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Around the Grounds: Day 3 at the US Open

Yes, all the greats of the tennis game usually play at Ashe Stadium, but you might have the most fun at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center  taking in the matches on the outer courts, like the Grandstand.
Yes, all the greats of the tennis game usually play at Ashe Stadium, but you might have the most fun at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center taking in the matches on the outer courts, like the Grandstand.

Why wait for ESPN’s coverage of the U.S. Open when we have you covered?!?!  Welcome to A Lot of Sports Talk‘s live blog of the 2014 U.S. Open, as we walk around the grounds – and avoid Ashe Stadium – to experience one of the most fun times of the year for a sports fan and/or sports journalist.

We’ll be in the beautiful borough of Queens all day, so stay tuned and keep hitting the refresh button for our updates from the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Let’s have some fun, shall we? Latest entries are at the top of the page.

 

10:37 PM EST: Now it’s over…Berlocq forehand called out on another close one, and Sela wins in four sets! Sela wins, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5. That might be it for me. If so, what a great day to walk around and take in some tennis!!

10:36 PM EST: CONTROVERSY! A Berlocq forehand appears to go long, Sela celebrates, but the linesman says it was in. Sela argues, but can’t challenge on Court 13. It’s deuce…

10:34 PM EST: Sela two points away, at 30-15…serve and volley play halted by an overrule on a serve called out (was in). Now 40-15, and the Israeli has match point…

10:30 PM EST: Sela now with break point to go up 6-5…and he breaks!! Dudi now looking to close it out on his serve after the changeover. More “DU-DI SE-LA” chants from the crowd.

10:26 PM EST: Sela holds, and it’s 5-all. Crowd is almost all for Sela. Would you expect anything less when an Israeli player is featuring in New York City?????? Come on now!

10:20 PM EST: Now the excitement is here…at a packed Court 13, where Berlocq and Sela are locked in a serious battle! Sela is up two sets to one, and broke Berlocq while serving for a fifth set. It’s Sela serving at 4-5.

9:59 PM EST: Just found out the names of the doubles team on Court 4 that everyone was excited about: Michael Mmoh and Francis Tiafoe. Tiafoe is touted as one of the future stars of American tennis, and tennis in general. Oh, and Errani won the second set tiebreak (and the match) and moves on to the third round. Impressive first two wins for Errani, defeating Kirsten Flipkens and Anastasia Rodionova, two tricky opponents! Even more impressive given the face that she’s on a hard court, far from her favorite surface!

9:46 PM EST: Errani holds for 6-all, and it’s a second set tiebreak.  Errani looking to close it out.  Wish we could provide more information for you from the court, but Internet service is nonexistent on Courts 4-6, so will have to check in with you a little later on how that ended.  Now off to Court 13 for Calos Berlocq and Dudi Sela.  While I’m walking over, enjoy this visual from Berlocq from when he won a Davis Cup tie for Argentina against France last year…

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9:40 PM EST: Craziness has happened!!  On Court 4, the American, all-black doubles team win the match, and one of the players hits the ball high in the air to celebrate, only for the ball to hit one of the Court 5 light towers and bounce back onto Court 5.  That forced a let to be played in the Rodionova-Errani match, and it happened to be on break point for Errani (5-all, 30-40).  WOW!!!  After couple of deuces, Rodionova holds for 6-5.  Errani taking it well, but if I were her, I’d be HEATED!!!

9:30 PM EST: Errani was up 4-3 (with a break), but then Rodionova broke to 4-all…then Errani broke for 5-4…then Rodionova broke for 5-all.  Women’s tennis, everyone!!  Meanwhile, lots of hooting and hollering being made by fans on adjacent Court 4, as one doubles team is clearly the fan favorite.  It’s an American team, I think, and it’s an all black doubles team. Yes, it shouldn’t matter what race they are, but have you seen a professional all-black doubles team before??

9:13 PM EST: A Ben & Jerry’s ice cream break beckoned, but now back, and am at Court 5, as Sara Errani of Italy faces Anastasia Rodionova of Australia.  Rodionova is keeping alive the Bethanie Mattek-Sands high socks look…

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8:20 PM EST: Just sat down with one of the line umpires at the US Open, Sharyl (interesting spelling), and she told me she’s been a line judge at the US Open for 21 years. Great stuff! Now another line umpire has come over to my table as I’m blogging this. And another…

8:05 PM EST: Although out of sequence (picture was taken at 6:57 pm), here’s my picture with 1996 Wimbledon Gentlemen singles runner-up MaliVai Washington.  He’s doing American Express Radio: Live at the U.S. Open, and was doing work with another former American player, Taylor Dent.  Very nice individual!

