Tennis Prose



It All Happened On Thursday At The U.S. Open

Court 4 is packed full even before the #1 seeds Huber and Raymond step on. It’s an astonishing sight. Maybe the women do deserve equal prize money, Janko and Gilles. The American duo defeat Daniilidou and Dellacqua.

Feliciano Lopez is still one of my favorite players to watch. The guy is an artist out there, mixing up speeds, slice, dice, driving the backhand, good movement. He dominates Andujar for the first two sets but blows the third set tiebreak and then the fourth set too. He’s pouting at his box in the fifth because he’s down a break. In one game he shanks a forehand over the back fence and also puts one in the bottom of the net. He looks ready to go home. Andujar isn’t missing anything. But the U.S. Open drama king (every year he seems to have a marathon here, Monaco, Paire, Pospisil) re-finds his A game and escapes with the 7-5 win in the fifth. I watch part of the first and fifth sets – and I notice two woman who were sitting a couple of rows ahead of me were still in their same seats at the end, leading one to believe they stayed unmoved for the entire match. That’s a heroic fan performance.

Alex Corretja, the Spanish Davis Cup captain was there at the beginning but not at the end (maybe he went to see Almagro). Francisco Clavet the former coach of Lopez was there but because of his stoicism at the exciting finale, no fistpumps, no communication whatsoever with F-Lo, It was hard to tell if he was there as a fan or curious admirer.

Sam Querrey’s dad was watching some of Lopez-Andujar in the fifth set.

Almagro had an adventure on grandstand. The feisty 11th seed was wearing a bright orange Reebok shirt and matching shoes. Up one set, he served to stay in the second set 5-6 but a woman wearing a large hat of the exact same bright orange distracted him as she was hurrying to her seat in his line of vision behind Petzschner before he served the first point. Agitated by her, Almagro lost the game and set at love though he battled back to win in five.

Kei Nishikori looks very much like Djokovic on the court, not just his Iniqlo attire but the way he moves and his form. Kei handled qualifier Tim Smyczek.

Jack Sock looks ready to make his breakout in singles. He met the tricky vet Flavio Cipolla on court 17 and had no problem with the Italian’s spin game. Sock opened the match in style. A guy yelled, “Yo, bring the heat Jack!” Sure enough on the first ball Sock served, it was an ace down the tee. The crowd loved it and gave him a prolonged applause. Sock was set to serve for the match at 5-4 in the third but a fan fainted and this delayed the match about ten minutes. Sock got the job done though and after nice wins over #23 Mayer and #87 Cipolla, Sock faces Almagro next. By the impressive way Sock is playing, I think he will upset the hot-headed Spaniard.

Dolgopolov is playing doubles with Dlouhy and they share a lot of smiles and laughs from the first point to the last but they lose to Berlocq and L. Mayer. Dolgo has some fans in the front row on court 15 who have a homemade NY Loves Dolgopolov placard and they cheer after almost every point they win, “Go Sasha Go Sasha Go.” Or “Go Lukas Go Lukas Go.”

I run into Dolgo coach Jack Reader after and ask him if he liked just a little the Rios book I gave him in Key Biscayne. He says that he gave it Dolgo who still has it in Ukraine, which means he might like it very much (Dolgo’s favorite player was Rios). But Jack says Dolgo is slow to return things, like the humorous Monte Carlo player skit DVD which it’s been six months since Alex has kept it. Dolgo has a tough match with Baghdatis today.

Also run into my buddy Andrei Kozlov, the coach from south Florida. Kozlov’s son Stefan is a big time American junior prospect who will play in the junior event as a wildcard. Kozlov, sitting with junior star Luca Corrintelli and his father Zaza, is one of those people when you talk to him, you get the feeling he knows tennis as well as anyone. Strong opinions, total certainty, no hesitation in sharing his thoughts. I met him at a USTA 35s tourney in Miami in February. Then I saw him in Key Biscayne – he was coaching Lukas Rosol to victory. This month he had Camila Giorgi in Cincy but they had a parting of ways over money. Yesterday Kozlov was watching Tomic practice on court 5 at dusk.

Kozlov says very complimentary things about the controversial John Tomic, who is one of the most physically intimidating guys you’ll ever see in tennis. Bernard is wearing an orange Nike tank top and having fun playing points with a sparring partner. Tomic will play Roddick today.

Kozlov remarks that Wilson racquets, having been carrried the last two decades by flagship stars Sampras and Federer, could be in for tough times ahead as no one knows who will be the next dominant #1 after Fed presumably will begin to fade in two or three years. It’s an interesting notion. I speculate Djokovic but Kozlov says Djoker is locked in with Head for 5-6 years. Prince, he says, is bankrupt, because they have no star players using their racquets. I also suggest Tomic could be a future #1 and he agrees. But Tomic is locked in with Yonex, “a very small but smart company,” says Kozlov. When John Tomic leaves the court after his son’s hit, Kozlov joins him for a private discussion. He seems to ahve everyone’s ear. Kozlov knows his tennis and he knows everyone in it. Looking forward to seeing his son Stefan in action.

I run into Brian Barker the former coach of James Blake. Barker is here to support Blake, who bests Granollers. Barker tells me Blake has no knee or injury discomfort for the first time in a year and a half. He also shares a nice memory and anecdote about Federer for the Federer book project I’m working on. So does Arnaud Clement, the Davis Cup captain of France, while on his way over to watch Gilles Simon get by Jimmy Wang in four challenging sets. Clement was in a discussion with Roger Rasheed, coach of Monfils, and his Davis Cup coach Gillaume Raox before we spoke. Clement had some high praise for Fed and a funny anecdote about four of their matches.

