The 96 degree temperatures and high humidity on Tuesday at the US Open brought out the nutty results, and the nuttiness in general.
Five seeds were involved in grueling five-set matches. American Mardy Fish’s five-setter involved two (and almost three) bagel sets.
No. 3 seed Novak Djokovic is renowned for melting in the heat, but when he gutted out a five-set win from two sets down against Serb compatriot Viktor Troicki, the punch-drunk Djokovic in an on-court interview with ESPN’s Brad Gilbert afterward told the crowd regarding the win, “It was like sleeping with my girlfriend, it was that kind of feeling.”
Other five-set warriors were the No. 19-seeded Fish in a lopsided win over Czech Jan Hajek 6-0, 3-6, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1; No. 8 seed Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco outlasting Italian Fabio Fognini 6-3 in the fifth; No. 16 Marcos Baghdatis coming out on the losing end in five to French veteran Arnaud Clement; and No. 31 “Fat Dave” Nalbandian outlasting South African Rik De Voest 6-4 in the fifth.
Fish found himself in the unique position of being down two sets to one after winning the first set 6-0.
“I started out great,” Fish said. “I made one unforced error in the first set, entire first set. Played a bad game early in the second and he held, served well, held throughout there. Four-all in the third set he hit four winners, broke me there, and played a long game the next game and he held. Next thing you know, you’re down two sets to one thinking, you know, maybe you’re going home.”
Clement said the heat had him changing his strategy against Baghdatis.
“It was very difficult to play with the heat. And not especially at the end of the match,” Clement said. “In the first set it was — after when we were playing on the baseline, after two, three, four shots with burning, legs was burning, so it was very difficult, and so it was different game. So I tried to be very aggressive, to have short points.”
Other Frenchmen joined Clement on the upset tip Tuesday, with Jeremy Chardy shocking No. 24 “The Importance of Being” Ernests Gulbis in straights, Julien “United Colors of” Benneteau unearthing No. 28 Radek “The Worm” Stepanek in four, and Canuck Pete Polansky surprising No. 30 Juan Monaco (and us all) in straights.
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, the feature night match, defeated Russian Teimuraz Gabashvili in a straight-setter that included two tiebreaks.
In “B”-squad American action, James Blake advanced while Robby Ginepri exited in four sets against Argentine Eduardo Schwank.
Matches to watch for on Wednesday at Flushing Meadows include (4) Andy Murray vs. Slovak Lukas Lacko, Serb Janko Tipsarevic vs. (9) Andy Roddick, an all-American in (20) Sam Querrey vs. Bradley Klahn, Portugal’s Frederico Gil vs. (18) John Isner, net-crasher Michael Llodra vs. (7) Tomas Berdych, (17) Gael “Force” Monfils coming off a five-setter vs. Igor Andreev, Dudi “Where’s My Car?” Sela vs. Xavier “X-Man” Malisse, American qualifier Ryan Harrison vs. (15) Ivan Ljubicic, Gilles Simon vs. past-prodigy Donald Young, and American future hope Jack Sock vs. Swiss Marco Chiudinelli.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
DID YOU KNOW? — Wearing a flag-patterned shirt at the US Open is OK, but waving flags in the stands has been banned by the USTA at the US Open since 2008.
MISC. — In interview situations such as in the tunnel when players are about to take the court at the US Open, you have to appreciate someone like Novak Djokovic who will joke with the interviewer and give something, as opposed to a Maria Sharapova who gives you nothing but the robotic ‘She’s playing really well and I’m going to play my best, blah blah, etc.’…If we had to give any game-improvement advice for Jarmila Groth it would be don’t wear the dark bra under the white shirt…Venus Williams is ready to go this fortnight after winning her first round match at the US Open, her first match since Wimbledon due to injury: “I had a tough summer,” Williams said prior to starting. “I am ready for the Open, thank God.”…Andy Roddick tells the Miami Herald he’s an unapologetic Miami Heat fan: “I was going to the games in ’01 when they were paying people to come. I was obviously in Boca for a long time and went to four or five games a year. Obviously, I’m excited. I was just hoping and praying they re-sign Dwyane [Wade]. Then, when [Chris] Bosh came, I was ecstatic. Then, when LeBron [James] came, it was bordering on ridiculous. Like everyone else, I’m excited to see how it all goes together.”…In the mode of Patrick McEnroe, Andy Roddick says he would eventually like to be a TV commentator and Davis Cup captain…Andy Roddick speaking to 20/20 magazine on playing mixed doubles with Serena Williams at the 2012 Olympics: “We’ve been friends since we were kids and came onto the tennis scene together. Once they announced the event, Serena was on the phone 26 seconds later begging me to play,” he jokes. “She’s got a bunch of gold medals so maybe she’ll help me get one.”…Hurricane “My Name is” Earl is predicted to hammer-time the NYC area around Saturday; as of Tuesday it was a nasty Cat. 4 churning toward the east coast of the U.S…According to ESPN, five Italian tennis players who were suspended after being caught up in a major gambling investigation are accusing the ATP World Tour of trying to hide documents they claim will show much higher-ranked players also bet on matches — can’t imagine they’d do that, although Andre Agassi in his book did admit the ATP helped cover-up his crystal meth jag — top players don’t take the fall! Italians do!…Roger Federer b.s.-ing about his fake video where he serves a bottle off a guy’s head: “One thing I tell you, that the [between-the-legs] shots on center court in front of 22,000 people is a bit more difficult than what I did at the Gillette commercial. That was just having a bit more fun. No, I can’t tell you if it’s real or not. That’s up for debate. Still up to debate, you know. I’m not going to answer that question.” — Give that cheese a rest Roger…American Vania King tweeting prior to the start of the US Open: “Already had a conflict with US Open transport and I’m not even there yet! US is the biggest yet least accommodating of all Grand Slams.”…Marcos Baghdatis has no sponsor, so he has the Cyprus emblem on his clothes that he says his mother sews on. No, we didn’t make that up, you can’t make that kind of stuff up…Arnaud Clement on if the men should have a US Open “heat policy” like the women: “No. It’s part of the game. It’s part of the game.” — C’mon! You guys should completely submit your manhood and have a heat policy and on-court coaching, so you can be told when to eat bananas.
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