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!

I Didn’t Go

by Savannah

Qualie’s Week at the US Open is usually a must do for me. There are new players to see and evaluate. Practice sessions to watch. New foods to sample. This year there was also a new layout to walk through with the best 1-2 deal in tennis now gone. The changes were brought about by the new roof which I’ve seen in passing several times now and seeing it in the more relaxed and family oriented atmosphere should’ve been a thing.

And yet I didn’t go.

I looked over the Qualie draw for both men and women and found myself saying more than once “who are these people”? I think I follow tennis pretty well and usually there are one or two juniors, maybe more, that catch my eye and who I’d like to see but this year I have to say there aren’t many who’ve caught my attention.

I thought that maybe it was my fault. Maybe my resistance to hype is too high and I’ve been ignoring some phenom that’s going to set the world on fire. But that doesn’t seem to have been the case. I didn’t see much commentary from the professionals on Twitter about match play the past four days. Most of the commentary came from fans who were getting a chance to see their faves up close and personal. The pictures they posted were a prominent feature of Tennis Twitter. And that was it.

There was no excuse for me not to go weather wise either. It was perfect weather for me. Warm and breezy is my perfect summer day but I opted to stay home. And that worries me.

I write a tennis blog. Can I call myself a professional not professional fan? I guess. Tennis occupies a lot of my time and has for many years but I find myself struggling with boredom these days. It reminds me of when I took a long break from tennis a few years ago. There was just nothing happening for me back then and I feel that situation coming on for me again.

Maybe it’s because I see no inspiring games, no legit stars on the horizon? For it’s US Open issue the New York Times chose to profile Nick Kyrgios on it’s cover. The article is written by someone I’ve never seen do tennis for the Times before and features a photo of Kyrgios with his chain in his mouth, edgy gelled up hair and the sneer that is required of all young men these days who want to be famous.

The WTA? They’re pushing (hoping) Angelique Kerber will find a way to get to the number one ranking. I think if she’d done it prior to the US Open she’d be the one with her face plastered all over tennis oriented media. Their former top pick Eugenie Bouchard is too focused on suing the USTA per the USTA and not on playing her best tennis in New York again per the USTA. Who else do they have? Oh yeah, Petra Kvitova who said she’s not the one for long practices and that an hour is enough for her to prepare for a match, confirming what those who know her best have always said about her – that she’s lazy. Losing badly to Agnieszka Radwanska just before the Open was really good prep Petra.

And who is the above mentioned USTA flogging? The obnoxious Harrison brothers. Sam Querrey. A jingoistic Steve Johnson who dared the USTA to give former champion Juan Martin del Potro because he could beat an American in an early round and that would piss off a lot of American players.

Madison Keys ? After Kerber took her apart at the Olympics? It’s not that she was taken apart it’s how Kerber dismantled her and the fact that Keys had no answer, could not adjust to what was being done to her. But yet I see some picking her to win it all in New York. Amazing. There is also the diminutive Lauren Davis and the rich bitches who seem to be doing as best they can within the USTA system. I will say that Louisa Chirico has shown signs of not being beholden to the US powers that be though. The others seem doomed to ball bashing mediocrity.

But tennis is tennis. Who would’ve thought Rio would be the greatest tournament of 2016? Maybe I’m wrong in being so pessimistic about the future of the sport. I hope I am. My daughter and I have Grounds Passes for Monday and Wednesday.

©2016 SavannahsWorld All Rights Reserved

It Was a Great Week For Tennis

by Savannah

For the most part. As a self confessed tennis nerd my view of things is going to be radically different from that of a casual viewer.

Sure the ITF created a schedule that no human could possibly play and the rain didn’t help..

Then there was the incredibly soft draw the eventual Gold Medal winner Andy Murray had to navigate.

Let’s not forget the incompetence of the lines people and the ball people (I can’t say ball kids because many of them were obviously adults)

The fact that no points were offered is something that was new in 2016. If the quality of tennis hadn’t been what it was I think that decision would be revisited for 2020. The men and women who showed up played at such a high level I don’t see why points would be offered going forward.

