Saturday, August 29, 2009

US Open Qualifying Complete, Monday's Day Session Features Defending Champions

Danny may have put a damper on Arthur Ashe Kids Day Saturday, canceling all the interactive on-site festivities in the morning at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center, but the tropical depression didn't stop the stadium event or the finish of the final round of qualifying, which was mostly washed out on Friday.

Three U.S. men and two U.S. women advanced to the main draw of the U.S. Open, the most of any country, and if you take the seedings literally, none were projected to win three matches.

Jesse Witten, Michael Yani and Donald Young were all unseeded, yet in their third round matches today, all earned straight-set wins. Witten beat unseeded Alexander Peya of Austria 6-4, 6-3, Yani, who also qualified this year at Wimbledon, took out No. 3 seed Peter Luczak of Australia 6-4, 7-6(3), and Young, who did not lose a set in his three wins, defeated unseeded Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4. All three were slotted to take on seeds in their first round matches: Witten plays No. 29 Igor Andreev of Russia, Yani No. 22 Sam Querrey and Young No. 14 Tommy Robredo of Spain. Luczak got in as a lucky loser.

No. 25 seed Carly Gullickson, who also qualified for the French Open this year, also needed only six sets to advance; today she beat unseeded Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia 7-5, 6-2. Shenay Perry, the No. 24 seed, earned her main draw spot with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Pauline Parmentier yesterday.

The last wild card still standing, 15-year-old Laura Robson of Great Britain, was down a set to Eva Hrdinova of the Czech Republic when play resumed on Saturday. Robson took the second set, then went up 4-0 in the third before squandering that advantage and ending up in a tiebreaker for a spot in the main draw. The match went to Hrdinova 7-6(6), 4-6, 7-6(4). It was one of three women's main draw berths decided by a third set tiebreaker.

Two-time NCAA champion Somdev Devvarman didn't take any detours on the route to his first Grand Slam main draw, quickly finishing his contest with 18-year-old Jerzy Janowicz of Poland in a matter of minutes. The former Virginia Cavalier was up 6-3, 5-2 when rain halted play on Friday. "Sure, I probably didn’t sleep as well as I could have last night had I put him away, but I’d rather be in my shoes than his, that’s for sure,” Devvarman said in a quote provided by USTA PR aide Steve Pratt. “It wasn’t the most ideal way to get to my first Grand Slam but I’ll take it.”

Devvarman, who won in 2007 and 2008, joins two other NCAA singles champions in the main draw (not counting Bob Bryan, who is in the doubles draw): 2004 champion Benjamin Becker of Germany, and 2008 winner Devin Britton. Britton will play top seed Roger Federer on Arthur Ashe Stadium Monday, not before 1 p.m. Devvarman's match against Portugal's Frederico Gil and Becker's against No. 10 seed Fernando Verdasco of Spain are not likely to be given the same prominence. Defending women's champion and No. 2 seed Serena Williams plays U.S. wild card Alexa Glatch after the Federer - Britton match.

Monday's complete order of play is now available. For that and the complete draws, see usopen.org.


The Dude said...

A view from the courts: I had wanted to see Laura Robson play to compare her game with our U.S. juniors. I joined the match to see Robson break serve to go up 4-3 after losing the 1st set. She couldn't hold serve, proceeded to break again and serve out the second set. She broke again the 1st game of the 3rd set and held to go up 2-0. Robson, a lefty, has smooth pretty strokes and is a clean ball striker. Her serve motion is excellent with a continental grip and easy power. For a big girl she moves very well. At 15, she has a great game. I noticed that she didn't look like she was having fun out there as she was easily frustrated when she made easy errors.

At this point, we left so we could get a glimpse of Jenkins playing Bellucci, the #1 seed. Scoville looked better and stronger than when I saw him last a couple of years ago but he had his hands full as Bellucci is a big lefty with a big game. The intensity of their hitting was amazing as they were both hammering the ball putting away shot replies. Bellucci won in straights.