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7:52 PM EST: After three hours and thirty-one minutes, the No. 32 seed finally closes it out with an overhead smash! Standing ovation from the fans at Court 5, and a well-deserved one!

7:49 PM EST: Fun rally ends with Dancevic hitting long retrieving a lob from Sousa at the baseline…crumples to the court. Players exchange ends, and it’s 4-2 Sousa in the tiebreak…

7:49 PM EST: After Sousa takes 3-0 lead, he drops both points on his serve, and Dancevic now serving at 2-3.

7:47 PM EST: Big forehand/forehand volley winner at the net and Sousa gets the mini-break…2-0.

7:46 PM EST: Dancevic forces the fifth-set tiebreak. Here we go…

7:41 PM EST:  Sousa responds by holding at love, now 6-5 Sousa in the fifth. One more hold, and it’s another final set tiebreak…please make it happen, Frank!!

7:39 PM EST: Dancevic holds at love, ends his service game with an ace and it’s 5-all in the fifth. We’re definitely sensing some fifth-set tiebreak karma with our blog, don’t you??

7:35 PM EST: And the break to Dancevic! 5-4 Sousa, but back on serve in the fifth!

7:34 PM EST: Dancevic holds and forces Sousa to serve out the match…”Canadian Bacon” with a forehand winner to make it 15-30, two points away from breaking to get back on serve in the fifth set. Let’s out a “C’mon!” after the winner.

7:34 PM EST: Dancevic holds and forces Sousa to serve out the match…”Canadian Bacon” with a forehand winner to make it 15-30, two points away from breaking to get back on serve in the fifth set. Let’s out a “C’mon!” after the winner.

7:27 PM EST: Sousa finally holds…in control at 5-2 in the fifth. Are the fans with the FC Porto happier about this, or Porto reaching the UEFA Champions League after their playoff win over Lille? (Soccer talk alert!!!)

7:26 PM EST: Sousa absolutely bungles a sitter of an overhead on game point, back to deuce again…4-2 Sousa, fifth set.

7:23 PM EST:  Dancevic on the verge of breaking back, gets help from net cord for a winner to set up an ad out…and now back to deuce after a one-handed backhand from the Canadian hits the net. Now rooting for Dancevic (one-handed backhand alert).

7:18 PM EST: Sousa gets the break, and it’s 4-2 Sousa in the final set.  Just now noticed it’s a matchup of two players who both wear their hats backwards.  Have to keep track of how many times I see while walking around.

7:17 PM EST: Sousa’s grunts on his groundstrokes are getting louder as he has a break point…which is wiped away by a huge Dancevic serve.  A couple of fans in the stands have on FC Porto soccer jerseys.  Guess I should say soccer in Portugal..futebol!

7:13 PM EST: Made a U-turn to Court 5, where another five-setter is in the offer.  The No. 32 seed, João Sousa of Portugal, is up against the Canadian Frank Dancevic…can we have a third final set tiebreak??  It’s 2-3, Dancevic serving…

6:21 PM EST: Walked past a match between Shahar Pe’er and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni as I made my way to Court 17, so I might double back and catch that now.  See you there!

6:15 PM EST: Ito graciously signing autographs after his win.  Final score: Ito wins, 6-2, 3-6, 5-7, 4-1 (ret.)

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6:04 PM EST: As I said, it has been a hot and humid day, and the weather has caused another retirement.  It’s a big downer for American tennis as well, as Steve Johnson has to retire due to cramping up the second that I entered Court 17.  Tatsuma Ito of Japan wins the match

5:51 PM EST: Petko fan club…they’ll see her play at least one more match in Queens…nice coordination!

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5:50 PM EST: Post-game shenanigans from Andrea Petkovic’s three-set thriller…selfie time!

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5:42 PM EST: Unreturnable serve, and Petko wins the match in the third set tiebreaker!!  Great match!

5:40 PM EST: Now 5-all.  Then Petko comes up with a forehand winner…match point Petkovic (6-5), and Petko serving…

5:38 PM EST: Five straight points to Puig in the tiebreak!  Two points away from the match!  Now Petko answers…5-4 Puig…

5:36 PM EST: At the changeover, it’s 3-all.  First three points to Petko, next three to Puig!  Fan to my left continues to say she’s going to pee in her pants.  Well, then…

5:32 PM EST: Puig comes to net, and Petko comes up with an amazing backhand pass to earn her the mini-break.  3-0 Petkovic in the tiebreak now.

