Aug/12

27

Seven Upsets You Can Bank On In the First Round of Open


The fun begins in just a few hours. Another Open is upon us and Opening Day is always a little like Christmas morning–not that I celebrate Christmas, but I live in America–waking up to find the great presents awaiting our perusal. So with that in mind, here are seven upsets you can go to the bank on in the first round:

1. Donald Young beats Roger Federer–fooled you! What do you think I’m an imbecile. That’s not my first pick. This is>>
1. Rhyne Williams beats Andy Roddick–out with the old, in with the new, I always say. Williams was basically unheard of until the qualis and he can just as quickly go back into his Futures/Challenger hole if he gets mauled by Roddick, but I say the youngster has too much game for Roddick now.

2. Go Soeda beats Mardy Fish–Soeda’s stock has been rising. I saw him play Ollie Rochus up at Newport and he lost in three close sets, but then the next week in Atlanta, he beat his higher-ranked compatriot, Kei Nishikori. Fish has been playing well, but I sense Soeda will break down his forehand.

3. Jesse Levine beats Alexandr Dolgopolov–just so you people out there in Prose-land don’t think I only pick against the Americans, I like Jesse-boy in this duel. Dolgo has been thudding since winning Washington D.C. this summer, and Jesse’s got fight, he’s got some quirkiness of game as does Dolgo, of course, but I like Jesse in this battle.

4. David Goffin beat Tomas Berdych–basically, Berdych has been horrid this summer. I know he reached the Winston Salem finals, but the guy is ready for the taking and Goffin is a peach-faced assassin.

5. Bradley Klahn beats Jurgen Melzer–again, I’m going with the American. That’s three in these upset picks. I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy. Klahn impressed me against Serra in the last round of qualis. It’s lefty vs. lefty here and again, I say, out with the old and in with the young. Besides, Melzer’s been hideous this year.

6. Gilles Mueller beats Mikhail Youzhny–someone told me they watched Youzhny practice at the Open last week and he looked none too engaged. Now that’s hearsay I realize, but hey, Youzhny almost lost to DY in the first round of Wimbledon, and besides, I’m all about hearsay.

7. Ernests Gulbis beats Tommy Haas–I know Haas is the favorite flavor of the summer, making a heralded comeback at 34, but I like Gulbis’s backhand against Tommy’s and I think Gulbis plays some of his best tennis at the Open for a match or two. I’m betting this is one of those matches.

23 comments

  • Harold · August 27, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Wed. Youz looked lost, but then saw him practice with Tipsy on Thurs., and he blew him off the court.
    Tipsy wont make it past the 3rd round, all that ink,has gone to his head.
    The under/over for broken raquets in the Haas/Gulbis match is 3.

    Finally saw a coach trying to coach during a practice, and not just pick up balls. It was Knowles telling Fish, how he wanted him to accelerate the raquet speed on his serve, Fish looked at him like he was nuts and said he was happy with the serve he was critiquing…Fish then served and volleyed and hit a nice bh volley behind Hewitt, Knowles says, “yeah thats the one”..Fish again looks at him likes hes nuts, and tells him its the first time hes tried that this summer..

  • Patrick · August 27, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    I love seeing the Williams pick. I imagine that match will end up on a show court, so I hope Williams doesn’t get intimidated by the magnitude of the stage.

    But I think this is a very winnable match for Williams.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · August 27, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Think Rhyno has a shot too. Sock had some chances to break Roddick early last year but he let them slip away and then the match turned into a rout. But Sock was in that match. Williams, a good returner, will likely earn himself some chances, but unlike Sock, he will have to capitalize.

  • Patrick · August 27, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Plus, I think Williams is probably the stronger player than Sock at this point. Sock has the higher ranking, but has gotten a lot more love in the Wildcard department this year than has Williams, who has had to grind away in Futures and Challengers.

    Last time they played Williams won 6-4, 6-1, but, to be fair, that was in 2010 when Sock was only 17. I think if they played today Williams would win more than he’d lose, but in very competitive matches. Or maybe I’m just a Williams homer.

  • Andrew Miller · August 27, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Young over Federer – that would be awesome. If he makes it competitive that would be great. I don’t see it, but if Young does, good on him – that’s the way to play.

    1. Williams over Roddick? I can’t buy it – Connors kept winning at age 39, and Roddick is all of almost 30. I think Williams gets rolled. Roddick’s too popular in these parts of NY.

