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Around the Grounds: Day 2 at the 2018 US Open

Robert Cole/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

 

NEW YORK – Can glory on the grass translate to heroism on the hardcourt?

Part of our coverage of Day 2 of A Lot of Sports Talk‘s live blogging extravaganza at the 2018 US Open will be to see if the Wimbledon singles champions for 2018, Novak Djokovic on the men’s side and Angelique Kerber on the women’s side, can complete the summer Grand Slam double play and get off to a good start in pulling off that stupendous accomplishment. While that feat is something Djoker pulled off in both 2011 and 2015, no woman without the last name of Williams has won Wimbledon and the US Open in the same year since 1997, when Martina Hingis did just that. (Venus pulled it off in back-to-back years in 2000 and 2001, while Serena did it in 2002 and 2012.)

But there is a whole lot of other action around the grounds all day, and a couple of matches have piqued our interests during the day session. On the Grandstand, No. 20 Naomi Osaka of Japan, who knocked out Kerber in the first round of the US Open last year, takes on a player very capable of giving Osaka a serious challenge, former Top-30 player Laura Siegemund of Germany. We also are interested in the second match on Court 13, where surprise 2018 French Open semifinalist Marco Cecchinato of Italy plays Frenchman Julien Benneteau, the 36-year-old veteran who will retire from the sport at season’s end. Benneteau, a former Top-25 singles player who has a Grand Slam doubles title to his credit (Roland Garros, 2014), hopes today will not be his last singles match at a Grand Slam.

While the tennis should be of high quality, a factor that might very well come into play and affect a number of players is the hazy, hot and humid conditions. It is over 90 degrees right now, feels like over 100, and it’s only going to get worse as the morning heads into the afternoon. Stay hydrated and keep those bodies as cool as possible, everybody!

We will make sure to keep downing liquids so we are able to blog for the long haul today. Or, so we hope! Stay tuned and keep hitting the refresh button for our updates from the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Like always, we absolutely encourage you to contact us on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram and let us know where on the grounds we should blog from. We always love your feedback.

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

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8:40 PM EST: Back in the media room for a recharge and a bite to eat. Roger Federer is putting it on Yoshihito Nishioka, up 6-2, 6-2, 4-0. On Court 11, American Alison Riske has come back from a set down to tie things up and has a break in the third set, 2-1. We’ll try and make it out there after we’re done filling up the gas tank.

8:29 PM EST: Oh, and we have an interview request with Zvonareva after this match. Definitely abandoning my objectivity and hoping Vera pulls this one out!

8:28 PM EST: We’re going three sets! Blinkova gets Zvonareva on the run, then hits a forehand winner up the line and Blinkova wins the second set! Ugh, and I feel so bad for Vera since she had that backhand in the middle of the court on match point and just dumped it in the net.

8:26 PM EST: Another long rally ends in another Zvonareva backhand error, and it’s now a set point for Blinkova!

8:24 PM EST: OMG! Vera approaches a short ball and has the court at her mercy on match point…and smashes a backhand into the net! Vera lets out a scream as the players change ends again, at 6-6 in the tiebreak!

8:23 PM EST: Double fault from Zvonareva and it’s 5-5. After that, an unreturnable serve from Vera and it’s match point!!!

8:22 PM EST: Once again, Zvonareva has a mini-break at 5-3. Two points away from her first Grand Slam singles win in almost four calendar years (2015 Australian Open).

8:20 PM EST: Two consecutive points won by Blinkova, including a forehand winner up the line on the last point, and the players change ends at 3-3.

8:19 PM EST: After getting back on serve, Blinkova blinks (pun intended) by throwing in a double fault. 3-1 Zvonareva in the tiebreak.

8:18 PM EST: Now we get the tiebreak! Zvonareva holds! Now Vera has the mini-break as she wins the first point of the tiebreak.

8:16 PM EST: Tiebreak on hold for now as Zvonareva send a backhand wide…and now follows up with a forehand winner down the line! Second game point for Zvonareva to get us to a tiebreak.