5:31 PM EST: Puig forces a third-set tiebreak against Petkovic!  Fan next to me prematurely cheers for Monica on a serve that was just long.  First words said by the fan after her embarrassing moment: “We are cut off…no more Vodka!

5:27 PM EST:: Petko holds at 30, now up 6-5.  Puig looks to hold to force a final set tiebreak.  Can we be so lucky to witness two final set tiebreaks in a span of an hour?  Let’s hope so…”TIME!”

5:24 PM EST: Puig holds, and now it’s 5-all in the third.  “Vamos, Monica” and “Venga, Monica” heard from the stands for the Puerto Rican..fans in red “Petko” shirts are very boisterous on Petko’s side…

5:21 PM EST: Here’s Petko serving at 4-all.  Puig now 30-0 up in hopes of staying in the match.

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5:19 PM EST: Petko battles back from 0-30 on her service game, now up 5-4 and has won four straight games from 1-4 down.  Puig now serving to stay in the match.  What a turnaround!!  Couple of fans next to me are obviously Puig fans…uttering profanities with every Puig mishit/error.

5:10 PM EST: Probably the most charged atmosphere I’ve been in so far, as Puig and Petko have traded blows for two hours. Puig won the first, 6-3, Petko battled back in the second to win 6-3 and has battled back from a 1-4 (double break) deficit.  It’s 4-3 Puig, and Petko has a chance to break again…AND NOW HAS!  It’s 4-all in the third!

5:03 PM EST: The next court, after another water break and mingling with a few fans, is Court 11, with one of the most intriguing matches so far, the No. 18 seed Andrea Petkovic and Puerto Rican sensation Monica Puig.  Walked in and Petko was having an emotional meltdown.  Petkovic doesn’t even wait for me to sit to go off on an overrule.

3:21 PM EST: Anderson ends it in style with an ace (his 28th of the match), then lets out a primal yell at some of his orange-clad Illinois Fighting Illini supporters.  Anderson wins 6-3, 6-7, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6.  Off I go now to the next court…

3:20 PM EST: Anderson now up 6-1 in tiebreak as the match hits the four-hour mark!  Five match points now…it’s now just a matter of time.  Oh, here’s the proof of the match going four hours.  Isn’t that right, Kevin?  Oops, shouldn’t be talking with you as you’re playing…

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3:17 PM EST: Anderson starts tiebreak with an ace, now has a mini-break at 2-1 as Cuevas hits a forehand long at 1-all.

3:15 PM EST: FIFTH SET TIEBREAK!!  Anderson serves first…fans break out in a rhythmic clap.

3:13 PM EST: Static from the speaker becomes audible during the 30-15 point…umpire plays a let.  Anderson not happy, as Cuevas hit a forehand long right as umpire was calling a let.  Replayed point goes to Cuevas, now 40-15.  One point away from a tiebreak.

3:09 PM EST: Anderson holds, and it’s 6-5.  Now a college atmosphere in here, as an “I-L-L….I-N-I” chant rings out!  Again, Anderson attended the University of Illinois.  Cuevas to serve, and hoping he holds to force a fifth-set tiebreak!!

3:07 PM EST: ANDERSON BREAKS!  5-all in the fifth!  Woo-hoo!  Now 15-0 after a forehand winner from Anderson that clips the line!  Good stuff…

3:05 PM EST: Anderson wins first two points on Cuevas’ serve.  “Here we go, Illini” is heard from the stands, rooting on the former University of Illinois standout, Anderson!  It’s not 15-40…one point away from 5-all in the fifth!

3:03 PM EST: Anderson holds to make it 4-5.  Cuevas getting ready to serve it out.  People next to me are chatterboxes, even during points.  They also said, during their dialogue, that they’re from Long Island.  Shocker!  Round of applause for players as changeover ends….and well deserved!!!

2:58 PM EST: The first “vamos” utterance from the crowd, and it’s for the Uruguayan Cuevas.  Won’t be hearing “Vamos, Rafa” at this tournament, unfortunately.  Now I’m rooting for Cuevas since he, like yours truly, employs a one-handed backhand…and a beautiful one at that!  Cuevas holds to make it 5-3 in the fifth.  Anderson serving to stay in the match.

2:55 PM EST: Anderson holds, but still down a break in the fifth, 3-4, to Cuevas.  Here’s a look at the long line forming outside of Court 17 after that long game in which Cuevas broke and seized momentum of the match.