    2. What? I can’t buy this either – Fish will win in five. Or four. Or three.

    3. Levine over Dolgo? Really? Levine is not bad. But Dolgo will make Levine see stuff he’s never seen. No way.

    4. Goffin over Berdych? Could happen. Doubt it though.

    5. Klahn over Melzer – I’d like it to happen. I don’t see it, Melzer is simply the better lefty of the moment.

    6. You got this one right, it’s in the history books as of today.

    7. Maybe Gulbis will beat Haas. Doubt it though – Haas has come too far over his life to lose this match. Haas also loves pace – I just don’t see how this matchup favor Gulbis, also known as Marat Safin without a strategy.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · August 28, 2012 at 12:33 am

    “Young over Federer.” I know it looks ridiculous in words but you never know, I mean Bastl over Sampras or Rosol over Nadal looked ridiculous before those matches started. Wonder if the great Federer will ever have his Rosol or Bastl moment.

  • Andrew Miller · August 28, 2012 at 2:29 am

    It would be awesome to see Young take out Federer in four convincing sets. On paper, Federer wins without losing a point. That said, Young is 23 and should have more than enough energy to stay on the court with Federer at 31.

    Key word is should. It’s probably not going to happen. But if Young makes it a match worth watching, good on him. Players dream for these moments.

  • Michael · August 28, 2012 at 7:33 am

    Where am I supposed to post this ? Heck, I’m the only one that actually goes. I didn’t get to write up Sunday. And since I just returned from a 15 hour day — and what a day ! — I guess I’ll have to write up Sunday on my own blog because it was pretty funny and involves Harrison’s big head literally and figuratively and what a polite kid Dimitrov is.

    So on to Monday. The post is titled “Tennis Poetry on opening day at the US Open”

    And please excuse the typos or the misspelling of player names but it’s been a long day and it’s late.

    Pretty fast Security line considering the crowd but it’s a zoo on the grounds and immediately I’m thinking I really miss the qualies. The field courts are packed. I can’t get near Nishakori and I don’t want to wait until a changeover to get into 17 (Na Li). So I head over to see what is going on near 16. I wind up alternating between watching 16 which is Kivitova, Burnett (qualifier), Cornet and someone else I don’t remember practice. And on 15 Mandy Manella with a very focal and face painted cheer section. A somewhat annoying cheer section. It’s a very hot and humid day. I should mention that. It becomes relevant later in the story.

    I get a text from a friend and I head over to 4 to see one of the Pliskova’s (I still can’t remember who the lefty is and who the righty is) beating Julia Georges. The sky looks threatening. And a bit after I arrive at 4 the rain drops start. Georges makes a beeline out of there. Pliskova, along with her twin, are tough to ruffle on court and the rain doesn’t seem to disturb her either as she saunters off the court even stopping for photos in the rain (note to Harry). But literally seconds later the sky opens so hard and so fast that vast numbers are caught in a heavy rain including me. I run straight down the walkway behind 4/5 and into the media room where I wind up chatting with Bodo. I blubber on about all things tennis including the 1977 USO but turns out he wasn’t writing tennis back then. Bodo takes off some time later and I get booted out of the media room for not having a credential and I mumble/whine something about putting a distressed ship out into a storm.

    Rain delay lasted about 3 hours I believe. The upside is time to relax and eat and choice of what court to get a good seat at before the action gets going again. Additional benefits to come later in the day because most people won’t stick around as late as I know the matches are going to go. And the night weather was PERFECT. One of those nights I mentioned on a much earlier post when asked what matches do you like to see and I said anything after midnight on a good weather night with the diehard fans that stick around is always magical.

    When play resumes I choose Kei N. There is considerable media presence at ct 11 for his match. Many additional large video setups then the two cameras on court. Kei beats the heck out of some guy I never saw before. I’ve seen a lot of Kei at the USO. He’s not exactly charismatic but I like his game and his jump backhand. And respect his skills not from when he made R16 and then got beat up on by DelPo but when he withstood 95 degree heat (including multiple visits from the trainer) to overcome Cilic in 5 hours (after having run through the qualies a few days prior including in the final round of Frank The Tank). The kid is stronger than he looks.

    After Kei (on ct 11) I hear those persistent (and annoying) manella cheers so I go back to 15 which is a very short walk to see how that is shaping up. I don’t remember the score. What I remember is when Mandy is 2 points from the match she walks over to the NE corner of the court and throws up — just a little. She was looking a bit ill maybe from the heat and humidity. It’s clear she is ready to play but the ump says to her when that happens she must stop the match and call for “biohazard removal.” So the players sit down and the ump calls Homeland Security I mean whoever she calls for said removal services. But a few minutes later a couple of ball kids are asked to clean it up which they do in short order. Someone jokes to me they were demoted to Biohazard Removal. Manella closes out the match and face painter & Co. are ecstatic.

