Saturday, September 12, 2015

So ... about yesterday.

Just your average run-of-the-mill matches Friday at the U.S. Open. Couple thoughts on them:
1. OK, I expected an upset with Flavia Pennetta and Simona Halep, but geez. Halep said in her press conference she felt out of gas by the time she got to Pennetta, but she kinda looked out of gas against Sabine Lisicki. And she was lucky to get out the Victorial Azarenka tussle. You could say she had a tough draw. You could also say that if you're the No. 2 player in the world, you and your body has to be ready for that tough draw. Of course, Pennetta also took out the in-form Petra Kvitova in the quarters. Who knows. Strange things have happened at this tournament. Very strange things.
2. For example Novak Djokovic barely broke a sweat against defending champ Marin Cilic. Djokovic is like a buzz saw right now. Cilic didn't exactly luck out to get this far, but you know what they say. Sometimes, you take the bull by the horns, and sometimes the bull takes you by somewhere else. The other thing they also say is that Djokovic was destined for a dream final to face 
3. Roger Federer. If any match on Friday's docket seemed destined to go five sets, it was Federer's match against Stan Wawrinka. But Roger's really popular these days, and you don't just leave Bradley Cooper waiting backstage. Seriously, Federer looks vintage right now. When you come to a major talking about trick moves you're working on, and then bust that move out in the third game against a quality opponent in the semis, well, then. I will make one prediction about Sunday's final. You're not gonna see any SABR attacks. It's not about fun anymore. 
Well, that's all I got. Happy finals weekend, guys!

Kidding. Of course.
4. If you've played tennis long enough, what happened to Serena Williams yesterday in her semifinal loss to Roberta Vinci has happened to you, too, and your stakes were likely nowhere near as high. Serena had never lost a set to Vinci before Friday. At no point on any surface had Vinci gotten closer than four games in a set. Vinci doesn't have a SABR move -- she was just playing her game. (Although am I wrong in thinking she actually looks more fit than in recent years?) That game usually isn't a problem for Serena. But as I said, and as many others noted, there's one person who's going to prevent Serena from making history, and it sure as hell wasn't Roberta Vinci. And if anything weird was going to happen, it was going to happen in the place where she may or may not have threatened to assault a linesperson, the place where an ill-timed yell led to her getting derailed against Sam Stosur, the place where the blind umpire began overruling calls against Serena. Watching her begin to play not to lose is a familiar feeling for many of us, but it's unfortunate for her that it happened so close to the finish line. But we are talking about a woman who still at this moment is holding four major tournament titles at once. Limited time only, but you see the point. 
If you've played long enough, what happened to Roberta Vinci yesterday has also happened to you. You've been across the net from someone with much better tools, and many more accomplishments than you. You assess your skills.
Power? Nope.
Speed? Ahh ... nope.
Familiarity with the stage and situation? Oh, wait, ... no, no exactly, unless my girl Sara Errani's nearby.
But Vinci took her tools and went to work, and stayed on task while Serena was over there yelling "Yes, bitch!" (??!?) It is the mark of the underdog and that is what's great about sports. You know what's more likely to happen -- this is where you get rankings -- but no matter your reputation, you still have to go out there at get it. Today's women's final is merely a testament to the ones who went out there and got it.
It is also true-life anecdotal evidence about why you don't buy your tickets for the women's final in mid-August. 

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