Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Day 1: Kings for a Night

All good things must come to an end... but not yet. Not on Day 1 of the U.S. Open.

In an emotional seesaw of a match, imminent retiree Andre Agassi survived to fight (at least) another day in Flushing Meadows with a hard fought 6-7/7-6/7-6/6-2 win over Andrei Pavel. The key moment of the match might have come when Agassi, down 0-4 in the 3rd set, began playing with a stack of newly-tightly-strung rackets. At that point, he found his groundstroke groove and gradually pulled himself back into the set, then put away the tiring Romanian, who valiantly battled the future Hall of Famer and 22,000 of his closest friends at Arthur Ashe Stadium until 12:30am.

Agassi will next face Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis in what will surely be another encounter under the stars which will end in exhileration, or resigned heartbreak over the fact that the Agassi Era will have come to an official end.

But that's then, and this is now. After Day 1, he lives.

Love-Love... you know the U.S. Open has arrived when you see the courts being squeegeed at 11am. But, amazingly, Kim Clijsters was no where to be seen to offer her usual help. Yes, this is indeed a very different Open.

15-Love... before Night 1 belonged to Agassi, it was Billie Jean King's moment to bathe in some long overdue adulation as the USTA National Tennis Center was renamed in her honor. There to honor King in person were American tennis luminaries Chris Evert, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Venus Williams (well, she'll one day be considered a "luminary"... right now, she's just an injured player with some free time) and, in the stands, Martina Navratilova.
15-15... speaking of Jimbo, Connors pupil Andy Roddick certainly seems to be taking rather well to the brash one's pointers. After winning the Cincinnati title a week ago, he's carrying himself like a top player once again. On Day 1, he completely destroyed Florent Serra a year after being dumped out of the Open in the opening round by Gilles Muller. Could Roddick now be pointing toward a possible semifinal matchup with Rafael Nadal?
15-30... Svetlana Kuznetsova wishes she had as easy a day as Roddick, as she instead played one of those 1st Round hand-wringers against Sandra Kloesel. Kloesel was up a break in the 3rd set on the '04 Open champ, but Kuznetsova managed to pull out a 6-2/2-6/6-3 victory.
30-30... the first winner of the tournament: Ai Sugiyama, over Zuzana Ondraskova. As for the men, it was Novak Djokovic with a win over Donald Young. The young American actually managed to take the first set from Djokovic, before falling away with increasing ease (0-6/1-6 in the 3rd and 4th sets).
30-40... First Seed Out: #15 Anna-Lena Groenefeld, whose summer of hard court discontent mercifully ended with a loss to Aravane Rezai. (The first men's seed to go was #19 Dominik Hrbaty, to Mikhail Youzhny).

Australian Open: #9 Dementieva (Schruff)
Roland Garros: #18 Likhovtseva (Sprem)
Wimbledon: #28 Arvidsson (Birnerova)
U.S. Open: #15 Groenefeld (Rezai)

AD... and, no, I won't be discouraged by the fact that two of the few differences between Pierre's picks and mine both went his way on Day 1 as Lucie Safarova knocked out Samantha Stosur (figures, since Stosur seemed to be playing the better of the two coming in), and Severine Bremond saved Quebec from total annihilation by ending the run of Canadian qualifier Stephanie Dubois (but I only picked that one to potentially get over on Monsieur Cantin in case his fellow native actually did manage to win).
DEUCE... plus, Justine looked mighty good today against Maria Elena Camerin, so I'm feeling pretty good on that front. And speaking of the New Haven final, isn't it remarkable what a little rest did for Lindsay Davenport? Now she'll get two more days off, so maybe all will be well with her (until she might meet JHH in the QF, that is)... which would take back at least a little of Pierre's advantage since he picked her out early on the assumption that she might not even be able to play at all. Stay healthy, Lindsay... at least for about another week.
AD... hmmm, 16-year old American wild card Lauren Albanese might not be a wolf in sheep's clothing, but she isn't a sheep, either. She knocked out Olga Savchuk on Monday. Now she gets to face Kuznetsova.
GAME, "You just couldn't do this two months ago, now could you?" ...before Wimbledon, I picked Feliciano Lopez to surprisingly reach the SF. But it all hinged on him upsetting Ivan Ljubicic in the 1st Round. He ended up losing on an eighth match point, 11-9 in the 5th set. On Monday, Lopez finally defeated #3-seed Ljubicic in a grand slam, and he did it in straight sets. Better late than never, I guess. Or not.

Tomorrow, the Supernova appears under the stars...

All for Day 1.


Blogger Topaz said...

So you actually stayed up to watch the match? I tried, but only made it halfway through the second set. I was pleasantly surprised this morning to see that Agassi had pulled through.

I was surprised, as well, by how Anna-Lena's exit seemed to garnish absolutely no attention. And, even though she had such a bad summer, I was still shocked to see her lose so early. Maybe we'll see her regroup for next year's slams?

A Roddick/Nadal semi would be something else! I hope they both get through! I think, given his current form, I would have to pick Roddick, though...also taking into account 'home' court advantage.

Tue Aug 29, 06:26:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

I'd be really mad at myself if I didn't stay up for a match like that, since the possibility of late matches that go past midnight are precisely the reason why I so look forward all year to night tennis at the U.S. Open.

Of course, that and then putting together a Backspin so late makes it tough the next morning... but it's only two weeks out of the year. :)

Tue Aug 29, 08:16:00 AM EDT  

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