Is it a Bird, Is it a Plane…No, It’s a Napkin

Written By: achangeofends - Sep• 07•10

I’m going to try to keep this one short and sweet, but knowing me that’s not possible. I wish I could write nice short posts for you guys, but I have a lot to say and no tennis loving friends. Plus, if you’re still reading A Change of Ends, you probably don’t mind my rambling. If you want the short version, you can always follow me on twitter (@achangeofends.)

So I attended my second Ashe night session on Saturday. The order of play included James Blake vs. Novak Djokovic and Sventlana Kuznetsova vs. Maria Kirilenko. Frankly, I was pretty bummed when I saw the line up. I shelled out quite a bit for reasonable good seats in hopes of seeing Roger Federer or Andy Roddick (both of whom I have the unfortunate habit of missing) or Maria Sharapova. James Blake is a hometown hero so I understand why they put him on the night session, but I really didn’t see how Sveta and Makiri made it into the lineup.

Regardless of what I was watching, I was glad to hunker down in my seat and stay put. It was a long day wandering the grounds in heels and I was ready to sit for a while. At first I was all alone in the six seat box, which was nice. Djokovic/Blake was underway and the first set was a total blow out. James didn’t even win a game until the very end, finally succumbing 6-1. At that point it looked like I would be able to catch an early train home.

The big story of the night was the weather. Saturday was the first really windy day, and when I say windy, I mean stuff was flying everywhere. The ball kids were busy snatching napkins and scraps of paper off the court so they wouldn’t distract the players. It was certainly one of the windiest matches I’ve attended, only superceded by a match I watched in Monte Carlo this April. That match was so uncomfortably windy and cold that I was eventually forced to leave. Plus, wind and clay tend to create a sandstorm effect which is way more uncomfortable than either the wind or the cold. I don’t envy the players in these situations. Not only was Saturday night windy, it was shockingly cold and no one was really prepared. The weather during the day session had been absolutely perfect for watching tennis, so most fans were in short and t-shirts. I’m sure the USO sold a boat load of sweatshirts that night. After the Monte Carlo fiasco, I always carry a sweater, so I was nice and comfy.

James seemed to wake up a bit in the second set. The crowd went wild every time he managed to hit the ball past Nole, both because they love Blake and because they wanted to see more tennis. At some point in the second set, a bunch of drunk 20-something guys came and sat in my box as well as a middle aged man and a woman who works for the USTA. I had a nice chat with the USTA woman, hoping that I could befriend her and give her my card. I am looking for a job after all. The 20-somethings couldn’t have been more obnoxious. They had moved down from the upper section and were talking through the entire set, loudly. One guy even started yelling at his friend who was a couple of sections over. Just when I thought I would have to turn around and do something about the guys sitting behind me, one of the ushers came up and asked to see their tickets. The guys tried to bargain their way out, but the usher sent them back up to the sky seats. Thank god. Now I could watch in peace.

Blake managed to take the set all the way to a tie break. I would’ve thought that the New York crowd would have been even more firmly behind Blake, considering he is American and the underdog, but there were a lot of Djokovic supporters out there. Nole is quite popular at the US Open after really playing it up for the crowd the last few years. When Blake blew the tiebreak, I knew it was all over for him. There was no way he was coming back from two sets to love.

The third set was pretty run of the mill. I wish I could report something more exciting, but this was a very tame night session. I think the cold was keeping everyone comatose. Finally James lost the last set 6-3 and walked off court. If you ask me, this was probably his last US Open. Blake is 30 and has battled a ton of injuries over the years, mostly recently his knees. His ranking has fallen out of the top 100. I’m not sure how much longer he can keep this up. Surprisingly, he didn’t look like a 100+ player out there. He can still move fairly well, but there’s just no way he can keep up with the bigger, more powerful guys anymore.

At this point, it was about 9:30pm, not at all late for a night session match to start. I don’t think the USO had the best idea putting the ladies on second on Saturday, particularly with two lesser known names. I know Kuznetsova was the 2004 champion, but no one cares. Plus, as much as I hate to say it, cuteness counts on the women’s tour, and no one’s watching Sveta for her looks. I would say approximately 50% of the stadium left outright after Djokovic/Blake and probably 20% more left at some point during the women’s match. I attribute this mass exodus to the fact that it was women’s tennis, the fact that it was Sveta and Makiri, as well as the weather. Nothing was in their favor.

Anyway, I certainly planned on sticking it out and was pretty pleased that the match was starting at a decent hour. Like the Blake/Djokovic match, there wasn’t much exciting about the tennis. Kirilenko sometimes plays good, sometimes not so good. She’s more well known for her looks than her tennis. I was actually a little surprised she made it this far. Sveta looked to be in pretty good form, but crashed out in a surprise loss to Cibulkova. I’m honestly not sure how Kuznetsova has won two grand slams. Her game just doesn’t seem that big in comparison to so many of the other women on tour. It just goes to show you the inconsistency on the women’s tour. As much as Serena has been a leader and favorite at Slams, she’s no Federer/Nadal. I think we’ve all gotten used to the incredible consistency of the men’s tour where Rafa or Roger pretty much win everything, so the women’s tour looks super unpredictable by comparison.

I was definitely sad to leave Saturday night because my weekend at the US Open was over. Luckily my DVR and I are good friends and I can watch the rest from the comfort of my couch.

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