And that is what this post is about.

The Slams, Masters 1000 and Premier Mandatory tournaments are supposed to be the pinnacle of tennis. The best in the world come to play and show off their best. Except that hasn’t happened much lately. When the top players are given cakewalk draws while their competition has to battle through tough draws you end up with predictable semi finals and finals that draw mostly yawns from fans. The semifinals and finals in Rio were interesting and dramatic although the drama came in an odd way for some.

People are always whining about the need to grow the sport while at the same time doing everything possible to ensure that doesn’t happen except within a very small demographic. During the Olympic women’s final I noticed people who never, ever mention tennis when it comes to sports were cheering for Mónica Puig. Did they totally understand what was happening? Maybe not but they were sure excited and I’m willing to bet they’ll be looking for her name going forward. I’ll get back to what Puig did on the tennis court shortly.

Chair umpires aren’t supposed to insert themselves into a match and for the most part they don’t. It’s ironic that Carlos Ramos and Carlos Bernardes found themselves in the middle of controversy. Ramos gave Andy Murray a code violation for words that, by Murray’s standards, were exceedingly mild. His rebuke didn’t affect the outcome of the match though.

Bernardes on the other hand should be called before whoever the powers that be are in officiating to explain why he did nothing about a twelve minute potty break that did affect the outcome of the match especially since he had chastised one of the participants in the match for taking too long earlier in the year. I’m sure we won’t know if he was or wasn’t but in reading a paragraph from the Rule Book it’s a monument to vagueness that leaves everything up to the discretion of the chair.

@VRCsports posted the relevant passage



Like I said a monument to vagueness. I would like to know in what world a twelve minute break in tennis would be okay outside of major injury. <strong>Venus Williams</strong> was called out during these same Olympics for taking an eight minute break during her match but people backed off when it was revealed she was emptying the contents of her stomach during the break. No one knows why it took an in form athlete twelve minutes off court without a wardrobe change.  It saddens me to see Bernardes, who was one of the best for so long, seemingly unable to be fair to both players during a match.

But enough of that. Let’s talk about the WTA. I’ve said it before and I’ll undoubtedly say it again; The WTA should know better than to plan a coronation before a tournament is completed. They’ve been doing it a lot lately especially with <strong> Serena Williams </a> about to cement her place in tennis history. According to the tennis press it was a foregone conclusion that <strong> Angelique Kerber </strong> would not only win the Gold Medal in Rio but that she would take the number one ranking from Serena Williams during the Western & Southern Open this week.

The US press was ready to anoint <strong> Madison Keys</strong> as the heir apparent to Serena in US tennis. She bashed her was to the semi finals in Rio and then a funny thing happened. The above mentioned Kerber forced Keys to have to play tennis. You know, the kind of play where you construct points and pay attention to what your opponent is doing, the kind of tennis Keys seems to be less and less able to play. When forced to have to play “real” tennis Keys falls apart mentally.

Ironically Kerber, who had beaten Keys so easily, was beaten in the Final by a woman who plays “real” tennis. Puig beat Kerber with patience and excellent court sense. She was very aware of what Kerber was trying to do and did her best to counter Kerber’s every move. Of course Puig was breathing rarefied air and faltered a time or two but in the end she won the game on the court and between the ears, something the young US trained players seem unable to do. It was a magnificent display from Puig and it’ll be interesting to see what she does at the US Open. No one in his or her right mind would predict her going as deep as she did in Rio but if she wants to be taken seriously going forward she should be aiming for the Round of 16. She showed how well she can play in Rio. Let’s see if she can be in or near the top 30 by the end of the year.

Despite the issues, despite the lack of points, the players who came to Rio showcased their love of the sport of tennis, a love that came through to anyone who took the time to watch.  Favorites won and favorites lost but at the end of the nine days I would rate the Olympic Tennis Event as the best tournament of the year. At times it was like a football (soccer) match and the fans didn’t all know tennis etiquette but that chaos enhanced the experience of this viewer. I miss it already.



