Tuesday, August 30, 2011

U.S. OPEN: I'M READY... ARE YOU? (by Jean Kirshenbaum)

It’s another U.S. Open and I’m ready. Are you? You say: “Whadaya mean—am I ready? Am I entered in the tournament, or something? Do I need to practice? What do I need to be ready for?”

No, no, no. Wrong, wrong, wrong. As a tennis fan, you do have to get ready. And it’s not too late.

Here’s what I did:The very first thing? Search online for the TV schedule. Then I printed out two copies, stapled the two pages together, and taped one set to the bedroom dresser that holds the TV, and the other to the living room wall unit, which holds the other TV. I do this so that I can plan my life for the next two weeks? Plan my life? There is nothing to plan, (especially when you are UTF, an unemployed tennis fan; a position I have held for too long). The Open is televised just about all day and all evening. Who has time for other plans? If you want to watch, scroll down for the schedule.

But wait, there is something else I had to do.  I had set recordings, just in case there is a match I want to see but can't  for some reason, such as  leaving home to actually play tennis. If you can’t watch the day matches, they are usually repeated at night. If you are an online tennis reader, or get email from tennis sites, be careful.  You may not want to know match results before you watch your recording. I have a deal with my friend Roseann Williams, (who has written previously for Tennis Is Tops) not to discuss any results until I know that she knows what they are. I learned the hard way, didn't I Roseann?
In fact, I have written to several online editors to ask them not to reveal results in the subject lines of their email newsletters, which I get daily. Women’s Tennis Blog has complied and now uses the generic subject line: Women’s Tennis Blog Daily Update” instead of something like “Wozniacki out, Williams upset by qualifier.” What a relief. When my friend Richard (at left, with me in 2009) was editor of tennisweek.com (now defunct), and later tennisnow, and now with tennis.com,  I implored him not to do this, but he wouldn’t. So I had to do a workaround. I color-coded any email from tennis week and tennis now in red. Any time I saw a red email when I walked toward my computer, I knew to turn around and leave the room. He now works for tennis.com, which doesn’t send out many newsletters. Nevertheless, whenever there is an email from Richard, I see red.
I engage in a few more activities to prepare for U.S. Open, which I do for all the Slams. Since, as my tennis buddies know, I generally read a lot about tennis online, including the pundits’ analyses and opinions about who’s going to win, who isn’t, how the top players might perform, and who might come from out of nowhere. The overwhelming picks this year are…drum roll…. Serena Williams (photo at left was on a practice court, 2009)  and Novak Djokovic. (I confess that my bias against him is evident with this unflattering photo below.)

Speaking of picks, you can pick ‘em all  yourself with Racket Bracket. This is an online contest sponsored by Tennis Channel, which asks you to pick the winner of every match, from first round through the final. You must submit this after the draws come out and before the matches begin, of course. ( I am the only person I know who ever does). Doesn't matter this year; it’s too late for you. You might not have bothered anyway. Picking winners for hundreds of matches is time consuming.(UTFs, of course, have the time.) And how can you possibly make a pick when the choices are qualifier A and Qualifier E? You just guess. So let’s talk more about the picks.
With Williams back on the scene after a year-long layoff due to foot injuries and clots in her lungs, many might wonder whether the former #1 is a strong contender.On the other hand, with three-time winner Kim Clijsters out because of injury, most of the pundits, as well as the odds makers, are picking Williams to win, although some are going with Maria Sharapova. Why Williams? Why not? She has won it three times (’99, ’02,’08), and her US Open match record is 52-8. Wow.  I want Serena to win, but I really think it will be some longshot further back on the track. 