    I see bits and pieces but at some point early in the fifth I go to see Paul-Henri Mathuei v. Kirilenko’s former boyfriend (that’s Mr. Andreev to you). PHM was down 2 sets love and came back to even it. I arrive for the 5th. It’s packed. I manage a spot where I can take some shots. The 5th isn’t that tight becasue PHM breaks fairly early. Eventually match point PHM. And the very moment he ends the point they let loose fireworks over Ashe. It really was poetic. (And I did manage to capture it. I pat myself on the head).

    I head out to 4 to see L. Robson. I’ve seen almost every match Laura has played since she was a 15-year old and trying to become the youngest ever Brit to qualify for the main draw. So I know she has bad history on ct. 4. Two years in a row she was in the final round of qualies and up a break in the third set only to lose the match. She can not be psyched about ct 4 placement. But I only watch a short while. Because of the rain there is a lot going on one of which is the #1 seed and #1 screecher playing on Armstrong. So I head over to see her beat the cr$p out of Panova 6-0 6-1. The match was interesting only in looking for the double bagel. I’ve never seen one live that I can recall. I’ll have to keep trying. The match is not gripping but the weather is perfect and the seats are good so no one is really leaving. I “entertain” (ie, annoy ? )the nice couple besides me with tennis trivia about Pananova, which I will retell now. When Woz was a junior (I think the #2 seed if I recall) she was playing out on court 5 (again from memory so don’t shoot me if it was ct 6) she was defaulted for going nuts on a linesperson who she thought she was getting robbed by. The girl that beat her was Panova.

    Anyway after that drubbing I head out to watch Mlandanevic (young French player). I watch a few games and when Cilic goes down 2 sets to Matosevic (you can see the scoreboard of 17 from court 15) I go over to 17 to watch the rest. I’ve never seen Matosevic play and I’m curious. I also want to see what Cilic’s problem is. Apart from his destruction of Murray (2009 ?) in the R16 I think it was Cilic hasn’t done much at USO over the years though he did beat up on some children last year (Harry and Tomic).

    I’m sitting near a guy that has a serious interest in the match (people bet on tennis. Go figure). After 4 games I tell him Cilic will win. And eventually he does. I watch the after scene for a while. Cilic must be tired and it’s very late but he does the autographs. I walk over to ct 13 where the last match of the day (and night because Fed was over) is going on: Ramirez Hidalgo v Davverman. I manage to see one entire point. Turned out to be match point. I think Hidalgo won.

    On the boardwalk I bump into a guy I know from the city. He tells me the Saturday before the qualies start he bumped into Joker’s girlfriend (with her friend) shopping in the Whole Foods at Columbus Circle. He knew her on sight but asked her anyway “are you…”. He said she was very nice. I speculated that if she was shopping there at the time of night he said then she and Novak might be staying at the Mandarin Oriental which is in the T-W building that includes many stores and restaurants including the downstairs the giant Whole Foods store. Nadal has stayed at the same hotel in the past.

  • Michael · August 28, 2012 at 7:46 am

    One more thing.

    Why were there three people dressed in clown outfits cheering for Robson. Is there some British thing with clowns I should know about ? All the face painters and the odd outfits seem to be foreign fans.

  • Michael · August 28, 2012 at 7:52 am

    One more one more thing.

    Hard to remember the entire day without reviewing the photos. I saw the last set of Reynolds v. Smycek [sic]. Sloppy just like Tim’s last round qualifer. He breaks early in the fifth but then gets broken himself. Breaks back and wins.

    M. Jensen shows up for the last few games wearing green pants as if he’s going for the Bud Collins position. He was pretty chatty with the fans that approached him. Seems like an affable guy.

    I once saw his brother play doubles with Mary Pearce at the French Open. At that time Luke always seemed to be the more outgoing one and the fan favorite. What ever happened to him ?

  • Harold · August 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Going today. Anyone else?