The End Of Tennis? Really?

by Savannah

After coming fully awake part of my morning routine is going on Twitter to see what’s been going on while I was asleep. Lately it’s been a nerve-wracking exercise but I’m glad to say that today’s posts by some on Tennis Twitter were comic relief. The sad part is that one of the posts that made me literally laugh out loud and shake my head was by a tennis journalist who for the most part deserves to be called a journalist. I understand the constraints a paid professional faces in covering a particular beat but sometimes you have to wonder if these folks can look at themselves in the mirror.

Anyone who watches both tours knows that there are myths that have been created not only by fandoms (by their very nature fandoms deal in mythologizing their idol) but by professionals, men and women who are supposed to cast an unbiased eye on what is going on between the lines during a tennis match. A good commentator should be able to find a way to make not only the dyed in the wool fan interested in a match between two players they could care less about as well as pique the interest of a casual fan, someone who may remember the name of a player or see an interesting point and stick around for awhile. It’s not the job of a commentator to do what is now called “stanning”, to put all objectivity aside and root for a particular player. Using an American football analogy there can be all types of hype around a quarterback, a running back, or a wide receiver but in the end the GAME is what’s important so even with all the hype for a particular player or team the commentators do everything they can to make the fans interested in the how and why of what is going on on the field. If US football (or baseball) comms didn’t know everything about both teams on the field they’d be out of a job. Sadly those rules don’t apply in tennis.

Part of the pleasure of watching tennis is the sound of the sport. The ball hitting the racquet. The sound it makes when it hits the court (tennis played on the three major outdoor surfaces sounds different on each one), and the sound or lack of sound the player makes. It’s hard to watch with no sound because you miss so much nuance. But that is what I do 85% of the time when watching a broadcast especially if that broadcast originates in the States. We all know tennis is an individual sport but there can never be a match without two players. Unfortunately for many US or British comms there is often only one man or woman playing especially if that player has been hyped beyond all reason. Keep in mind it’s not a problem if a fandom does this. It’s a problem when the professionals do it.

So yes it was a surprise that Roger Federer is out for the year. It doesn’t mean men’s tennis is no longer watchable. It means that the ATP had best get to stepping and try and promote itself better than it’s had to recently. Men’s tennis has been blessed with two dominant players for over a decade and it’s faltering a bit because no matter how it tries the fandom for the now top ranked player is much, much smaller than the one for the Duopoly. You can say big three all you want. The Duopoly has sustained men’s tennis and made the people in charge of publicizing the sport very lazy. Yes you do need promotable players but as I’ve said many times over the years tennis fans are like cats. We can’t be herded in the direction someone in an office being paid by a player wants us to go in. The Duopoly developed on it’s own. Fans were drawn to one of the other. Some were drawn to both. But it remains true that where fans of either player will go is up in the air. Right now where they won’t go is clear.

You think I’m making this up? Let’s look at the criteria used by most sports organizations at the management level to determine who is the most popular. The following chart shows tennis players Twitter footprint.


Weird isn’t it? Yet the word is supposedly crashing down because one man has called it a year. Not a career, a year. Then the drug cheat was added into the “woe is me” dirge making it clear that this weeping and gnashing of teeth was agent driven. Attendance is going to plummet because these two players are out. To see professionals acting as if what the agents say is gospel and not reporting it in the more neutral “some are saying” is disheartening. There are stans who will say they can’t watch tennis ever again because their fave is out but were they ever really tennis fans? No true fan of the sport can ever say that. Tennis is an addiction, an itch that has to be scratched by watching it being played at the highest level possible. Will there be a transition? Of course there will be. It’s just not the end of the world as we know it.

There are reasons I haven’t gone the “celebrity blogger” route. By not doing that I’m able to write about and comment on things the way I want. As I’ve said before I understand the pressures commentators and journalists are under. All I ask is that everyone stop running in circles screaming “the sky is falling” like so many chicken little’s. The ATP has a lot of good young players coming up the rankings. Let’s honor what we’ve been so lucky to have while at the same time pointing out that there is so much good coming down the pipe.

