Tuesday, 20 September 2011

US Open, Extra Day

Here I was in New York, thinking that my US Open experience was all over, almost ready to return home. Monday was supposed to be my last day in the city, and I already had some plans (which were already cut back somewhat due to the "lovely" Irene).

Then, on Sunday evening, I saw this...

... and my eyes lit up. Novak on Armstrong? I couldn't miss it. Changing my plans completely (tons of *thanks* to my friend, who was great and didn't kill me for leaving her), I quickly bought a grounds pass for the following day.

As it was Labor Day, I knew the place would be filled with people - so my plan was to catch a good seat as soon as possible, and to stay there for as long as it takes. Turns out I had the right idea - at 10:30 (half an hour before the first match), Armstrong was already full, and I later read that the queue to get into the stadium, which was locked down, was unbelievably long.


The first match, between Janko Tipsarevic and Juan Carlos Ferrero, was a good match. Its only problem was that it was long, and it was clear that large parts of the audience were there to see Novak up close. You could almost hear the collective sigh as the players split the first two sets (but maybe I just heard myself sighing).


In any case, I very much liked seeing Janko win (in four sets) and go through to his first ever Slam quarterfinal. It was clear how happy he was about it, and it also took him to a career-high ranking of #13.

Finally, it was what we've I've been waiting for.


The first set was nerve-wracking for me. Dolgopolov was the first to go up a break, but Nole immediately broke back, as I had no doubt he'd do. But then it came to a tiebreak. I never liked tiebreaks before, but this one... Well, with a final result of 16-14 (to Nole, thankfully), you can imagine how many set points there were, for both sides.

Yeah, that's how I felt too, Nole...


Dolgopolov, by the way, has the weirdest serve I've ever seen from a player. It's one thing to see it on TV, but up close it's even stranger.


I had a great time, finally being able to cheer on Nole from a proper distance :) I even sneaked in my "Even Irene Can't Stop Nole" sign (generally, banners aren't allowed on the grounds), and made sure to lift it up on every changeover. I sat across from the players' chairs, so there is a tiny chance that he saw it... Though I have no idea if it was readable. Since the first match was really long, and I had to get back to Manhattan by a certain time, I had to leave Nole's match when he was leading two sets to love. On the last changeover before that, a scary-looking security guard came to me and told me that if he saw that sign of mine again, he'd "kick me off the grounds". I have to say, he had perfect timing, as I was about to get out after the following game anyway ;)


No doubt, it was the best way to end my US Open visit, and my whole trip to NYC. I hope to go back next year!

(For more photos of that day, check the facebook album)

Monday, 19 September 2011

Davis Cup: Israel-Canada - Days 2,3

After a promising start to the Israel-Canada tie, with Amir Weintraub's win over Milos Raonic, the meeting ended up on a disappointing note for Israel.


The point we've been counting on - the doubles match - ended with a defeat, as Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich lost 6-4 3-6 4-6 4-6 to Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil.
I've arrived a bit late to this match, and managed to get into the stadium when AndYoni were leading 4-3 (on serve) in the first set. After breaking and taking this set, the crowd (which filled almost the whole stadium) was very optimistic about the match, but things went downhill from there. Still, even as they lost the second set, I felt that the crowd didn't do enough to energize the pair - as if everyone was confident that they'll pull out the win.



Unfortunately, Erlich & Ram couldn't capitalize on any of the 4 break points they had in one of the games of the third set, and eventually lost it too. The Canadians broke again in the fourth set, and at 5-4, Pospisil served for the match.


At this point, the crowd finally woke up. The cheering was ear-splitting, and the Israelis saved 4 match points, and had 3 break-back points in a very long final game. That didn't stop the guests, who eventually finished the match on the 5th match point.