    The day session ended after the night session yesterday with Russell and Simon, playing a long five setter in the GS

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · August 28, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Michael, awesome report as always! Mandy Minella of Luxembourg does have one of the smallest yet most passionate fan crews at the US Open, remember he last year getting a great support from a small band of chanters/singers but she lost a close third set and was ousted. SHe was sup upset after that loss too. Great to see her get the win this year. She had a little run at the Open two or three years ago too. Luke Jensen is usually at the Open he does some kind of TV work whether it’s inhouse feeds or for international TV. He also coaches at Syracuse University, the womens team which has Karel Novacek’s daughter on the roster. I ran into Luke’s team in Holmes Beach FL where they were practicing for a week – the same court I also saw Larcher De Brito training on. The Syracuse team works really hard and they play a lot of serve and volley. Good win for Cilic over Matosevic. Hard luck Reynolds that’s a painful loss to Tim Smyzcek. Reynolds looked good in qualies but Tim is a warrior, who gets zero media coverage or attention. Small guy, standard game, mid 20′s, but he keeps accumulating wins on the Tour and staying alive. Young impressed in flashes against Fed but you can see he has to work harder much harder. Fed, the McEnroes and Cahill all said the same thing, DY just isn’t training hard enough off the court and it shows in his legs. Fed said if Young trains harder and gets more serious he can make a run to the top 20 because Young “is a great player, he has a great game. He already got to the top 40. He can make another run.” I saw Young train with Gabashvili in Miami and they hit for about 2-3 hours but after it was over Young left while Gabashvili kept on training and doing running exercises. Nice win for Aussie Kim over Duval. Duval is darn good but in the interview after her voice sounded about 10 years old!

  • Michael · August 28, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Gabashvili is a harder worker. Coached now by another guy who was, Canas. Tough draw for dancevic.

  • Michael · August 28, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    The day session ended on ct 13 with Hidalgo. I peaked into Simon v Russell on the GS after the Azarenka match but you have to pick and choose and I’ve exceeded my quota on Simon in the past so I kept going.

    After hidalgo ended (a little after 1am ?) I checked the scoreboard by Armstrong and there were no more marches kisted in progress so I figured Simon was over (plus no crowd noise from GS).

  • Michael · August 28, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Anyone here also at Cilic match ? What did you think of Matosevic ?

    I didn’t have time to write much about the actual matches but the key game was probably early in the 5th about 1-1. Matosovic is serving on the South side (where his every point “come on mate” team is). The game took about 20 minutes but he finally held and put up his arms in victory. Cilic cruised on his own serve the next game. And I think broke Mato the next game. Residual of the 20 minute game someone near me said and I think that was write. That game took a lot out of him so late in the 5th. I remarked that he probably has had very little experience with 5 set matches let alone being in the 5th whereas Cilic has been there before. Even at 2 sets down there was no sign of panic whatsoever from Cilic.

    But I think Mato has game. Pretty good everything. Scoop, have you seen him and what do you think his prospects are ? I think they are good. How come no one talks about him in the Harry/Tomic/Milos/Grigor discussions. How old is he ?

  • Michael · August 28, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    write = right.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · August 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Michael, I Biofiled Matosevic in Newport. He made the final of Delray with a herculean effort but lost to Delpo (i believe) in the final. Beat Fish in SF. Came through qualies. Very good player, plays with a lot of emotion and fire. Actually very fun to watch when he’s fired up, almost like at the Andrew Ilie level. He’s also a big Rios fan, said Rios was his favorite player. But he’s older, in mid 20′s, took a while for him to get to this point.

  • Michael · August 29, 2012 at 4:23 am

    Day 2, Post title. “Jesse Levine collapses on court 17″

    Yes, Scoop, I just learned that today (that Mato is older). I was sitting. Well I don’t want to say the exact seat least he even theoretical track me down and terminate me for writing this. Let’s just say very close to Tomic’s Dad. Someone else said to me softly “that is one scary dude.” Yes, I concur. If you want to root against Bernard please sit no where near his Dad. Just to be on the safe side.

    Speaking of Tomic’s Dad. Did I mention not the mess with this guy. That relationship doesn’t seem to me on brief closeup observation to be a healthy one for Barnard. The dad can’t keep quiet. But not in a Joker’s girlfriend way. But in Bernard seems to get perturbed by it. I don’t speak the language (Serbian ?) but I’m sure at one point Bernard said to stop or to move. The Dad kept moving from just off the court to back by the entrance. Then moveup. Then move back. Apparently “excuse me” is not part of his vocabulary but if you think I pointed that out your crazy. And Bernard seems so laid back on the court.

    Bernard dropped the first set. Dad sounded not pleased (but he could have been sending loving wishes for all I know). Bernard called for the trainer. Dad said in English. “Don’t take anything. No pills.” Bernard took a pill (I didn’t see it but another fan told me later “the pill is working.” Bernard wins the second and when he’s in command in the third I leave for The Woz. Who is in the process of being upset on Armstrong.

