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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

UP OPEN 2009 (FLASHING MEADOWS)

From anon via text on 81111: "Re 2211: You joke, but his Facebook page reveals the answer... MAMMA MIA."
2225: Given his passionate, and rather endearing, defence of his lil sister, you might expect Marat to stick around and support her as she bids to end her Grand Slam title drought. Nope. "I really love my sister but I think she can manage without me."
More from Safin on Dinara: "Personally, I'm really like, I have to protect her. She deserves a little bit more than what she's getting right now. You can't imagine how crazy she is about sport. I don't think there is one person in the world more professional than her."
Marat Safin on criticism of his sister Dinara: "Everybody is giving her hard time. 'Why is she number one?' 'Is she a real number one or not?' 'She made eight double faults, 43 unforced errors.' 'She struggled, almost lost to an 18-year-old.' Who cares? I mean, she's number one in the world. On this ranking, she's number one. Serena, even though she won two Grand Slams this year, she's number two. Sorry, but that's the way. Deal with that."
2219: DelPo ends a 26-shot rally with an outrageous angled drop shot, leaving Monaco rooted to the baseline. Some brutal exchanges already in that match. Monaco comes through an epic game to make it 1-1 in the first set.
2214: Sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro is up against fellow Argentine and fellow Juan, Monaco, on the Louis Armstrong Stadium. I fully expect a straight-sets win for DelPo, who is a potential quarter-final opponent for Andy Murray.
2211: Rafa reveals he's spent his spare time in New York "walking around" and has been to see "a few musicals". Wonder what he went to see? The Little Mermaid? Shrek The Musical? South Pacific?! Maybe all three.
Rafael Nadal on his win over Richard Gasquet: "No one match is easy, but when you win two, two and three, must be comfortable no? Very happy how I played today. My forehand I can improve a little bit more. For that reason I'm working very hard no?"
Marat Safin on what he'll miss about tennis: "I need to get away from tennis for some time to realise what I'll miss. Right now, it's difficult to decide exactly what I'll miss. It's the end. Could have been better ending, but still OK. I'm looking forward to after my career, so I have no regrets. And I don't care about losses anymore."
2155: Rafa's still out there, whacking a few balls into the stands and then signing about a zillion autographs. No more play in Arthur Ashe Stadium until midnight when Fed and Serena star in the night session. Play still continues on the outside courts though.
From Eagleeeee! on 606: "Sends out a strong message, Rafa. Good knees? New hair? Whatever it is, worked well today. The serve's also looking good. Bring it on!"
2151: World number three Rafael Nadal brushes aside the challenge of Richard Gasquet, winning 6-2 6-2 6-3. That was supposed to be a testing first-round match? Devastating display. The US Open is the only Grand Slam title to elude him so far. On this performance, I wouldn't bet against him this year.
2146: Sensational stuff again from Rafa Nadal. The crowd are loving this. Gasquet produces a decent enough backhand volley - which comes straight back - so the Frenchman tries a deft drop volley this time. Nadal's up to it in a flash, producing the winner down the line. The world number three breaks in the third set, and this is all over bar the shouting.
2143: Kim Clijsters recovers from a set down to beat 14th seed Marion Bartoli 5-7 6-1 6-2. The Belgian, who is unseeded, plays compatriot Kirsten Flipkens next. She could meet Venus Williams in the fourth round.
Marat Safin on his abiding memory of Flushing Meadows: "Here first few days it's like a zoo. It's like a million people running around, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, so many people. That's pretty much annoying."
2137: Kim Clijsters turns to HawkEye - which shows the ball hit the edge of both lines in the corner - and that gives her a second break and a 5-2 lead in the third set against Marion Bartoli.
2130: Rafael Nadal has made five unforced errors, Richard Gasquet has made 34. Painful stats. Still on serve in the third though. Have just been reminding myself of Soulja Boy's greatest hit. There's an Alvin and the Chipmunks version on a well-known video sharing website. It's a fake though. You can tell by the quality.
From BulletMonkey on 606: "Very, very impressive from Nadal. I take back any doubts I had about him before the match, he's looking exceptional here today. He'll still need to play well against Kiefer, though. That's no walk in the park."
2123: Good to see Gael Monfils is keeping up with dance trends. Perhaps next time he wins, he could bring out a few friends and give us a few Diversity moves. Seamlessly moving on now to Marion Bartoli, who, after lengthy treatment on a thigh injury, is bouncing about waiting to receive serve from Kim Clijsters.
Gael Monfils on whether he might bring back his Soulja Boy-style celebration dance: "Depends. I mean, depends, depends, because it change a little bit, dance, since Soulja Boy. So now, I don't know. Depends on my elation. Maybe. Why not?"
2116: Rafael Nadal strolls into a two-set lead against Richard Gasquet, and the end is nigh for the Frenchman. Should Nadal win - and he will - he'll face German Nicolas Kiefer in the second round. Potentially tricky too, but on this form, he shouldn't hold up Rafa for too long.
Venus Williams on her knee injury after beating Bethanie Mattek-Sands: "I was moving pretty good today and just put all my focus on hitting the ball and not how my body was. It's not a huge surprise that, at this time of the year, things are starting to hurt a little but I am just determined to play every match I can."
