Wednesday, September 09, 2015

U.S. Open Day 9: Yin and Yang

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

Slams are wonderful. This fact is even more apparent when you get to the latter stages. This is where the real talent comes through, shines through. This is where the big matches come into play and where we suddenly see the big names. And at the U.S. Open this year we saw the contrast of beauty and practicality. Ugly is too strong a word because all tennis is beautiful in its own kind of way.

Behind every beautiful thing there’s been some kind of pain, remarks Bob Dylan in one of his songs and it’s true. But it could be total nonsense, too. It could be both. Isn’t religion some bizarre mix of truth and nonsense?

The point is that beauty and ugly have a yin and a yang. You couldn’t have the beautiful but cursed Red Sox without the ugly and hated Yankees. You couldn’t have the beautiful and stunning Sydney without its ugly sister Melbourne. You could not have beautiful Tom Brady without the ugly Joe Flacco. And you couldn’t have the beautiful Federer and Navratilova without the grinding ‘ugliness’ of Nadal and Evert.

You couldn’t have the beauty of Monroe without the ugliness of Joe DiMaggio. And this theme reflects everywhere. It reflects in a list too long to go through. In everybody’s life there resides some kind of beauty and some kind of ugliness. It’s just human nature. There is good [to use an extreme example] in Donald Trump as well as ugliness.

And in the U.S. Open quarterfinals there was beauty of different kinds. The brutal hard-hitting Tsonga and the soft-hands of Lopez both create beautiful things. They play these beautiful games in such different ways, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the way they play is beautiful. It is to be treasured. The comparisons between Lopez and Sabatini write themselves with regards to look and game styles. Though, of course, Sabatini is perhaps the most underrated and underachieving tennis player ever.

And then there’s the ugly hard-hitting Djokovic and Cilic. The favourites, the heavyweights. With their big strokes and their physical tennis. They have a mean presence on court. They play the villain. The kind of villain children run from until they age. The kind of villain to be feared, but also to be admired. A competent villain. Djokovic isn’t in the GOAT discussion, but he is definitely the best player we’ll have this decade. And Cilic is forever Cinderella. And wouldn’t it be nice to be forever Cinderella?

Well, enough of my rambling. Stuff actually happened today on the men’s side and it is time to delve a little deeper. This U.S. Open feels like it has been going on forever. Usually the slams just rush by.

QUESTION: The last Croatian to win this tournament not named Cilic was who?

...Cilic won on his fifth match point to finally, finally put Tsonga away 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6[3], 6-4. Tsonga has a history of coming back from the dead [Wimbledon 2013] and Cilic has a history of blowing it. The year Murray won Wimbledon Cilic led the Scot 6-3, 5-1 and lost in four. But today it was positive, today it was good. Unless you’re Venus. Cilic looked like the defending champion. He was supposed to kick on and become a major top five force. Spoiler: that didn’t happen. Cilic, though, has silenced the doubters with another slam semi-final. And three is a very solid number, indeed. Tsonga was inches from getting the Nalbandian slam but he really let himself down. Having saved three match points just to be in that fifth set he then threw away all his momentum. Cilic hit 29 aces to 15 and 63 winners to 59. 11 doubles and 58 errors would prove to be too high. There in lay the critical mistake. Incredibly there were only four breaks the whole match. Cilic now moves onto Djokovic. And if Agut and Lopez can take Djokovic to four why, surely, can't Cilic beat him? He is the defending champion with a big serve. And both men have a U.S. Open crown to their names. Something always goes wrong for Djokovic. Why can’t that something be Cilic?
...It’s the age of the one-handed backhanders that still exist on the ATP, the lack of WTA stars with one and the fact Dimitrov does not look reliable that makes me fear for the future of the one-hander. The one-hander is the past of this great sport and for many decades it was the only way. It will be a sad day when it dies out. If it dies out, of course. Djokovic finally put away Lopez at about 1:20 a.m. 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6[2]. Though the final tiebreaker was not great Lopez actually played a great match. He knew he had to be aggressive and he paid the price as hit 48 errors and just 36 winners. He went for every shot and played about five shots that were off this planet good. Djokovic hit just 17 errors. But he is boring. He doesn’t play exciting tennis. He doesn’t have that flare, that spark. And that may be the reason he has never won the French Open. There’s no creative genius, no taste for risk and he likes to play safe. He is dull. And there will be a villains semi-final with the usurped playing the usurper. I suggest you go there and boo at them for hurting the beauty in our life. Don’t actually do that. You’ll be booted out and I’ll be fired. I think. Anyway, can Djokovic finally avenge the Open hoodoo? Or will he once more become ensnared by its nefarious clutches?

Casey plays tomorrow! She and Shvedova play 12 seeded Russians A-Pavs and A-Kuds. And the other quarterfinal will also be played. The fifth seeds remain the likeliest opponents. The top seeds play 11th seeded Errani/Pennetta. Could that be the match that trips up Mirza/Hingis?

ANSWER: There has never been one in the history of tennis. Not once has a Croat won this before Cilic, but now he could make it two. In fact, no Croatian had ever even been to a final. He is never given enough credit for that. And I’m one of the guilty.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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