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Around the Grounds: Day 2 at the 2019 US Open

Robert Cole/ALOST

 

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

 

NEW YORK – More spectators poured through the gates yesterday than any other opening day ever at the 2019 US Open. Let’s have more of that today, shall we? Oh, and may we accompany you to some of the courts that you will be galavanting towards throughout the day?

We are back for more less than 24 hours later as A Lot of Sports Talk continues to roam the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for our Around the Grounds live blog in covering the 2019 United States Open Tennis Championships. Despite the obvious fatigue that can set it, it is encouraging to know that a record 68,059 fans attended the day and night sessions combined yesterday. Not only do we want to continue to be a part of that experience in walking around the tennis center, it fills our heart with joy — as well as gives our heart a good cardio workout — to meet and have conversations with so many of the tennis fans who make their way to New York City this time of year.

At this time last year, defending women’s singles champion Naomi Osaka began her dominating run to her first Grand Slam title, losing just one set in her seven matches in 2019. She opens up her title defense against Anna Blinkova of Russia on Ashe Stadium and, unless there’s major hiccups coming from Osaka, we will start our live blogging coverage elsewhere.

It is nothing but singles matches once again today, and there are a number of intriguing matchups on offer, including the all-Canadian first round clash between Denis Shapovalov against No. 18 seed Feliz Auger-Aliassime in the last match on the Grandstand. Speaking of young Canadian stars, the No. 15 seed on the women’s side, Bianca Andreescu, is a couple of weeks removed from her second WTA Premier title won this season at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, and she will be featured in the second match on Court 10. Oh, and then there’s Nick Kyrgios in the last match at Louis Armstrong. Enough said.

Actually, one more thing must be said, and it’s about 15-year-old American Coco Gauff, who captured the hearts of tennis fans around the world with her surprise run to the Round of 16 at Wimbledon earlier in the summer! She will be the third match of five on Armstrong, against Anastasia Potapova of Russia. Will the home crowd being behind her be a positive for Coco or will it bring undue pressure? Who knows with 15-year-olds, right? (However, Coco has an on-court demeanor well beyond her years, proven on the lawns of Wimbledon!)

Once again, stay tuned to all of our commentary and coverage of Day 2 of the US Open 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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7:39 PM EDT:  Gauff wins!!! “Honestly, it’s because of the crowd. You guys are amazing!” – Gauff tells Pam Shriver as to how she came back after a disappointing first set!

7:37 PM EDT:  Gauff is now points away after winning the first two points on Popapova’s serve…NOW THE FIRST THREE!!  TRIPLE MATCH POINT!!

7:35 PM EDT:  As an aside, it’s just so wonderful and fills my heart with pride to hear a lot of black people talk about the game of tennis, especially from my media colleagues here on Armstrong.

7:34 PM EDT:  Nip-and-tuck service game here, with a wonderful out wide serve giving Gauff a game point at 40-30. Now a backhand into the net from Popapova and Gauff is one game away! Popapova to serve to stay int the match. Not bad for a first-round match in terms of drama, tension, atmosphere and general awesomeness!

7:29 PM EDT:  Have to hand it to Popapova now, fighting through a possible arm injury and the partisan crowd to hold for 4-4! She (Potapova) lets out a scream after winning the game! This. Is. Fun. 

7:29 PM EDT:  Gauff goes long with a shot for deuce, now Popapova goes long and it’s break point once for Gauff…which is snuffed out with a forehand winner at net from Potapova.

7:27 PM EDT:  Break point for Gauff now after another backhand winner!!

7:27 PM EDT:  Looking at the photographers’ well and ALL of the cameras are pointed at Coco. A long rally at 15-15 ends with a Gauff backhand winner and it’s 15-30.  Now a backhand into the net from Gauff and it’s 30-30.

7:24 PM EDT:  A third double fault gives the game to Potapova!! Ouch!! We’re back on serve, with Gauff up 3-6, 6-2, 4-3.

7:22 PM EDT:  Gauff with an unreturnable serve to make it 15-30, but then hits a forehand into the net to set up double break point for the Russian.

