Andrea’s Top Five…of the 2011 US Open

Written By: achangeofends - Sep• 14•11

Best Matches

Maria Kirilenko took part in one of the best women's matches of the tournament. ©achangeofends

5. Samantha Stosur def. Maria Kirilenko 6-2 6-7 (15) 6-3: Samantha Stosur not only won her first Grand Slam title at this year’s US Open, but she took part in several very memorable matches. After her incredibly tight match against Nadia Petrova, Sam looked poised to make quick work of another Russia, Maria Kirilenko. Kirilenko had other ideas when she clawed her way back to win a very dramatic 17-15 tiebreak. In fact, it was the longest women’s tiebreak in Grand Slam history. While Stosur didn’t win the landmark set, set did go on to win the match and eventually the championships.

4. Samantha Stosur def. Nadia Petrova 7-6 (5) 6-7 (5) 7-5: I think you’ll find Stosur made several of my top five picks this year, but there was no way I could leave this match off the list. I had the pleasure of witnessing this in person and it looked as if neither woman would ever give up. It seemed we were destined for a three tiebreak match until Stosur finally got the break and the chance to serve for the match. She may have looked like a microdot painting, but Nadia Petrova played some of the most phenomenal tennis I’ve seen from her in a long time.

3. Juan Carlos Ferrero def. Gael Monfils 7-6 (5) 5-7 6-7 (5) 6-4 6-4: Somehow Gael Monfils always finds himself in the middle of the most entertaining matches. Oh wait, Gael makes the matches entertaining. This match would’ve been great against any opponent with Gael’s shot-making, but it was considerably better to see veteran French Open champion, Juan Carlos Ferrero emerge as the victor. Word is that the long injured Ferrero was pretty close to retirement. I think this US Open result might keep him around the tennis game for a little while longer. We all thank you for that, Gael and Juan Carlos.

2. Novak Djokovic def. Rafael Nadal 6-2 6-4 6-7 (3) 6-1: I was all set to make this my match of the tournament, but after Rafael Nadal turned in a rather disappointing fourth set to gift Novak Djokovic the title, I had to bump it down to No. 2. Rafa may not have put in much fight in the fourth, but the rest of the match was about as good as tennis gets. There were so many deuce points that some games seemed destined to be longer than entire sets from other matches. In all fairness, even though he looked a bit hobbled at the end, Novak Djokovic hit some amazing shots to get himself the US Open title. All that after saving match points in his semifinal match.

1. Novak Djokovic def. Roger Federer 6-7 (7) 4-6 6-3 6-2 7-5: Can you say deja vu? Last year, Novak Djokovic saved two match points against Roger Federer in the semifinals of the US Open. This year, he went down two sets to love before finding his way back into the match and evening things up at two sets all. The final set, and the match seemed to destined to go to Roger Federer when he held double match point once again. How could he possibly lose that way twice in a row? Sometimes history does repeat itself, and Novak Djokovic seized the opportunity to serve for the match. This was a truly heartbreaking defeat to watch for Federer fans and sympathizers alike. Both men played some of their best tennis as well as some mediocre points, but it was certainly a match to remember.

Surprising Moments/Storylines

5. Rafa’s Memorable Press Conference: Andy Roddick said it best. All athletes cramp sometimes and it was just unfortunate that Rafa happened to be on camera when it happened to him at this year’s US Open. While giving a Spanish language presser after a routine win, Rafa fell to the flow in agony and had a trainer attend to him in the press room. I was out on Armstrong watching del Potro/Simon when I heard about the Rafa situation on my Amex radio and it seemed to be pretty serious at first. Thankfully, Rafa was alright, but that youtube video will live on (as will Caroline Wozniacki’s questionably tasteful impression).

4. Louis Armstrong Stadium is unplayable: I feel for Brian Earley, I really do. The rain this week made scheduling an absolute nightmare. The nightmare continued when the second largest stadium court, Louis Armstrong Stadium, had to be taken out of play due to a crack leaking water. What’s worse? Andy Roddick was supposed to be playing his fourth round match against David Ferrer. The match had already been postponed and Andy was a bit testy. Poor Brian was on the receiving end of a Roddick rant when he brought the two guys out to play on a court that was clearly going to continue leaking. Unfortunately, there was no fixing Armstrong and the court remained unplayable for the rest of the tournament, forcing some marquis matches onto the Grandstand.

