Thursday, August 30, 2018

Tennis Week 2018 - surviving the drought (part two)

And now for the best part of Tennis Week - the tennis!!  Tuesday, Mom and I headed out to Flushing to check out the US Open qualifying tournament.  Due to the stupid water turn-off, we decided to leave early and go sit in Flushing Meadows park before going into the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.  We stopped at my favorite bagel place on the way to the subway, picked up breakfast to go with all our Trader Joe's snacks, and off we went.

When I looked at the US Open app before leaving, two names just jumped off the page for me and I told Mom we HAD to watch them play: Tommy Robredo (Spain) and Ernests Gulbis (Latvia).  They're both coming back from injury so their rankings are really low at the moment.  They had to go through qualifying to try to get back into the main draw.  I've just been a big fan of both of theirs over the years, even though they've both beaten my Roger at Grand Slams before.  My grudge-holding is very random.  

The lines were pretty long to get in, which surprised me for the first day of qualifying.  They moved the metal detectors pretty far up, which was interesting.  I guess they were trying to make more room between the searches and the actual gates.  Getting in went relatively smoothly for us all week, which was a relief.  I had a moment of terror when I realized I forgot to remove a glass perfume rollerball in my bag - I thought for sure they'd find it and take it away from me, but somehow the gal missed it and I got that contraband onto the grounds.  I made sure to remove it the instant we got home that night.  

On our way to watch matches, we stopped in the new Louis Armstrong stadium to see what it looked like.  We watched Grigor Dimitrov practice for a few minutes before heading out to see Tommy Robredo.  His was the first match we went to, on our old reliable standby Court 11.  He was playing Henri Laaksonen from Switzerland.  I've always liked Tommy and his game - they are both quite handsome.  He struggled a little bit in the first set, but did pull it out with a late break at the end of the set, then he won the second set comfortably.  Mom and I then wandered over to watch Andy Murray practice with Richard Gasquet in the new Grandstand - Murray has been injured for about a year, so it was nice to see him back on the court.  He wasn't too crankypants, which was nice, though he wasn't exactly playing all full out, either.  And Gasquet's hair was shockingly bleached blonde, with tickled my mom and me.

After watching the practice for a bit, we went over to the food court for a little lunch.  Fries were needed.  I was unhappy to again be iced tea-less at the Open.  I think I need to send a strongly worded letter.  I ran over to see Sabine Lisicki play for a few minutes - she was a Wimbledon finalist just a few years ago and is now in qualifying.  There wasn't a place to sit, though, so I only watched for a few.  I went back to get Mom because I wanted to get back over to Court 11 to see Ernests Gulbis play.  I don't know why I like him so much, he's a complete and utter wackadoodle and hasn't lived up to expectations.  But when his game is on, it's quite exciting.  Unfortunately, it's not on very often.  And I think the qualifying match he played against Christian Harrison of the US sort of sums up his career.  He was up, he was down, he was wackadoodle.  He kept getting frustrated by people talking in the crowd (he would turn to people and yell at them to shut up), he was confused about the shot clock and being able to talk to his coach during the match.  He called for an injury timeout and he, at times, played brilliantly.  He's just really a ton of fun to watch.  And, of course, he lost.  In the first round of qualifying.  Sigh.  Harrison really just needed to be steady and withstand the flashes of brilliance and just let Gulbis wackadoodle himself right out of the Open, which he did.  Again, sigh.  I hope he can get his head screwed back on and start over with a clean slate next year.  I do so enjoy watching him play.  The antics...not so much.

After Gulbis lost, and sitting for three sets, we needed some shade.  On our way over to the Grandstand to watch the new Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber practice, we wandered through the practice courts and I got a funny shot of Canadian Denis Shapovalov.  They really need to do something about the chain link fence.  How can I get good photos?!  I got this shot by putting my phone through a rip in the fence and tarp.  But I like it!  We didn't watch Kerber practice for long, though, because we wanted to get over to see Aussies Bernard Tomic and Thanassi Kokkinakis play.  Speaking of wackadoodles.  Just Google their names and enjoy the weirdness.  Mom and I only stayed for the first set because we were approaching end-of-all-day-sun tiredness.  Tomic easily won the first set and it struck me how easy he can make playing tennis look.  It's free and loose and natural, plus he can hit any shot in the book.  He easily won the first set but ended up losing the match.  It's sad that his brain gets in his own way.  After a happy look at Serena Williams' handsome coach (see photo below), Mom and I decided we needed to get back to my apartment and put our feet up, though we did stop into the new Louis Armstrong stadium on our way out to watch Alexander Zverev practice for a few minutes before leaving for ice cream.  It was a good first day - I'll try to cram the other days into the next post.  But thanks for reading!

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