The forecast kept getting worse and worse as the day approached but I was still excited, after missing event in 2009, to be hitting the USTA National Tennis Center on Tuesday August 24 under cloudy skies for the first day of qualifying for the US Open.
But which match to see. It is nice to see players I've seen before but not nice to see players who have been qualifying since forever. Nice to see new faces but not nice to spend three hours watching #203 vs #258 while both adequately demonstrate the correctness of their rankings.
I ended up going to Court 7 to see American Ryan Harrison against a Frenchman Jonathan Dasnieres de Veigy. Him I knew nothing about. Harrison had received a wild card two years ago as a top high school player. He looked very young then, had lots if baby fat, but played impressively for his age. Now 18, Harrison is noticeably thinner and very collegiate.
Alas, drops started to fall not very long into the match and then more than drops and there was a rain delay no more than a half hour in to the match. Didn't rain too hard or too long but by the time they're sure it's OK to start drying the courts and then dry and then get the ball persons and lines judges and players back out... it was three hours before play resumed. Harrison did come out early for a quick practice hit.
How is Harrison? Who knows. The French guy wasn't good enough to test him. Harrison was up 5-1 in the first set when the rains came. After the delay, a few games into the 2nd set, the wind really picked up. Harrison didn't deal well with the bad conditions, got frustrated, then angry. But he settled down, adjusted a bit, the wind died down a bit, he won handily in two sets.
I had invited a Canadian to join me, so for the next match I violated the rule on not watching people who've been qualifying forever and went to see Frank Dancevic. He peaked three years ago, but just barely high enough (#65) to just barely make the draw without qualifying, behind an appearance in the finals of the Indianapolis event in 2007. That year, he had a winnable first round match in the Open against Marat Safin, but he lost. The difference: Dancevic's lack of experience in those moments. Today he outplayed a Czech journeyman Ivo Minar, who also had a peak ranking in the 60s, and both Minar and Dancevic born in 1984. Talk about your evenly matched players, though on this day Dancevic looked in considerably better form. Straight sets victory 6-3 6-4.
We stayed nearby to watch Aussie Greg Jones play Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin, the #4 seed in the qualifying. I do not often pay much attention to the 5-minute warmup before each match, but I noticed here that Roger-Vasselin had a deer-in-headlights aspect to his at-net volleying. Jones seemed much more assured. This was the highest quality tennis, with Roger-Vasselin taking the first set and Jones the second. I was expecting a tight struggle for set #3 but it was not to be. Jones went up early, Roger-Vasselin started acting like he had a plane to catch, and it was done. Jones has an 0-1 record in main tour events, nonetheless the better player won. Jones also stares very intently at his foot before each serve.
On Court 13, Kei Nishikori had taken the court to play the forever-qualifying Paul Capdeville of Chile. He was having a hard time closing out Capdeville. Ahead by a set and up 5-4 in the 2nd set, he lost the next three games and the two were early in their 3rd set as Jones was winning on Court 14. We went next court to watch the final set. Nishikori had emerged atop 5-3 after some back and forth in the early games when the rains came again, and the day ended at around seven.
I did a brief tour with my guest of Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Plenty of late-night soccer action still going on in the gloaming. New since my last visit skateboard park by the LIE overpass so no need to skateboard pn the overpass itself. The New York State Pavilion is still rotting away. But the fountain beneath the Unisphere has just been refurbished and was at its full glory for the first time in a decade. Off to the Lemon Ice King of Corona (medium mint chip for me), good Indian at Mehfil in Jackson Heights, and the day was done.
Considering the forecast, no complaints to have seen three full matches. First round rarely has great matches, a lot of journeyman, or mismatches of #103 vs #303, but I so love just being there. And the things you see in the first round help to build the story-lines.
- The Brillig Blogger
- A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.