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Monday, August 31, 2009

Britton Loses to Federer in Three; Buchanan, McHale and Cecil Play Tuesday at US Open

If you had the luxury of putting aside your work today to watch NCAA champion Devin Britton play Roger Federer on Arthur Ashe, as I did, you probably directed several remarks, loudly, at the television set.

Although I really appreciated John McEnroe's defense of college tennis as a viable path to the tour (after all, he went for a year), and he was unerringly correct when criticizing Britton for playing too quickly and rallying too much from the baseline, it was apparent that his new partnership with ESPN's longtime commentator Cliff Drysdale needs polish. There was altogether too much of the flattery that always seems to be required when a former champion is in a television booth, and although McEnroe said he saw Britton play at Wimbledon, it was obvious that Darren Cahill, the courtside reporter for the match, was the only one of the trio that actually knew his game.

I can't criticize ESPN's decision to stay with the Isner - Hanescu second set tiebreaker, which Isner won 16-14, saving 10 set points, but it was difficult to get a feel for how Britton and Federer played over the course of the entire match. Britton was up a break twice, 3-1 in the second set and 4-3 in the third, but each time Federer got the break right back, never leaving any doubt as to the outcome. Britton didn't volley as effectively as he usually does, but I thought he served well--in one game he aced Federer three times--he just didn't handle the Federer returns as calmly as he does similar ones from lesser mortals.

In a tweet a few hours after his loss, Britton wrote: "Best time I've ever had losing. Actually best time I've ever had period. Unreal experience. Had a blast. Still pumped even with a Loss."

For an excellent story on Britton by someone who was not watching on TV, see Greg Garber's story at espn.com.

In other notable matches today, Isner did win his match over No. 28 Victor Hanescu of Romania and his next opponent is Marsel Ilhan of Turkey, who nearly a week ago was defeating Ryan Harrison in the first round of qualifying. Ilhan is the first man from Turkey ever to win a Grand Slam match, in fact, ever to play in a Grand Slam, and this story from the ATP website explains just how much he's overcome along the journey from his birthplace in Uzbekistan to his new home. You can hardly blame him for thinking that a few more advantages a little earlier might have put him in the Top 50 by now.

Portugal's Michelle Larcher de Brito won her opening match from a set and a break down, defeating Mathilde Johansson of France 1-6, 7-5, 6-1. Another well-known prodigy, Donald Young, couldn't get past Tommy Robredo of Spain, falling 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 to the 14th seed. Young revealed after the match that he had received a letter that he would get no further support from the USTA as long as his parents continued to coach him. Darren Rovell posted this story on Young for CNBC. Wild card Gail Brodsky lost 6-4, 6-4 to No. 20 seed Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain. Qualifier Somdev Devvarman, the NCAA champion before Britton, posted his first win at a slam with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Frederico Gil of Portugal.

On Tuesday, boys national champion Chase Buchanan gets his Devin Britton moment when he plays No. 7 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, although it will open the Grandstand action, a considerably less intimidating arena than Arthur Ashe. It should be available on the free live streaming on usopen.org (the WATCH LIVE button), although I had some trouble with the service early today. Christina McHale, the girls national champion, plays Polona Hercog of Slovenia fourth on Court 10, and Mallory Cecil faces Italian veteran Tathiana Garbin second on Court 8. For complete draws and schedules, see usopen.org


tony said...

It's about time the USTA put the foot down and told D Young and his parents how it HAS to be. I know it's tough, but hopefully he mans up and leaves his parents and seeks other coaching, because at this rate he's going to flame out in no time.

The Dude said...

I saw the first 2 sets of Britton's match and frankly I was stunned that he only S&V'd less than a handful of times. Was he really trying to play against Federer with his B game from the baseline? What was he thinking? What were the USTA coaches telling him? What changed in the 3rd set, did Britton S&V'd more.

5.0 Player said...

I agree with Colette's comments regarding John McEnroe.

For a long time I have observed that McEnroe is almost always the most ill prepared announcer. He is probably successful only because he makes some outrageous comments and so he's never boring. However, this guy must not ever read any background information or even the local newspaper because he seems to always just show up for the job with virtually no information about the players. He just makes intuitive comments based upon what he sees.

I remember one year at the US Open when an American player was playing someone from Italy and McEnroe said something like: "I can't believe this guy is this good from Italy; the only thing players from Italy are known for is eating a lot of pasta! Not a particularly sensitive, sophisticated or useful comment but I'm sure knowbody thought it was boring.