7:21 PM EDT:  Maybe not! Two consecutive double faults and it’s 0-30!

7:20 PM EDT:  Medical timeout over. Potapova holds at 15 and it’s now 4-2 Gauff. Can Coco keep her poise like she did so well at SW 19?

7:14 PM EDT:  Potapova now taking a medical timeout, looks like for her right shoulder/arm. Meanwhile, was just told by my neighbor in the press room (and now neighbor here on Armstrong) that Frances Tiafoe just won his match against Ivo Karlovic on Court 17, with Karlovic having to retire. Wakanda Forever, people!

7:11 PM EDT:  Gauff holds for 4-1, and about a third of the fans give Gauff a standing ovation!

7:09 PM EDT:  This is clearly a preview of the tope of atmospheres Coco will receive if and when she reaches her potential. She’s gravitating. She’s easy to root for. It’s black girl magic for sure!

7:08 PM EDT:  It is electric here on Armstrong, and even more so since Gauff just broke!!  It’s now 3-1 to the 15-year-old in the final set! 

6:56 PM EDT:  And the sponsorless Sandgren has done it! A two-sets-to-love-down comeback from the American! Now off to see another American, Coco Gauff, who lost the first set on Armstrong before storming back to win the second. Her opponent, Potopova, took a bathroom break after the second set so we should get there in plenty of time for the match’s conclusion.

6:53 PM EDT:  So we’re now on Court 4 to watch the action on…Court 6! It looks as if the peroxide from the dye job on Jo-Willie Tsonga might have seeped into his head, as he’s blown a two-sets-to-love lead to Tennys Sandgren! We got here at 5-5, ad Tsonga just got broken! Sandgren trying to serve out the match now!

5:16 PM EDT:  Have my wristband to go to the Gauff match now.

5:13 PM EDT:  Here’s yours truly, going Dutch with Kiki Bertens and crew!

5:08 PM EDT:  Fabbiano just won the third set against Thiem. In the immortal words of the great Charlie Brown: Good grief!

4:46 PM EDT:  Just put my name on the sign-up sheet for Gauff’s match on Armstrong, which will be a little later than expected given that Nicole Gibbs just forced a third set against Simona Halep.

4:15 PM EDT:  Just had a powwow with photographer extraordinaire and  Margot Jordan, who will help us out in providing some day-of photos from the tournament. Also, Dominic Thiem remains in trouble on Ashe. Why am I so concerned about that? He’s (Thiem) my pick to win the men’s tournament. Goodness, I know how to pick the winners, huh?!

3:55 PM EDT:  As I’m watching the match now, I just noticed that Sandgren’s outfit is mismatched in terms of sponsors. He has an plain white Adidas hat (only know it’s an Adidas by the small tag on the back of the hat that he’s wearing backwards), a plain white shirt with no sponsor visible, blue pants with no sponsor visible, a red Nike wristband on his right arm, white Nike socks and Asics shoes. Don’t want to speculate why he’s sponsorless, though I don’t think it takes too much of genius to figure that out.

3:50 PM EDT:  Ashe Stadium hosted a near upset as Osaka pulled out a tight three-setter against Blinkova. Now, Dominic Thiem has just dropped the first set on Ashe against Italian Thomas Fabbiano.

3:49 PM EDT:  So we just got word that media members who wish to attend the Coco Gauff match, which is next on Armstrong after Halep/Gibbs, will need to sign up on a sheet and get a wristband before being allowed entry into the stadium. That’s how bright Gauff’s star is shining right now!

3:43 PM EDT:  Back in the media room and we noticed that, ob Court 5, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has gone with the dyed blonde look, a la Sisqo/Dru Hill! At least the work is looking at the moment, as he’s up 6-1, 3-2 against American Tennys Sandgren.

3:29 PM EDT:  Out of Armstrong now. Where we go from here? Hmm, you tell us! But first, a laptop recharge!

