Tuesday, August 26, 2008

US 1.5- Raw Drama

On Night One of action at the U.S. Open, Jelena Jankovic found herself down 1-0 in the 1st set, then opened her first service game with two double-faults. Uh-oh.

Sure, that was pretty much the only drama in the Serb's match against American teenager Coco Vandeweghe, which the #2 seed went on to win 6-3/6-1, but you take it where you can find it.

AFP/Getty Images/File/Jonathan Fickies

Debuting her yellow-and-white limited edition dress for the match, we mostly got a rather sedate Jelena, for once. Maybe that's why the crowd didn't seem to quite know how to respond during Jankovic's on-court interview after the match. Oh, well. Though it doesn't yet seem like everyone fully does at the moment, hopefully one of these days the Open crowds will come to appreciate her for all her converging oddities and contradictions.

We interrupt this Backspin to tell you that "WWE Raw" is airing on Sci-Fi Channel rather than USA Network!

As it turned out, the nighttime's real highlights turned out to be scheduled both before and after Queen Chaos' match.

Evert at 53... really Elsa/Getty Images

A few instant thoughts about the parade of former champions in the ceremony honoring forty years of U.S. Open tennis before the night session:

...always nice to see Rod Laver.

...Martina, too. Anytime I see her I always think she could still go out and take a set off half the women's draw, even if it's probably no longer the case.

...Chris Evert. Yeah, Greg Norman probably doesn't care that he blew the British Open.

...ah, Boris Becker. Now he's a blonde with a permanent tan.

...one gets the feeling that quite a large percentage of the TV audience's eyes were glued to the set when Gabriela Sabatini walked across the court.

Oh, did we mention that "WWE Raw" is airing on Sci-Fi Channel?

...hey, at least Monica Seles didn't have to do the samba this time.

...anyone think Marat would have been there if he wasn't almost forced to comply since he was, you know, in town and all?

...well, at least the Supernova got to get a cheer on Arthur Ashe in '08, after all.

...hey, don't I recognize that Federer guy from somewhere?

...Justine, Jimbo, Swiss Miss, Andre Steffi -- wish you were here.

The night's second match between James Blake and Donald Young turned out to be the match of the day on Monday (and Tuesday, since it didn't end until about 12:30am). Fitting, considering it was a matchup of African-Americans at Arthur Ashe Stadium in the same week that Barack Obama officially becomes the Democratic nominee for President in Denver.

After his typical big win (over Federer), bigger loss (to Gonzalez) tournament in Beijing, it remains so easy to sit back and expect Blake to implode before your eyes in a big match, even if it's against a young player who's yet to win anything as a pro. The lights were on at Arthur Ashe, so it was BIG ENOUGH moment to blow since no victory is ever safely assumed if Blake is in the game. He almost DID lose this match, too.

In case you were wondering, "WWE Raw" is currently airing on Sci-Fi Channel.

After leading two sets to one and a break up (and nearly two) in the 4th, Blake saw the speedy Young gain confidence and put himself in position for a monumental moment in his career. The match was tied 4-4 in the 5th, and Young actually was up 4-3 and 30/30 on Blake's serve, before the Beijing 4th place finisher's experience finally paid off for him and he edged ahead to win 6-1/3-6/6-1/4-6/6-4, proving once again just what U.S. Open night sessions are all about. It's hard to believe that this match would have been so dramatic had it occurred in the less-charged atmosphere of the light of day.

Oh, well. I guess now Blake will just have to disappoint everyone a few rounds later in the tournament instead. Maybe Andy Roddick will be the highly-ranked American to be bounced early this time around.

...the Serbs and the Sisters play tomorrow, so Jim Courier should be happy. Or smug... sometimes it's hard to tell the difference with him.

...and, finally, on Night Two it'll be Sammy Stosur who'll try to play Donald Young (or more) to Venus Williams' James Blake. Oh, yeah, and that Federer guy plays, too.

20...Venus Williams (20-2 overall)
16...Martina Navratilova
14...Serena Williams
14...Chris Evert
13...Jennifer Capriati

Just so you know, in case you missed the ten million times it was mentioned during the broadcast tonight, if you were looking for "WWE Raw" on USA Network on Monday, it was actually airing on Sci-Fi Channel... and then once again on its regularly-scheduled network after Blake finally defeated Young.

All for Day 1.5. More tomorrow.


Blogger mjgrace22 said...

Can someone explain to me why Sveta was wearing her training gear to the parade? I get it that she had a match before, but couldn't she have brought something nice for the occasion?

And don't get me started on Roddick's long sleeves... zzzz

Tue Aug 26, 02:38:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

I don't know, but I do remember watching an awards ceremony after a tournament on Tennis Channel a year or two ago. Everyone else was all dressed up, but then here comes co-doubles champ Kuznetsova -- who won hours before the singles final -- decked out in her stained sweats. I guess that's just her way. :)

Also, did you notice that she was the first of the group to not walk the gauntlet of past champions, shaking hands and greeting with kisses all the ex-players in the front row, before joining the back row? Once Kuznetsova didn't do it, the next few players -- Roddick and Sharapova -- who saw what she did just joined her in the back without greeting the others, either (there were so many people on court, I'm thinking those two didn't even see the S.O.P. of the others earlier, and just did what they saw Kuznetsova do).

Of course, when Federer came out at the end he went back to greeting everyone, though I expected that he'd do that since he'd want to make sure he said hello to Laver at the far end of the front row. :)

Tue Aug 26, 08:34:00 AM EDT  
Blogger mjgrace22 said...

I didn't actually see the ceremony (I live in Asia so I was at the office wishing I was watching..), just saw the pictures...

Now that you mentioned Roger, oh our Roger, I wish he'd win this tournament and then cancel all his off-season commitments... I bet it will take a lot of preparation time for him.

Tue Aug 26, 12:08:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Yeah, I wonder how much all the things he did last offseason contributed to him getting sick with mono at the start of this year. It really might play a huge part in the downturn of his season... look at all the trouble Ancic has had coming back from that.

Tue Aug 26, 04:49:00 PM EDT  

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