Round 1 – August 28
It was a hot and sunny Monday at the US Open New York. I looked forward to my maiden Grand Slam tournament visit. With a day-session ticket in my pocket, I took an early train 7 to Mets-Willets Point. Two ball boys sat close to me. One of them was extremely nervous. At the venue staff were friendly and the food was pretty good. Arthur Ashe Stadium was just as awesome as on tv! The courts looked impeccable and so did the weather. My office for today would be courts 8, 9 and 10. Dutch players Richel Hogenkamp, Kiki Bertens and Robin Haase were lined up for their US Open action at around the same time. Unfortunately they all lost.
For the next day I had other plans but decided to get a last minute ticket for the evening session in Arthur Ashe. There was a rainout all day, however at some point I learned that Federer would be playing under the roof. So I rushed to the subway to make it in time and arrived at the start of the second set of Madison Keys vs Elise Mertens. Keys won in straight sets and later advanced to the final. Then followed a five set thriller between Frances Tiafoe and Roger Federer. What a treat!
I had never heard of Maria Sakkari and was impressed with her aggressive game. This ‘tiny lady’ showed tremendous power and determination. Unfortunately Kiki couldn’t match her this time even though she wasn’t playing very badly. Unaware of it until I heard him talk, I apparently sat just in front of Raemon Sluiter, Kiki’s coach. Another man that I believed to be her physical trainer sat next to him. They agreed that Bertens just made sloppy errors at times but that there was no reason to be unhappy about Kiki’s play. Maria Sakkari was simply the better one today and is one to watch for the future. She was very strong, aggressive and is very athletic.
Epic match that took almost 5 hours! One of the best matches I’ve ever seen (live or on tv). There were no tv-cameras on the cozy court 9. I got lucky for picking this one as a potentially interesting match. The heat was tough on the players but perfect for the spectators.
Both players fought hard and played well. Albert got foot treatment early in the second set. Denis won the crowd’s sympathy for not giving up. He won a 4th set tiebreaker but lost serve at a crucial point in the fifth. Great match with many momentum swings and exciting tennis. One of those matches where I felt bad for the loser.
I was lucky to catch the third set on the beautiful court 6 which is sort of under a corner of Arthur Ashe Stadium. Losing two consecutive tiebreaks must have mentally been tough on Vesely. Jiri looked sort of flat, maybe accepting defeat. Somehow I always find that hard to imagine on pro level but it happens. Coric however was dominant and showed great form.
Coric’s intensity is amazing and I love his court movement. He defends very well. It was the second time I saw Coric live and he played great tennis. I wasn’t surprised to hear on ESPN that he had beaten Alexander Zverev in round 2. Borna is one of my favourite younger/talented players to watch these days. He needs a bit more consistency. He should be careful not to wear himself out in the long run as he leaves everything on the court.
Round 1 – August 29
The Yankees – Indians game I had planned to go to had rained out and so had the US Open tennis. When I found out that Roger played under the roof at Arthur Ashe, I wasted no time getting on the subway to Queens. What a crazy match! Tiafoe started strong and Federer was struggling to find rhythm. Frances was not afraid at all and won the first set 6-4. Then in spurts of good tennis suddenly Roger won the next two sets. His level quickly dropped again though. At the same time Tiafoe started to hammer some awesome forehand shots and had Roger in defence mode. In the fifth set it was an experience thing. Roger somehow took it 6-4. Tiafoe however played strong and was a joy to watch. A bright future lies ahead for this young fella.