Despite the fact that she lost Wimbledon this year, Williams has already won two other titles—Bank of the West Classic (Stanford, CA, 7/31) and the Rogers Cup (Toronto, 8/14). I don’t think she played her best in those tournaments-- not even close to her previous level-- but still she won, beating Marion Bartoli and Samantha Stosur. That raised her come-back ranking from 170 something to 29. There was noisy controversy about whether and how she would be seeded this year. Some felt that, given her successes, as well as the danger she can pose to the current crop of top players, she should have been seeded in the top 10. But seeding rarely goes against rankings, and some felt it wouldn't be fair to knock a player out of the top 10 seeds group. And it wouldn't be fair. However, in this case they made an exception and she is seeded 28. That means that she doesn’t risk being knocked out by a top player in the first round. And TV doesn’t risk basement-poor ratings. Well, that won’t happen. Her first-round opponent is a no-name Serbian, Bojana Jovanovski, age 20, whose career match record is 32-24. Her current rank is 54.

Enough said on this topic.

But what about the guys? Since I find the women’s tour so much more interesting (and spouse Gary does, too) I’m not going to say as much about the men. The big buzz, of course, is around #1 Novak Djokovic, who has lost just two matches this entire year (57-2) to two other likely champs, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, in addition to winning the Australian Open. And remember, Raphael Nadal won last year, and was #1 until the Djoker toppled him. Take a look at these other top 10 seeds to see who else is in the mix: Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Robin Soderling, Gael Monfils, Thomas Berdych, and Nicolas Almagro. Just one American is among the top 10--Mardy Fish, seeded 8th. In case you didn’t know, Andy Roddick, who won the Open in 2003, and who was in the top 10 for as many years as Roger Federer, has been out of the top 10 for several months and is seeded just 21 this year!

What are your thoughts? Who are your picks? Are you ready yet? Leave a comment. I'll address them in my next article.
Although it's only Tuesday, I have just two days to get ready for Thursday, the day Gary and I will be at the Open. I have to check the weather, which is expected to be perfect. I have to pick out my clothes- pants, not shorts, because it's cold on the bus. And lots of pockets for money, camera and cell phone, to avoid the long wait at the security bag- check line. Those pants must go to the cleaners today! This is just personal trivia. For all the important news, go to http://www.usopen.org/  and http://www.tennis.com/

2011 US Open TV Schedule (USA)

(all times Eastern and coverage is live unless noted otherwise)

Monday, August 29

11a.m.-7 p.m. Early Round Action Tennis Channel*

1-7 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Early Round Action ESPN2

Tuesday, August 30

11a.m.-7 p.m. Early Round Action Tennis Channel*

1-7 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Early Round Action ESPN2

Wednesday, August 31

11a.m.-7 p.m. Early Round Action Tennis Channel*

1-7 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Early Round Action ESPN2

Thursday, September 1

11a.m.-7 p.m. Early Round Action Tennis Channel*

1-7 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Early Round Action ESPN2

Friday, September 2

11a.m.-7 p.m. Early Round Action Tennis Channel*

1-7 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2

Saturday, September 3

11a.m.-6 p.m. Third Round CBS

7-11 p.m. Third Round Tennis Channel

Sunday, September 4

11a.m.-6 p.m. Third Round/Round of 16 CBS

7-11 p.m. Third Round/Round of 16 Tennis Channel

Monday, September 5

11a.m.-6 p.m. Round of 16 Round CBS

7-11 p.m. Primetime Round of 16 ESPN2

Tuesday, September 6

11a.m.-7 p.m. Tennis Channel**

11 a.m.-7 p.m. Men’s Round of 16, Women’s Quarterfinals ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Men’s Round of 16, Women’s Quarterfinals ESPN2

Wednesday, September 7

11a.m.-7 p.m. Tennis Channel**

11 a.m.-7 p.m. Quarterfinals ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Quarterfinals ESPN2

Thursday, September 8

11a.m.-7 p.m. Tennis Channel**

11 a.m.-7 p.m. Men’s Quarterfinals ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Men’s Quarterfinals, Mixed Doubles Final ESPN2

Friday, September 9

12:30pm.-6 p.m. Mixed’s Doubles Final/Women’s SF CBS

Saturday, September 10

12-6 p.m. Men’s SF CBS

8 p.m.-10 p.m. Women’s Final CBS

Sunday, September 11

1-3 p.m. Women’s Doubles Final ESPN2

4 p.m.- 7 p.m. Men’s Final CBS

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