Sep/19

5

US Open Free Thursday

I arrive at high noon to see the big junior girls match of highly touted Americans Robin Montgomery, age 14, and Katrina Scott, just turned 15.

The lefty Montgomery, of the Maryland area, is up a break 3-2 but loses it and begins to get pouty with herself, complaining to her coach, a black man sitting in the front row. “It’s not working,” says the black Montgomery. She is a big strong girl, with a nice flowing serve and all decked out in Fila attire.

Scott is a quiet player, with a money two handed backhand that never misses. The forehand is still work in progress, her former coach told me. She seems more stable and comfortable in the match, showing no emotion, no expressions, just a straight stoic game face. Montgomery is more expressive and has to vent. The cooler player prevails. Scott takes the first set in a tiebreaker. Then the second 6-3. Maybe her experience playing in main draw qualies last week was a difference maker also. Kathy Rinaldi watched the whole match, except for the minute she chatted with me about her first and last pro matches.

An American Cannon Kingsley upsets the 10 seed Canadian Liam Draxl 76 76, 9-7 and 8-6. It doesn’t get any closer than that. There was a lot of roaring come ons and some incredible points. Kingsley has former top 5 American Gene Mayer on his coaching team.

A couple of WTA stars practiced together nearby, Andrea Petkovic and Sam Stosur, with Rennae Stubbs helping Sam Bam.

Galo Blanco, the former top 20 Spaniard, was watching French girl Elsa Jacquemot, 16, who lost to Russian lefty Oksana Selekhmateva, who had Igor Kunitsyn observing her play. The Russian won 64 64.

Rinky Hijikata, the Japanese Australian, who upset 3 seed Martin Damm in the second round, lost 64 63 to 15 seed Jiri Lehecka. Wally Masur, the former Australian top 15 player, was watching. I know Wally for years, he’s always been friendly and cooperative in all my interview requests, answering his first and last pro matches.

His first match was a wildcard loss to Rod Frawley in Australia and his last was a defeat to Sandon Stolle in the Lexington Challenger. He said the ATP sent him a list of all his matches after he retired and when reviewing the list he said there were quite a few matches he had no memory of, adding that’s unlike some other players like Agassi, Hewitt, and Edberg who have phenomenal memory and practically remember every single one of their pro matches and the scores.

Masur added that Hijikata, 18, is the best Aussie junior right now and there are some exceptional talents coming up in the 14 and 15 age groups but not so much at 16 or 17. Hijikata will go to college in Carolina.

The two mens doubles semis had the exact same scores. Zeballos and Granollers beat Krawietz and Mies 76 76 as did Farah and Cabal vs Murray and Skupski.

Farah and Cabal finally won their first Grand Slam together at Wimbledon, the first major for Colombia. Farah was the alpha male in the match, ripping a backhand up the line for the 6-4 mini break in the first breaker. Then he missed an easier swing volley backhand long for 6-5. But they won the next point for the set. The Colombians are coached by former South African doubles standout Jeff Coetzee, who always seems to be around majors working with various doubles players. Coetzee once told me he started playing in South Africa on a homemade court with homemade racquets.

Some observations of the match from sitting in the fourth row… Both Farah and Cabal wear some kind of rubber mouth pieces during play. They would take it out during changeovers and pop it back in while walking out to resume play. The mouthpieces looked like those clear rubber ones we used to have to wear playing football.

Both Cabal and Farah looked a lot to their box and their coach Coetzee, he sat behind one baseline in the corner, they did it after almost every point. Murray and Skupski never looked anywhere but to each other and insie the court, thus I could not find their camp. Maybe they had no camp or coach.

I did a podcast interview with Randy Walker discussing most memorable matches I saw live, and my choice was the famous Djokovic vs Fed 2011 semi where Novak saved the two match points and won in five. My point was that Djokovic has saved match points to win majors several times while Federer, curiously, has done the opposite, twice now to Djokovic, and also the AO loss to Safin. There were others too. I think the stat is Fed, if he converted all of his major match points would have 25 majors by now.

The overall crowd size for Free Thursday was smaller than expected, not quite as busy or energetic as qualies Fan Week. The grounds had a feel of emptiness. The USTA should consider making the last four days of the tournament free for grounds passes. They can still profit by food sales and parking. And the grounds would have a better energy.

Andreescu has just beaten Bencic 76 75. She looks unbeatable right now. We could not ask for a more intriguing final than the Toronto final rematch, won by Bibi when Ree Ree quit.

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14 comments

  • catherine · September 6, 2019 at 1:15 am

    Andrea still hanging aound in New York ? She must love the place.

    Re mouthpieces – Julia Georges used to wear one, maybe still does, to prevent her grinding her teeth when she hits the ball hard.

  • Hartt · September 6, 2019 at 1:36 am

    I watched the doubles match between the Brits and the Colombians on TV. The Brits did have a camp. Their coach was there. I forget his name, but he has worked a lot with British doubles players. Judy Murray and Jamie’s wife were also there.

  • catherine · September 6, 2019 at 1:53 am

    Actually, Andrea’s probably writing about the tournament which is why she’s still in NY.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 6, 2019 at 3:44 am

    Great writeup Scoop. You’ve gotten another interesting thread going with these “first and last” match interviews. There couldn’t be two better tennis lifers than Randy Walker and yourself. I was meaning to go, but then I knew I had to get Callum to his baseball practice at 4 and wouldn’t be able to catch as much tennis as possible. I agree, starting second week, the grounds should be free. There’s an interesting Challengers going on this week also at Yale in New Haven, Ct. Roy Smith, the New Haven native, was in it and so was Rubin, Mmoh, Kudla, Khlan and Seppi. On the women’s side there’s Lauren Davis and Jen Brady. Admission has been free all week long.

  • Andrew Miller · September 6, 2019 at 9:31 am

    New Haven, they must be using the same facility. Amazing they lost their ATP event. CT doesn’t have a lot of tennis players. In general New England tennis isn’t great. Some good players, but not a great region for the sport.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 6, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    Two Colombians, an Argentine and Spaniard all in the mens doubles final.

  • Harold · September 7, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    Did they cut out the Seniors Doubles???

  • Andrew Miller · September 7, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    Match is a wipe out. Andreescu congrats

  • Hartt · September 7, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    It is not over yet. Bianca knows better than most that players can come back.

  • Andrew Miller · September 7, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    Wow. Well, giving Andreescu something to think over!

  • Andrew Miller · September 7, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    Congrats Andreescu. 6-3 7-5. Defeats 23 time slam champ nearly 20 years to the day of her first slam at the same tournament.

    Another first time slam champ in an era of first time slam champs! And a very good champion too.

    I hope Serena gets the slam record. Just not meant to be today. Or this year.

  • Harold · September 7, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    Hartt,

    Congrats.. Happy Treats!!

  • Hartt · September 7, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    Harold, thanks so much! I figure this deserves an extra special treat! 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 7, 2019 at 9:45 pm

    The sad irony of the tennis gods, teasing Serena to four major finals in a row that she loses. Mind boggling. It’s almost like she’s getting a free ride to finals and then she runs into a real challenge of a player. In a way Serena deserves this suffering, for how she mistreated the sport with her horrid behavior. She has corrected that fault but now can’t win the big ones anymore. Not sure if she can do it, she will keep trying though.

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