Thursday, August 29, 2013

US Open Day Four in a Nutshell

It is late at night on what has been a relatively mundane Thursday at the Open, so just a couple of notes from the proceedings:

---  The story of the day for me was the second round win by Daniel Evans over Bernard Tomic. Drew wrote about this earlier in the week, but it bears repeating. Just a few weeks ago, Evans was in the draw at the Challenger event in our native Lexington, Kentucky. I noticed his name as I had a recollection of Evans from watching a late night Davis Cup match from days gone by. I assumed Evans (who was seeded in the draw) would do well, but instead he lost in straight sets 6-2, 6-1. Evans immediately exited my mind. Now just six weeks later, he is in the Round of 32 at the US Open. It is without question the biggest surprise of the event, as showcased by Roger Federer's comments when he was asked about Evans today. He said he was "honestly surprised" that Evans beat Tomic, a honest comment in a world where that is rare. Evans, tatted up like the good rebel he has been, says the reason he has improved is that for the first time in his life, he is finally working and practicing like a real professional. Whatever he has done, it has clearly worked, and one more win could see him playing Federer and trying to create another surprise, in the round of 16.

---  Speaking of Federer, I listened to his press conference today and heard him answer questions from the media in three languages. Federer gave comments about his easy win over Bautista Agut in English, French and German and while I didn't understand the last two, it sounded exquisite throughout. Listen, I have been in a lot of sports locker rooms in a number of different sports and I have never seen anything more impressive. In most sports I cover, athletes are lucky to be able to speak one language even moderately well. And here is the graceful superstar sounding eloquent (or at least eloquent to this blogger, whose major exposure to the two languages comes from "Saturday Night Live" skits) to reporters in three native tongues. It is unlikely I will see anything this week more impressive.

---  I take that back. Today I ran into Maria Kirilenko outside of the Media Center. She is my tennis crush. They scheduled one on one interviews for her and I lined up to do one. And then I realized I would have nothing to say and would instead just look at her and likely pull a Chris Farley ("Do you remember when you hit that backhand for that point....that was awesome"). All I got was this blurry picture below. It was possibly my worst run-in with a female celebrity crush since I met Ashley Judd and offended her by saying, "You are great. My mom is a big fan of yours as well and has loved you since she was a little kid."  That didn't go over well.

--- The matches today were generally boring due to the ease of the wins by the top players. No five set matches all day, and the top players (Nadal, Federer, Serena, Azarenka) barely even broke a sweat. In fact, the first four days of the tournament have been distinguished by their lack of thrilling matches. This likely changes on the weekend with some compelling third round draws, but for now the best stories have been the unknowns as the stars hold their domination.

---  Finally, a shot out to "The Outer Courts"s nemesis Jack Sock, who had a tremendous win over our favorite underdog Maximo Gonzalez. I went and watched a good deal of the match on Court 11 and while I still got frustrated with the smirks, the play was quite impressive. Sock has the talent and the draw to make some more noise. He has Tipsarevic next and then possibly a career making battle with David Ferrer. As I documented yesterday, I want to cheer for Sock. This week could make it happen.

It was a long day today as we dealt with a host of technical issues, but tomorrow looks brilliant, capped off by Del Potro/Hewitt. Hang tight and get ready...the fun is about to begin.