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Around the Grounds: Day 4 at the 2016 US Open

It hasn't been a bad 2016 for Andy Murray at all so far: three Grand Slam finals appearances, a second Wimbledon title and a second Olympics gold. He'll take to Ashe Stadium in the afternoon today. (Photo: Robert Cole)
It hasn’t been a bad 2016 for Andy Murray at all: three Grand Slam finals appearances, a second Wimbledon title and a second Olympics gold medal. He’ll be on Ashe Stadium during the afternoon session today. (Photo: Robert Cole)

“Rain, rain, go away?” Right now, it’s more like, “Rain, rain, thank you very much!”

Yes, it has been raining here in New York City as we get to start Day 4 of the US Open. Obviously, it’s a bummer that, outside of Ashe Stadium and the newly-installed retractable roof, all of the courts on the grounds don’t have play currently going on. The good (well, great) thing about that is we have time to set up, write this introduction and get a bite to eat in before most of the first matches go on the court. And there will be matches on the court soon, as the rain has stopped and the courts have pretty much dried out.

Also, there’s still tennis going on as we speak! Thank goodness for that new roof on Ashe, as the first match on the court right now is a second-round battle between two former French Open finalists: Simona Halep and Lucie Safarova. We’ll talk about that for an entry or two before the outer courts get going. Remember, because of our truncated blog yesterday due to a prior commitment for yesterday evening, we’re going extra hard today in getting you interviews and great photos. Speaking of photos, how about the photo above of Andy Murray and the cover photo of Venus Williams? Very nice, right? Well, one of my good friends, Robert Cole, is providing A Lot of Sports Talk with some of the great shots that he will get while on Ashe Stadium and on other courts. Stay tuned for a few photo galleries that we’ll put together that will tell the stories of what’s happening at the Open through Robert’s lens.

Let’s go!! Again, most recent blogs are on the top!

 

1:39 AM EST: Time to catch the last media shuttle bus (leaves at 2 AM) back to 42nd Street, so we’ll have to end here. Also, we’ll end with some good sportsmanship, courtesy of Nick Kyrgios and Horacio Zeballos. Good night, y’all! See you for Day 5!

Kyrgios, after his straight set victory to advance to the third round of the Open (Photo: Robert Cole)
Kyrgios, after his straight set victory to advance to the third round of the Open (Photo: Robert Cole)

 

1:18 AM EST: Here’s our interview with Caroline Garcia, the No. 25 seed who defeated Katerina Siniakova in three sets in singles. Also, Garcia teams up with Kristina Mladenovic to form the No. 1 doubles team in the world. Here’s our interview, where she’s asked about her singles success, the chemistry she has with Kiki, and her pet dog.

 

12:52 AM EST: Ferrer broke back, and then held on to win the fifth set 6-4. We’re running on fumes now, but we’re still blogging. Capping off the day with an interview(s) and some great pictures. Coming real soon!

12:33 AM EST: Ferrer holds for 3-3. I’m currently typing one-handed, holding my laptop with right forearm as I try to get good vantage point to watch last few games. Oh, and Ferrer now has triple break point.

12:28 AM EST: Fognini staves off a break point, ends the game with a backhand pass that clips the baseline. 3-2 Fognini, on serve in the fifth.

12:22 AM EST: After hours again!! And we’re in the fifth set on Court 13 with Fabio and David. Ferrer broke Fognini to start the fit, but “The Fog” broke back, then held for 2-1 lead. Ferrer holds for 2-2, and now is two points away for breaking Fabio again.

11:39 PM EST: Next up, after I find my photographer, is either Court 4 with Zverev-Evans or Court 13 for Fabio Fognini-David Ferrer, a match that’s led by Fognini two sets to one.

11:38 PM EST: After the first point, it was all Lorenzi, as he won seven of the next nine points to win the tiebreak, 7-3, and the match to go along with it.

11:30 PM EST: Fifth-set tiebreak it is! Simon wins first point in tiebreak.

11:26 PM EST: What did I tell you?!? The marathon man keeps marathoning! Simon wins the next three games and is up 6-5. Lorenzi serving and is up 15-0. Fifth-set tiebreak, maybe? I wouldn’t mind!

11:09 PM EST: Back to Court 11 and it’s Lorenzi up a break, 5-3, in the final set against Simon. It looked like the Italian’s gas tank was empty after losing the fourth set. But, evidently, he’s found a second wind. Can he close out the marathon man Simon, who seems to play at least one five-set match per major?

11:05 PM EST: Karlovic holds on his two service points to win the set. Young throws his racket down, then, while sitting during the changeover, throws a water bottle down to the ground and gets a code violation. Young came back from two sets down last year on the same court against Gilles Simon. Can he summon up that magic once again tonight?

11:00 PM EST: Young blinks. Hits a backhand wide and Karlovic is up 5-4 in the tiebreak, and with two serves coming to him.

10:58 PM EST: Server wins all six of the points in the tiebreak so far, and the changeover comes with the tiebreak even at 3-3.

10:55 PM EST: For the second time in about 10 points, a Karlovic groundstroke hits the net and plops over on Young’s side for a winner. The latest came at 15-30 down. Karlovic wins that point, then the next two to force a second-set tiebreak.