The third day started with a match between the confidence-lacking Dudi Sela and Canada's replacement player, Peter Polansky, who came in instead of Milos Raonic. The match wasn't too pretty to watch, but Dudi showed occasional flashes of his talent amid all the baseline-slugging points. He ended up winning it with the nice score of 6-3 6-3 6-3, sending the tie to a deciding fifth match.

As expected, the last match was tight and much more enjoyable to watch. However, this too resulted in a Canadian win, as Pospisil beat Weintraub 6-2 7-6(3) 6-4, to promote Canada into the World Group. Amir was close to taking the second set - he was serving for it, had a set point, but a questionable call robbed him of it (according to those who were watching on TV, the call was wrong, but I didn't see it myself), and he eventually lost that game. Generally, the line calls often seemed wrong during the whole day, and I do wish we could afford to bring in Hawk Eye for those matches.


To sum up the tie, I think that Israel can be very proud of Amir, who had the best win of his career on Friday (even if Raonic wasn't in form). The crowd obviously loved him, and cheered for him a lot even after his loss in the last rubber.


Even more so, Canada should be extremely proud of Pospisil. I've watched him before - first against Federer in Montreal, then live at the US Open against F. Lopez - and I've been impressed then, already. But this performance was something else entirely. He spent a huge amount of hours on court, and still played his best game - wonderful serve, great forehand, and a clear mind. You really need nerves of steel to be able to serve as he did, against a very hostile crowd, for three days in a row, and I was especially impressed with his play during that last game of the doubles match. Many better players could have crumbled under the pressure of missing so many match points, but he stood up admirably, and pulled Canada through almost single-handed. Watch out, top 100, he's coming for you fast.

More pictures from those two days are on the blog's facebook page

US Open, Day 5

Originally, day 5 was supposed to be my last day at the tournament. Knowing that, I had exactly one target for the day - keeping my promise and getting Rafael Nadal's autograph for my brother.

With that in mind, I made sure to come into the grounds as early as possible, to try and find out when Rafa would be practicing. He had a match during the day session, so I knew he should be there sometime in the morning. At first, his name wasn't on the list for the near time-slots. Since there wasn't anything interesting on other courts at that point (it was before play started for the day), I came back to the practice courts about ten minutes later, only to see his name at the end of the list. I got into the mosh pit where people were waiting for players, before anyone else even realized when and where Rafa will be. Securing myself one of the best places possible there, it was clear to me that I was going to stay there for a very long time... The practice itself was scheduled in an hour, and I knew he'd only sign on his way out - making it at least two hours of waiting.


Those hours were hardly a waste of time, though. As each player only practiced for 45 minutes or so, players kept coming and going into and out of the courts, giving me plenty of opportunities for photos, autographs, and sometimes both. I saw B. Bryan, Jankovic, Wozniacki, Pospisil, Gimeno-Traver, Vania King, R. Haase, F. Lopez, T. Haas, Ljubicic, Verdasco, Nalbandian, A. Murray, Ferrer, Dulko, Pavlyuchenkova, Ivanovic and Youzhny. I also asked Nigel Sears (Ana Ivanovic's coach) to wish Ana good luck in her next match :)


Oh, and Rafa? Yeah, I saw him. Three times. Once when he came into the grounds, once when he came into practice, and once when he gave me 2 autographs :) I owe my thanks to a very nice guy who stood next to me and kindly gave me a great photo of Rafa for the autograph. And yes, he does sign them right-handed ;)


After that, I accidentally stumbled upon the notice that Juan Carlos Ferrero would be signing autographs in the ATP booth in 15 minutes. I was first in line, because everybody else were queueing for the WTA booth, where Ana Ivanovic was due to arrive.


I already had Ana's autograph, so I stayed where I was. Can't complain, really.


After that, I caught a bit of Jurgen Melzer's match (he eventually lost it in a fifth set tiebreak, which should be banned from the US Open, if you ask me).


