomi Osaka’s match vs Duan Yingying. The court wasn’t packed to capacity but those of us there cheered Naomi on and despite mental lapses she defeated a one dimensional Duan. I’m going to miss that court.

With nothing else appealing we headed for the new Grandstand. As I’ve already mentioned it’s a great court and if you plan to go either this year or in the future it’s a must see. Anyway the fans were literally hanging from the rafters. It was a true SRO crowd. US commentators had tried to make it seem as if there was an SRO crowd for a Eugenie Bouchard match despite camera angles that showed that was not the case so I wonder what they said about this crowd. Both reserved seating and general admission seats were full.

I managed to find a seat and it was obvious at once that Raonic was injured. He’s not gazelle like at all but when he could barely move to his right to get balls he could reach the reason for the score became clear. It didn’t matter to the packed house though. They robustly cheered Harrison and loudly belittled any attempt Raonic made to try and play tennis. If Raonic could move he would’ve run Harrison off the court but it was a good day for the crowd favorite who crowed as if he’d beaten someone who had put up a fight.

What surprised me is that after the men’s match the place cleared out. I mean it became a ghost town. You would think a match between two US women, Catherine Bellis and Shelby Rogers would keep fans in their seats. Nope. They disappeared and the match started in a mostly empty stadium. We didn’t stay long. These women also have no presence on court and play USTA inspired forehand, forehand, forehand, error tennis. Bor-ing.

That’s my court report for 2016. The most promising players I saw need to play more outside of the US. I’m hoping Ms Osaka will play more during the Asian swing but she should also play some of the events in Europe. She lost her Ashe debut because the occasion overwhelmed her and her opponent was more experienced. I mentioned her mental lapses during the Duan match. She was up by big margins and managed to hang on riding the crowd such as it was. By next year this time she should be higher ranked. A seed? It depends on Asia and the early tournaments next year. I didn’t see Frances Tiafoe live but it’s good that he cried at the end of the match. Play more Frances. Play qualies. It’ll do you a world of good.

I’m already looking forward to 2017.

© Savannahs World 2016 All rights reserved

My Two Days at the 2016 US Open: Part 1 The Grounds

by Savannah

It did not start out well. We arrived by car (a first for us) and as we began the walk up the ramp we saw two huge lines of people. It turned out one line was for those of us with bags and the other was for those of us without bags and not needing to be checked before entering. Reasonable you say? Sure. Except the line started at the exit from the #7 train.

We, along with many others, were confused. Why were people being stopped from the usual slow walk in the broiling sun to the gates so early in what often feels like a forced march? It soon became clear why and it made absolutely no sense at first.

Fans were being stopped at the big awning before heading down the hill. Why? There were a large number of people I suppose but instead of creating order the crowd control effort was creating chaos. Once you were able to get down the hill and make the turn towards the security gate there was a really big man in a red shirt firmly ensconced to stop you from moving forward. He had two much more normal sized people on either side of him but there was a phalanx of other bruisers just behind him waiting to grab anyone foolish enough to try and make a run for it. Once you were let past the Big Bruiser the crowd separated into the familiar lines and instead of the usually brisk procedure the lines moved very, very slowly. The reason for that was soon obvious.

In years past there were two people at the end of the line checking bags. This year there was one person. Of course the line was moving slowly and of course there was a need for such invasive crowd control. They’re lucky most tennis fans arrive sober. I shudder to think what would’ve happened with another more aggressive fan base that tends to arrive with cans or bottles in hand. It was well after noon before we were finally allowed inside. One man behind us said he’d arrived at 10:45a. Our torture started at 11:15a.

Day 2 was a bit better. The first roadblock was The Big Bruiser who told fans which of the lines behind him was moving the fastest. Of course that didn’t account for the back up due to one guy trying to argue that his back pack wasn’t a back pack. Or the woman who argued that she didn’t need her bag checked because it was empty. One of The Big Bruiser’s side kicks said “it’s a bag” and told her to get back in the bag check line.

Things looked the same once you got inside. Of course there is the new roof on Ashe which now looks like some alien space ship smack in the center of the road. But once you make that turn to the left towards the first Food Court everything changes.

I said first Food Court because the new Grandstand Court complex is a world unto itself. There are food courts that include an Oyster Bar. The court itself has elevators (it’s a healthy walk up to the third level) and there are a lounge areas where fans immediately rearranged the sofa’s so that they could eat and sip in comfort watching outer courts. More on them later.

The new Grandstand is a marvel and in my opinion a wonderful alternative to the Ashe complex. The seating is comfortable. If there is a bad angle there is a big screen within easy view. This came in handy during the Harrison vs Raonic match where I climbed over a low fence to take a seat that gave me a wonderful view of one side of the court and a partially blocked view of the other side.

There is an over hang that provides shade and on the day I was there (Wednesday) there was a good breeze so it wasn’t too uncomfortable in the sun if you didn’t get a seat under it.

The tree lined pathways as well as the nooks and crannies that were a long standing feature of the outer courts are no more. There is now a sleek, appealing row of entrances, including accessible ones, and an overpass stretching between courts. There are also clean lines of sight between them once you take your seat. We parked on Court 13 for a bit during Osaka vs Vandeweghe on Monday and could keep track of what was going on on Courts 14-16. We could only see the side of Court 17 looking forward.

There were no longer long lines at women’s rest rooms either. There are many more of them and the facilities were clean if not totally well lit. The facilities are clearly labeled so there’s no question about what type of facility you’d be using. And yes there were gender inclusive bathrooms.

There are also many more fountains so you can refill your Evian bottle as often as needed.

For young families there are loads of attractions for the younger set, something I’m sure parents were happy to see.

For adults there were many more Grey Goose booths.

And that brings up another thing. The food last year was at best “meh”. We noticed that there has been an almost complete overhaul of food vendors. Momofuku is now there (that spicy chicken sandwich is spicy not salty). There is a Korean bbq place. Carnegie Deli is there. The Kosher food truck is there again this year. Bar 17 is located in the shadow of Court 17. I saw several Ben & Jerry’s booths. Pat LaFrieda has a couple of booths. There is a Wine Bar that serves bar food. There are also booths for several different wine companies. One place that seemed popular was “Toro”. It’s a restaurant and there was always a line there. God willing I’ll try it next year.

The money spent on upgrading the National Tennis Center was money well spent. I guess that’s why they cut back on bag checkers. Still my experience was A+.

Good job on the grounds USTA!