Frank Dancevic retires while playing Marsel Ilhan. ©achangeofends

3. Record number of retirements/walkovers: You’ve seen the stories. I’m surprised that anyone actually made it to the end of this year’s US Open. There were even a few tense moments in the men’s final when I feared we’d see one more retirement. This year marked a record number of match retirements and withdrawals. Seventeen singles players between the men’s and women’s draws either retired from their matches or withdrew from the tournament before they began. That’s not counting Robin Soderling and Lleyton Hewitt who both withdrew before the tournament started or the numerous players who didn’t attend at all due to injury. No one has a good explanation for this record, considering the temperatures or moderate, the schedule no more grueling than any other year.

A quick shout out to Flavia Pennetta, who I was sure was going to become another tournament casualty. During her fourth round match against Peng Shuai, she had to stop between points, nearly throwing up several times while serving for the match. Even after falling way behind in the tiebreak, Flavia pulled it together, drew on some serious crowd support and booked herself a spot in the quarterfinals.

2. Samantha Stosur wins the championship: Was anyone expecting Samantha Stosur to power her way through the entire women’s draw, including Serena Williams? I didn’t. Sitting out on Armstrong, I honestly thought she might bow out to Nadia Petrova. I worried the pressure might get to her after Kerber won the second set of the semis. I gave her almost no chance against what looked like a strong Serena. I was wrong, and it was fantastic. Sam dictated play, she got off to an early lead, and didn’t cave under the pressure of the big stage or Serena’s outburst. Basically, she was awesome.

1. Serena Williams v. Eva Asderaki: In 2009, Serena’s US Open exit to Kim Clijsters in the semifinals made headlines, not because it was a great match, but because of Serena’s infamous encounter with a lineswoman over a disputed foot fault. Williams had navigated the 2011 tournament with care and seemed poised to make it through the final without another newsworthy tantrum. Well, it wouldn’t be Serena if she didn’t bring the drama, and she brought it, big time. Chair umpire Eva Asderaki gave Serena a point penalty, citing the hindrance rule after she yelled “Come on” in the middle of a point. It was like going back in time. Serena continued her rant towards Eva on the changeover, calling her, “unattractive inside.” There was a lot more than that, and you can watch it all here. Perhaps more surprising? Serena was only fined $2,000.

Upsets

5. Simona Halep def. Li Na 6-2 7-5: Li Na had a breakout year at 29, winning one major and making the finals at another this year, so I’m letting her off for this abysmal loss to Simona Halep. Although, I’m sure her new sponsors weren’t too happy about the first round exit, since they’re shelling out the big bucks to advertise on her Nike kit.

Donald Young. ©achangeofends

4. Donald Young def. Stanislas Wawrinka 7-6 (7) 3-6 2-6 6-3 7-6 (1): Am I surprised Stan disappointed? A little. Am I surprised Donald Young didn’t? Yes. There’s a lot of talk about this match being THE turning point in Donald’s carrier. I’ll believe it when I see it, but a tip of the cap to you Donnie. You did good.

3. Angelique Kerber def. Agniezska Radwanska 6-3 4-6 6-3:  Aga Radwanska had a great summer hard court season and even though she was struggling with a bit of a shoulder injury, everyone expected a good showing at the US Open. No one really expected her to lose to the No. 92 ranked player, although no one expected No. 92 to make it to the semifinals either.

2. Ivo Karlovic/Frank Moser def. Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan 6-4 2-6 6-2: I recently wrote about my love of doubles and how neglected it is by most fans, so it’s only right to include some doubles in my Top 5 lists. Anyway, this really was one of the biggest upsets of the tournament. Bob and Mike Bryan rarely ever lose, even more rarely before the final, and basically never in the first round. This match was so extreme that it scored the normally tame Mike a $10,000 fine for putting his hand on an official, off court. There’s still a lot to this story that we don’t know. I’ll post a link as soon as there’s more to tell.

1. Jack Sock and Melanie Oudin def. Everyone: Remember how I said no one cares about doubles? Well, there’s really no one who cares about mixed doubles, particularly outside the small but dedicated tennis community. Regardless, I’m counting the Jack Sock/Melanie Oudin championship title the upset of the tournament. Prior to this year, Sock had only played in one US Open. He just turned pro and this was basically his big debut. Melanie had a dream run a few years back but her career has basically been a downward spiral since then. They were the underdogs of underdogs and they managed to triumph over some very talented opponents. Oh yeah, and they’re adorable.