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2:49 PM EST: Aaaaand we’re back!  On Court 17 right now, and checking out the No. 18 seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa, a.k.a. Neo, a.k.a. Mr. Anderson.  Had to wait at least six minutes to get in because of a long, loooooong game (at least five deuces) in which Anderson’s opponent, Pablo Cuevas, broke the near-unbreakable serve of Anderson to take a 3-2 lead in the final set.

2:03 PM EST: And Dodig has to retire!  What a shame.  Fans give Dodig standing ovation as he walks to the net, acknowledging that he can’t go any further.  My apologies if the picture I took was the reason Dodig got hurt.  Lopez moves on…and so do I.  Final score: Lopez wins 1-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 1-1 (retired)

2:02 PM EST: Dodig holds, but really limping around now.  1-1 in the fifth.

1:58 PM EST: Here’s our view from the Grandstand, right at the beginning of Dodig’s first point on serve in the fifth set…which means this was Dodig right before he got injured and called for the medical timeout…

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1:54 PM EST: Lopez holds serve in first game of fifth set, and after first point on Dodig’s serve, Dodig calls for trainer.  Now in a medical timeout.  Trainer rubbing Dodig’s right hamstring area as I speak.

1:47 PM EST: And a backhand return winner from Lopez gives Feli the fourth set!  Grandstand never fails in delivering the goods.  Onto a fifth set, and, at the next changeover, on to buy a bottled water!

1:43 PM EST: Took a while, but now here at the amazing and intimate Grandstand, where Feliciano “Deliciano” Lopez, the No. 19 seed, has come back from 2-4 in the fourth set to take a 5-4 lead over Ivan Dodig of Croatia!  Dodig is up two sets to one, but now 30-30, and Lopez is two points away from forcing a fifth.  Now one point away after a double fault from Dodig!

1:26 PM EST: And it’s over!!  Powerful groundstrokes and a few aces from Bencic in the third, and cruises to a 6-1 third set.  WOW, next on the court, I believe, is Marin Cilic vs. Marcos Baghdatis!  Leaving Court 11, but not for too long!  Swiss fans next to me give Bencic a nice applause and send-off!  See you in a few minutes at our next stop.

1:20 PM EST: Why in the world did I not buy any water before coming here?  It’s HOT!!  Where was this in New York City all summer??

1:18 PM EST: Nara broken again, now 4-1 Bencic.  “Ball change, please!”

1:16 PM EST: Heard my first “Allez” chants from the stands, encouraging Bencic.  Man behind me also wearing a hat with the Swiss flag on it.

1:15 PM EST: Bencic with two aces, including on game point at 40-15, to hold.  3-1 Bencic in the third.

1:12 PM EST: Nara holds for 1-2, but Bencic still with the break.  Lots of noise being made on adjacent court on Court 12, as, from my perspective, it looks like doubles legend Leander Paes is playing…looks like his partner is Radek Stepanek.  Might be wrong…

1:08 PM EST: Bencic gets the benefit of a net cord, wins game and consolidates break.  2-0 Bencic in the third.

1:07 PM EST: A few fans walk in during the game, cutting across Japanese support group (possibly coaches).  Not cool, patrons!

1:06 PM EST: Nara with two backhand winners, and Nara has a chance to break…advantage Nara.

1:04 PM EST: Bencic gets away with a 70 mph second serve at 30-30 to earn a game point, now a correction on a Bencic ball initially called out.  Replay of point sees Bencic hit a forehand long, and it’s deuce.  Bencic lets out a few words in an undetermined language.

1:01 PM EST: Bencic breaks Nara to open the third set.  Japanese contingent behind me silences.

12:58 PM EST: Our first stop is on Court 11, where the No. 31 seed, Kurumi Nara, is taking on one of the people pegged to be one of the rising stars in tennis, Belinda Bencic of Switzerland.  Bencic, as pointed out by Gabe Gonzalez in one of our previews of the Grand Slams, has occasionally been coached by Melanie Molitor, the mother of former U.S. Open champion Martina Hingis.  We walk in as Nura has just come back to the court from her bathroom break after the second set.  Nara won the second set 6-4 after Bencic won the first set by that same score, 6-4.  Sitting in the first row, right in front of a group of Japanese supporters (almost sure one of the group is her coach).

12:50 PM EST: We’ve made it through security (no easy feat given that there’s a huge sporting event in New York City!

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