We ventured back to the Robson match who was up serving up 4-1, 2 breaks. She loses her focus, starts double faulting and missing haphazardly and is broken. Her opponent holds and Robson is down break points again. Then remarkably, she starts to have a panic attack as she looks like she hyperventilating on the court. We are sitting in front of her entourage including Nigel Sears, (who has a strong resemblance to Dick Vermeil) who proceed to offer her encouragement. "Breathe!, "You can do it!" C'mon, Laura, one point at a time!" To which the 15 year old exclaims, "I can't breathe! Followed by an admonishment, "don't be ridiculous!!" And, "it's only a tennis match!" Laura responds, "what am I doing here?" Robson doubles and is broken, 4-4. She proceeds to break as her opponent also begins to choke, double faulting at break point. Serving for the match at 5-4, Robson proceeds to double fault 3 times, some by 8 feet or so on some serves in a complete mental breakdown. Judging from the comments from her entourage, I would gather that this sequence of events has happened in the past as they were but encouraging and admonishing as the situation got out of hand. It was a foregone conclusion that there was no way Robson could collect herself to win this match on this day as she loses the tiebreaker with more of the same double faults and panic attacks.

With the weight of her country upon the young girl, someone needs to remind Laura to have fun out there and enjoy the moment and the process. Surely she is not ready and too young to handle the moment and maybe she is being pushed to hard to satisfy the Brits' penchant for a champion. It will be interesting to see if she can recover from such a visible breakdown on the world stage. I hope she does as she has a beautiful game.

Emory said...

Why do I get the feeling that this blog doesn't like giving props to Robson ? Always seems to play down her achievements but go crazy over far less talented girls just because they're American. I know it's an American blog but I thought it was beyond blind nationalism. I remember that negative comments were also made about Andy Murray when he was transitioning from juniors to the pro tour. Is there an anti-English bias here or what?

Unknown said...

Congratulations Jesse Witten!!! Months ago I wrote that I watched him completely dominate the number one junior in the country at a small tennis tournament in Plantation Florida at the Veltri Tennis Center. The next week that junior upset the #8 player in the world and I asked why was the USTA not supporting Jesse Witten. I think people on this site listed me as "nuts." The talk of that small tournament was that Jesse had the talent to remain on the tour and had simply had some bad luck. Here's hoping he has a good US Open because he got there the old fashioned way, he earned it!

nope said...

emory... i dont think there are many (actually any that i can remember) people on this site that talk negatively about robson's results. clearly she is very good and even "the dude" said that. i think he just stated an observation from her match and that is what this blog is for. it's great for her that she's gotten this far with that problem of breaking down emotionally so much. she seems like a good kid and i don't think people are trying to talk her down... just hopefully she can get over this problem because it will likely keep her from her full potential.

tennisforlife said...

Laura Robson described her match in much the same way as The Dude did on her website so I don't think its a case of this blog being down on her. She's very young and very talented. The next couple of years will be crucial for her. From The Dude's description it sounds like her team weren't helping from the sidelines and maybe they should chill out. Tennis is a lot about dealing with pressure. If she can she will succeed - if not she probably wont. I"m rooting for her

Be Realistic said...

Dude, There isn't a successful great tennis player ever who looked like they were having fun during a match at that young an age. Granted the drama and constant yelling doesn't speak well for future success. How do you look like you are having fun in that situation? You sound like the typical Country Club pro with those comments. If the weight of the country is on her shoulders thats her parents and coaches fault. She's there for herself. I'm sure the press back home writes plenty about her but you grow up wanting to practice to get into this position.. Sometimes you choke and sometimes you come through. Thats the way it is.

common american said...

Seminoleup, Who was that #1 player you're refering to. Jesse Witten is a very good player but he has been out there a while and judging from his weight he isn't that committed to being a true professional. He is the typical American these days who is content to be pretty good but had rather be socially accepted by his buddies. Nothing wrong with that but he won't amount to much that way.

The Dude said...

"If the weight of the country is on her shoulders thats her parents and coaches fault..." That is an inherited position for all prodigies from the US, UK and Australia. Anyone who was at that match saw the anguish on her face before the breakdown. I've seen all the prodigies coming through the US Open. Most are focused on the chore at hand and enjoying the moment. Hingis absolutely was having fun when she was 15. She was a ham and enjoyed the attention. Having fun keeps the demons at bay. I do really hope Robson sorts this out and plays for herself. Again I want to reiterate, she has a marvelous game and is probably the most talented junior I have seen in a long time and she would be great for the game.

Unknown said...

common american my mistake it was the #1 junior player in the world, Grigor Dimitrov. Witten won in the semis in 3 and the performance was dominant even though the score was close, it had a Sampras win feel to it in that Jesse was not really threatened on his serve once he got the break, he knew he could hold. Two weeks later Grigor beat Berdych 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 then lost to Nadal 5-7, 6-3, 2-6

Austin said...


Bad luck? Jesse has been on tour for four years, to paraphrase Dennis Green, "he is who we thought he was."