Then I saw the first set of Feliciano Lopez vs. Vasek Pospisil. Apart from being a Feli fan, I was interested to see it, as Vasek was going to come to Israel for the Davis Cup (and we all know how that turned out... a post will be coming in the evening). I was definitely impressed - by his serve, in particular, but he has a good all-around game in addition to that.


Unfortunately, I decided to leave this match (I later regretted this), in order to secure myself a spot on Grandstand, for Ferrer-Blake, which was going to be my last match in the tournament (or so I thought). That also meant I caught the end of Lisicki-Falconi, which was nice, and I did sit through the whole Ferrer-Blake match. Of course, it was a good match, and I'm happy I got to see all of it, but I think that next time I'd rather stay with my favourites than go see a match in which I'm less invested (though I love David Ferrer).


That concluded my time at the US Open, and I left completely tennis-saturated... which didn't stop me from following the night matches from my hotel that evening :)

(Lots of pictures of different players are here)

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Davis Cup: Israel-Canada, Day 1

Well, well, well. This was a day of unexpected results in the ISR-CAN Davis Cup tie, as both lower ranked players defeated those in the top 100.


The first match - Dudi Sela vs. Vasek Pospisil - was quite horrible, to be frank. There were lots of errors on both sides (but especially from Sela), too many double faults, many unnecessary breaks of serve. The crowd did all it could to lift Sela up, and for parts of the match it worked. However, he completely disintegrated in the third set, losing it 6-1 (after splitting the first two sets, 6-7 7-6), despite the momentum he should have had after winning the second set. The fourth set was better, as he managed to break back, take the set to another tiebreak, and win it forcefully (7-2). Sela even led by a break in the deciding fifth set, but once again went away, eventually losing it 6-3.


No doubt, it was disappointing. Sitting in the stadium for 5 hours (the match was 4:56 hours long), cheering your heart out for a player whom you witnessed beating Bellucci in five sets just two weeks ago... and then see him lose. At this point, all hope looked lost for Israel, as Milos Raonic was the heavy favourite against Amir Weintraub.


The second match was a different story altogether. This was high quality tennis, with some truly incredible points, and many winners. Of course, Raonic's serve is quite amazing to see in real life. I wish there was a speed camera to see how fast some of those were. However, Amir was serving extremely well himself - he started the match with 2 aces (on of them on second serve, if I'm not mistaken). When it came to rallies, Raonic had the edge at first - it was obvious who's the top-30 player on the court (well, 31, but let's not nitpick). He took the tight first set 7-5, after Weintraub got broken serving at 5-5. But as the match drew longer, the momentum shifted. Raonic, who was playing his first competitive match since Wimbledon (after being sidelined with a hip injury and operation), became more tired and didn't move as well as before. Amir, being cheered on by the small crowd that stayed on the stadium (it was about 9 pm already, when the tie started at 2pm), kept his nerves, went for his shots, drew some mistakes from Raonic and took the second set 7-5.


From that point on, the match continued in a similar way, and Weintraub clinched the rubber, taking the next sets 6-3 6-1, breaking Raonic's serve three times in the fourth set. I started out a "Happy birthday to you" song among the people standing in my section of the stadium, but it didn't catch up too well, until the court announcer invited everyone to wish a very happy birthday to Amir :)

(Photo: Nir Keidar)


I'm leaving for the doubles match soon, hoping for some good results for Israel there, as well. It is unclear which of the Canadian players will pair up with the experienced Daniel Nestor - Pospisil is probably very tired, playing the first full five-setter of his life yesterday, both he and Raonic need their energy for tomorrow's matches, and Peter Polansky is ranked well below any other player on any of the teams. We'll just wait and see!

More pictures here.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

US Open - Day 4

As I came into the grounds, I met the lovely Steph, and we kept meeting up throughout the day, watching some of the matches together. Getting to meet people you know through twitter is really awesome, I have to say :)

After a routine scan of the practice courts (Monfils, Nadal, Melzer), I've had a very tight schedule, where I watched most matches for as long as I could.