Fashion Dos

5. Andy Murray: In a tournament full of Adidas flops, Andy Murray stood out as the one ray of light for the brand. I’m always a fan of dark night kits and Andy looked great sporting the all black kit with slight hints of red and green. It was dramatic, which is entirely appropriate for the drama of Arthur Ashe stadium.

4. Shahar Peer: I don’t think I’ve heard a single mention of Shahar all tournament, which isn’t surprising since she suffered an early loss to Sloane Stephens. Anyway, I thought she looked fabulous in her red separates! I can’t think of another top pro who wears Reebok so perhaps most people never got a chance to see the outfit, or perhaps people disagree with me. The fit was great, the color was bold without going into that neon color scheme that makes your eyes hurt, and there was just enough detail at the neckline and the hem to bring a little bit of flair on court.

3. Roger Federer: Roger always looks classy. It’s kind of a given. However, I always find his US Open outfits to be some of the best for the year. The all navy with red accents looked amazing on court. He may lost to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, but I have a feeling the Nike booth still made a bunch of dough on Roger’s gear.

Lucie Safarova in the Sabine Lisicki collection for Nike. ©achangeofends

2. Samantha Stosur: Sam is just all over these lists, but this was such a great tournament for her. There’s nothing better than winning the title and looking good while you’re doing it. Sam’s dress, also worn by several of the other Lacoste girls, was simple and elegant. It fit well and flattered on several different figures. I’m going to ignore the unfortunate Times Square trophy photo shoot  because I don’t ever want to look at those photos again. Sam looks way better in her tennis dress and visor than whatever that striped monstrosity was. Plus, Sam is way prettier without the makeup.

1. Sabine Lisicki: After her success this summer, Sabine finally signed with clothing sponsor Nike. They clearly know she’s a star, because they’ve already given her a signature line. The US Open outfit was quite simple, just a dark grey skirt with a white top and yellow accents, but the first time I saw it on Lucie Safarova, I absolutely loved it. Sabine and Lauren Davis rocked the outfit just as well.

Fashion Don’ts

5. Gael Monfils: Sometimes I think that we should just excuse Gael for his outfits purely because he’s Gael. If anyone else wore this, I would never forgive them and while Monfils doesn’t exactly ‘make it work,’ it definitely works better for him than anyone else I could think of. However, this green/yellow/teal strip thing just wasn’t working.

4. Radek Stepanek: Why does Radek Stepanek look like he’s standing waist deep in a pile of crunchy leaves? Seriously, why?

3. Nadia Petrova: I felt kind of bad about sticking Nadia on this list for the third time in three goes, particularly after talking to her about these hideous outfits at the Family Circle Cup.

Nadia Petrova is once again let down by Ellesse. ©achangeofends

However, there is no excuse for what Ellesse makes her wear on court. Why does she look like a human lightbright board in that dress? You might think this outfit would look better with less rainbow dots, but not when you add an unflattering dropped waist. For the record, it’s not really her fault and her contract is due to end soon. Perhaps this will be the last time I have to include Nadia on this not so prestigious list.

2. Svetlana Kuznetsova: I’m sure some of you will disagree with my choice to name Sveta the second worst dressed, but she looked like she was wearing a Windows screensaver. Worse yet, a dated Windows screensaver. The kit looked old and not in that fun retro kind of way. I can’t say I’m a big fan of the Fila kits. They never seem to get it quite right.

1. Adidas: If you want the full rundown, read my preview of the Adidas fall line. Frankly, it looked even worse in person. Fernando Verdasco’s kit was probably the worst offender. The bright orange was just way too much. This preview didn’t even include the awful pink and blue collection worn by the likes of Andrea Petkovic or the weird neon splatter paint kit a la Christina McHale. There was just so many hideous designs from Adidas this US Open that I couldn’t possibly narrow it down to just one. The Adidas designers are in the doghouse. Hopefully they can redeem themselves for Australia.

Players Who Reminded Me Why I Love Them

5. Juan Carlos Ferrero: We haven’t seen Juan Carlos around the tour for a while because he was injured. At 31, it can be tough to make a comeback, but he totally proved to us that he still has the goods. He played in one of the best matches of the tournament and gained 23 spots in the rankings after reaching the fourth round. Not only did we miss his tennis, but the courts were a lot less pretty without this “Mosquito.” Let’s hope this comeback continues for the former French Open champ.