    But let me go back further. It is a hot one. And it feels even more crowded than Monday. Yes, Dan, obviously I have a great affinity for the tournament. But I could also write a lengthy list of things that can drive you to tears. Apart from the dearth of water fountains given the crowd size, how many years must go by with the long lines to use those few fountains with everyone and her brother re-filling their water bottles before you put in some kind of dedicated hose or faucet.

    But I digress. In fact, I digress from the digression to inform Scoop of the answer to this pressing question. How the heck did they finish construction of the eyesore near court six housing a new giant, unwanted by people interested in tennis and not shopping USO retail store and upstairs bar restaurant when it was barely started a week ago and not finished as of Sunday night ? The answer is… they didn’t. Much like they didn’t complete court 17 last year but opened it. This building is open for business but they slapped on temporary elements sufficient I presume to satisfy the building inspector. Or maybe they gave the inspector courtside seats.

    So I arrive and check out Ana I. on the GS. She always gets a decent crowd and makes short work of whoever she was playing. I hustle out to 11 for Milos who I’ve never seen live. This must be his first USO main draw match ? If so, it’s mildy historic. Certainly memorable for him. He must have wanted to stay on court as long as possible because he drops the first two sets and comes back and wins in 5. He didn’t look great. Poor return game. It’s good to see he can go the distance because he probably has very little experience playing 5 sets. Can he do it a few times in a row though ?

    I see Verdasco plays Muchado, which is a rematch of their round 1 meeting in 2008 when Rui took Verdasco to 5. But I pass.

    I saw bits and pieces until I wind up on a packed court 8 to watch Stan beat Sergie Stokovsky [sic] in four. Each guy has a great looking one hander. And Stockovsly likes to come into the net. Also the light is great so the shooting is good.

    Then I head to see Bernard. Once he appears to have it in the bag to me I go off to catch the end of The Woz who goes down meekly. She had the trainer out so maybe she was ill. But you can’t tell because everyone but Fed has the trainer out. When was the last time Fed called for the trainer ?

    After The Woz I head to 17. Jesse Levine is up 2 sets and a break. And then he essentially collapses. Second night in a row the last match on 17 was men’s with the favorite going down by two sets. An Usher was asking me why these tennis players keep coming out not trying until 2 or more hours have passed. I have no answer. Dolgo is fun to watch. He has to have the fastest service release on tour.

    The night let out at just about the same time the day ended (maybe 1015 ?) so the LIRR and the 7 were packed. That part sucks. If you adjust for the 3 hour rain delay yesterday the two session ended about the same time.

  • Michael · August 29, 2012 at 4:53 am

    I wanted to mention one other match and player.

    Monday I was watching Azarenka administering a beatdown on Panova and was kinda routing for the double bagel on the theory that if it isn’t going to be competitive let’s see something unusual and I don’t recall seeing one live. But it was not to be because Vika gave up a game in the second and I remarked to my box mates I’ll have to keep looking.

    Well it didn’t take long. Today I caught N. Burnett a junior (former junior maybe) that qualified for the first time v. Dushniva. I came at 3 or 4 to love and I’m definitely sniffing the possibility of a double bagel. Dusheniva is murdering her. But, alas, Burnett manages a game in the second. So I’ll keep searching.

    Probably upwards of 90% of players would run back to the locker room after that kind of USO debut. But Burnett was happy to pose for photos and sign autographs. Another NOTE TO HARRY.

  • Dan markowitz · August 29, 2012 at 8:04 am

    Thanks, Michael. I enjoy reading your writing and rovings around the Open. I’m away now in Atlantic City, but keeping an eye on Open. I was disappointed Rhybe W. couldn’t give Roddick a better match, but I heard he might’ve been injured. Serena came close to bageling Coco V. Dolgopolov is fun to watch. I bet he didn’t even look down after first two lost sets, but this is what he did last year against Cipolla and you want to conserve energy not burn it early in a slam.

  • Michael · August 29, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Dolgo didn’t look down to me. The cipolla match seemed much closer to me. Last night he dropped the first two and then essentially blew Levine out the next three.

    Will you check out hotel Revel ?

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · August 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Dolgopolov never looks down, I’ve seen a lot of his wins and losses and he pretty much looks exactly the same either way

  • Michael · August 30, 2012 at 4:14 am

    I agree. He never changes expression much. If you don’t look at the scoreboard you would have no idea whether he was winning or losing by looking just at him.

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