Wednesday 31 August 2011

US Open, Day 1 - Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

To sum it up in 3 words: Yesterday was AMAZING.

Be prepared, this post is going to be somewhat long.

My day started with the match between Ryan Harrison and Marin Cilic on Louis Armstrong.
Harrison ended up losing it – at the beginning he was just too nervous, but later he just lost it completely.
The first serve percentages at the first set were awful from both players, but what was surprising is that Ryan kept hitting Marin's second serves straight into the net, instead of exploiting them. After two sets I've had enough, and headed towards the practice courts.

On my way there, I stumbled into Nico Almagro. He just went by me, completely alone, holding 2 racquets, and if I hadn't been so slow, I'd ask for an autograph and/or photo. But I was a little bit shocked at that point, so I just went on. #FAIL

At the practice courts I mainly focused on taking pictures, so I don't really know how everyone was playing. Pavlyuchenkova was playing a practice set with Pennetta, Wawrinka was practicing with Simon, and Na Li was hitting with Hantuchova (incidentally, both lost their first round matches today). Djokovic looked to be enjoying himself, while practicing on half a court, which he was sharing with Zimonjic. Del Potro and Ferrer were practicing together nearby, and I'm ashamed to say that I totally didn't recognize Ferrer from afar. I only figured out it was him when he came out of the courts.
A couple of guys nearby were having trouble in identifying some of the players, and were really impressed when I could name each one. They joked that they'd take me with them for the rest of the day, it was nice to get a recognition of my fan(atic) knowledge ;)

I didn't manage to get close enough to Nole and Delpo when each was coming out, so no photos or autographs – but I did ask Judy Murray for a picture (in which she looks great, and I'm not – this is going to be a recurring theme this week).
More random snippets: Wozniacki came in with a huge entourage of people; the Radwanskas were practicing together even though they were playing each other later that day.

At long last, it was time to get back to the tennis. At first, I saw the end of the first set of Monaco-Seppi, then the end of the fourth set of Petzschner-Ramos, then came back to watch Monaco win his last set.
Seppi was basically hitting every other ball into the net, but at one of the last games Monaco made a silly error, and let out an absolutely adorable and very loud sigh.
After his win, I got an autograph, and then tried to take a picture with him. He was super nice and stopped for everyone who asked, but I managed to take the picture while the camera was on "sleep" mode, so I didn't really get a picture :( I did touch him, that has to count, right?
(A girl who had her picture taken was disgusted by the fact that he's sweating. Really?...)

After this, I came back to the practice courts, and had a chat with a girl who was waiting for Isner to come out - she was thinking about proposing marriage to him, I hope she succeeded :P At one point Feli came out of the courts, but didn't stop for autographs - I guess he was going to head back in, because he was without bags or racquets. Still, it was a bit disappointing...

Then, it was time for the main attraction of the day (for me) - Dudi Sela vs. Thomaz Bellucci, on court 13. I brought a "Come on Dudi!" banner and an Israeli flag for cheering purposes, and put both to good use :)

The atmosphere on the court was incredible, practically Davis-like - mainly thanks to the many Israelis, and especially a bunch of about 10 guys who were making lots of noise to show their love for Dudi. They went too far at some points, but it was still great. The Brazilian fans only woke up late, around the middle of the third set, and by then it was too late.

Dudi wasn't playing too good in the first two sets, and he felt it - at one point he yelled at himself "Start playing tennis already and not this nonsense!". But after he managed to win the third set (coming back from a break down), he started showing the abilities that once made him a top-30 player. At the same time, Bellucci went completely away, and Dudi was able to stage a previously unseen (from him) comeback to win 4-6 2-6 6-4 6-3 6-0. Bellucci called a trainer at 3-0 in the final set, but it didn't appear as if he was injured previously, so I'm not sure what that was.

Dudi absolutely loved the crowd support, and it was obvious that he was very proud and happy. He was glad to take a picture with me and my banner, and sign it for me.
After a break for food, I went to see the all-Spanish match between Juan Carlos Ferrero and Pablo Andujar. I saw the whole third set, and it was really great tennis. Ferrero's speed is unbelievable, and the spectators were ooh-ing and aah-ing all the way through. He was leading 5-2, but at some point during a very long game (I'd say there were at least 10 deuces there), there came a wrong line call. Andujar hit the ball and it was obviously out (I was sitting right next to the line), but the linesmen didn't call it, and Ferrero got upset. He even asked the crowd "Was good?", and we all said that it was out - that was funny moment. However, that made Ferrero lose concentration, and Andujar came back to win the set 7-5. I didn't see more of that match, but Ferrero ended up winning it in 5 sets.

I ended the day with a set and a half on Arthur Ashe stadium, watching Federer failing twice to serve out the first set against Giraldo, before breaking him to take set anyway. I have to say that the pre-match interviews are seriously horrible. They actually asked Giraldo how it feels to go out an play the Greatest Of All Times. Seriously?

This sums up my first day at the US Open. There are lots more photos on the Facebook page of this blog - like it to get new photos faster than the blog updates!
I'll try to update today's events tomorrow, but the photos are already there, check them out.

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