8:15 PM EST: Zvonareva once again trying to dig out of trouble. Was down 0-30, but has now won three straight points to set up a game point and send us to a tiebreak.

8:12 PM EST: Blinkova held for 6-5, and Zvonareva, who won the first set, once again serving to stay in the second.

8:10 PM EST: Here’s a little fact nugget: Zvonareva has not won singles match at a Grand Slam since the first round of the Australian Open…in 2015. This would be a momentous win for the former World No. 2, who has had a terrible time of it with injuries over the past few years, but mixed in with the joy of childbirth in 2016.

8:06 PM EST: Blinkova hits a forehand wide, and Zvonareva gets out of jail by winning five straight points to hold for 5-5!

8:04 PM EST: We’re now on Court 14, as 2010 Wimbledon and US Open finalist Vera Zvonareva is taking on Anna Blinkova, also from Russia. Vera won the first set, 6-2, and was up 4-2 in the second set before Blinkova won three straight games. We arrive on the court at that point and Zvonareva now has just saved three set points!

7:45 PM EST: Double-barrel endings on Courts 9 and 10. Kasatkina holds at love to win against Babos, while, on Court 9, Matthew Ebden of Australia closes out his match in a fifth set after his opponent retired and Ebden up 4-1.

7:38 PM EST: Babos has saved one break point, but now faces another…and Babos goes long with a forehand! Kasatkina will now serve for the match at 5-4!

7:33 PM EST: Babos once again goes for the drop shot and, once again, Kasatkina comes up with the answer! It’s 15-30, with Kasatkina putting on the pressure.

7:30 PM EST: Kasatkina’s service game has been a roller coaster, including a couple of drop shot winners from each and a break point saved from the Russian. It’s game point for Kasatkina…and she closes it out with an ace! 4-4 in the third!

7:25 PM EST: Instant drama on Court 10, as Timea Babos and the No. 14 seed, Daria Kasatkina are battling it out in the final set. As we get to the court, Babos breaks for a 4-2 lead, but then is broken back to bring this match back on serve.

7:06 PM EST: A forehand that goes long from Tiafoe and it’s double set point for Mannarino! And another error, this time off a drop shot attempt on the backhand, gives Mannarino the third set, 6-4. We have a match!!

7:05 PM EST: Some great defense from Mannarino on the second point of Tiafoe’s service game, which ends with a forehand drop shot winner with the help of the net cord. The Frenchman now two points away from the third set!

7:02 PM EST: Mannarino’s last three service games have been easy peasy in terms of holding, including the last one which sees him up 5-4. Tiafoe now will serve to stay in the set.

6:59 PM EST: Tiafoe saves a break point and holds for 4-4. Two games away from a first-round win at the US Open, something he almost pulled off in surprising fashion last year when he lost in a fifth set to some guy named Federer.

6:52 PM EST: Back-to-back routine holds and it’s 4-3 Mannarino, on serve. Tiafoe has won 76 percent of his first-serve points and 64 percent of his second-serve points. Yup, doing that would allow you to have a 6-1, 6-4, 3-4 lead for sure.

6:46 PM EST: So we have some good news and some not-so-good news: In our pursuit of talking with Benneteau, we got a chance to hear from Monica Puig, who won her match against Stefanie Vogele 6-0, 6-0, and heard from her about her work in helping her native Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria. The bad news? In listening to and recording Puig, we missed Benneteau. The whole “let’s have three reporters here” was supposed to fix that problem of not being in two places at once. Blah!

6:45 PM EST: All of us (Ashley, Tyler and yours truly) are at the Grandstand, and Tiafoe is now up two sets to love. As we enter the stadium, Tiafoe breaks for a 2-1 lead. Unfortunately for the American, he drops serve to give the break back, and now Mannarino holds for 3-2.

5:40 PM EST: Soon to head back out, and we think we’re going to head to the Grandstand, where American Frances Tiafoe is getting ready to take a two sets to love lead on the No. 29 seed in Mannarino.