10:53 PM EST: Honestly, if you’re a line judge and your assignment is to call the serves down the “T” when Karlovic is serving, would they all ask themselves, “What in the world did I do to deserve this?!?!?”

10:50 PM EST: Forehand winner from Young and it’s deuce. Another returned serve goes long and it’s advantage Young. Now Game: Young. It’s 6-5 to the American in the second set.

10:49 PM EST: “C’mon D,” says I, after he double faults. Now an unforced error gives Ivo a break point. With Ivo’s serve, this is set point!

10:48 PM EST: Here on Court 19, and Karlovic and Young are all square at 5-5 in the second. Young lets out a “c’mon” after a service winner for 15-15. Then a “C’mon D, c’mon” after another unreturnable serve.

10:39 PM EST: Simon holds to begin the fifth. How come some of the best two-handed backhands on the tour are Frenchmen (Simon, Monfils, Paire)? Lorenzi holds for 1-1. We’re also going to head to Court 4, where über-talented, hard-serving Sascha Zverev of Germany is down twos sets to Great Britain’s Dan Evans.

10:31 PM EST: Still on Court 11, but a different viewpoint. Lorenzi, who is struggling health wise, takes bathroom break and changes clothes. You need to in this humidity, even at half past 10. Looks like we’ll be on Court 17 after this, where Dr. Ivo, Ivo Karlovic, is up a set against Donald Young. They’re even at 3-3 in the second set.

10:27 PM EST: Great forehand pass from Simon on a Lorenzi drop shot and it’s 4-1 to the Frenchman in the tiebreak. It’s now 6-1. Fifth set imminent.

10:22 PM EST: Great forehand pass from Simon on a Lorenzi drop shot and it’s 4-1 to the Frenchman in the tiebreak. It’s now 6-1. Fifth set imminent.

10:19 PM EST: Lorenzi breaks back! Fourth set tiebreak ahead! Two drop shot winners from the Italian in the game!

10:13 PM EST: So we just went double dipping now! On Court 12, we just say Martina Hingis win in her first doubles match at a major with Coco Vandeweghe. Next door, on Court 11, Gilles Simon is looking to force a fifth set against Paolo Lorenzi. Simon is up 6-5 in the fourth and is up a break, but is down 15-30 on his serve.

9:51 PM EST: Though Zeballos has no chance of winning this match, he just held serve after throwing in a 66 mile-per-hour first serve out wide. Hey, why not experiment when you’re down 5-7, 4-6, 3-5?!?

9:51 PM EST: Though Zeballos has no chance of winning this match, he just held serve after throwing in a 66 mile-per-hour first serve out wide. Hey, why not experiment when you’re down 5-7, 4-6, 3-5?!?

9:48 PM EST: We’re in the new Grandstand, and Nick Kyrgios is being…Nick Kyrgios. Big serves, punishing forehand, all while entertaining the crowd. Oh, and he’s talking to himself on the court. All normal from him. Group of Aussies sitting in the front row whooping it up.

7:52 PM EST: There aren’t too many courts we haven’t been on, so what we might try to do is hit those up before going back to the familiar haunts. Although, Nick Kyrgios is on the new Grandstand about to start his match against Argentinian Horacio Zeballos, and I think we’d love to get some pictures of the Aussie!

7:49 PM EST: We have an “American punching above his weight at the US Open” alert, this time from Court 13. Qualifier Jared Donaldson, who upset David Goffin in the first round, is taking it to Viktor Troicki, leading 7-5, 3-0. Troicki now getting treatment on his left big toe. That’s not good for Viktor, is it?

7:44 PM EST: Sorry for the inactivity, but Robert and I have been snapping away on our way back to the media room. WE first stopped at Court 4, where Pablo Carreño Busta just took out Janko Tipsarevic. The win matches Carreño Busta’s best ever run in a major, as he also reached the third round of the US Open back in 2014. Then, on Court 5, we saw Feliciano Lopez in the third set against Joao Sousa. Sousa was up two sets, but Lopez was winning the third and I told Robert that I believe Lopez would come back and win the match. I was wrong. Sousa ended up winning in four.

6:15 PM EST: Pavlyuchenkova admits that, during the rain delay, she slept for most of that break. Who needs sleep? Umm….everyone!!

6:13 PM EST: Game, set, match, Nasty Nas! Pavlyuchenkova wins after a return error from Mladenovic. Final match time: three hours and two minutes.

6:12 PM EST: Pavs hold her two service points for 5-4, then Mladenovic makes Nastia run sideline to sideline before winning point for 5-5. Match point coming up for someone…and it’s for Pavlyuchenkova after a Kiki error. This is, at least, Anastasia’s fourth match point!

6:09 PM EST: After three points in a row to start tiebreak for Pavlyuchenkova, Mladenovic wins next four points! Match is officially three hours old now.

6:05 PM EST: An ace, then a forehand winner gives “Nas” a 2-0 start to the tiebreak. Now up 3-0 after a forehand volley winner after a not-so-great drop shot from Kiki.