The first match on the menu was Tipsarevic-Petzschner. I actually like them both, so it was tough to decide who to cheer for, but my heart was with Janko. I came to the court a little while before he gave Philipp a bagel (those Serbs do like their bagels and breadsticks...). Petz was obviously quite upset, and then cheered in mock celebration as he held his first game. Janko won the second set, and I was really hoping he could win it in three sets before I had to go - but alas, the match ended after four sets, and I left before that.


The reason was the "blockbuster" match between Roger Federer and Dudi Sela. My foolish hopes of an impossible upset were soon crushed by the 6-3 6-2 6-2 beatdown, but Dudi was the only loser on Ashe that day who managed to win more than 2 games in a set. Ashe saw 4 bagels, 3 breadsticks, and 4 sets of 6-2 on that Thursday, as the seeds demolished their lower-ranked opponents.


My next target was what turned out to be an epic 5-setter between Gael Monfils and Juan Carlos Ferrero. Many called it one of the best matches of the tournament, and rightly so - it had a little bit of everything, and a lot of amazing rallies and moments. I'm not sure if I came towards the end of the second set or in the middle of the third, but I sat on Louis Armstrong until the very end of the match, which Ferrero won with inhuman willpower, 7-6(5) 5-7 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4.


As soon as that match ended, I rushed to the adjacent Granstand, to watch Shahar Peer taking on American Sloane Stephens. Or rather, not taking on... Shahar lost the first set badly, then came back in the second, only to lose it in the tiebreak (after failing to serve it out). Thus, all the Israeli singles players were out in a matter of a few hours.


I stayed on Granstand and watched a little bit of Azarenka-Dulko, while waiting for the main dish of the day - my first Nole match of the US Open! I missed his first round, which collided with Shahar's, but here he played the last night match, so of course I stayed until the end.

Novak was playing against Carlos Berlocq. Or rather, he was playing with Berlocq, as if Berlocq was a puppet that Nole sent running all over the court. I was sitting next to a large family, and before the match they were playing the "Let's guess how many games will Berlocq win" game. The most common answer was around 7 - that was my guess, too. One person said 4, another said 3. With a final result of 6-0 6-0 6-2, we were all very far from the truth :D Quickly enough, the whole stadium just wanted Berlocq to have that first game. It took some time (not too much, the whole match was exactly 1h:30), but when he finally did, he got a lot of applause and cheering :) I won't lie, though, I kind of wanted it to be a triple-bagel at some point :P


On one hand, it was a little bit disappointing to see such a one-sided match. On the other hand, this match was somewhat exhibition-like at times, with some great points, and Nole obviously enjoyed himself :) He even hit that dreaded shot of all, the tweener, to bring up match point. Since it didn't stop him from winning the USO, I'll forgive him, but I hope that doesn't become a habit!


More pictures from day 4 are on my facebook page.

US Open - Day 3

Memo to self: if you don't write it right away, you're probably going to forget it.
Since I want to actually finish writing about my time at the US Open, I'm going to take a couple of shortcuts, and post brief summaries of my other days there.

Day 3
I arrived to Flushing Meadows very early, checked out the practice courts, and since there was nothing too interesting there (well, Serena far away), I went to catch me a seat for the first match of my day - Feliciano Lopez vs. Tatsuma Ito. There, I met Rachel from onthegotennis.com - it was my first ever "tweetup", and it was great :)


We watched about a set and a half of the match, and then headed to the doubles match of Erlich/Ram vs. Monaco/Kerr - I was there for the Israelis, and she - for the Argentines ;)


Once again, us Israeli girls were practically the only cheering squad Andy and Yoni had. But it was obviously good enough, as they won and gave us thumbs up after the match. I wanted to get a picture with both at the same time, but it was too complicated :P


