2006 U.S. Open: the end of a legend

how many five setters have finished with a tiebreak? Safin-Haas,

John McEnroe and Patrick McEnroes in the booth together on CBS. They’re even better together than separately and they’re the best even when they’re not together.

If I’d been Andre Agassi I would have withheld permission for James Blake to wear that retro outfit. Nothing is worse than looking at a picture of yourself a decade earlier. It’s not just the clothes, it’s that hair. Luckily Blake put on a do rag instead of a hairpiece. And that’s all I’m going to say about Agassi because, really, hasn’t there been enough?

Jim Courier and John McEnroe hitting in between commentating jobs(yuck). Okay, no big deal, but Jimmy Connors (with his new hip) and John McEnroe hitting, that was something to see.

Federer’s between the legs shot facing the net. When my regular playing buddy Abdul does it, he’s being lazy, when Federer does it, it makes the ESPN Top Ten list.

Speaking of Connors, how about that rain-delay replay of a point in his 1991 match against Paul Haarhuis where Connors returned four straight overheads and finished off the point with a clean passing shot. Tends to make you forget that this was the same tournament where Connors called chair umpire David Littlefield a son of a bitch and an abortion among other things.

The outbreak of competitive dancing during the James Blake-Carlos Moya match. The winner was a guy in a pastel jacket who must have been in his 60’s showing a mix of moves that were popular during the [link]Ratpack’s(capitalized? heyday(sp?). For a minute there I thought I was at a Laker’s basketball game where everyone `. Speaking of Blake, he made yet another weaker player look like a giant. Moya has his lowest ranking in six years but there he was going toe to with Blake before Blake finally put him away in four sets. Very similar to Wimbledon where Blake made Max Mirnyi look like a giant killer. I’m worried about that boy.

[put Baghdatis first then mention Haas]Medical timeout abuse # 3,654: Tommy Haas preparing to serve to stay in the match at 7-6, 6-4, 3-6,3-6, 5-6, called a medical timeout because he was having trouble breathing. The doctor came over and poked around his chest to evaluate Haas then, after the poking which already took a few minutes, Haas got a full three minute(?) medical time out. After such (another word pertaining to breathing) distress, Haas proceeded to win his service game easily then take the tiebreaker, and the match, 7-1. Do you think these players study anatomical texts to come up with plausible medical problems for bogus timeouts?

Marcos Baghdatis took a medican timeout in his match with Andre Agassi for a thigh muscle straing. Later in the match he got a medical timeout for cramps in that very same thigh. So that’s how you do it, you say it’s a strain to get the cramp massaged then, if it returns, you get a timout for cramps. That’s how you get two medical timeouts for the same problem despite the rule that limits you to one. And what’s up with Richard Gasquet, clearly two medical timeouts for cramps in his legs – thighs first and calves second, how does that work?

Shot of the tournament: I admit it, I get tired of the “heroic” label for players soldiering on with cramps, they’re not heroic, they’re out of shape. Still, Richard Gasquet was down match in the fifth set to Lleyton Hewitt (what is he doing here in the fourth round, he has tendonitis in his knee doesn’t he?) and his right thigh was absolutely locking up, you could see the muscle bulge but Hewitt hit a shot to the corner then came in after the ball and Gasquet was able to hobble over there and hit a dipping passing shot through the two inch window that Hewitt left him. The crowd was already screaming, now they were beside themselves, standing and yelling. The cramps didn’t subside, though, and Hewitt served it out a few shots later. I’m beginning to think that Gasquet is a drama queen. He is regular five-setter, he had two epic five-setters against Russia in Davis Cup for instance, losing them both. He might want to have a conversation with a sports psychologist, something about feeling comfortable with willing. He is one of the sweetest guys out there, he always pats his opponent on the back and has something nice to say to them at the end of the match no matter what happened. Maybe he should take Jimmy Connors on part-time, the opponent is your enemy, Richard, go it?

Conclusion of conclusion: there were pips and squeaks from foreign players, in particular a slightly sarcastic comment from Roger Federer hoping he qualified for a night match some time, but hopefully it’s a swan song of the extreme U.S. centric nature of the U.S. Open. What do I suggest then? Well, pump up Sharapova on the screen, not just commercials, feature Nadal – I didn’t see anything about him in between his matches… Also, put the foreign players against U.S. players – if you can find them – and use that p.r. skill to connect them with the things the U.S. likes, a showman…., in conclusion, [put this at the end] entertainment.

It’s like those Geico commercials, not the gecko with the working class British accent but the one where celebrities channel day-to-day people to spice up their story and things more dramatic. It’s brilliant if you think about it. Little Richard manages to “whooooohoooooing” mash potatoes and cranberry sauce for a woman who hit a deer on Thanksgiving day and the latin singer(???) Charo in a red sparkly dress with arm-length gloves and thumbholes(aichhhh, what do you call those) manages to make a song and dance and… out of Stanley Smith’s wrecked car.

Just think what a celebrity could do for Roger Federer. Maybe he needs a celebrity channeler so the U.S. would embrace him. Let’s see, who would be appropriate. George Lopez? Nah. I got it, T.O., Terrell Owens. Love him or not, we want press and T.O. could squat along the sideline then, when Federer hits his next front-facing between the legs shot, T.O. could run over to the other side of the court, pick up the ball then kneel down on Federer’s opponent’s side of the court. You want media coverage, you’d get it in spades.

Or maybe celebrity coaches. Bobby Knight could be Andy Murray’s celebrity coach for his next semifinal slam match. Knight would have no problem getting a word in edgewise against Brad Gilbert. Knight could just slam him to the ground and break his collarbone. I don’t know if this was the exact same technique he used but Knight did manage to break his son Patrick’s collarbone.

If Andre Agassi can be wildy popular worldwide, why can’t Federer or Baghdatis be popular here. [put into the U.S. Open conclusion.

Don’t laugh, they do this in other sports don’t they? They put microphones on football players and coaches, ….

I’ll tell’ya something too, the crowd was going crazy during the Gasquet-Hewitt match, a Frenchie and an Aussie. They gave Gasquet a standing O as he faced his first match point. Gasquet jumped in the air, hit a backhand down the line for a winner, then threw his racket on the ground and grabbed his thigh and hobbled across the court trying to unlock his cramping muscles.

And here’s another reality show, Murray Mutters, a comedy consisting of Andy Murray’s comments during matches. Affix a mic to him then follow him around. During his match with Nikolay Davydenko (did he win) he hit a ball into the net then had the following monologue: “It makes you nervous when you don’t try hitting the ball so hard, it makes you so nervous, focusing on not making errors, you’re so tight every time the ball comes to you.” Notice his use of the third person as if he’s outside his body.

Reader Matt’s comments about the women: “My wife and I have been watching the Open in France. We are astonished at the badness of the opening matches on the women’s side of the draw. After a while we began to keep count of the ratio of points won to points lost, and this is what it looks like. In last evening’s match between Serena and Mauresmo, the ratio of points won to those lost on unforced errors was about 1 to 9. In the last Kirilenko match it was closer to 1 to 12. In the Rezai match also 1 to 11. The time was when women like Chris Evert, Martina Navritilova, Monica Seles, and Steffi Graf played tennis as immaculate, as consistent, as nearly error-free as that of the very best male players, but in the last few years the falling off in the quality of women’s play below the very highest level of the game (represented by Sharapova, Clisters (when she is healthy), Henin-Hardenne, and sometimes, though not always, Mauresmo, is very discouraging. I can only wonder what Chris Evert would have found to say of the many matches that were decided not by who played best but by who played worst. I find this a very discouraging development, and wonder what other people have to say on the subject.”