The First Days at Flushing Meadows

Sep 2, 2009

With day two over, most of the big names have played and most of them have made it through to the second round. The weather has brightened a little over Flushing Meadows and the players are getting back into their Grand Slam groove. Bear with me as I go through some of the players that have been making an impact in New York.

Whilst watching the Andy Murray/Ernest Gulbis match, you couldn’t help but harbour the suspicion that someone had been out on the court whilst no-one was looking buttering the surface. Both Murray and a ball boy came a cropper during the Scot’s first round encounter.

Murray went legging it for a wide backhand and just kept going, ending up landing with a crash on Gulbis’ kit bag. From the looks of it, the bag saved him from a potentially injury-inducing impact with the court. Still, the bag was full of tennis rackets; that can’t make for a comfortable crash landing pad.

The ball boy’s fall was even more spectacular, tripping over an advertising board and taking out some people in the photographers’ box. But one point later he was back on court having collected himself, and went on to win the audience poll as to who had the better fall ‘Murray or the ball boy?’

There was a third incident which disrupted play, but only the player’s themselves could be to blame. The pair got a fit of the giggles after a rather outrageously bad challenge from Gulbis over Murray’s serve.

Despite the laughing fit, a tumbling ball boy and executing his own roly-poly over the court, Murray kept his concentration and out-played Gulbis to take the match 7-5 6-3 7-5 in a little over two hours. Still, Gulbis didn’t go down without a fight, and showed flashes of brilliance that left the Scot stumped. If he could have maintained this form, Murray would have had some difficult questions to answer.

There was also some general hilarity during the Djokovic/Ljubicic match, if only because of the colour of Djokovic’s shirt.  To call it ‘orange’ would be an understatement, and only begins to describe the new colour scheme the Serb has got going for himself.

As well as trying out a new wardrobe, Djokovic is hoping to get on a little better with the American crowds here in New York, after that infamous incident involving some biting comments towards Andy Roddick and an ensuing booing from the crowd. You just don’t mess with the home favourites in the US, that’s for sure.

He seemed unworried about them in this first round match however, looking like a powerful force out on the court to beat Ivan Ljubicic comfortably: 6-3 6-1 6-3. This year, Djokovic has had a tendency to be unceremoniously dumped in the early rounds, but something feels a little different about his play at this final Grand Slam.

And no, it’s not the tangerine shirt.

Watching Dinara Safina’s first round match was like pulling teeth. Her opponent, Australian Olivia Rogowska (world no. 167) seemed to be storming away against the world no. 1, and it was only by some miracle of strength that helped Safina pull the match back in her favour. Her serve seemed to falter at every opportunity, but after some wobbly moments she managed to get herself together to get through to the second round. If her next match is anything like her first round one, then Safina won’t be lasting long in this tournament. She simply can’t have the mental and physical strength to do that too many times.

Maria Sharapova made it through comfortably, still determined to work her way steadily back up the rankings. Ana Ivanovic was booted out by Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine, only adding to the rumours that she is truly struggling with her game. Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic also made it through, as well as the 2004 champion Elena Dementieva.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga looks like a giant at Flushing Meadows, prowling around on the court with a strong desire to make it past the third round in the US for the first time. He beat American wildcard Chase Buchanan (I’ve never heard a more true American name) 6-0 6-2 6-1 in just under 80 minutes, barely breaking a sweat.

Both Fernandos – Verdasco and Gonzalez – made their way through to the second rounds, as well as Marin Cilic.

And still the competition rolls on, with Rafael Nadal being one of the few big names left who has yet to go into a first round match. Sporting a new hairdo (oddly Federer-like, but I’m certainly not going to complain), he will be playing the recently returned Richard Gasquet. I don’t know about anyone else, but I can’t wait for that particular clash…

So the numbers have been diminished a little at Flushing Meadows; let’s get on to knocking a few more of those names of the list. Day three here we come.

 

-          SophieG

 

Written by: SophieG

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