Another season another Monday final at the US Open. For the fifth straight year the last Grand Slam on the tennis calendar will be extended at least an extra day because of inclement weekend weather. Just as the tournament seemed back on track after a stormy early week two, rain once again pounded the National Tennis Center forcing the postponement of the women’s Serena Williams-Victoria Azarenka final and the second men’s semifinal. Fortunately for Andy Murray and his followers the Scot was first on and able to secure an early win. Amid challenging gale force conditions Murray mastered Tomas Berdych 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(7) to reach his second US Open final.
In the title match now slated for Monday, Murray will await the winner between Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer. In a puzzling move, with severe weather on the way the US Open decided against playing both semifinals at the same time, instead choosing to play them in order on Ashe. Unfortunately for organizers Murray’s win clocked in just short of four hours only allowing the second semifinal to play about 30 minutes before the tournament halted the match to evacuate the stadium because of impending bad weather.
Why they chose not to play both semifinals concurrently or why they even decided to send Djokovic and Ferrer out at all is a mystery. And why not let Ferrer who was ahead 5-2 at the very least try to serve out the first set?
Thinking is, the stoppage couldn’t help Novak enough as he’ll have a night to reboot and get his mind focused on the task of getting back on track against Ferrer. And the weather is mercifully forecasted to be far better tomorrow and on Monday.
But back to out first finalist, Mr. Murray.
I picked Berdych not knowing hurricane-like winds would hit the New York City area. Berdych has a high toss and his strokes are flat, and that’s a bad combination in wind where defensive players, like Murray and Ferrer, can gain an effective edge.
Berdych still hung tough and led Murray 5-2 in the fourth set breaker, but the belief he had Wednesday in his comprehensive win over Roger Federer just wasn’t there today. And I think the wind had a lot to do with it.
“The wind was one part of opponent, so it was a really tough one,” Berdych said. “It affects my serve a lot because I have a higher toss. When I’m not able to serve, and go for the first serve and I’m not making straight points from the serve, then that’s not my game. So actually, it was quite hard to adjust to that, because I’m normally not used to that. Of course I don’t like to lose the match, and not a match like this in the semis when I thought that I had a pretty good chance. But, you know, the best word I can say is that the wind blew it away from me.”
Still, Berdych did win the opening set and had a set point in the fourth, so he was still able to play well in the wind, but mentally I don’t think he ever thought he could win. And Credit to Murray who did what favorites do and that’s win. He, too, then added that he had never played is such adverse conditions.
“It was brutal to play in that wind, it’s hard to describe,” Murray said. “The ball was sometimes stopping, moving the other way, and it was hard to serve, so the focus wasn’t really on going for aces, just getting the first serve in. Those are probably the hardest conditions I’ve ever had to play in.”
As for tomorrow, with the rain and wind hopefully giving way to blue skies and calmer conditions, I think Novak will return to form and handle Ferrer. Djokovic has never lost a set to Ferrer on outdoor hardcourts and while I David will break that streak upon resumption I think Novak gains control from there. I’d love to see Ferrer pull the upset, and he deserves to reach a final or maybe win a Slam title, but I think Novak probably came out Saturday in a unsettled frame of mind with the weather and scheduling issues. Just a guess because he just didn’t look right at all.
ESPN2 have coverage of the Djokovic match at 11am. CBS then takes over at 4:30pm after some football for Serena’s certain win.
SUNDAY US OPEN SCHEDULE
Arthur Ashe Stadium 11:00 AM Start Time
David Ferrer (ESP) v. Novak Djokovic (SRB) To Finish 5-2
Not Before:4:30 PM
2. Women’s Singles – Finals
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) v. Serena Williams (USA)
Louis Armstrong Stadium 1:30 PM Start Time
Andrea Hlavackova (CZE) v. Sara Errani (ITA)
Lucie Hradecka (CZE) Roberta Vinci (ITA)
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