One of the disappointments about the US Open is the limited viewing of practice courts. I suppose if you haven't been to many tourneys it may not seem that bad but the way the practice courts are set up is not very fan friendly. Instead, they are set up are much more for the privacy of players and not for the enjoyment of fans. I guess we're spoiled at other majors which are very open and the views are mostly unrestricted.But alas, we fans will stand in a crazy crowd to get a wee peek at the top stars, so when I got to the grounds on Day 5 I watched Caroline Wozniacki having a hit in her Irish green tights.
I decided to start my day watching Benny vs Denny - Julien Benneteau vs Denis Istomin. It was such a stunning day and as I wasn't too emotionally invested in either player it was a nice relaxing match to watch. I ended up meeting up with the lovely @JBs10is who made my day by giving me her Arthur Ashe ticket so I could watch Rafa play. :) Twitter peeps are seriously the best and it's always so fun to meet up at tournaments.
After a quick peek at Marc! Lopez/Marcel Granollers's doubles win I said a quick hi to a few more Twitter peeps (@jusbjen @nycsandygirl @sapphireswell @avidyvette and @crysaleyesd), then headed into Arthur Ashe stadium to watch Maria Sharapova take on Flavia Pennetta. I love both these ladies a lot so was really excited about this match. I just never know which Maria is going to show up but given how well she's played as the year has progressed I still expected her to win.
Well, what a battle. Flavia was so much steadier than Maria but it was really back and forth. A lot is made about women not being able to hold serve but I think it often has more to do with the great return games many of the ladies possess. This match had one break after another and both players had so many chances to hold but it just wasn't happening. When Maria hung on to win the second I thought it was over, but wow Flavia held her nerve and broke Maria one last time at 5-4 in the third to win. The crowd seemed to me very much going for the underdog and I felt myself pulling for a Flavia win as well. And though she was helped by more Maria doubles, the way she cracked her return on match point was just awesome. What a win!
After the excitement of that match, Rafa vs Nicolas Mahut was never going to be a thriller but as it was my first time watching Rafa in NYC it was still very special. I loved that the US Open played "Welcome to the Jungle" when Rafa took the court - wonder what he thought of it?
In the beginning, the match was exciting as it was clear right away how Mahut held serve so many times in that legendary 2010 Wimbledon match. He has a great serve, and was hitting well from the backcourt; after starting well however he hit error after error so Rafa was winning with ease. Sadly, after losing the second set, Mahut retired with an ab injury. Bummer for him but after Rafa's tough first round match I was happy to see him with a quick win. He stuck around for ages signing dozens and dozens of interviews - always love how much he tries to do for his fans!