That concluded my "Must do" part of the day, so from that point onwards I wandered from one match to another - saw the end of Murray/Devvarman on Ashe, caught the end of Shahar's doubles match (she lost it for the team, I have to say), watched about a half of Isner/Baghdatis, saw the very end of Tusrunov&Dimitrov playing doubles (poor guys were bageled in the last set), where I met Rachel and Jennifer, saw the beginning of the night session on Ashe - Roddick vs. Russell, and finally managed to see a couple of games in the mixed doubles - Ivanovic/Zimonjic. I kept missing Ana's singles matches due to collisions with other matches, so at least I got that. Of course, Ana got broken when she was serving... and they lost their first round of Mixed.


More pics of day 3 are right here.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

What if?

After Novak Djokovic's first loss of the year, in the semifinals of Roland Garros, I had a fleeting thought - "What if he manages to win both Wimbledon and the US Open? This could've been a chance to complete the Grand Slam". The thought evaporated quickly enough, as the prospect of winning both slams still seemed far at the time - more a dream than a possible reality.


The thought made a comeback some time after Wimbledon. "What if he can take the US Open title? How will we look back at the French open then?"


Suddenly, it didn't look so far fetched anymore. Surely it will be hard to find someone who can challenge Novak?

As the North American swing started, it became harder to imagine him grabbing three slams in one year. Djokovic looked shaky in most of his matches in Montreal, even though he won the title. Cincinnati was even worse. With an ailing shoulder, Novak only won the semifinal due to Berdych retiring, bothered by the same injury. In the final he suffered his second loss of the year, retiring against Andy Murray. Could he recover in time for the last Grand Slam of the season?

(Click to enlarge)

Turned out that he could. And now that he has won three out of four Grand Slam tournaments, beating Rafael Nadal for the sixth straight time, I'm sure many are saying - what if?


So, what if Novak could beat Roger Federer in that French Open semifinal? What would've happened then?

Could he have won the Roland Garros? On one hand, nobody beats Rafael Nadal at the French Open (unless your name is Robin Soderling, but 2009 was definitely an exception). On the other hand, Novak had already won against him twice on clay, and as we know now - he can also beat him in best-of-five format, repeatedly. Judging by his form during the tournament, and by his mental state against Djokovic in the next match they played (Wimbledon final), I think Nadal would probably have lost this final, as well. But then... what is the chance that Novak could go on as he did? The streak would've continued, and the pressure of "When will it end?" could reach such levels to make it impossible to deal with. He'd come to Wimbledon less relaxed, and the rest of the summer might look completely different.
(Then again, what would happen to Nadal's confidence if he lost RG? Too many 'if's here.)

At the end of the day, all of it doesn't matter. History knows no 'if's. We fans became gluttons for winning (insert a no-gluten joke here). Three slams? Not enough, we want all four. Two losses? That's 2 too much. But none of us could ever dream that 2011 will look like this. If anyone promised us on January 1st that Novak would have a Slam in his pocket - we'd sign on it in blood. In fact, choose any part of Novak's 2011 season, suggest it to any player on one of the tours - I'm sure they'd take it without hesitation. What else can we say, but "Novak, we're damn lucky to be your fans. Thank you!"?


And yet, as I went to sleep yesterday, thinking about how difficult it's going to be for him to complete a career Grand Slam next year (or ever), that pesky thought crept into my mind... What if?

(Photos: Getty Images)

Monday, 12 September 2011

The Hindrance Rule

During yesterday's US Open Women's final, there was a lot of drama as Serena Williams reacted to the decision of chair umpire Eva Asderaki to award a point that Williams technically won to her opponent, Sam Stosur. Stosur went on to win the match, and was crowned as the new US Open champion.

The point in question was awarded to Stosur due to the fact that Williams let out a loud "Come on!" shout before the point was over. After all was said and done, I've seen some mentions on Twitter that the rule regarding this situation is different between the ITF (the governing body in Grand Slams) and WTA (who run the regular women's tournaments). Two related incidents were brought as an example - one in which the verdict was the same (in Marion Bartoli's match against Cristina McHale in this US Open), and an older one, involving both Williams and Asderaki, in which the point was replayed.

