10 September, 2011
US Open Semifinals Day - 3 Thoughts
Steal This Design - It seems that the US Open was inspired by Melbourne Park's Margaret Court Arena when they built the similarly sunken, circular Court 17 at the USTABJKNTC. Well, when they finally decide that Arthur Ashe Stadium must go, I suggest that they again look to their Antipodean colleague.
HiSense Arena, the Australian Open's 2nd stadium, is my 2nd favorite court in tennis, behind only the grandstand. The 10,500 capacity arena with a retractable roof cost an estimated $67 million to build in 2000. Of course, seating capacity will have to rise to be the main venue for the American leg of the grand slam, but stylistically this court should be the model. With its rectangularly arranged seating HiSense holds about as many as Court Suzanne Lenglen or Louis Armstrong Stadium, but it feels even smaller and more intimate. The sightlines are wonderful, the roof provides cover and the sounds of the game fills the room. Say we build an 18,000 seat version--HiSense has corners with no seating that we could fill in as a start, say it costs $120 million today to build (less than half of what Ashe cost to build in 1997), say we target 2015 to get this thing open. We'll use the profits from the $6.50 large waffle fries to pay for it. The only thing I'll miss is Ashe's name on the front of the building and I'm sure the USTA will find other ways to honor his memory. In the words of one of the sport's biggest sponsors: Just do it.
Everything But The Big Check - I'll come right out and say it. The semifinal match between Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki today is the de facto final. With all due respect to Samantha Stosur, a wonderful player and true credit to the game for her professionalism, this will be a better match with a more important outcome than either her semifinal Angelique Kerber today or the final Stosur will play against the winner of this one on Sunday. If I'm Caroline Wozniacki, I want this win more than anything. Beating Serena Williams at the business end of a major is the next best thing to winning the US Open outright. With so many reporters and bloggers bleating about Wozniacki being an undeserving No. 1, she has a huge chance to change the conversation about her tennis, once and for all, today. She can talk about kangaroo attacks and fake cramps all she wants, but the court is where she needs to perform not the press room. Geez, I mean, Wozniacki's not even as good an actress as Serena! If I were Wozniacki's mystery coach, I'd tell her to play, at least, the first set completely within herself, resist the temptation to try matching Serena's power. First off, you can't, but secondly, as Williams has gotten closer to her 14th major title her game has seemed less sharp; the nerves have crept in a bit. Nerves are understandable, 99% of tennis fans expect Serena to win, the other 1% are Danish. If Serena starts spraying balls like she did against Ana Ivanovic and Wozniacki keeps her steadiness she could win in the upset of the year. In fact, I think that's one of only two ways for Wozniacki to win, the other involves Shino Tsurubuchi calling the lines...this is the more reasonable one.
One Night Only - Tennis' toughest ticket, "The Roger n' Rafa Show" has played to enraptured audiences all around the world, but never under the bright lights of New York. Maybe, just maybe, it'll happen on Monday. Both men looked great in their respective quarterfinals. Federer out-steadying a listless Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Thursday night and Nadal taking Andy Roddick to the woodshed yesterday. They will both face much tougher competition tonight, in the form of two players who kept the big show from ever opening off-Broadway, Andy Murray who ousted Nadal in the semifinals in 2008 when Federer won his fifth title and Robo-Nole, aka Novak Djokovic, who stunned the Fed last year in the penultimate match before Nadal claimed the Open. All four players are on form, with Murray, per his ranking, probably looking fourth of the Big Four at the moment, but they all could win tonight and get back to the US Open finals. As much as I expect Djokovic and Nadal to play the final Monday afternoon. In a way, I'm rooting for New York and therefore, for Federer. We're not used to missing out on the biggest spectacles the world has to offer and in the tennis world it gets no bigger than this. Federer-Nadal, NYC. Could we finally see the Grapple in the Big Apple? You wouldn't get a complaint out of me...until I can't get a ticket.