At the end of a great two weeks of tennis at the 2015 US Open here are some closing thoughts.
The Roof Over Arthur Ashe Stadium
A tournament of this magnitude definitely needs a roof and engineers knew this one was a major undertaking. There are two problems so far with the roof: the shadows and the noise. On centre court at Ashe stadium from 11am (when matches start) there was shadow over one end of the court and the shadow gradually moved away as the afternoon progressed. Shadows are difficult for tennis players as it is difficult to track the ball as it moves from the shade into the sun, and watching matches on television it was also difficult to track the ball and difficult to track the players as the view moved from sun to shade. The roof was also credited with making the huge stadium a more intimate venue and John McEnroe said the sound of the ball coming off the strings was louder as were all the sounds in the stadium and he said it made the atmosphere even better. However, watching on television that amplified background noise was distracting and at times annoying with it’s endless presence.
There were a number of matches that were noticeable for their intensity and drama, but many of those were overshadowed by the focus on the Serena Williams Grand Slam quest. The match between Barbora Strycova and Sabine Lisicki was a three set drama filled encounter with Lisicki coming back from 1-5 in the final set. The quarterfinal match between Victoria Azarenka and Simona Halep was also a hard fought match that stretched out over three sets with Halep taking the victory.
On the men’s side the early encounter between retiring former US Open Champion, Lleyton Hewitt, and the younger Australian Bernard Tomic was a five set thriller. Hewitt reminded everyone how hard he can battle on the tennis court while Tomic gained a few fans with his crafty play. On top of that was the match between Rafa Nadal and the Italian Fabio Fognini. With Nadal leading two sets to love and having never lost when in that position the unthinkable happened, all of the sudden Fognini came to life and began to hit winners from everywhere. Nadal gave the match his best effort, but a peak Fognini was simply too strong.
Best Tournament Session
Clearly the best session of the 2015 US Open was the Friday night of week 1 (round 3). The first match was a great entertaining match between two Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Serena Williams. This match went three sets and was then followed by the five set Nadal versus Fognini match.
This tournament featured a record number of mid-match player retirements mainly the result of the high heat and humidity levels, with more retirements occurring on the men’s side of the draw. The women are allowed a ten minute break between the second and third sets certain temperature conditions are met, there is not a similar allowance for the men even though they play best of five set matches. A “heat” break between the third and fourth sets may have prevented situations like the one that resulted in American Jack Sock basically going into heat shock and other players like David Goffin having to retire while leading in match.
The group of commentators used by ESPN this year were the familiar faces of John McEnroe, Patrick McEnroe, Darren Cahill, Brad Gilbert, Chris Evert, Pam Shriver and Mary Joe Fernandez. With John McEnroe by far the best in the business perhaps it is time to introduce some new blood into the broadcast booth, especially since the game has evolved since these announcers were all active tour players. Andy Roddick has made guest commentator appearances and has also hosted a radio show on ESPN and is very entertaining and insightful, maybe he could be added to the booth. He was an announcer at Wimbledon earlier in the season and got positive reviews for his players take on the game.
There seems to be an increase in the number of players taking their mid-match frustrations out on their racquets. Coco Vandeweghe’s epic destroyal of her racquet during her loss to Bethanie Mattek-Sands is a good example as was Serena smashing her stick during her loss to Roberta Vinci. The racquets most club players use retail for around $200 U.S. and most players look after their racquets carefully since it is expensive to replace them. The destruction of racquets by the professional players is disrespectful to the fans and to the equipment suppliers. It is very rare that a golfer smashes a club in anger or a hockey player trashes a stick in order to vent their frustration. Yes the players get a racquet abuse warning but that does not seem to be enough of a deterrent to prevent this unsportsmanlike behavior.
The Bouchard Story
Just when it seemed Eugenie Bouchard was starting to find her form and her confidence the locker room incident occurred. After defeating Dominika Cibulkova in singles play and playing what appeared to be a “first date” mixed doubles match with Australian Nick Kyrgios, a slip on a wet floor in a dark locker room ended Bouchard’s tournament. Suffering from the effects of a concussion the Canadian was forced to withdraw from the tournament leaving many to wonder if a lawsuit will follow.
Is it the Pasta?
Whatever the Italian players were eating this fortnight, it worked. Fabio Fognini pulled off the upset over Nadal and Roberta Vinci pulled off the upset of the year over Serena Williams setting up the all Italian final against Flavia Penetta. Pennetta of course winning her first Grand Slam at 33, and nearing retirement in the tournament of her life.
Worst dressed male player: Tomas Berdych in H&M
Best dressed male player: Roger Federer in the Nike Teal version of his kit
Most boring male player: Andy Murray
Not sure why Under Armour paid such a huge amount to dress Murray in all white or all black outfits with no detail. The only thing that differentiates his kit is the World Wildlife Fund Logo on the sleeve.
Worst dressed female player: Serena Williams
Why can’t Nike design an outfit that flatters the world #1 player?
Best dressed female player: The Adidas kits worn by a variety of ladies including champion Flavia Pennetta were flattering but red must have been a hot colour to wear in the sweltering temperatures.
Most boring female player: all the players wearing Asics kits, nothing interesting about these outfits.