I decided to check the matter - and it seems that the "Hindrance Rule" is in fact very much alike in both sets of rules.

Here is the ITF version, which was relevant to the final match:
26. HINDRANCE
If a player is hindered in playing the point by a deliberate act of the opponent(s), the player shall win the point.
However, the point shall be replayed if a player is hindered in playing the point by either an unintentional act of the opponent(s), or something outside the player’s own control (not including a permanent fixture).
This is the rule in the WTA rulebook:
H. HINDRANCE RULE
If a player hinders her opponent, it can be ruled as either involuntary or deliberate.
1. Involuntary Hindrance
A let should be called the first time a player has created an involuntary hindrance (e.g., ball falling out of pocket, hat falling off, etc.), and the player should be told that any such hindrance thereafter will be ruled deliberate.
2. Deliberate Hindrance
Any hindrance caused by a player that is ruled deliberate will result in the loss of a point.
According to both those quotes, any deliberate hindrance will cause the player to lose the point, while any involuntary (note: this is not the same as "unintentional") hindrance will result in a let call and a replay of the point.

In any case, Asderaki's decision yesterday was correct. While I'm sure that Williams didn't intend to disrupt the point, the shout could not be considered "involuntary", no matter how you look at it.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

"The History Book On The Shelf Is Always Repeating Itself" - US Open 2011 Semifinals


"Couldn’t escape if I wanted to"

The first three sets of the 2011 US Open semifinals between [1] Novak Djokovic and [3] Roger Federer were very much like the Roland Garros semifinal, if you only look at the scores.

In the first set, Roger Federer came out with his best shots, serving lights out, hitting blistering forehands and unreachable backhands. Without getting anywhere close to a break point, the set reached the inevitable tiebreak. Drawing a forehand error, Federer got a minibreak, and after an exchange of double faults and an unreturnable serve he had his first three set points at 6-3. An unreturnable serve and two forehand winners later, Novak Djokovic drew it for 6-6. He saved one more set point for 7-7, but got wrongfooted on the next point and ended up losing the set 7-6(7).

This set was already very different from the parallel first set of the Roland Garros, which began with two consecutive breaks of serve. However, the next one saw Federer getting an early break, which he practically held until the end, winning it 6-4. And so, with a 2-0 lead in sets, everyone couldn't help but think of the 183-1 win/loss record Federer had in Grand Slams when having such a lead. However, that single loss came just two months earlier, in his quarterfinals match against Jo Wilfried Tsonga. Meanwhile, Djokovic had only one comeback from two sets down in his career. One of those single match records was about to be changed.

Still, even as Djokovic managed to break Federer in a very long second game of the third set, keeping the lead and winning it 6-3, I couldn't escape the thoughts "This is just like in France".

"I tried to hold you back but you were stronger"

The fourth set couldn't be less similar to the French Open. Djokovic hit the gas pedal and got to a quick 5-1 lead, holding a set point for a possible 6-1 result. If he could have done that, he would be the first to serve in the fifth and deciding set, giving him a certain advantage. However, Federer managed to hold, forcing Novak to serve the set out and prepare to receive in the next one.

As much as Roger was the best player during the first two sets, so was Novak in the next two. With extremely high quality of tennis throughout it all, and commentators, such as Patrick McEnroe, already calling it "Match of the Year", it seemed like everyone was holding their breath to see what the deciding set would bring.

"I have met my destiny in quite a similar way"

If you expected Roger Federer to give up the fight after losing those two sets, you were very much mistaken. Raising up his level immensely, he was once again hitting untouchable serves. Djokovic managed to keep up for three of his service games. Then, in the most crucial eighth game of the match (Am I the only one who thinks it's more important than that seventh game the commentators are always talking about?), as he was serving at 3-4, he was broken to love. Roger Federer was serving for a place in the US Open 2011 Final, leading 5-3.

