Mattek-Sands and Kozlov Bite The Dust in Day 2 of US Open Qualis

Bethanie Mattek-Sands looked her usual splendid self today in her first round Qualis match against Ana Bogdan of Romania, the no. 20 seed. She had on her short colorful skirt, a white t-shirt tied with a colorful image emblazoned on it tied in a knot at her waist and a black sports bra underneath and shiny Orange sneakers. But Sands who’s reached a career-high of no. 30 and reached at least the third round of every slam, at 34, didn’t have enough game to oust the hard-hitting Bogdan.

Sands still has the charisma to draw a big crowd. The Minnesota native seems like a fun personality and she kept the crowd engaged with fist pumps and gestures to someone, maybe a coach or her husband, in the bleachers after almost every winner she hit. I tried to get Sands going by calling out for her, but I realized later that I was calling out, “Come on, Bettany,” and her name is “Bethanie.” Maybe that’s why she lost and now will probably go into the doubles event of the main draw.

Stefan Kozlov earlier in the day played on the same court as Sands, Ct. 11, and although he battled in the second set against his opponent, Egor Gerasimov of Belarus, The Koz went down too, 4 and 4. Kozlov at 21 is now ranked no. 545 so he must’ve gotten a wild card into the Qualis. He gave it his all, but there’s a look of bewilderment on his face as if to say, “How at 21, did my once promising career, descend into this?”

The USTA is still seemingly providing him coaching as Brian Baker was watching the match intently. Kozlov is the same age as Frances Tiafoe and while Tiafoe has slipped this year from no. 29 to no. 52, he’s still nearly 500 ranking spots in front of the curious Kozlov, who doesn’t so much as hit the ball as he steers it. Watching Kozlov, you have to wonder what went wrong. It’s a question that applies to other young Americans like Noah Rubin, who won today, but apparently is teaching lessons to make ends meet.

The best match I saw of the day was alongside Kozlov on Ct. 12 between Donald Young and Jason Jung. Young fought back after being down a set and a break to win the second set. It’s fun to watch Young play because he plays with a fire most players don’t show and his desire to win is strong, but Jung held on to win the match.

Later I wondered to the other side of the grounds and caught Jack Sock hitting against one of his old coaches and another player. Sock, who’s apparently also going to play in the Challenger in New Haven the second week of the Open, was hitting the ball viciously and moving well. Nearby, Darius King pulled off an upset against Malek Jaziri, who muttered to himself and his coach constantly in French as he neared the end. I watched Monfils play a practice set against Fritz in Louis Armstrong with Paul Annacone serving as Fritz’s coach. Then could only watch a few points of Christina McHale playing an Italian opponent. Whatever McHale had that once made her no. 24 and had the New York Times hail her “booming groundstrokes and fast footwork” it looks at 27 likes she’s lost the magic. She did not impress.

Finally, I left as Francoise Abanda, who had suncream slathered across her face, took on Sasha Vickery, who is possibly the most powerful, small in stature but super muscular, woman I’ve ever seen. All in all it was a good day, but I’m sorry I missed Tommy Robredo beating Go Soeda.

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  • Andrew Miller · August 20, 2019 at 11:16 pm

    Excellent match report. It’s hard to stomach the reality of the first round qualies losses from Kozlov and from DY. I’m glad DY continues to play with fire and that’s been my experience – when he gets dialed in it’s a joy to watch DY play. He berates himself whether winning or losing, but he has a great quiver of shots to sling at opponents, including a nifty backhand.

    Man, it’s good to read Dan’s reports. Whether juniors or the pros, the writing is singing.

  • Andrew Miller · August 20, 2019 at 11:26 pm

    Dan’s question re: what’s Kozlov thinking? It’s a good one. He really must be wondering whether this is all worth it. He was top two hundred closing in fast on the top hundred then all of the sudden Kid Kozlov was going quickly into reverse. Meanwhile guys he faced off against in junior slams are now the guys on the top of the U.S. development charts. Kozlov must hate this.

  • catherine · August 21, 2019 at 6:46 am

    Coaching change – Michael Joyce has moved on to Timea Babos.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 21, 2019 at 7:32 am

    Youzhny coaching Shapovalov in Winston Salem.

  • Hartt · August 21, 2019 at 7:35 am

    Actually, that coaching change happened a while ago. It was interesting in the first round of the Vancouver Open last week that Joyce was there with Timea Babos when Babos defeated Bouchard in the first round. Genie had her frequent pattern of winning the first set and then losing the next two. Babos’ score was 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.

  • catherine · August 21, 2019 at 8:39 am

    Is Rob Steckly no longer with Denis ? If so that was a short stint.

  • catherine · August 21, 2019 at 8:54 am

    You can count the spectators in the WTA Bronx event on the fingers of half a hand. And it’s free too. I hope the attendance builds so the WTA doesn’t jump ship. Good for players who want match practice and don’t have to qualify.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 21, 2019 at 9:07 am

    Catherine, maybe Rob has an injury and isn’t able to travel at this time 🙂

  • Andrew Miller · August 21, 2019 at 9:42 am

    That’s unfortunate. Maybe bad promotion for WTA Bronx, or if you’re a fan you’re more likely to do qualies at US Open than WTA Bronx. Or this huge city doesn’t have enough tennis fans (which makes no sense) or they’re more likely to skip work for the US Open than for WTA Bronx (possible).

    Or the promotion stinks. I’ll go with this one!!!

  • Dan Markowitz · August 21, 2019 at 10:51 am

    You ever try to get to Cary Leeds Center in the Bronx? Not easy, I’d opt for Qualis at Open or in 2nd week of Open, men’s and women’s challenger at Yale.



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