Gilles Simon defeats Juan Martin del Potro. ©achangeofends

4. Tommy Haas: Since we’re talking about difficult comebacks, we have to discuss Tommy Haas. At 33, most people think he should be retiring about now, especially considering his myriad of injuries, but Tommy’s a fighter. I think it’s adorable that he wants his daughter to see him play tennis and I’ll watch him as long as he keeps going. I had the chance to watch him play Juan Monaco in the third round and he’s definitely still a fan favorite.

3. Juan Martin del Potro: I missed him so much. Last year, Delpo was unable to defend his US Open title and that was devastating. New York loves Juan Martin and I’m pretty sure Juan Martin loves New York. I attended his match against Gilles Simon in the third round and the crowd support was incredible. My favorite part? Despite what seemed to be a very disappointing loss, del Potro gave a nice big thumbs up to the packed stadium before walking off court. At 22, del Potro has plenty of time left to wow us, and I can’t wait to see more of that cracking forehand.

2. Gilles Simon: So I was a little indecisive during that third round match between Gilles Simon and Juan Martin del Potro. Gilles also had to work his way back from an injury and this has definitely been his best year since ’08 when he ended the season ranked No. 7. Right now, he’s knocking on the door of the Top 10 again. The way he absorbs the power of a guy like Delpo and redirects it is pretty incredible. Plus, he’s got that contagious smile that means you can’t help but love him.

1. Samantha Stosur: I think I’ve probably said all I can say on Sam at this point, but she won a Slam and that deserves some love.

Players Who Reminded Me Why I Don’t

Ernests Gulbis serves to Mikhail Youzhny. ©achangeofends

5. Ernests Gulbis: You can’t take out Mikhail Youzhny, who was trying to defend semifinal points, and then lose to Gilles Muller. You just can’t.

4. Robin Haase: I feel like Haase is always that “almost guy.” He’s the guy who “almost” beat Rafa at Wimbledon, the guy who “almost” made the finals in Winston Salem, and now the guy that “almost” beat Andy Murray at the 2011 US Open. Alright, sometimes you have some bad luck, but he should’ve won that Murray match.

3. Serena Williams: I hesitated to put Serena on this list. What’s she’s done for tennis is amazing and it’s suffered in her absence. The fact that she came back from such serious health scares this year to make the US Open final is utterly astounding. Also, I love how gracious she was to Sam after the final, although I have a feeling a little of that may have been attempted damage control. However, someone needs to get this girl a better PR person, or at least one she will listen to. She needs to stop threatening umpires.

2. Philipp Petzschner: I like Philipp Petzschner, but his behavior at this year’s US Open has been less than stellar so I had to stick him on here. First, hitting a ball at an umpire is not ok, but I was willing to accept that that incident may have been an accident or a mistake in the heat of the moment. But, what he did during the final was inexcusable. In the doubles final against Fyrstenberg/Matkowski, the ball hit Petzschner in the leg, meaning the point should have gone to the opposing team. Even though Philipp and Jurgen were firmly in control of the match, Petz wouldn’t own up to the shot. I understand letting the umpire make the call, but this just came across as poor sportsmanship. It was also very obvious that his actions rattled the other team and Matkowski opted not to shake his hand after the match.

1. Mother Nature: hurricanes, earthquakes, and never ending drizzle. Need I say more?

Newbies I Adore

5. Madison Keys: Keys is only 16 years old and double enrolled in the girls event this year. She may have lost a very close match to 27th seed Lucie Safarova in the second round, but Madison showed a lot of promise, and a great smile.

Jack Sock practicing for mixed doubles with partner Melanie Oudin. ©achangeofends

4. Angelique Kerber: She was No. 92 in the world and made it all the way to the semifinals!! How could you not love that? I know she’s technically not new, but it’s the first time I’ve heard of her, so I’m counting it.

3. Sloane Stephens: She’s gorgeous. She’s put together. She works well under pressure. And she’s only 18. What’s not to love?

2. Heather Watson: I think Heather is my favorite of this upcoming crop of youngsters. It may be the accent, but she very nearly pulled off a major upset of No. 3 seed Maria Sharapova. That has to count for something too.

1. Jack Sock: As I said before, this was Jack’s big debut as a pro and things went pretty well. You’ve gotta think coming home with any kind of Grand Slam trophy on your second go is a success. Even though he took on his childhood hero, Andy Roddick, in the second round, he really held his own, at night, on Arthur Ashe. The crowd fell in love and it was tough not to. I watched Jack practice with Melanie and he was all smiles. He signed autographs for everyone who asked and took tons of photos. I just hope he has more staying power than his mixed doubles bestie.

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