In 2010 Federer was in a very similar position. Then, too, he was in the semifinals of the US Open, having two match points in the fifth set against Novak Djokovic. But while in 2010 it was Djokovic serving, this time Federer was the one holding the tennis ball in his hand, 5-3 40-15 up. He made a great first serve.


The ball was returned with an unthinkable crosscourt winner. 40-30.
The next point had a ball hitting the top of the net, bouncing out of the court, for a deuce. Two match points, just like in 2010, have come and gone. On the following break point, Federer double faulted. (All objectivity aside, I was begging and praying for that double fault since the beginning of the game. When it actually happened, I couldn't believe my eyes.)

Novak was in full control from that point on, breaking again, and only needing one match point at 6-5 40-15, as Federer's return sailed long.

And so, after 3 hours and 51 minutes, Novak Djokovic was into his third Grand Slam final of 2011, winning 6-7(7) 4-6 6-3 6-2 7-5.

Trying to describe my emotions throughout this match would be near impossible. But history does repeat itself, I guess.



In memory of September 11, 2001

Friday, 9 September 2011

US Open, Day 2

So I'm actually back home now, and there are 5 more days of live tennis to write about. I'll try to catch up, hoping I'm not forgetting too much of it! So - day 2, here we go.

While my first day at the USO was all about men's matches, the second one had much more women in it.

The first match I saw was Sabine Lisicki vs. Alona Bondarenko on the new court 17. Sabine started out a bit shaky - she kept catching her toss without hitting the serves, but as the match progressed she grew more confident in herself, and kept on hitting winners from all sides of the court. She won comfortably 6-3 6-3, and I even managed to get a photo with her (once again, she looks great, and... yeah).

After that I caught about a set of David Ferrer-Igor Andreev. I wasn't exactly sure how Ferrer lost the first set, since in the part of the match that I saw, he clearly was the better player, while Andreev was spraying errors all around.

The next stop for me was the practice courts, once again. There, I managed to snap an awesome paparazzi photo of Feli Lopez watching the madness that happens when fans try to get autographs. His shirt is the best thing about that photo.
"Nerds love apple pie"
The practice session was prolific for fans - Verdasco, Roddick (before the practice, which is unusual! But he had a birthday), Del Potro, Fish, Soderling all came to sign autographs while I was there. Roddick was practicing with Somdev Devvarman, Gasquet with Monaco, and some other people on the courts were Stosur, Petrova, Cibulkova and Murray.
On my way to buying myself some food, I stumbled upon the ATP booth, where Tomas Berdych was supposed to be signing autographs shortly. Since I've got my priorities in order, I decided to wait there until he comes, and was lucky enough to be on of the first people in the queue - so I managed to get a picture, as well (though the timing was a bit off).

The next match, which I saw from start to finish, was Shahar Peer vs. Sania Mirza. Shahar never beat Sania before that day in main draw matches, so the official head-to-head was 0-4. This match started out very close, going to a first set tibreak, which Mirza won. After that, however, Shahar was much more focused, and managed to win the second set, after which Mirza was visibly tired, and made too many errors to give Shahar some breaks and the match.
This match didn't have as much loud cheering as Dudi's match against Bellucci, but the crowd was obviously pro-Shahar, and us Israeli girls contributed a lot to the cheering efforts.

I didn't intend to see the night session that day, so I sold those tickets in the morning. With my plan for the day fulfilled, I wandered around the grounds some more, encountering some very tall people ;)

At the end of the day, I watched the last game of Na Li in the US Open (lost to Simona Halep in 2 sets), and a few games of Jams Blake vs. Jesse Huta Galung, and then headed back to the city.

Quarterfinals are starting in a few minutes, so stay tuned for more posts tomorrow!