It's analogous to his reported practice habits as a player. He was known to hate practice and hate training, but he was so talented and got so much practice playing doubles that he did well. In contrast, his brother Patrick always comes to the broadcast booth with tremendous knowledge and preparation. Just because Patrick doesn't make as many outrageous comments he probably doesn't get the same ratings as McEnroe. This also appears to be analogous to Patrick's reported conscientousness as a player because he had to work harder than John as he didn't share the same talent.

It's really remarkable how many times John will say something like: "Gee, I didn't realize that player X had such a good/bad serve, etc." That's becuse he's never prepared and never reads anything.

In contrast, Patrick McEnroe, Daren Cahill, Mary Carillo and Brad Gilbert have tremendous knowledge and preparation. Whoever the other broadcaster who accompanies McEnroe in the studio is, whether it be Carillo, Cahill or Gilbert, he/she always seesms to be a comparative genius next to McEnroe just by reading that day's New York Times.

The Britton match was just one of a thousand examples of John McEnroe's typical performance.

Unknown said...

Donald should tell the USTA where to put the letter and their support. Any time you can tell someone to leave their parents you get no respect from me. Tell that to Venus & Serena!

Austin said...


T said...

Dear 5.0,
Mary Carillo does not bring in a wealth of knowledge to the table. She brings a lot of mean comments usually directed against eastern european players whose names she cannot pronounce correctly. Her performance during the Venus opening night match yesterday was a typical example.

Brent said...

Austin, I agree completely with your comments on Agassi. He was a great listen. Very bright, articulate, well-researched, humorous, and clearly still very close to the players. I think Johnny Mac probably matches Agassi on the first of those attributes and not on the rest.

My guess is that he doesn't have an interest in a permanent gig but maybe he would do it only for the Slams, or even just the Open. Good times.

Observer said...

McEnroe reads the NY Times. He mentioned the homeschooling story on air yesterday.

He also knows a lot more than you'd think, though I agree that he isn't as active as he should be in getting up to speed on the players.

Jon King said...

I agree with J on this one. Donald Young has gotten very far with what he has. He is a very thin and lean guy, I have stood 5 feet from him. Physically he just will never be a top 20 player. His parents should be commended because he has reached far greater tennis heights than he should of considering his limitations. He was the unltimate amazing junior whose body will never allow him great pro success.

gsm said...

Colette, Peter Bodo had a nice article about Somdev on his tennis.com blog. It had some interesting quotes about adjusting to the pro tour. Maybe you can link it on your main page

Austin said...

Donald is just as big as Gilles Simon.

Colette Lewis said...

Thanks, I did see Bodo's story after I posted last night. I will link to it tonight.

Unknown said...

Jesse Witten is up 6-4, 4-0 in the second. He was up 5-1 in the first against the #29 seed.

McEnroe has always been annoying to listen to, he hates Connors and can't hide it, bemoans the early retirement of Borg as his rival when there was an age difference and an accomplishment difference at the time, and had relatively small longevity. He is happy to profit off his "fits" as commercial catch lines, etc.

Courier is objective and overlooked, he would probably be preferred if he stopped with the terrible attempts at humor.

"Hi Bob," used to be a college drinking game, if you had to drink each time McEnroe talked about himself you'd be under the table before the first set ended.

D Young should get out of his comfort zone for three months as an experiement with a different coach just to see if he can work his way in as a tournament regular. At this point what does he have to lose.

The Dude said...

"He was the ultimate amazing junior whose body will never allow him great pro success." He's a lot taller than Oliver Rochus who is 5'6" and 143 lbs. and has been ranked as high as 24.

getreal said...

to tony

What is the USTA's track record of producing great players? When Roddick had a slump did the USTA tell him to switch coaches or else? It's been a rocky transition for Young but its seems that it was all those UTSA WCs into the challengers that had Young skip a level and hurt his confidence in the first place.

tennis said...

nobody here has any idea what they are talking about. his mother follows him around everywhere giving her input, which is normally wrong. youngs parents are a HUGE reason he isnt excelling. He may have been the most talented junior EVER. he doesnt have the size of a cilic or querrey, but he is probably the fastest player on tour, has better hands than most on tour, and can fight WHEN HE WANTS TO. he just needs to get tougher and want it more. thank god the usta finally did something about it. if he works full time with only a DECENT coach who makes him work harder i could see him cracking the top 50 as soon as he wants to. young is one of the laziest people when it comes to work ethic, most likely taught by his parents.

and to J. we are talking real tennis, not womens tennis. a ton of womens players parents are there parents: sharapova, hingis, jankovic, dementieva, etc. i would love to hear of a good mens player who had his parent(s) coaching him besides jimmy connors. if you have one let me know.