2113: Oh dear. Marion Bartoli has got the trainer on court in the Louis Armstrong Stadium. Looks like a thigh injury. Meanwhile, Richard Gasquet rifles a lovely backhand return cross-court - but Rafa Nadal gets to it and finds an even tighter angle with his forehand response. Classic Nadal.
2110: Kim Clijsters rattles through the second set against Marion Bartoli, taking it 6-1 to force the decider. Rafael Nadal has the break in the second set against Richard Gasquet, and this is looking like a very comfortable opener for the world number three.
From Rodders, Manchester, via text on 81111: "The tennis world seems a better place with Nadal in it. He's the difference between a good tourney and a great one."
2102: BBC 5 live tennis correspondent Jonathan Overend tweets that Andy Murray will play his second-round match on Friday. I've covered the US Open for a good few years now, and their schedule still baffles me. I'm pretty sure that soon they'll end up playing every single match on one Big Super-Dooper Sensational Saturday. Think of the TV audiences...
2056: Rafa's even getting the luck now, his smash taking a sizeable chunk of the net before going over. He leads 2-1 but it's still on serve.
2053: Curse the Arthur Ashe Stadium DJ. I appear to have I'm Walking On Sunshine by Katriona And The Waves locked in my head. Over on Louis Armstrong, a forehand return winner from Kim Clijsters earns her a break at the start of the second set against Marion Bartoli.
2043: First set summary: Rafael Nadal looks very good, Richard Gasquet looks very rusty. The Frenchman's weapon of choice - the backhand - is even failing him. Nadal gets a second break to take the set 6-2.
2040: Not a lot Richard Gasquet can do at the moment. Flashes of excellence, but that's not enough against Nadal. I'd have to agree with the TV commentary team: this is not the match Gasquet would have wanted in his first top-level tournament since his ban. The Frenchman is 5-2 down. Marion Bartoli takes the first set 7-5 against Kim Clijsters. Over on Court Five, there's a Rolf Harris(on) in action. Just saying.
2035: Now then, did you notice when Andy Murray won the Montreal Masters title, he did a bit of a shuffle which looked like a moonwalk, and we weren't quite sure if he meant it? And he did the same last night after beating Ernests Gulbis? BBC Radio 5 live got on the case in Canada - and got him to explain exactly what it's all about. I've got to be honest, I'm still not sure, but I can confirm it's definitely a deliberate move. Something to look out for anyway...
2029: Nadal still with the break in the first set. Kim Clijsters has battled back to 5-5 against Marion Bartoli. Fabrice Santoro's Grand Slam career comes to an end with a straight-set defeat by Juan Carlos Ferrero. Funny, because Santoro used to drive Marat Safin to distraction with his infuriating slicing and dicing. Maybe they'll hit the town together tonight...
2020: Sensational flicked backhand winner from Richard Gasquet wins him the first point in Rafa Nadal's second service game. A rare bright spot for the Frenchman early on. The world number three leads 3-0.
2013: Kim Clijsters announced her return to the tour in August with an impressive win against Marion Bartoli. She's up against the unorthodox Frenchwoman again today - but trails by a break in the first set. Over on Court 13, Maria Kirilenko battles past 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4 2-6 6-4 after two hours and 19 minutes.
2009: Nadal to serve first against Gasquet - and he holds easily. Meanwhile, some results: Kirsten Flipkens beats 20th seed Anabel Medina Garrigues, and seventh seed Vera Zvonareva recovers from a set down to beat Anna Chakvetadze.
2003: They're out warming up. Life feels so much better now Rafa is back in Grand Slam action, no? The former world number one is wearing a bright yellow shirt, black shorts, turquoise accessories. And of course, there's that shorter hair...
From CorazonLatino on 606: "I would like to say two words: VAMOS RAFA!"
1958: So, just in case you're not familiar with the Gasquet story, here goes: the Frenchman received a two-year ban after testing positive for cocaine. An independent tribunal accepted that the drug got into his system when he kissed a girl in a nightclub, and the ban was reduced to two months. He has played two matches since his return to the tour.
Richard Gasquet on the support he received from Rafa Nadal during his drugs ban: "Rafa supported me more than anyone in the last few months and if he ever needs me to help him, I will do what I can. I'll never forget what he's done for me. Now I just want to get out and play."
1951: Venus's win paves the way for the one we've all been waiting for: Rafa v Richard next up in the Arthur Ashe Stadium. Don't forget, Fed and Serena still to come in the night session.
1946: Third seed Venus Williams unleashes a big serve to wrap up a 6-4 6-2 win over Bethanie Mattek-Sands, whose knee-highs exit stage left. Better from the big V today, but tougher tests await.
1939: "He'll be back," says a well-meaning colleague. He doesn't know Marat Safin very well, I fear. Doesn't look like there'll be any fairytale win for Fab Santoro either. The wily Frenchman trails Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-4 5-3.
