More Rain At The Open

There’s one Latin fellow at this year’s US Open who we would probably like to see go out as soon as possible, if not sooner please. I am speaking of our good man Ernesto, the tail end of a hurricane that crawled its way up the eastern seabord yesterday and has now settled in with a vengeance over New York City. If I see another re-run of the Baghdatis-Agassi match I will slash my wrists. Not that it was a shabby match. But enough already. Uh-oh, now the guys in the booth are going back to a mid 90s final between Agassi and Sampras. Serious tennis withdrawal is setting in. What to do while we all twiddle our collective thumbs and wait for the rain to pass?

Well, let’s check in with events over the last couple of days. There are still a few things we can be rubbing our eyes over.

+ Three Swiss guys are still alive in the draw. Yes, you heard correctly. Not Swedes. Not Spaniards, but Swiss. Leave it to that guy Federer to come along and fire them all up. All ten of them, that is, in the entire country probably, and now a third of them playing tennis. The chances of that happening must be really miniscule. Stanislas Wawrinka has become a player this year, showing up in draws throughout the season and slowly making a name for himself. Marco Chiudinelli is not exactly a household name yet, but he’s headed into the third round too after beating Feliciano Lopez, the man who took out Ljubicic on opening day.

+ Speaking of that guy, Federer, he pulled off a nifty between the legs shot on Friday in his match with Tim Henman. Poor Henman. Murray is breathing down his neck, he had to battle it out with another over 30 guy, Rusedski, and now he suffers the indignity of a shot like this coming at him. This shot is one of the rare ones you’ll see done when the guy is actually facing the court. Not running with his back to it. Roger just made a graceful little forehand flick between the legs and the ball looped right back to Henman. Naturally he was surprised, but managed to get it back. Roger then pushed an easy volley past him up the line. It must be hard to feel insulted though, when Roger is standing there grinning from ear to ear afterwards, like a wayward child with his hand in the cookie jar. Show-off.

+ But the lady Swiss player, Martina Hingis, got a rather rude wake-up call the other day, and it’s about time. Spring has come, and sprung, the glow is off. Now Hingis has to do some constructive consulting with her coterie. Thank you, Virginie Razzano, a tall Frenchwoman who came out the other night with no fear at all and beat Hingis in two sets.

Now we have to ask Hingis, darling, why are you here? Are you really prepared to train hard? Rumor has it you abhor the gym. Is that why your body looked a little, dare we say, slightly pudgy against Razzano the other night? Granted, Razzano is lean enough that any woman probably looks pudgy alongside her. But still. Hingis will never be a Justine Henin-Hardenne when it comes to training. Justine is an animal. Hingis will barely rise to pussycat level by comparison.

Yet Hingis should be emulating Henin-Hardenne. They are nearly the same size, Hingis maybe an inch or two taller and a few pounds heavier. JHH put the lie to the notion that little girls can’t play and win on tour. She even pumped herself up quite a bit and added a lot more power to her serve and forehand before she realized she did not really need all that extra muscle and weight. So she backed off and has now slimmed back down to where she was before. But her strokes still have their new-found power.

Why can’t Hingis approach this? Or at least address the issue of her lackluster serving game. I think she can. She needs to take this seriously now. Wipe that charming smile off your face and get real. Get out your boning knife. If Justine can do it, Hingis can do it. She has to ask herself though, do I want just to be in the top five to ten in the world? Or the top five?

+ The USA Network crowd actually had Safin and Nalbandian lined up for our viewing pleasure. Quel unusual! When did it happen that our networks showed matches of non-Americans? Playing in prime time at the Open on a Friday night? Guess they caught on that European players are where the sport is heading, Mr. Agassi notwithstanding. They are dealing with it. What a shame the weather kept this potential wild and crazy match-up from occurring in primetime. I was all ready for some real nuttiness from these two guys.

+ You’ve heard of the “It” girl, well now we have the “Ich” girls from Serbia – Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic – both from Belgrade. The thing I like best about them is, apart from their solid and fearless baseline games, is neither one is blonde. How did that happen? Relief is just a bottle (of hair color) away.

Ivanovic will take on Serena Williams next, weather permitting, and I would not be surprised to see an upset here. Not much of an upset, as Serena does not look like she will be much of a force here this year. Too much weight still and she is not looking sharp enough to beat the big girls. And Jankovic gave notice she is ready for a big leap forward too, after taking out Number 9 seed Nicole Vaidisova yesterday. Scarcely any of that match found its way onto the airways.

Jankovic raced out to a 5-2 lead in the first set, only to see it melt away when Vaidisova fought back and took the set, 7-5. Jankovic buried her face in the towel for a moment, then came back with a vengeance, winning the match with 2 and 4 scores in the second and third sets. Both women are fun and exciting to watch, and one or both of them could be around for the semis, who knows.

+ Much as I love the chutzpah of New Yorkers and their in-your-face style, it started to grate the other night. What does it say about your fans when they boo a guy – Marcos Baghdatis – who has to be one of the biggest crowd favorites anywhere? Very very declasse, as the people of Paris would say. Hell, even the Italians don’t heckle guys who miss their first serves. Baghdatis took it all in stride. What else can he do? Well, an appropriate “bird” to the crowd would have been nice. But only at the match’s end. Otherwise they wouldn’t leave you alone.

Geez, the food at those kiosks must be really overpriced this year.

To read more about Jelena Jankovic go here