Dominika Cibulkova won a battle with Serbian Bojana Jovanovic 76 76, with support from two hockey jersey wearing Czech fans who had a noisemaker and offered tons of positive verbal support for the entire match. These two Czechs win my award for Fan of the Day. Lucky 13th seed Cibulkova was elated with the win. It doesn’t get any better than 76 76, especially when you have two great fans backing her like she had all afternoon.

Sloane Stephens was in deep trouble with Dan’s favorite WTA player Tatjana Malek after losing the first set but she took control midway through the second and dominated the last half of the match. Sloane Stephens is “a great athlete, moves like Michael Vick”, observed one fan.

USTA book store boss and publications director Rick Rennert agreed to help me sell my Rios books in the bookstore, if anyone is interested.

Sargis Sargsian Update: I met an Armenian fellow named Arman with his buddy Michael, while watching the first set of the Sock match. Armen is friends with Sargis Sargsian and was one of the backers who helped bring Sargis to the States. He is still good friends with Sargis, who was married last year in So Cal (to his original coach’s daughter). Sargis’ best man at his wedding was none other than Andre Agassi, who held a big party for Sarge in Vegas after the wedding. Sargsian was a top 50 player and also won the Newport title one year. Armen called and spoke with Sargsian while we watched Sock and will soon send me contact info to do a feature with the great Armenian tennis player who currently lives in Vegas and is involved with the adidas training team, among other interests.

Michael is a big admirer of Cipolla and his unique style of game. I also liked how Michael credited Bud Collins with being such a positive promoter of tennis. “Tennis is a fantastic sport and you need people like Bud Collins to tell it to people.” Bud Collins certainly has been one of the greatest promoters of the sport of tennis that there ever was.

Roddick announcing he’s retiring was a big surprise, I thought he’d keep going for as long as he could. At first I thought it was a joke by a friend, who read a phony text. But word spread and it was true. I think fans will miss Roddick more than they realize. He was a great champion for American tennis, he always gave his best, was always there for Davis Cup, and he gave us so many unforgettable moments.


  • Dan Markowitz · August 31, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Nice account, Scoop. I did see that Malek was up a set and went deep into the second set with Stephens. Malek is kind of like a poor woman’s Santoro. She can zip the ball, but she chooses to vary her attack which is very rare in the women’s game. But I do like Stephens.

    Sock is having a nice tournament. If he can beat Almagro that will be very impressive. Mayer has had a bad hard court summer and Cippola is a limited player so these first two wins have not been so impressive.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 31, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Cipolla may be limited and undersized but he’s beaten Roddick, Luby, Seppi, Dolgopolov, Mathieu, Bogie, Paire and Sock 63 61 in LA in July. Sock looks solid right now, very very impressive. He’ll KO Almagro on Ashe or Armstrong, you heard it here first. Dan I’m surprised you are not a Lopez fan, he varies it up and has an artistic game. And a tough fighter. He should have lost to Andujar yesterday but found a way.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 31, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    BTW Dolgo has clocked a serve 139 mph this year. That’s #5 on the fastest serves of the year.

  • Andrew Miller · September 1, 2012 at 2:42 am

    Federer project!

    For those keeping tabs on the U.S. players on the ATP side:

    KLAHN LOSES – Loss to Gasquet, straight sets.

    BAKER LOSES – Loss to Tipsarevic, straight sets.

    NOVIKOV LOSES – Four sets, out to Benneteau

    HARRISON LOSES – Loss to Delpo, four sets

    ISNER WINS – Beats Nieminen, four sets

    RODDICK WINS – Destroys Tomic in three sets

    and the surprise?

    STEVE JOHNSON WINS – Beats Gulbis in four sets.

    Yep, reigning NCAA champ is on to round 3.

    So who’s left from the U.S. on the ATP side?


    The vets in round 3, followed by:


    The Quisner moving to round 3, followed by:


    Generation next?

    And on the WTA side: Stephens and Serena, still in. Serena is going to win it!

  • Harold · September 1, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Yesterday was absolutely brutal at the Open, theyre selling an obscene amount of grounds passes, the mahes at the Opentches in Ashe were lopsided, so another 20 thou are roaming the grounds, granted it was way too hot and no shade(not the usta’s fault), luckily there ws good tennis…

    Gulbis…potential hype over….Will always be one of those guys who might have a great day, beat a great player early in a Major, but will lose next round to someone who he is favored to beat…

    Tomic….Has had two featured matches at the Open, last year Cilic, last night Roddick..Has come up way small in both. Quit after 2 sets in both…I’ll do a handstand and say Tomic is the greatest if he ever wins a Major…

    Harrison…bad draw, but still dont see him as a Major winner…Time to have your ranking up, so you dont see top 8 players in round 2..

    Unfortunately never made it over to 17 to see Dolgo/Bags..too crowded and log waits, plus that court is like aluminum foil, way too hot

  • Dan Markowitz · September 1, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Sorry to hear about the tough conditions, Harold. I always say, even on a regular hot day, going to the matches at the U.S. Open is a strenuous experience. Of course, it’s not as much when you camp out at one or two courts, but I always seem to traverse the grounds numerous times.

    Are you taking a page out of my book by saying you’ll do a handstand and say Tomic is the greatest if he wins a slam? If so, well done. I will be making my crepe-eating, “Federer is the greatest, even better than Johnny Mac” crawl through the food grounds at the Open at exactly one o’clock on Monday.

    Too bad they’re selling too many grounds passes. Seems they started doing that a couple of years ago and it’s definitely reduced the quality of fandom at the Open.



Find it!

Copyright 2010
To top