Matches at the US Open were so uninspiring today that discussion turned elsewhere, specifically, to court surface speed.
Commentators for the US Open spent the day trying to convince everyone that the US Open surface is now faster than Wimbledon. I think they were just bored and trying to think of something to talk about because the tennis on court wasn’t exactly gripping.
Serena Williams dispatched wild card Severine Bremond, 6-2, 6-2, in exactly 60 minutes. Flavia Pennetta broke Amelie Mauresmo seven times and won the match with an even more lopsided score: 6-3, 6-0. Stanislas Wawrinka got so frustrated against Andy Murray that he tried to drill him in the last game of the match and couldn’t even do that right. He not only missed Murray – his good friend – but he sent the ball long. Murray won easily, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.
By the way, Murray said a few times this week that the US Open is his favorite tournament. Not only that but his favorite television show is Entourage. Not Monty Python, not Blackadder, not Absolutely Fabulous or even New Tricks, but Entourage. What do you say Jenny? Are the British newspapers all over this cultural slight or what? Before you know it, Murray will be moving to Tampa, Florida, and buying a second home in Beverly Hills with a tennis court and a racket-shaped swimming pool.
This is the part of the tournament where we should start to see some barnburners so what’s the problem?
We already know the problem on the women’s side. The volcanic shift that Justine Henin’s retirement set off still hasn’t settled and it won’t until Ana Ivanovic and Maria Sharapova are healthy. Oh, and remember when I said that neither of the Williams sisters was likely to see the number one ranking again in their career? Serena Williams could get out of this tournament as the number one.
Okay, but what is the excuse on the men’s side because tomorrow doesn’t look all that exciting either. Qualifier Gilles Muller will play his eight match of the tournament against Nikolay Davydenko tomorrow and Muller’s last two matches were five setters. I wouldn’t think Igor Andreev has much chance against Roger Federer and I’d put $10,000 down on Novak Djokovic over Tommy Robredo if I wasn’t afraid the ATP would find out I bet on tennis and refuse to give me press credentials the next time I apply for them.
Part of the problem is the Olympics. I looked back at the quarterfinals in 2004 after the summer Olympics in Athens and only two of the top eight seeds reached the quarterfinals. Two of the top eight seeds are already in the quarterfinals this year and four more could get there tomorrow, but this is still a mish mosh of a tournament. Gael Monfils, Muller, and Kei Nishikori all got to the fourth round. Flavio Cipolla – who had two hard court victories in his career before this week, Viktor Troicki, and Jurgen Melzer got to the third round.
I’m assuming order will restore itself pretty soon so now let me get back to the original question: Is the US Open faster than Wimbledon? Pretty much and no are the two answers to this question.
Tennisinsight.com creates a quantitative measure of surface speed by looking at the number of points, games, and tiebreakers played because you expect fewer points, more games, and more tiebreakers on a faster court. It’s easier to hold serve on a faster court and that means more games and more tiebreakers. If you look at Tennisinsight’s results for this US Open so far (ignore the map which puts the US Open in Jacksonville) and their results for Wimbledon this year, you see that the US Open is playing almost exactly as fast as Wimbledon when the men play. It’s not playing faster but it ain’t playing any slower either. Wimbledon has slowed down enough that it is now the same speed as the US Open.
I don’t know why that is. Anyone got any theories? The women play slower in all tournaments because the serve isn’t as dominant in their game, but that doesn’t explain why the US Open is playing so much faster for the men relative to Wimbledon than it would for the women. Meanwhile, it’s my bedtime so I’ll see if I can work it out in my dreamtime and wake up with the answer.
See ya tomorrow.