Friday, September 04, 2015

U.S. Open Day 4: In Ceremonies of the Horsemen, Even the Pawn Must Hold a Grudge

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

The title comes from a Bob Dylan song, which means it’s probably nonsense.

And so you assume so the first time you hear it. But actually it has deep meaning. Essentially even when the big boys are playing, the smaller guys can still have an impact. And that, if Dylan isn’t pulling this stuff out of his nether-regions, is relevant here at the U.S. Open, where even a journeyman can impact the whole tournament.

And another cryptic line from that song goes a little something like this: "There’s no success like failure but failure is no success at all."

We learn from our losses, but they are still losses. They are still painful no matter what we learn from them. But these questions and musings are far too deep for this lighthearted blogpost. Maybe tomorrow I’ll steal song lyrics from the Bee Gees.

But if I start doing that I’ll end up going nowhere. Somebody help me.

And back to serious matters now. The tennis is on and one big seed and favourite very nearly went out. Jack Sock had to retire due to cramps and the heat. And that is really serious. Up two sets to one, he was stretchered off. And in the doubles we have lost seven seeds despite the fact not all the first round matches have even been played. That includes three of the top five seeds.

QUESTION: Who won the U.S. Open the year the Bee Gees sung "Stayin’ Alive?"

...While Federer cruises through a match like this, it’s watchable. He has an ethereal beauty about him when he is in full flow. There may be no better sight in sport than watching Roger in full flow. Having dropped five games last time, he decided to drop only four this round. This one last exactly 80 minutes, some three minutes longer than the last one. 46 winners and 53 per cent of return points won saw Federer through to the next round. There’s nothing more to be said here except that Kohlschreiber is the litmus test. He is a challenge and a seed, Federer’s first. There will be one close set here but the German won’t extend it to four.
...The danger signs were there. They were right there. We knew and Murray knew that the Frenchman would be no pushover. But Murray was saved by the format as he came back to win 5-7, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1. It took Murray three hours and fifteen minutes. That’s more time than both Federer’s first two matches. Just 45 winners over the five sets and a loss of serve three times were some of the low-lights for Murray. His 21 aces was a good number, however. Murray couldn’t afford to drop any sets when the other big names were all steaming along nicely. And to come is Bellucci, then Anderson or Thiem. All those players are on form. And if Bellucci steals a set and then his fourth round opponent forces a couple of breakers, suddenly Murray is under mental and physical stress. And the problem for him is not Federer. The problem is that he potentially has to face Wawrinka and Federer back to back.
...Chung never went away. To his credit he just kept fighting. It took everything Wawrinka had to keep this match to just the three sets. With just two breaks a piece the match concluded in Wawrinka’s favour 7-6, 7-6, 7-6. Chung got 2, and 6 points in those breakers. Wawrinka hitting 26 aces is ridiculous and an ominous sign for the rest of the field. If his serve is on-song then watch out. But this match was a perfect introduction for Chung, who is a rising star. He has a really good forehand and in particular the cross-court is wickedly effective. He used it time and time again. Just watch him is the homework assignment. You just have to watch this kid to understand. But he is really effective. And the top five is perhaps not a possibility, but a likelihood. But then we said that about Donald Young, too. And speaking of, Young lurks in Wawrinka’s section. If/when Wawrinka beats Bemelmans, he faces the winner of Troicki and Young.
...No deviations. No strange things happening. Not even the good old fashioned blowing of a two sets to love lead. Clearly Isner has been abducted by aliens and replaced with some weird other John Isner from a different dimension. Perhaps the same aliens who orchestrated the shooting of JFK? Isner beat Youzhny 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and gave the Russian just two chances to break. He took none of them. With 45 winners overall compared to a mere 26 errors this match was perfect from Isner. He even managed to win just about 30% of receiving points, too! But will he be too consistent for Vesely?
...This match had to go five. It was always going to go five. Even when Bernie got up 6-3, 6-2 you knew Hewitt would come back. And he did, but Tomic clung on for a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 5-7, 7-5 victory. With that victory Tomic is set to go to around the 20 mark and break his own highest ever ranking. Hewitt had 5-3 in that last set and two match points but he could not take it. But it generated our picture of the year.

And Hewitt departs, but he is reforming Tomic. Tomic is turning into quite the tennis player. Not to mention the fact that he is getting better, too! And what a way for Hewitt to go out. BACKSPIN HQ has a statue of him in the Australian Courtyard of champions. Tomic now gets Gasquet. Richard has had Kokkinakis and Haase. Now Tomic, and after that Berdych. Talk about a rough draw.
...Vesely came through 7-6[3], 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6[4]. Karlovic hit 43 aces and won two more points than his opponent, but it didn’t help him much, as the young lefty rolled through to take it in five long sets. Up next is Isner and then Federer. So an easy path then.

ANSWER: Seeded fourth, Guillermo Vilas won the U.S. Open in 1977, the year the Bee Gees sung "Stayn’ Alive." He beat second seed Jimmy Connors 2-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-0. Of course, it was played on green clay at that time.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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