Tuesday, September 01, 2015

U.S. Open Day 1: Messages

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

We both know why we’re here, so shall we get on with it? There’s always a lot the first day.

QUESTION: The last time a U.S. Open finalist lost on the first day was?

*Suicide Picks*
MS 1st Rd: Janowicz d. Carreno Busta
WS 1st Rd: I-C Begu [28] d. Govortosova

...The crowds paid good money to see 71 minutes of the Djokovic show. 6-1, 6-1 and 6-1 tells one everything one needs to know about the match. It wasn’t close. In fact, it was an absolute lesson. But that’s the point of the early rounds for the big seeds. That old phrase about you don’t win slams in the first three rounds but you can certainly lose it comes to mind. The first three rounds are used to send a message. And with 24 winners and no unforced errors Djokovic is sending that message. His opponent only won 32 points. That’s about one and a half a game. Ten winners for Souza or one every two games. And it’s easy to use those stats to show how good Djokovic is but, really, is Souza a player of the calibre of Djokovic? No. Not really. Djokovic moves on to Haider-Maurer now. We await the next message...
...Nadal got the night session. And his dance partner would turn out to be Coric. With Nadal taking the lead, they danced a pretty waltz for those still in attendance. With 71 winners in the 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 Nadal victory there was plenty of firepower on display. Nadal managed to keep the youngster at bay even on his worst surface. Nadal has now been to at least ten U.S. Opens. And that’s the experience that really shines through when one needs it. Coric lost because Nadal has his number, but also because the more one plays on a certain court, the better one becomes on that court. The most impressive thing about Nadal’s win is that he won almost 40 per cent of return points. That’s a big number. Schwartzman is next for Nadal, but Fognini looms after that and the Italian has beaten Nadal before.
...With the usual chaos going on over on the WTA side, the ATP tour decided to have an upset of its own. Nishikori also used his first round match to send a message. His message said, "I’m not ready now." It’s not as good as the message Djokovic sent. Kei had Paire at several points during the match but succumbed 6-4,3-6, 4-6, 7-6[6] 6-4 in three and a quarter hours. For some reason the U.S. Open decided the defending finalist and fourth seed didn’t warrant the top court. As usual they really missed a trick. Paire hit 21 aces as he went 64-67 in the winners department. Nishikori went 34-36. The game styles were apparent. There were just four breaks of service in the entire match. Paire has in his section Ilhan, then Robredo. And those are both winnable matches. With Monfils retiring Tsonga is the remaining seed in that section. And he can beat a run-down Ferrer. The semi-finals are there if he wants them.
...Snubbed by the U.S. Open, Cilic turned the other cheek and put on a professional display. The U.S. Open thought they should put their defending champion on Armstrong during the day instead of on Ashe. It’s pretty rude when you think about it, but then Cilic hasn’t done anything since winning the U.S. Open. He broke twice in a 6-3, 7-6[3], 7-6[3] victory. It was a consummate performance considering he had nerves and a tricky opponent. He could have been another big seed loss. But 13 aces and 44 winners later he’s still here. Pella went 22-28 and was far too cautious at times. Marin has so far not let the pressure get to him but things only get harder from here on in. Donskoy, the Russian qualifier, is his next opponent but after that could be Dimitrov. He cannot afford to lose a set against the Russian. He needs to be as fresh as possible for that winner takes all. The message Cilic sends is that he is ready to defend. But can he back up that message?
...Italy’s next star made his slam debut against the exiting Mardy Fish on the exiting Grandstand court. And he put up a spirited fight, especially as he wasn’t on his more comfortable surface. His best surface is, of course, clay. When Fish retires it will be a sad day. He had the talent to win a slam but just not the body. And it’ll be sadder still to lose Grandstand. For all its problems, it has a lot of memories. Fish asked especially to go on Grandstand. His message was one of farewell. He won through on his goodbye tour 6-7[3], 6-3, 6-1, 6-3. Outhitting his opponent in winners by 49 to 20, it was like Fish had never left. And we’ll just let the unforced error count be. Lopez is up next for Mardy. And that could be the last match for our American hero. That has to be a night match on Ashe.
...It just had to go five, didn’t it? Verdasco took it 3-6, 6-1, 6-7[3] 6-3, 6-1. The message coming from both men is the same. I’m still here. And Verdasco could beat Raonic, who is his next opponent. Verdasco hit 22 aces to just one. He even hit 57 winners to just 42 errors. It was a surprisingly complete performance from Fernando. Haas hit 45 errors and only 27 winners. Those are just the wrong numbers. But these two aged grizzly veterans fighting it out on an outer court over the course of three hours brings to mind duels in the Wild West. They first met in 2006. Tommy won. He leads their head to head 3-2. Both Fernando’s wins have come at the U.S. Open in five.

ANSWER: Rafter in 1999 lost in the first round. He was he twice defending champion. Ah, Pat. An all-round good guy. He even has a statue.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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