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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.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tennis Anyone, IV

And to close...
The second set of the Pospisil match was anything but routine. It was one of the longest sets of tennis I've ever seen, 68 minutes for a 12 game set, vs. 41 minutes for the13 game tiebreak set Pospisil had with Guccione two days before. There was an epic game early on with Brezak struggling hard to hold serve. Pospisil, whose serve can be so strong, was having games go to 0-40 or 0-30 against and then struggling to fight back into it. Finally, at the very tail end, Pospisil managed to get a break and win the match. It was good tennis!
And as long as our 2nd set is, the Meffert/Farah match on the next court just keeps dragging on and on and on, but you get the sense that's a match that's interesting solely because it endures, not because either play is especially interesting. If neither player has the weapons and tools to really end a point, the points can go on. And on.
Next stop was over to Court 11 to find Dennis Kudla playing Romain Jouan, both of whom we'd seen previously, in a 3rd round qualifying match. This was decent enough tennis, but a rung or three below the highest level. Kudla is 19 -- and just -- and has been a Juniors finalist and a hitting partner for the US Davis Cup, and the good news for American tennis fans is that he looks good on the court, saw that when I saw him when earlier in the week and saw that again today. But holding one's own is nowhere the same as winning, and he just didn't have the oomph or the firepower of the 25 year-old French journeyman he was playing against, who won in two fairly quick and fairly routine sets.
During the first part of the match, I was standing atop the stands at Court 11 and looking down on Court 14, where the #3 qualifying see Marcel Ilhan was playing Lucas Lacko. Ilhan was looking pretty good as he took that in two fairly easy sets.
I was also able to watch people erecting the Citizen side above the south video board in the new stadium that is going by the rather prosaic name of Court 17. I wonder how many years that name holds. In any case, the world will know that Citizen is an official sponsor and official timepiece of the US Open.
I then wanted to see the 3rd round match for Vasek Pospisil, but this had been put on to one of Court 14 with limited bleacher seating, and one side of that was unusable because of the setting sun. Too crowded to find a good perch. I ended up drifting back to Court 8 to watch the Brazilian Rogerio Dutra Da Silva, whom I said yesterday I might want to watch more of, playing his 3rd round match against Sergei Bubka from Ukraine. This is decent, but it's lacking something. I'm pulling for Da Silva, who goes down in the first set, comes down to take the second, then goes down a break in the third. Sometimes you go in rooting for one player and end up a fan of another, as on Day One when I found myself going for Middelkoop over Janowicz, but there's nothing about Bubka that makes me enthuse about his winning over the player I'm rooting for. Toward the very end of the match there's a ball on the sideline I'm sitting on that's reasonably close and is called in. Everyone else near me thinks the ball is out, I'm not so sure myself, and then it has to be not that the call was wrong but that it was grotesquely wrong, that the ball was six inches out, way out. Which just isn't the case. The call's against Da Silva, it's the difference between being at 30-30 and maybe having an opportunity to break back or being 15-40 and staring death in the face, and the crowd's reaction only serves to make Da Silva just a little bit more certain he's getting the royal screw-over. It's the kind of call that makes you wish they had Hawkeye to allow challenges on every single court, so the player can make his challenge and get an answer and kind of get over things instead of stewing in the feelings of injustice. In any event, Da Silva ended up losing.
That match complete, I drifted back to Court 14, where the sun had now gone down far enough that the other bleachers could be sat in, and I found an open seat on the front row toward the start of a third set between Pospisil and a 24 year old Slovenian Grega Zemlja, who was the #8 seed in the qualifying.
What a way to end the tournament!
It was an incredibly tight third set, ended up going 75 minutes which is about as long a set as you can get. Sitting where I was, in the twilight, you could actually see the spin on the balls, and there was a lot of it. The players were both trying to get their shots as low over the net as they could get away with, so it looked as if every ball was in danger of being hit into the net. I was rooting pretty strongly for Pospisil, so it was disappointing when he went down a break fairly early in the third set, and wasn't getting a break back. You start looking at the scoreline, and realize time's starting to run out. But Pospisil did manage to eke out one break and go back on serve, and we headed into a deciding tiebreak. And I can't remember the last time I've been so caught up in a game of tennis I've been watching in person. Pospisil gets a mini-break, Zemlja gets it back, every single shot by both players especially sitting right at court level looks like it's going to go into the net. Every single shot. Except most of them somehow manage to motor their way over and sink toward the ground for a hard pickup of a really really low ball at the other end of the court. And so much, so much, at stake. And finally, Pospisil prevails. Phew!
It was a great day of tennis. In the third round of qualifying even the bad matches are played at a higher and overall more competitive level than in the earlier rounds, which in part explains why the tennis is just about as long in duration with 54 matches on the schedule as the first two days with 64, or one extra per court.
Often I'll savor the moment and linger on the grounds after the final point of the qualifying, today with Irene on the way I hastened ASAP out of the tennis center so I could hit the Lemon Ice King (strawberry banana) and then subway into Manhattan to Midtown Comics to get the Wednesday arrivals. Then I looked for a copy of The Onion, and headed up to the Borders at Penn Plaza and picked up half a dozen client books to refill shelves now that they were 50% off, and then treated myself to a fancy dinner at Keen's Steakhouse. I knew I wouldn't even have the choice of getting into Manhattan again until Monday...

1:05 PM
Pospisil looks awfully good taking first set 6-1

12:30 PM
Underway! Charles-Antoine Brezac vs Vasek Pospisil, reenacting the French Canadian wars!!

12:05 PM
The slow moving women's match on Court 8 has hardly progressed. I am now sitting between 8 + 9 watching Robert Farah (Columbia) and Dominik Meffert ( Germany) on 9 while waiting for 8 to end. Gensse won the Court 16 match.

11:50 AM
Sorensen won routinely, late break in first set and after a trade of breaks at the start of the second by two breaks 6-2. Next match I want to see is on Court 8, but there is time to watch the finish of a match on Court 16 between Portugal's Joao Sousa and France's Augustine Gensse. On serve 4-4 in 3rd set. While I watch the match I can listen to a test of the sound system on the new stadium on the site fo Courts 17 and 18 and also watch installation of the Citizen sign atop the north end video board in the new stadium.

10:35 AM
Around six hours of sleep. Took subway home and didn't have to wait long for train, did walk back this ,owning since I wad up in time. Hot and muggy so I did change my original plan to skip the Lemon Ice King. Cost around six or seven minutes but the mint chip was more satisfying than the handful of minutes of tennis would have been.
I decided to go the Grandstand court which is scheduled for two matches today. It is so intimate you can reach out ant give noogies to lines judges, and a rare treat to have it in use for qualifying. During the main tournament those front row seats are claimed like the land rush in Far and Away.
We are on serve 3-2 Portugal's Gastao Elias serving to Ireland's Louk Sorensen.

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