NOTE: The chart comes via a fan posting as “Eric Wang” on a fan site.

©2016 SavannahsWorld All rights reserved except where noted.



This and That

by Savannah

It’s no secret Taylor Fritz is the current fair haired boy in US tennis circles. He’s tall, with dark good looks, rich and his mother once played at the pro level which automatically gives him an in. Being the chosen one he’s gotten every opportunity to hone his game and develop a following. You can tell by the reverent tones of the comms when talking about him he’s the person the US is tapping for future stardom.

Fritz is playing the CitiOpen in Washington, DC and is scheduled to face Alexander Zverev next round. The match will be a good barometer of where Fritz is at the moment. He won his first round match against Dudi Sela by playing the big points well. It’s a cliché statement but that is what happened. Zverev didn’t look good at all when I last saw him but I’m sure he’ll be up for this match.

Meanwhile Francis Tiafoe, another up and comer,seems to have developed his grown man’s body but he’s still playing Junior level tennis. To say his match against Adrian Mannarino of France was disappointing was an understatement. Tiafoe was up at least a break in both sets and yet managed to lose in straight sets. Every time Tiafoe got a lead he seemed to think his work was done and checked out of the match. Mental lapses like that and his inability to push through to close out sets/matches shows that he needs to play more tennis. He was in the Main Draw via a Wild Card. As someone said a Qualifying Wild Card would’ve been better for him. Of course it’s easy for me to say what he should and shouldn’t be doing. Without the total support of his Federation it would be hard for Tiafoe to travel and play events that would help his game mature. As I said above Taylor Fritz is inhaling all the air and there might not be enough left over for a promising player like Tiafoe. I don’t know. I do know that if Tiafoe isn’t able to lift the level of his play he’s going to join the scrap heap of US mens tennis.

A couple more things about the Citi Open. It seems the women are playing in the hottest part of the day while the men’s featured matches begin after 4p in the afternoon. Does the WTA have no clout at all? Ther were late night women’s matches yesterday because of the weather.

Venus Williams is playing Stanford along with some women who can also be placed in the generation next category.

I watched a match last night between newly minted pro Carol Zhao of Canada and Nicole Gibbs who is popular with the US tennis establishment. I think the phrase du jour is “dumpster fire” to describe a match like this one last night. Early in the first set Zhao had a point she’d set up nicely and came to the net after her shot. The entire court to the right was open. So of course she tried one of those thread the needle passing sots that are so beautiful when they work and horrible when they don’t. It didn’t and despite Gibbs less than stellar efforts it was clear that she would go on and win the match which she did. I know I’m hard on North American players but they lack the one thing European trained players have and that is court sense. They truly don’t know how to construct points (still) or think clearly and consistently on court. It seems adjusting their game if the other player is doing something that stops you from doing what you want doesn’t occur to them. Eugenie Bouchard  inexplicably lost a match to Camila Giorgi this afternoon mainly because she couldn’t adjust to Giorgi’s aggression. It’s really weird to see and makes you wonder if instead of older coaches working with players who have already made names for themselves they’d work with up and coming US/Canadian players. Something is wrong with the level of coaching they’re getting now and no one seems to have a clue what to do about it.

Accountability and Tennis Media

The match presser after a loss has to be one of the worst experiences ever. How would you feel if you were Eugenie Bouchard and someone asked you this question:

“Are you surprised Vika is pregnant? And are you surprised she found someone to be pregnant with?” Actual question to Genie Bouchard in D.C.

Tumaini Carayol posted the question on Twitter without identifying who asked it. The question is insulting on so many levels in my very humble opinion the person who asked the question should be made known. No one ever asked a male player how they managed to romance a woman who looks like a model. Fans may have snarked about how a particular player pulled a particular woman but no one has ever been asked a question with all the assumptions underlying the question about Ms Azarenka.

Tennis is the only sport where there are either no transcripts or transcripts omit the name of the journalist asking the question. Yet tennis wants to be taken seriously. As I type this the “journalist” has not been identified.

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