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Around the Grounds: Day 9 at the 2016 US Open

"Louis Armstrong Stadium...Thanks For 39 years of Tennis Joy!" That's all that needs to be said as the final scheduled matches to be played on Louis Armstrong Stadium will be contested today. (Photo: Robert Cole)
“Louis Armstrong Stadium…Thanks For 39 years of Tennis Joy!” That’s all that needs to be said as the final scheduled matches to be played on Louis Armstrong Stadium will be contested today. (Photo: Robert Cole)

“We have all the time in the world…Time enough for life to unfold…All the precious things love has in store…We have all the love in the world…”

He might not have known it then, but Louis Armstrong might have been singing about the timeless and adored tennis stadium in the Flushing section of Queens that currently bears his name. On Day 9 of the 2016 US Open, our hearts are a a little heavy as today marks the final matches to be played on the 39-year old arena, as it’s scheduled for the wrecking ball after the tournament and will be replaced by a new stadium that will also feature a retractable roof. The memories, however, will always live on, and, as we go Around the Grounds, we’ll make sure to sprinkle in some of the best memories of great tennis that has happened on Armstrong over the past four decades.

Almost 32 years ago to the day was one of, if not the greatest day of tennis in the sport’s history: Super Saturday. On Sept. 8, 1984, both men’s singles semifinals and the women’s final were contested on that day, and the fans at Armstrong were treated to history. In match No. 1., the hard-hitting baseliner Ivan Lendl and the serve-and-volleying Pat Cash dueled into a fifth-set tiebreak, with Lendl saving a match point a game earlier at 5-6 with a lob over the hard-charging Cash. Lendl won the final set tiebreak 7-4 to advance to the final. After that match was the women’s final, the 61st overall meeting between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. After Chrissie won the first set, 6-4, Martina stormed back to win, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, and won her sixth consecutive singles title in the process. The nightcap was the second men’s semifinal, with John McEnroe taking on Jimmy Connors. In a year that has gone down as one of the best an individual has ever had in tennis, McEnroe was not going to be denied in winning a third major that year. In five sets, he defeated the fellow American 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in a match that ended at 11:16 PM.

Connors, at that time, was 32 years old. Seven years later, at age 39, Connors made one of the most remarkable runs in tennis history, reaching the US Open semifinals, with most of the matches he played on Louis Armstrong. My fondest memory of Armstrong was when Connors, after winning a point and sitting on the retaining wall, peered into the camera and said, “This is what they came for. This is what they want.” Classic!

The classic will be no more after today. We’re getting a late start today to our blog, but we definitely hope to be at Armstrong in time for the final scheduled match, which is a rematch of the French Open doubles final from this year, the Spanish team of Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez, who won that match, against Bob and Mike Bryan, who will be the last Americans scheduled to play on Armstrong.

Let’s send the old lady out right, shall we?!? As always, the most recent blog entries are on the top.

 

5:21 PM EST: Was back in the media room, but now heading out to the Club Patio Bar to meet my friend Cindy, whom I met a few days ago on Court 5 and had a great time with! What’s life without good friends? And meeting good friends while waking in the rain, no less?

5:08 PM EST: We play on! Mike Bryan to serve. After Bryans win first point, rain really comes down. Play is suspended. 3-4, 15-0. BUMMER! And I had the BEST SEAT on Armstrong: in the media box, first row, tons of leg room! Time to leave it, though.

5:07 PM EST: Lopez Squared holds for 4-3. Rain coming down a little harder now, yet still light. Umbrellas are now being held by ball boys to shield the players. Our chair umpire, Fergus Murphy, has a decision to make now.

5:05 PM EST: Mike misses a return just long, and it’s 30-30…then a forehand from Marc handcuffs Mike at the net and it’s now game point.

5:05 PM EST: Bryans now with a look on Marc’s serve, as it’s 15-30.

5:03 PM EST: Two consecutive holds, incliding a hold at love for the Bryans and it’s 3-3.

4:55 PM EST: I can feel rain drops now!! Play goes on still. The Bryans with game point now…and Mike Bryan’s first serve too much for Feliciano to return, and it’s 2-2. Extremely windy inside the stadium.

4:55 PM EST: I can feel rain drops now!! Play goes on still. The Bryans with game point now…and Mike Bryan’s first serve too much for Feliciano to return, and it’s 2-2. Extremely windy inside the stadium.

4:54 PM EST: What a point to start Mike Bryan’s service game. Bob with a tweener, then a winner down the line, then a chest bump from the two! NICE!

4:52 PM EST: Marc Lopez holds at love. 2-1 Lopez Squared. Shows what I know about calling Marc the weaker server.

4:50 PM EST: Two winners from Mike at the net during Bob’s service game ties the set at 1-1. Marc Lopez to serve. Typically the weaker of the two servers between the duo.

4:46 PM EST: Starting the third set, Feliciano serves. It’s 40-15, then Marc Lopez hits an easy forehand volley at the net wide. Feliciano makes up for that with an ace, and it’s 1-0 Lopez Squared to start the third set.

4:43 PM EST: Lots of work in the media room, but we’ve finally made it on to Armstrong, and came just in time to see Bob Bryan hit a winner off the net cord for 40-0, and set point. Two points later, Bryans polish off the second set. Lopez squared won the first set 7-6, Bryans win second 6-4. One last set here in Armstrong and we’re here for it!

4:43 PM EST: Lots of work in the media room, but we’ve finally made it on to Armstrong, and came just in time to see Bob Bryan hit a winner off the net cord for 40-0, and set point. Two points later, Bryans polish off the second set. Lopez squared won the first set 7-6, Bryans win second 6-4. One last set here in Armstrong and we’re here for it!

2:16 PM EST: Pouille/Monfils underway on Ashe in the first men’s quarterfinal..

2:12 PM EST: About to make my way out to either Armstrong or Ashe, but I HAVE TO create this photo gallery from yesterday, with the amazing pictures of Robert Cole being displayed. Bear with me now! (Darn WordPress plug-ins causing me trouble!)

2:00 PM EST: Kerber puts up a bagel in the second set, winning 6-0 and taking the match. Impressive! And, as the draw played out, she’ll be taking on an unseeded player in the semifinals: Caroline Wozniacki or Anastasija Sevastova.

1:39 PM EST: We’re here a little later, but in time to see Angelique Kerber, after a tight first-set win over Roberta Vinci (7-5), turn the screws in the second set, up 4-0 in the second. Kerber is on a mission to wrest that No. 1 ranking away from Serena! And she just might do it!

 


[Cover photo (Louis Armstrong) courtesy of Matt Green/Hulton Archive via Getty Images]

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