25 August 2012

US Open 2012 - planning and picking



Being the tennis addict I am, of course I can't miss a grand slam that's in the same country....so off I go next week to US Open 2012.

This summer has been full on for most sports fans with the Olympics, but given the French Open-Wimbledon-Olympics triple header and my week in Cincinnati for the Western and Southern Open  this tennis fan is hoping for a very relaxing five days in NYC.

But who am I kidding. This is New York and this is the biggest slam in terms of people. I can't wait. This will be my third trip to the US Open and it's always easier to go back to tournaments that are familiar.

I'll be at the tennis Thursday to Monday and am hoping for less rain this year! Last year is a bit of a blur, but I was back in New Zealand for the finals and both scarred me as my two fave players lost (and I was at work so couldn't watched either live). I did rewatch Rafa and Novak's match, but have somehow not sat through Stosur's win over Serena (did that really happen?).

So back to 2012, here are my fearless picks:

Women's picks:
Quarters: Li def Lisicki; Maria def Petra; Serena def Wozniacki; Venus def Vinci
Semis: Li def Maria; Serena def Venus
Final: Serena def Li

Men's picks:
Quarters: Federer def Berdych; Murray def Tsonga; Isner def Haas; Del Potro def Djokovic
Semis: Murray def Fed; Del Potro def Isner
Final: Del Potro def Murray

Yeah, I admit these are not picked just with my brain, but here's hoping!

22 August 2012

Semifinal day in Cincy

I'm too lazy to blog much more about Cincy, but here are photos from my last day. I skipped finals day to drive the 13+ hours home to NW Iowa. Had Venus and/or Delpo won on Saturday I may have stayed, so maybe it's best they lost? Nah, not really. Delpo's semi vs Novak was kinda depressing for me, and seeing Venus serve and move so badly due to a back injury was not so fun. I can't remember the last time Venus got treatment on court.

Some photos from Cincy semis:


Delpo Nole




Bryan Brothers doubles semi


Li Na Venus

Venus Li Na



Friday QF day in Cincy

Venus Stosur
Cincy is over, but I'm behind. I think my brain got sunburnt last Friday at the Western and Southern Open and I haven't blogged since. Cincy was a wonderful tournament for practice watching, and seeing Venus Williams up close is always fun. I loved the crazy bold tights she rocked all tourney long, and with her super long hair she just looked amazing. Venus makes 32 look like 22!

Center court matches at so many tourneys end up a total bore, and today was no different. There weren't many highlights in Juan Martin Del Potro's win over Jeremy Chardy (why Muzz, why?)  and the match of the day for me was Venus vs Sam Stosur. Venus played in the Grandstand court for most of her matches, and today the crowd was massive for this match.

Even tho this was less than a week ago, I still remember how hot it was. And how tense! Venus served for the match in the second set against Stosur, and then lost a dreaded tiebreaker (what happened to her mental toughness in TBs? She's lost so many of them lately in big matches). After that match I had to leave - so hot, no water and dumb fans around me commenting that Venus just hits the ball with no idea where she's hitting it, and criticizing her serves. Live tennis is amazing, but I often want to muzzle fans around me. I watched the end of Venus' match in the media center, and nearly bit all my nails off as Venus was broken while serving for the match again in the third set. She nearly let Stosur back in AGAIN but closed it out 6-4 in the third set. A semifinal! First once since THAT semifinal at the US Open in 2010.

The evening session in Grandstand was rather sad. With Federer playing Fish in Center Court, the women had few people in the stands. And what we saw was Li Na clock top seed Agnieska Radwanska 6-1 6-1. Aga had some strange tape job on her shoulder and she was never in the match. LI Na's hitting was solid and Aga's serve horrible. The most interesting aspect of the match was Li Na's new coach! Carlos Rodriguez, he of Justine Henin and infamous illegal coaching fame. From my seat, I could see how tiny he looked. It was odd to see him come out to court after the first set for some on-court coaching. This one will take awhile to get used to.


