Thursday, September 10, 2009

2009 US Open (sport, entertainment, MomVisit09)

We went to the US Open Tennis Championships and had a fun time the last time my mom visited back in '06. So this year we decided to do it again. Last time we had first row tickets in a corner loge box, but this time we were on the sidelines (also first row loge). The first thing I noticed was that being on the sidelines, my head did indeed move back and forth from left to right many times over the course of the day.

I think the tickets for the day session offer the best value, since you get three matches, although the bigger names tend to play at night. Then again, most people don't have the freedom to just leave work like I do. I did actually go into work, and being the stubborn guy that I am, managed to be down and not leave until I had it back to a small loss. Unfortunately, by the time I achieved that, we missed the 2.5-hour Williams sisters' doubles match. In fact, we made it onto the main US Open grounds right as they won match point.
When you see this you know you're at the US Open. However, because we were hurrying for the minuscule chance of catching the Williams sisters, we didn't notice this sign and didn't take this picture till we were on our way out.

Mixed doubles final in action. The #2 seed and defending champions Leander Paes and Cara Black played two American wildcards Carly Gullickson and Travis Parrott. One of the things that I learned was that in mixed doubles at the US Open, they play no-ad tennis. That means that when the score gets to 40-40 in a game, they play only one point, and the serve is always to the same sex. When it gets to 40-40, the chair umpire announces, "Deuce. Deciding point."

The Americans pulled out the upset, toppling the defending champions. This was actually quite a story. Parrott was originally going to play with another partner, but that lady pulled out at the last minute, and suggested Gullickson. So he texted her 2 days before the event to ask her if she wanted to play, and that's how they formed their partnership. In bridge, first time partnerships do win national events every now and then, but I'm sure it's a much harder feat in a physical sport. My guess is, the hardest sport in which to achieve such a feat would be beach volleyball.

The third and final match of the day session was the #6 seed Juan Martin Del Potro against the #16 seed Marin Cilic, who upset the #2 seed Andy Murray in his previous match. Cilic jumped out early, winning the first set and getting ahead a break early in the second. However, he kept playing defensive tennis, waiting for Del Potro to make mistakes. Once Del Potro got into a groove, he quickly won the next three sets to move on to the semifinals. Del Potro has a lot of potential. He hits the ball very hard all the way through, though he doesn't quite achieve the angles that Federer and Nadal can. He has very good reach at 6'6, and a big serve when he hits it. He needs to be much more consistent with his serve and needs a better second serve.

As there wasn't much sunshine throughout the day, the lights were turned on at about 5pm. We were very lucky in that we managed to avoid the rain during our entire time there, whereas rain suspended the night session about two sets in. One other amazing thing during the last match were a number of challenges that resulted in calls being overturned by the slimmest of margins. I like this system a lot, and think it's certainly much better than pointing to random ball marks in the clay at Roland-Garros. However, I've also noticed this year that more players are taking their time before challenging, which I think is against the spirit of it.

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