Friday, September 02, 2016

U.S. Open: The Early Rounds

Hey, all. Galileo here.

For this U.S. Open things will be a tad different. We’ll do the first two rounds, the middle section and final rounds altogether. There’s an excellent reason for that. The time difference makes it tricky for us Europeans. So let’s get on with it.

First off, a disclaimer. Apologies for the behaviours of this BACKSPINNER'S brethren. Tomic told a spectator to suck his tennis balls. Except without the tennis part. The umpire chastised him but seemed to see the funny side, telling him “it’s my job, not yours.” And Kyrgios refused to even shake hands with his umpire. But Kyrgios has yet to drop a set, while Tomic bombed out again. Both are at their highest ranking, so the underachiever tag doesn’t fit, but a seven letter word might do if you felt so inclined.

Apart from that, no massive news - all the big seeds held serve. Well, almost all of them. Raonic going out to Harrison is on the list of upsets of the year. Is it injury related or was Harrison genuinely too good? We shall soon see.

Well, let’s dive into the early rounds.

=EARLY-ROUND AWARDS - 1st/2nd Rounds (Days 1-4)=
1. Del Potro
...What a follow-up to the Olympics. Players like Djokovic we expect to do well. But Del Potro could have gone either way. He dismissed Schwartzman in straight sets and then saw off talented Johnson 7-6[5], 6-3, 6-2. The American is a top twenty player having a great year with his best slam performance coming at the last slam. The Argentine looks really good and with Ferrer grinding out an epic five set win over Ferru he could be in with a shot to get into the quarters. He should be in the top 50 by the end of the year, but this BACKSPINNER thinks he will crack the top forty and be seeded at the Australian Open next year. The forehand is working and the former champion is the stallion in the dark horse stable, though Nick Kyrgios is certainly fearsome, too.
2. Kuznetsov
...What a year. Career best in three slams and a highest ever ranking of 39. He has beaten Wawrinka and become Russia’s number one. He may not play fancy tennis or hit any exquisite shots, but he turns up at big events and he has an efficient game. He has even given Djokovic a run for his money. He saw off Bellucci in four and dismissed Ramos-Vinolos 7-5, 6-4, 7-6[5]. Up against Rafa tonight, his chances of an upset were small. Another fantastic result for the Russian.
3. Kyrgios
...Like with a vodka cocktail, you must take the good with the bad. Sure, he has issues, but those are never off court. He is polite and affable away from the tennis court. But on court lies the problem. Putting that aside, however, and you would see a string of remarkable results. And already this U.S. Open is looking like another one. Having dismissed Bedene and Zeballos for the loss of exactly zero sets, he now faces Marchenko, with the winner taking on Wawrinka. Well, if Wawrinka can beat Evans that is. Which he will. That match could have some serious bad blood, but under the lights on Ashe it will be superb. Especially if it goes five.
4. Anderson
...Also in this quarter Cilic has been extremely impressive, but Anderson so rarely gets the spotlight and he has been brilliant. He was too good for Nishioka, winning 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 and then he dismissed Pospisil 7-6[3], 6-4, 6-4. He went up against Tsonga and, as expected, the match had a breaker in it somewhere (in the final set, going to the Frenchman). But coming back from injury and loss of form to record two wins in a slam is an achievement.
5. Murray
...The Scot dismissed Rosol for the loss of seven games and then saw off Granollers 6-4, 6-1, 6-4. He has done what he needed to. Lorenzi is up next after he edged Simon 7-6[3] in the fifth. Murray will not lose his first set against the Italian, but a problem for him might be the lack of competition. Dimitrov could take him by surprise. Apart from that miniscule detail this has been perfect from the favourite so far.

ARTHUR ASHE: 1st Rd. - Djokovic d. Janowicz
...A midnight classic. Well, midnight over here, anyway. Nole won going away 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 to seal a memorable match. Now 20-1 in the night matches, Djokovic struggled through the match, possibly because he was dealing with an arm injury. Not his best performance, this nonetheless showed his grit is still intact. He will have tougher tests than this in the later rounds. His win via retirement, with opponent Vesely struggling with his own arm injury, gives him precious time to recover. But this match will give Murray confidence.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG: 1st Rd. - Sock d. Fritz
...He sprayed 73 errors and blew a two set lead but Sock still managed to edge his way through 7-6[3], 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 6-4 in exactly 200 minutes. With 16 breaks, this match was a struggle and a fight. But Sock showed his experience and came through despite winning one less point and blowing 13 of his 20 break chances. This was a match Sock should have lost. It shows Fritz's time is coming, too. He was 41-42 on the winner to error count, a pretty good mark.
GRANDSTAND: 2nd Rd. - R.Harrison d. Raonic ...Upset of the Year after another American’s victory over Djokovic at Wimbledon. Despite winning in four sets this match was, at three hours and 37 minutes, longer than the all-American clash on Armstrong. It was a shootout and Harrison came up big from behind 6-7[4], 7-5, 7-5, 6-1. Harrison broke seven times to three and was totally confident throughout, dominating the Canadian on the big points and eventually claiming victory. He is set to rise some thirty places to 90 in the world.
COURT 13: 2nd Rd. - Ferrer d. Fognini
...Let’s just enjoy the Spaniard whilst we can. His 6-0, 4-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 epic victory over the Italian should be viewed with nostalgia. No longer will we be able to see a classic Ferru five-setter. This guy could have run marathons. It’s nice just to see him still hanging around.

...Perfect so far, but a Bulgarian banana skin could be waiting.
...Why does nobody ever talk about him?

...With Raonic gone, what an opportunity for the soon-to-be French number one. Can he resist that urge to look a gift horse in the mouth?
...Dropping two sets so far, he looks shaky. Sign of imminent failure or of mental toughness?

...He did not look himself in the five set victory he ground out over Fognini. Can he find any semblance of form?
3. Carreno Busta
...After a five set win over Tipsarevic, does he have any chance against Thiem?

Additional Notes from the Tournament...
1 - Cilic and Del Potro are both rampant. Good to see yesteryear's generation making a name for themselves.
2 – Nara/Osaka were Kiki’s first opponents in the doubles, and she and Garcia won 6-3/6-3. She lost in the singles, but in a third set breaker to A-Pavs. That’s forgivable.
3 – Federer is set to drop to seven in the world, Wawrinka fall to five. Nadal and Raonic will round out the top four. As it stands, Kerber will be our new world number one.
4 – The U.S. Open has actually handled the rain issues well.
5 – Ten years ago, Federer defeated Roddick while Sharapova defeated Henin for the title. None of the four are playing this year. A decade is a long time.

Go to WTA BACKSPIN every day during the U.S. Open.

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