5:40 PM EST: Note to self: don’t leave laptop and iPad in media room when heading onto court with co-workers, or risk having a four-hour gap in live blogging. Whoops! Since we last left you, Novak Djokovic struggled with the heat before coming away a winner against Marton Fucsovics in four sets. Julien Benneteau won his match on Court 13 against Cecchinato, so his Grand Slam career will continue for another match. Would have been surprised if Benneteau lost, as Cecchinato is, for all intents and purposes, in a clay-court specialist.

1:32 PM EST: Back to the media room to meet up with our reporters, Tyler and Ashley. Oh, and to get some more air conditioning in me before heading back out again.

1:30 PM EST: Game, set, match: Ostapenko!! Petkovic hits a forehand into the net and Ostapenko, after two hours and 18 minutes, holds on for the win! 7-5 in the third!

1:29 PM EST: Ostapenko with another forehand winner and it’s match point No. 4!

1:28 PM EST: Match point No. 3 saved by Petkovic!!! It’s deuce once again!

1:27 PM EST: Challenge by Petkovic on a backhand by Ostapenko on the baseline…and it clipped the line!!
Match point No. 3 for Jelena!

1:27 PM EST: Now back at deuce for a second time. On last point, Ostapenko had Petko on the run before hitting a forehand winner.

1:28 PM EST: Double fault!! It’s now deuce.

1:26 PM EST: Petko serving, and she goes down 15-30. Andrea smacks a forehand winner right on baseline, then Ostapenko sprays a forehand wide after a long rally. Game point for Petkovic.

1:22 PM EST: Ostapenko holds! It’s now 6-5. Petko to serve to force a third-set tiebreak.

1:18 PM EST: Second break point chance for Petkovic…holy smokes!

1:16 PM EST: SOn Ostapenko service game now, and Petkovic has a look at a second serve on a break point but can’t convert. Back to deuce.

1:12 PM EST: After Petkovic drops first point of game, wins four consecutive points and we’re at 5-5!

1:10 PM EST: PETKO BREAKS!! Three consecutive unforced errors from Ostapenko and it’s now back on serve! Those unforced errors by Jelena were errors Nos. 51, 52 and 53. Yikes!!

1:09 PM EST: Finally at Armstrong, and Petkovic, at 3-5, just saved two match points! Now has a chance to break Ostapenko here!

12:42 PM EST: Watching Ostapenko once again swinging for the fences with every shot, and I’m thinking she’s a better home run hitter than almost every New York Mets player across the boardwalk at Citi Field. OK, now I’m heading out!

12:37 PM EST: I’m hearing my German friends/reporters who are around me in the media creating a stir, so that must mean another German must be playing and doing well. And that’s indeed the case on Louis Armstrong, as Andrea Petkovic just won the second set against the No. 10 seed, Jelena Ostapenko, to force a final set. Both players are wearing black outfits on this hot day, which I could not imagine doing at all.

12:32 PM EST: Well, so much for that competitive match on Grandstand. Osaka takes apart Siegemund 6-3, 6-2. Currently watching Osaka being interviewed on court after the match by a wonderful tennis reporter (and our friend), Blair Henley!

12:23 PM EST: For the second consecutive day, a women’s first-round match features major champions. Caroline Wozniacki, who won her maiden Grand Slam in Melbourne earlier this year, is taking on 2011 US Open winner Sam Stosur. Wozniacki just broke and is serving at 2-1 in the first set.

12:21 PM EST: Or maybe we’ll head to Court 10, as 2018 Australian Open semifinalist Hyeon Chung is in trouble against Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis, with the latter up 6-4, 4-2.

12:18 PM EST: Close to heading outside. We were not able to hang out on the three outer courts adjacent to each other just outside the media room, Courts 4-6, and we might start there. Those courts are so much fun since you’re able to stand (or sit) close to the action, as the stands are located behind the baselines and fans are able to sit/stand in between two of the courts (4 & 5, or 5 & 6).

11:30 PM EST: Settled in our seat in the air-conditioned media room. Umm, why am I about to go out into this weather?? Feels like 102 degrees?? GTFO!

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