6:03 PM EST: Mladenovic using her doubles skills as she hits a winner with a beautiful backhand drop shot from the baseline for 40-15. Kiki wins next point, and it’s a third-set tiebreak we go!!

6:02 PM EST: As of this entry, this match is 2:52 old. It’s 15-15 on Kiki’s serve, down 5-6 in the third.

6:01 PM EST: Lady sitting next to me says she’s a Del Potro fan and that she’ll check out this site. That’s what I LOVE to hear!

5:59 PM EST: Beautiful forehand volley winner at net gives “Nas” a game point…and a forehand winner down the line gives her the game. It’s 6-5 in the third for Pavlyuchenkova, and Kiki will serve for force a third-set tiebreak.

5:56 PM EST: SECOND CONSECUTIVE DOUBLE from “Nasty Nas.” It’s deuce. P.S. You’ve heard of the rapper Nas before, right? If not, then the new nickname I just coined for her won’t be received too well!

5:55 PM EST: High drama on 17. Mladenovic saves three match points, then holds for 5-5. Pavlyuchenkova now up 40-15…and a double fault, so 40-30.

4:54 PM EST: Tennis back on on the outside courts! Lots of choices, and I think we’re going to start on Court 17 with the Mladenovic-Pavlyuchenkova match. (Man, I really have to use their nicknames to save from typing all of those letters!) It’s one set apiece and on serve in the third.

4:40 PM EST: Yes, I should have been blogging about what’s going on in the media room while the rains continue to fall, but I had more important things to do. Like complete – and talk about – crossword puzzles. So, along with editing a couple of videos, that’s what I’ve been doing. But, the rain has passed and I think we’re ready for tennis now!

2:31 PM EST: Looking at some of the scores, it looks like the rain came at critical junctures of matches. On Louis Armstrong, Kei Nishikori and Karen Khachanov are tied at a set apiece and are at 4-4 in the third set. On Court 17, Pavlyuchenkova and Mladenovic are in the first set, with Nastia up 1-0 and Mladenovic serving. It was “Advantage: Mladenovic” when play was suspended.

2:25 PM EST: Oh, no! Rain!! And it’s pouring! Looks like we’ll be holed in here in the media room for a while. Good thing my friends were able to walk across the grounds and make it to Ashe (and its roof enclosure) before the rains came. Just bought a turkey sandwich and thinking about getting a Kit Kat. Yep, that’s what I’m thinking about now!

2:06 PM EST: Back in the media room right now. Just met Bobby Chintapalli of the USA Today, who’s come to the back of the media work room to be able to have a little more room while working. I don’t blame you! About to get a quick bite to eat, but after, will have a choice of a few tennis courts to go to now. Courts 4 and 5, nearest to my location, have singles matches on them, but Court 17 has a three-set match going on between Scrabble (Pavlyuchenkova) and Kiki (Kristina Mladenovic). It’s 1-0 Pavlyuchenkova in the third set, on serve.

1:55 PM EST: Just got wrapped up meeting Sara and Jeremy, and got to see a picture of their two little ones! So cute! Oh, and while we walked to Arthur Ashe Stadium, we walked past both Sam Groth and 2001 US Open champion Lleyton Hewitt. Groth even stopped to take a selfie for a fan before heading out to his court. Those Australians are just so sweet, aren’t they?

1:21 PM EST: Actually came out of the media room a little later than I thought and missed seeing my friends on the dining concourse. I’ll track them down later. For now, going to see a match now while I wait for them. I’m sitting right behind Courts 11 and 12. Oh, and just got word that Sara is coming over now! Sweet!

1:10 PM EST: While on the way to meet friends, walked past Simona stopping by the Eurosport set to talk with former WTA Tour Top 10 player Barbara Schett and seven-time Grand Slam winner and 1988 US Open Champion Mats Wilander. Here are a couple of pictures I took…

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…and another picture.

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12:47 PM EST: Before heading out, just letting you know that Halep has wrapped up the match, with Safarova serving up a double fault on match point.

12:39 PM EST: It’s time to meet a friend who’s here at the US Open and let me know she was here! Always have time for friends, and can’t wait to meet Sara. I’m assuming her husband, Jeremy, is here as well. I’ll find out once I meet her in front of Franks and Fries!

12:25 PM EST: Other courts are now about to have matches being played on them, including Louis Armstrong (Nishikori), Grandstand (2016 Cincinnati Masters 1000 winner Karolina Pliskova) and Court 17, featuring the woman whose nickname is Scrabble, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Anastasia and I hung out right outside one of the interview rooms as I was waiting for Elena Vesnina to finish up an interview in Russian. With our hard-to-spell names, I think Anastasia and I are kindred spirits. Maybe.

12:07 PM EST: We’re here, and we’re watching Simona Halep get ready to wrap up the set. There have already been some juicy second-round matches with high-profile players contested already, and this could be the best of the bunch, given both were at one time in the Top 10 at the same time. Safarova has seen her ranking slip due to inconsistency, though she’s more than forgiven for that since she spent a good part of 2015 recovering from a bacterial infection. Halep does take the first set, 6-3.

 


[Cover photo (Venus Williams) courtesy of Robert Cole]

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