Jon King said...

Donald's size is vastly overstated. I have stood next to the guy and seen him up close. He is maybe 5'9 and 130 lbs. But more importantly when you look at his hitting arm and wrist, its tiny compared to the other men. He just does not have muscle fiber there to build. My 8 year old daughter who has been hitting since age 2 has a bigger hitting arm than Donald!

You can pick out other smallish men as examples but anyone involved in sports knows you can have one guy 5'6" 130 lbs who is explosive and strong and another at 150 pounds who is weak. Its all the type of muscle fibers and where they are distributed. Guys of similiar sizes can have vastly different degrees of power and explosiveness.

Donald works plenty hard and has fine coaching. He just does not have the right distribution of muscle finers to reach the top 20.

Linda1892 said...

tennis said.....Nadal is coached by his uncle Toni, who taught himself tennis while at University. Sampras was coached by a pediatric doctor who played at his parent's local club. Donald Young's parents are doing just fine.

And women's tennis is real tennis, that comment was totally ridiculous.

Unknown said...

Mark Phillipousis was also coached by his father from ages 6-21.

Tennis Loving Dad said...

Michael Chang was coached first by his dad, then by his brother. Denis Istomin's coached by mother.

tennis said...

to linda, toni is not nadals father. and samprass parents did not coach him.

and, when i hear daily from top junior GIRLS that girls tennis is a joke, which i agree with, i simply think it is commonly known by everyone who watches.

and i am not talking about players in the juniors, phillipousis is the only one ive heard. and denis istomin i wouldnt consider a very good player. he is obvioulsy good enough to make the open and beat an american wildcard, but not a legit player, but good for him for putting up with his mom, haha.

as for young, he has some of the best racket head acceleration out there, so he can do just fine with what he has. and young is at least 5 10 maybe 5 11, and weighs easily 160, so 5 9 130 is rediculous. last year before the open, young was barely even ever on court training for the biggest tournament of the year. he needs to want it more, and he can easily be in the top 50 with all the talent he has. im sure as heck pulling for him, we need another american fighting in the grand slams.

tony said...

to getreal,

my point here is not to rag on D.Young's parents, (they've done a tremendous job getting him to where he is today). But it is to point out, which I'm sure everyone is quite aware of, is the fact that he's been in a funk for the last 18-24 months. He's in a rut and he needs to do something to get himself out of it. The USTA obviously agrees with this, or else they wouldn't have sent him that letter. He's an uber talented player, but it's gonna be a tough going for him if he keeps taking losses at the current pace.

being around said...

Who on here truly knows what the usta said to donald's parents? The information gets passed from a hunch and then everyone runs with it.

I am sure the usta did not tell donald to get rid of his parents, however, told him to start training like a professional. If anyone has been around Donald over the past couple years, they would know that Donald is NOT allowed to train like a pro because his parents restrict him. They control him in every aspect. If anyone was around them, they would know that.

His parents relied that his incredible talent that rode him through the juniors would automatically ride him to the top of the pro game. If anyone was around them, they would know that.

Donald is big enough to be a Top 20 player. This has nothing to do with his physical size. Someone said 130lbs. I'm mean c'mon. that is absurd. He is just NOT in shape because of lack of practice and NOT in tennis form because of lack of practice. If anyone was around them, they would know that.

Donald was going to be the face of American tennis. He was top 100 by 18, which most Top 10 players are by that age.

Donald's business is not working. His ranking the past two years keeps getting worse and not because of injury. Because of lack of proper coaching and training. So maybe it's time to have his parents only be his parents. If anyone was around them, they would know that.

Atlanta said...

get real

USTA wildcards into Challengers? Why don't you try the agents and tournament directors giving him wildcards into ATP events. Donald got too many wildcards at 15 and 16, but it proved non damaging as he dominated the challenger circuit two years ago. Won 58K in pro circuit events. He got to the mid-70s ATP ranking by 18. Very impressive and great start. And then.....

It's the lack of training, which his parents are responsible for. Anyone who has seen him play two years ago and then this year at the Open, Donald is worse today.

This is not the usta, this is his parents, who are his coaches. When does his parents (coaches) become responsible for his lack of improvement?

Austin said...

I used to be the cynical one on here, I clearly have been relieved of that title. Some of the people now posting say nothing positive and half of their comments arent even factually accurate.


sam said...

Jon King, you have no clue what you're talking about regarding Donald I'm really impressed that you got to stand next to him, when was that, 3 years ago