US Open: Day 1 Highlights

Melanie Oudin
Melanie wins in straight sets over Olga Savchuk, 6-3, 6-0. Melanie played a tight first set, but was able to come up with the break in the 8th game when Savchuk was serving at 3-4. Up 5-3, Melanie served out the set. The 2nd set was just lights out tennis from Oudin who visibly relaxed, found her groove, and never looked back.

The pivotal game in this set & match was the 7th game of the first set, when Melanie dug out of a 15-40 hole to hold serve. She showed a lot of guts and determination and… courage (last year’s shoe-motto was “Believe“, this year it’s courage). Color me smitten; I’m a fan!

Michael “The Muscle” Russel
I like Mike. At 5’8″, he’s one of the shortest players in the top 100*, and I watched him break Davydenko in the first set. I looked away for a few minutes and when I looked back, they were tied at 4-4. Great. I looked back again a few minutes later, and he’s lost the match: 6-4, 6-1, 6-3. Just like that, and it was over. Remember when Russell took a set off Del Potro at the Aussie Open last Jan? This was after Del Potro had just won the US Open, so his (Del Potro’s) confidence would have been very high at the time. Point: Russell can play and hold his own against the very best in the game…but it’s just not enough to beat them. Tough draw Mike, better luck in Australia.

* Only Olivier Rochus (5’6″) & Brian Dabul (5’7″) are shorter.

Kim Clijsters
Won a match in straight sets that should have gone to three sets. She dominated the first set 6-0, and then took a little on-court-nap in the 2nd set, getting down 0-4. But great champions seem to find a way to win, and Kim found her rhythm, coming back to win the 2nd set 7-5.

Andy Roddick
“Hey, Hey, Andy Roddick” ~ Binge

Happy 28th birthday Andy; glad to see you’re back in the top-10 again and playing awesome! Andy put the smackdown on Stephane Robert (phonetically: “Roe-Bear” ~ French), despite some inspired play (at times) from Robert.   Meanwhile, Darren Cahill & McEnroe were discussing the fact that Andy’s using the new RPM strings from Babolat.  McEnroe’s take: with the RPM strings, you lose a little bit on the serve, but pick up more control on groundstrokes.  Think I’ll buy me some.  I wanna play like Andy Roddick; it must be the strings.  Roddick wins: 6-3, 6-2, 6-2

Gael Monfils vs Robert Kendrick

News Flash: Gael Monfils falls down while playing tennis. In related news, dog bites man.

Sorry, but Monfils just irritates me. Everybody’s always going on about what a great athlete he is, and while he undoubtedly is a great athlete, name me a top-100 player (in the world mind you) that isn’t? Doesn’t being ranked in the top-100 in the world pretty much mean that you are, objectively, a great athlete? And yet, Monfils always seems to manage to fall down. Spectacularly, repeatedly. So why is it that this incredible athlete can’t stay on his feet? How many times have you seen Federer or Nadal unable to stay on their feet? In fact, I submit that no player in the top 100 falls down during match play more than Monfils.

Anyway, Kendrick played an awesome tiebreaker in the 4th set, winning it (the tiebreak) 7-5. Sent it to a decisive 5th set. Got up an early break in the 5th set, but at 2-1 gave it right back. Definitely seemed to be a case of nerves to me. Ended up losing 6-4 in the 5th and I guarantee you Kendrick is kicking himself right now; he had his chances. Tough loss for Kendrick.

Fernando Gonzalez
Lost to Ivan Dodig 7-6, 1-6, 0-1, retired in the 3rd set due to injury. Probably to his pride.

Elena Vesnina
Gave Sam Stosur a shot across the bow, but Stosur held strong and was able to win the 2nd set tiebreaker, and then go on to dominate the 3rd set 6-1. Stousur wins: 3-6, 7-6, 6-1

Dinara Safina
Is this former world #1 still relevant? She lost today to Daniela Hantuchova, 3 & 4

Roger Federer
Straight sets beatdown of Brian Dabul, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2, including another “tweener” for a winner shot that, tweeters agree, was actually better than the one he hit against Djokovic last year. Roger is 16-0 now in night matches at the open. Pretty solid record. It seemed to me that he was hitting the fearhand hard and often. Running around the backhand when it made tactical sense, coming to the net a lot (24 for 36 attempts), and generally playing very aggressively. It seemed to me he was warming up the new & improved gameplan he’s about to unleash on his opponents, and taking quite a few chances. Definitely like what he’s doing (and has been doing, recently) by going after 2nd serves with much malice. Very impressive performance.

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