Friday, August 31, 2012

US OPEN Day 4: Day of Drama and Despair

Yesterday was Andy Roddick's 30th birthday and he stunned the tennis world by announcing that he would be retiring from professional tennis at the end of this year's US Open. Since he had fallen out of the Top 10 late last year questions about when he would retire had started to come fast and furious at his always lively and sometimes combative press conference. Roddick had refused to answer such questions and insisted he wasn't done yet. The American with the huge serve (in his heyday he regularly hit serves in the mid-140mph range) and the booming forehand was dismissed by many as a "one-slam wonder" by only winning the 2003 US Open title days after his 21st birthday. However, he was unfortunately in an era where at least two (and possibly three) of the greatest players to ever strike a tennis ball (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic) rose to prominence to dominate the sport. The biggest obstacle of these was Federer who cruelly beat Roddick in 4 major finals (2009 Wimbledon, 2006 US Open, 2005 Wimbledon and 2004 Wimbledon) and racked up a gaudy 21-3 career head-to-head record against him. Federer once dismissed Roddick as a "great server" (i.e. not a great player) but Roddick got the last laugh by winning their last career meeting in Key Biscayne earlier this year. Federer was voluble in his   praise for Roddick and said that he would be rooting for him in his 2nd round showdown with talented Aussie teenager Bernard Tomic tonight.

Last night what some are calling the best women's match of the year was played under the lights of Arthur Ashe stadium when Angelique Kerber of Germany met another slowly fading American star Venus Williams in an unfortunate second round clash. The match started on unpropitious terms with 5 consecutive breaks of serve leading to Kerber winning the first set 6-2 in 31 minutes. That all changed in a pivotal 3rd game of the match when Venus gritted out a service hold (for the first time in the match) already down 0-2. The veteran American used that momentum and the glimmers of hope from a partisan crowd to win 3 consecutive games and eventually win the second set 7-5 in 1 hour 16 minutes. But the drama was not over yet as the level of play increased in the third set, with Venus eventually taking a 4-2 lead. Unfortunately, she was not able to hold on to the lead and the set got back to dead even at 4-all as midnight approached. Venus was able to hold sserve again and was a mere two points away from winning the match at 30-all on Kerber's serve in the 10th game but the German was able to hold and then broke Venus as the double faults and unforced errors returned to the American's racquet. (Venus ended the match with 16 double faults and 1 measly ace; she littered the stats sheet with 43 winners and 60 unforced errors compared to Kerber's 20 winers and 25 unforced errors). After getting the final break Kerber was able to hold serve relatively easily to win 6-2 5-7 7-5 in 2 hours, 45 minutes, concluding at 12:19am on Friday morning.

For Kerber, a current Top 10 player, it was her 3rd win against Venus this year and adds to her mystique following her clutch win over Serena Williams in Cincinnati a few weeks ago.

All in all it was a day of drama and despair for American tennis.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin