Sunday 26 August 2012

US Open 2012 - Qualifying Day 1

This year, I've only had one day to watch matches at the US Open, which was the first day of qualifying. Luckily for us (my brother and me), the schedule for that day was simply perfect for us, and we got to see both Israeli players - Amir Weintraub and Julia Glushko - win their first round match.

The day started with watching practices - we caught both Amir and Julia at the end of their pre-match warm up, wished both of them good luck, and I took photos of my brother with both of them. At the official practice courts, we saw a bit of Serena Williams and a lot of Andy Murray, who we were waiting for to come out.

Murray in practice
 The wait was long, since Andy wasn't rushing anywhere - the practice courts were half empty at that time. Serena refused to come to the mosh pit and interact with fans at the end of her practice, but Andy signed autographs for everyone who was there (not a lot of people compared to what usually happens during the tournament itself). Unfortunately, I didn't realize we could get on Louis Armstrong and Grandstand to watch the top players practicing, so I've no idea who we've missed there... in fact, I think I'd rather not know.

Murray signing autographs
Amir's match against Mathieu Rodrigues from France was first on court 14, and we came there just as he held for a 3-1* lead. He was visibly stronger than the French player, who had a very weak serve (especially his second one), and didn't attack much. What he did have was excellent dropshots and slices, and he fooled Amir quite a lot with those. As the first set progressed (Amir broke again, then got broken back), I felt like Rodrigues was deliberately stalling and taking his time. For instance, when he was down *3-5 0-30, he suddenly decided he needs to wear his hat. I'm pretty sure it didn't stay on for long... Amir got a break point, which got him 3 set points, but Rodrigues saved all of them, and then saved 3 more of those before Amir finally managed to convert his 7th set point for a 6-3 lead.

Amir preparing to receive serve
The second set went quicker, as Rodrigues grew visibly tired. Amir opened with a break for 2-0, but got broken back in the next game. He got to a 5-1 lead easily enough and was serving for the match, but Rodrigues chose that moment to raise the level, and broke as Weintraub played somewhat tentatively. However, Amir broke again in the next game, winning the match 6-3 6-2 on his 3rd match point. You can see the first match point, which was saved by a clean winner, in the following video.

This was Amir's first ever win in the qualifying of any Grand Slam tournament.

By the time we got to Julia's match, she was already leading 5-2 in the first set against Marta Domachowska from Poland. She played well to win the set 6-2, but got broken early in the second set, and her level dropped. The taping on her knee started to bother her, and when down 2-5 she received a medical timeout to have her knee re-taped.

Julia Glushko
We had to leave the court (read: we were hungry and went to buy food), and when we came back, it was the middle of the third set and Julia just broke back for 3-3. She won the next three games and the whole match, 6-2 2-6 6-3, while showing some great mental strength at tougher moments, such as facing break points. The next video shows her first and only match point:

Julia later qualified to the main draw of the US Open, and will play her first ever main draw match at a tour-level event tomorrow against Yanina Wickmayer.

We've seen bits and pieces of a few other qualifying matches, and were particularly impressed by Yuki Bhambri. The young Indian player has a good technique and seemed like a cool-headed guy from the few games that we saw.

As always, you can find all our photos from that day on my Facebook page.

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