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US Open Reports (report #5 of 7)

by Pierre Cantin

Hello!! Well today was a tough day for me, I was mostly there to watch 3 players, two of them lost and the other one needed 3 sets, but at least she prevailed! So anyway, back to square one, my arrival on the grounds in Flushing Meadows. It was 10AM and once I got in I once again did a tour of all the courts, did not see much interesting. I finally settled for a court with the two Serra-Zanetti sisters, Pennetta and Camerin, I stayed there for a few minutes and then went walking around the grounds. As I was walking, I was steered towards the American Express booth where Nick Bolitieri was talking about several things on the US Open radio. It is incredible how:

-this guy seems to have trained almost all top players at one point or another

-he certainly knows about how successful his academy is and is not too shy about bragging about it! Anyway, it was interesting!

After that, I headed towards court #9 if I remember well, where I watched the battle between Elena Bovina and Maria-Elena Camerin. I did not really now what to expect but once I saw Elena start hitting, I understood how she had won New Haven, she seems to have improved a lot since I saw her about a year ago, she moves much better, is a bit more consistent, and seems to be much more consistent with her first serve, which obviously has became a big weapon for her. So even before the match started I had no idea how Camerin would be able to hang in there, she is more suited for clay and I thought she would be unable to hit with Bovina on ground stroke rallies. When the match started, after a little bit of a slow start, Elena did just that, she was dominating from every point of view possible, hitting hard. I mean Camerin did adapt better than I thought but still the pace was very high and she was not going to come out a winner in such a match. I was already thinking that Bovina would certainly give Lindsay a good test in the third round.

But for some reason, Elena then started having problems with her backhand, made a few more errors, you could sense that things were turning around, suddenly she seemed to be stuck in her footings a lot more, miss a few more serves, etc, etc. Eventually, Bovina did hit a few shots to regain the momentum and win the match but Elena showed she was not quite ready yet, she does have the game but give 4-5 loose games like that to Davenport and you are in big trouble...

After the match, I mostly walked around the grounds, saw Jidkova practice, watched a bit of Farina-Elia vs Srebotnik and just walked around before heading to Louis Armstrong where Myskina was to play against Anna Chakvetadze, a girl I had never seen play and had never heard about before this tournament. It was a strange match, I got the feeling that during the whole match, Anastasia was too tight, she was hitting some shots but not letting them flow enough, so she was not playing safe tennis (like Anna was), but not hitting winners either, she was quite plainly hitting unforced errors. I have to say that Anna was very impressive, she made so little unforced errors and was a very good retriever, she had a pretty weak second serve but since Anastasia seemed unable to really go for winners, she was ok, and would just get in the rallies. I'm not sure why Anastasia did not really switch to a plan B at some point, perhaps at the start of the second set or maybe just midway through. I would have liked to see Anastasia start to play really safe to see what her opponent would do, if she would go for some winners, hit unforced errors, or something. Or Anastasia could have tried to be a little more agressive in her returns especially, it's not normal that she only broke her opponent once considering the fairly weak serve Anna had. But no, Anastasia kept playing at the same pace and things continued to go downwards for her...Anastasia did not even seem as upset as she has been as of late in less-critical situations. So basically I'm not sure what happened, she withdrew from doubles later, no idea if that was related to an injury or just wanting to go back home as soon as possible, I'll try to find out....

As I left that court, I was pretty much in shock about what had just happened...I went to court #10 to see the end of the Rochus vs Starace, it was a very exciting match, especially fun to see 3 Belgian fans create by themselves an incredible atmosphere for Rochus, I bet they had a part to do in his comeback to win the match!!!

Then, the match between Maria Kirilenko and Lisa Raymond, a match I had been anxiously awaiting as I was really hoping Maria would be able to pull this one off. Masha came on to the court with a confident look and throughout that first set, she looked really solid, she was hitting mostly from the baseline, getting Raymond to hit some errors. Throughout the match, including that first set, Masha seemed to have a lot of problems getting her returns in the court, not sure why honestly, Raymond has a good serve but still Maria needed to get more of those back.

So anyway, in the first set, both players pretty much took care of their services except for Lisa dropping hers at the end of the set, a set won by Kirilenko 6-4. As she had done in her previous match, Maria started the second set a bit slowly and dropped down an early break and she had to fight all set long to come back, which she finally did. In that second set, Maria had gone more to the net and seemed a bit more agressive with her groundstrokes, which I was very impressed with, it was one of the things I think she needs to do more in her matches. At 4-4, I don't know if this was a turning point, but Lisa Raymond went to complain to the umpire about Maria taking too much time between points. Anyone who has seen Maria play knows what she is talking about. She does take a lot of time and it's true that Lisa had seemed upset about it for the whole match, but why did she choose that moment to go talk to the umpire, in my opinion, it was strategy, she knew it would make Maria think about something else... I was pretty upset about it..Add to that the fact that it seemed pretty obvious that Lisa was getting lots of coaching from the sidelines, I mean did Maria need all of this in addition to her opponent? Anyway, from that point on, everything started to go downwards (for those wondering, yes Maria seemed to take less time during points even though the unpire had not said anything to Maria about it, despite Lisa's demands). Who knows, maybe it didn't change anything, maybe it did, I guess we won't know. But one thing that is for sure is that after the set ended, Lisa was certainly on a high.

After coming back from changing clothes, Maria did not seem like herself, she hit a few double faults, and went down 3-0 pretty fast. Then, she broke Lisa to pull to 1-3 and then they played what seemed like a 10 minute in which Maria had so many chances to pull back to 2-3, she had so mant occasions but let them slip one by one and when Lisa got a break chance, she delivrered...sadly, Lisa then had eveything she needed, she delivered a few big serves and went on to post a 6-2 third set win:(

After the match, I headed to Louis Armstrong where Sharapova had just won the first set 6-0, I saw the rest of the match, I'd say in general Maria played much much better than in her first match but still, some things really need to be worked on in my opinion. I see no point in trying to hit so hard when she is clearly in a defensive position for example, I think I heard she had said she now understood she didn't always need to hit hard on every shot, she might know it but she's not doing it yet... But anyway, Jankovic was clearly not able (except for the second set), to do much against Maria and while the second set was pretty tight, I think Maria was a bit unlucky and not opportunistic but she went on to win fairly easily in the third (6-1)...

After trying to (and succeeding for a few minutes) to get a seat to watch Hantuchova in mixed doubles, I finally headed back to my room, a big day awaits tomorrow although not only tennis, I'll be off to watch the Yankees tomorrow night:)))

So anyway, that's it for now!

By the way, I had some requests for more photos and some other players, please be patient, I'll answer your replies and post more pics once I get home:)))

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