Some more photos from the day:

Delpo FH

Venus BH

Li Na

Li Na and Carlos

Aga

Li Na face

Beautiful night in Cincy


16 August 2012

Thursday in Cincy

Another big day at this fantastic tournament. Here are a few pics of the grounds, which are pretty easy to navigate, with lots of space for the crowds and so many places to sit and relax, eat, hide from the sun, etc.

Entrance from Lot B parking.


Delpo walking from player entrance toward practice

Draws on side of center court

Popular place to get player autographs as they enter/exit the grounds



View of court 9 from center court
Today was another hot day, but not quite as bad as yesterday. Match of the day for this fan was Venus Williams. She played Sara Errani and was in stellar form. She just couldn't miss for most of the match and there was nothing the Italian could do. Venus' groundies were in great form - so wonderful to see. In press, Venus said having just played Errani in the Olympics helped her stay relaxed for this match and it showed. She looked wonderful.

Serena's match, on the other hand, was a bit painful. She looked ill, slow, lazy whatever you want to call it but didn't need much more than her C game to advance over Urzsula Radwanska. She'll need to sharpen up for Angelique Kerber tomorrow. The German looked okay but not fantastic against the improving Andrea Hlavackova, who seems to be getting some good results on the singles court to go along with her huge doubles success of late.

I ended my day with the Bryan brothers, who once moved from Ct 3 to Ct 9 RACED to a 0 and 1 win over Jarkko Nieminen and Stanislas Wawrinka. It took 30 minutes, and then rains came so I think the Bryans had a hunch they needed to get it done fast.

Some other pics from today - hard to believe we only have three more days!

Stosur practicing

Kerber

Serena Ula Radwanska

Serena first pump

Yeah I am sure my serve doesn't look like this. Wow.

Venus hitting a BHDTL winner

Winner!

Evening doubles action

Bryans won in 30 minutes. Truly.

15 August 2012

Midway through the Western and Southern Open

We're halfway to the finals weekend of the Western and Southern Open in Cincy. The weather's been pretty lovely so far this week, but today we burned. The players and fans suffered through very hot conditions and there were a few withdrawals due to heat illness.

As I sit in my hotel room with burned feet and lips, I can only admire tennis players who are able to play through hot conditions. The tourney I've been to the most is the Australian Open, and it's scorching there for most of the two weeks but today still felt brutal to me.

After 3+ days at the tourney, I have to say I think the crowds are amazing. They seem so supportive of the players and there's none of that horrible cheering faults and errors you can sometimes get at other tourneys. As an American who's been overseas for more than a decade, it's heartwarming to hear such great support for Venus, Serena and the Bryan Brothers. I'm used to crowds appreciating them or booing them (well Serena and Venus anyway) tho I've mostly attended tourneys in Australia and England) so to have such huge support is pretty special to witness.

Of course, being on the heels of the London Olympics and the Williams/Bryans gold medal runs it's expected the crowds would be appreciative but it's more than that.

Today, I watched the beginning and end of Venus' match with Chanelle Scheepers. The crowd's welcome onto Grandstand court was wonderful, and boy did they cheer her on in that tricky third set. She even commented afterwards how lovely it was to have the crowd want her to win so much. Both she and Serena have said how much they love the crowds here, how midwestern people have such great hearts and are so nice.

The Bryan Brothers practiced this morning, and a large crowd was loving every minute of it. Bob arrived first to huge applause, and when Mike showed up a few ladies went up to give him a hug and congratulate him on the Olympics. During their practice session, the crowd ooohed and ahhhed and it was so entertaining. Great stuff Cincy.

Their support is not limited to Americans - today's match between Tommy Haas and Juan Martin Del Potro was also well received. Tommy got a huge welcome and send off and Delpo also felt the love. I love watching live tennis, but it can be hard when you feel like the crowd is actually against a player instead of cheering for one. I can't say enough positive things are the Cincy crowds.

Some photos from today:

Bob Bryan arrives to practice

Hewitt losing to Troicki

Troicki beating Hewitt

Haas and Delpo

Haas

Delpo forehand

Lovely court 3



Tommy

Game set match - Del Potro

Great send off for Tommy

Delpo makes some fans happy

Petra surviving

Venus winning in three sets again

Fist pump Venus