3:23 PM EDT:  At the moment, still on Armstrong as Simona Halep and Nicole Gibbs warm up. Just agreed to watch the bag of a tennis reporter/podcaster, Craig Shapiro, who has a tennis podcast that he told me is the top-rated tennis podcast. It’s called Under Review. I’ll check it out. Hopefully, he’ll check out the world renown The A Lot of Sports Talk Ppdcast as well, hosted by a strapping, handsome young lad whom I have the honor to know very well!

3:05 PM EDT:  NOW RUBLEV BREAKS BACK!…and Rublev holds at 15 to serve out the match at the second time of asking! The world No. 43, who was going to be a tricky first-round match for any player (especially if the opponent was a seed), pulls through! Most of the fans at Armstrong clearly were pulling for the charismatic Tsitsipas! But full praise to Rublev for pulling through in a match that lasted three hours and 55 minutes! 

2:58 PM EDT:  TSITSIPAS BREAKS AT LOVE! 5-5 in the fourth set!!

2:57 PM EDT:  Rublev starts his service game with not one, but TWO double faults! Now a forehand crosscourt winner from Tsitsipas brings up triple break point!

2:53 PM EDT:  Time violation for Tsitsipas for taking too long during changeover!! 15-0 to Rublev before he starts his serve. Looks like Tsitsipas is melting down as we speak, spraying shots wide in this game. Another unforced error gives Rublev the game. The Russian is one game away from the match now!

2:51 PM EDT: We finally make it over to Armstrong for the first time, and Tsitsipas is in real big trouble! Just was broken at 3-3 and Roblev now serving at 6-4, 6-7, 7-6, 4-3. Tsitsipas clearly not happy with the chair umpire during the changeover, talking at length with him now!

2:33 PM EDT: Before making it to Louis Armstrong, we caught up with the family of the young lady who caught the ball from Bertens…and the whole family got to meet her outside the court!!!  Then we interviewed the family! Pictures and video coming up!

2:07 PM EDT: Bertens serves it out! And, as custom now in Grand Slams (and especially at the US Open), the players send autographed tennis balls into the stands. Bertens, however, is showing her quarterback/pitching skills and is throwing the balls into the stands instead of hitting them with her racquet! The last ball actuall was caught by an orange-clad young lady who, assuredly, is dressed in that manner to support the Dutch athlete! Hup Holland Hup!!

2:03 PM EDT: Being at the Tsitsipas-Rublev match is much more pressing, but we had to show some love to the woman whom we pegged to win the tournament! Bertens, who has won in Madrid and St. Petersburg this year, has every shot in the book, plus a very dominating serve. The win today was win No. 42 on the season for her. Trying my best to be neutral, but let’s just say that we are hoping for a good, long run from the Dutchwoman!

2:00 PM EDT: As we walk in to 17, Bertens impresses with a couple of forehand passing shots! She holds for 5-1. Then Badosa holds for 2-5. Bertens to serve for the match after the changeover!

1:32 PM EDT: OK, had to take a food break and make a few work-related calls! Osaka recovered to win the first set 6-4. It’s on serve in the second with Blinkova leading 4-3. So we are about to head out now. Two places we have in mind right now: Armstrong, where No. 8 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas is locked in a battle with Andrey Rublev; and Court 17, where my pick to win the women’s singles title, Kiki Bertens of Holland, is playing in the first set against a lucky loser, Paula Badosa of Spain. Bertens has just clinched the first set, 6-4. Looks like we’ll go there first for a few games, then to Armstrong, where it looks like Tsitsipas-Rublev will go on for a while!

12:25 PM EDT: What did we say about not going to Ashe unless there is a hiccup from Osaka? Welp…Osaka has just lost the first three games of her match against Blinkova. Of course.

12:00 PM EDT:  Tying up some loose ends from last night, we did have the chance to talk with one player one-on-one last night, Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak of Poland. We are working on a story about lucky losers who, after gaining entry into a Grand Slam, end up winning in the main draw, and Majchrzak now falls into that category after his five-set win over Nicolas Jarry on the final match on Court 4. Enjoy our “lucky” interview!

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