By Lloyd Carroll
Roger Federer may be the greatest tennis player of all-time but what really is impressive is that he was able to get a public court to practice on in Central Park the day after he struggled in a five-set match against 19-year-old American Francis Tiafoe. Even the biggest celebrities have to reserve time well in advance for those courts!
The preparation paid off because Federer was able to hold off Russian Mikhail Youzhny in five sets the following day. Roger said that he wanted to practice in Central Park because he is staying in Manhattan and did not want to deal with a car ride across the RFK Bridge to get to the practice courts at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. My guess is that he wanted a mental break away from the US Open for a day.
At age 36 and competing with a surgically repaired left knee while also having back issues, Federer admitted that in all likelihood he will be having longer matches if he is going to win. The days when he could routinely put even the best opponents away in three sets are in the past.
After winning her first round match at the Open I asked Venus Williams if after all of these years she still gets a thrill out of being a US representative at the US Open. She downplayed that by basically saying that while she is an American it’s really not on the forefront of her mind.
The tennis draw gods were unkind to the #2 ranked female player coming into the Open, Simona Halep. Normally the first round match-up is a walkover for someone ranked that high but her opponent was far from an unknown. Maria Sharapova, who was given a wildcard berth and was unranked coming off of a suspension for using unauthorized drugs, beat Halep in three sets.
A number of players including Caroline Woznaicki were unhappy that Sharapova was able to avoid competing in the Qualifiers Week because of the largesse of the United States Tennis Association who gave her automatic entree into the tournament.
Donald Young, who many thought would be the Tiger Woods of tennis not so long ago, lost a tough second round, five-set match to Gael Monfils. Afterwards, Young candidly told reporters that he knows that he has never lived up to that billing.
Young also spoke about the difficulties of making a living in tennis where only a small percentage of players get the big endorsements. Those harsh economics make it difficult for minorities to turn pro but he did add that tennis is a great way to earn college scholarships.
This Thursday is Community Day at the US Open and there is no admission until 6 PM. It’s a great opportunity to watch the various doubles and juniors matches.