1936: Through the tears, I can just about see that Venus Williams is well on her way to victory against Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Vera Zvonareva has turned it around against fellow Russian Anna Chakvetadze and leads 5-1 in the decider. Maria Kirilenko and Agnieszka Radwanska are level at a set apiece, but Kirilenko has the break in the third.
1932: Tears from Safin? You're joking, aren't you? He waves briefly before disappearing. He's probably got plans for this evening.
1931: NOOOOOOOOOO! Nine years after crushing Pete Sampras to win the US Open, Marat Safin bows out to Jurgen Melzer in his final Grand Slam match. The Russian produces one final flash of genius - a glorious backhand winner - and then has the crowd roaring their appreciation when he gets back to 30-30. But Melzer bangs down an ace and then Safin nets a return - and that's it. He won't care - but the rest of us do.
1926: Hold serve he does, but Jurgen Melzer will serve for the match - and the end of Safin's Grand Slam career - after the changeover.
1925: Huge cheers for Marat Safin, who must hold serve here to avoid defeat.

Neat socks!1915: Venus Williams now 6-4 2-0 up against Bethanie Mattek-Sands - which means I'd better produce a picture of the socks (see 1824) quick. Marat Safin is a break down against Jurgen Melzer and two games from the end of his Grand Slam career. Sigh.
1912: Taylor Dent won yesterday. Interested? Not yet? How about this: Taylor Dent won his first US Open match since 2005 yesterday. Since then, he has three bouts of surgery on a serious back injury, which left him bedridden for up to 23 hours a day for weeks at a time. He was told there was a chance he might not be able to walk again, and almost certainly would never play tennis. Now that's quite impressive right?
From Biscuits on 606: "The most pointless stat of the year is that every male Grand Slam finalist this year has a "d" as the third letter of their surname."
1857: Stunning backhand winner from Jurgen Melzer - and that means Marat Safin may only have one set of Grand Slam tennis left. Not looking great for our other retiring hero, Fabrice Santoro, who must break Juan Carlos Ferrero's serve to stay in the first set.
1854: A double fault followed by a missed first serve and Marat Safin lets the ball have it, belting it out of the Louis Armstrong Stadium. It's probably still going... He does hold though and makes Melzer serve for the set.
1852: All going the wrong way for Marat Safin, and if I was his racquet, I'd be worried right now. He is 5-2 down in the third set. Better news for Venus Williams, who has overcome her shock at Bethanie Mattek's knee-high socks and leads 5-3 in the first.
1846: Marat Safin has just played the best shot I have seen... today. The Russian trundles along the baseline and plays a squash-style forehand down the line for a clean winner. He ruins it all by apologising to Melzer - as if he didn't mean it. Doesn't help Safin, though. He is broken, and Melzer looks in ominous form here.
1839: Another mini-shock - more of an eyebrow-raiser than anything else - developing on Grandstand where Anna Chakvetadze, a former top tenner, has taken the first set against seventh seed Vera Zvonareva. Maria Kirilenko is a set up against the 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska. Tell you what: if this is Marat Safin's last Grand Slam match, what a way to go out. Cracking match. Still on serve in the third.
1824: Hurrah! Bethanie Mattek-Sands has not disappointed in the fashion stakes. She's wearing knee-high socks, in the manner of a school netball outfit. She is leading 1-0 and giving Venus Williams a hell of a battle to hold her opening service game.
1823: Jurgen Melzer sweeps a forehand cross-court and earns two set points at 5-4. Marat Safin delivers a big serve to save one, but Melzer has got the one wrapped up as the Russian is forced to send up a defensive lob... NO WAY! Melzer has belted his smash over the baseline. He has got it now though - as Safin sticks a backhand into the net. One set all.
1813: Possible upset over on Court 13 where Maria Kirilenko leads 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska 5-2. Still on serve in the second set between Safin and Melzer.
1805: Venus Williams and Bethanie Mattek-Sands should be heading to Arthur Ashe Stadium around about now. That match is followed by Rafael Nadal v Richard Gasquet, which should be a cracker. Following Safin v Melzer, Kim Clijsters meets 14th seed Marion Bartoli.
Sania Mirza on her 6-0 6-0 defeat by Flavia Pennetta: "When you lose love and love there is not much you can say, but I felt I didn't play that badly. She played exceptionally well. Everything was working for her. I told her in the locker room afterwards that if she continues to play like that she will be number one in the world."
1755: The US Open's answer to the problem that is Michelle Larcher de Brito's screeching was to stick her out on Court 13 - where the teenager duly lost to Li Na today. Also falling today: veteran American Jill Craybas. She needs to pick herself up, and fast. She'll be pairing up with British doubles numero uno Sarah Borwell later on in the women's doubles.
1749: Just been reading a piece on the Sports Illustrated website about Safin. There's a great quote from Sveta Kuznetsova in there. Asked what Safin might have achieved had he been as dedicated as Federer, she concludes: "It's an expression we say it in Russian: If? What would happen if? But 'if' didn't happen."
1741: They're pretty much all going in at the moment. Safin hammers down three aces in a row to move to 40-0. A fourth wraps up the set 6-1. Surprised? I know I am. Meanwhile, Gael Monfils brushes aside Jeremy Chardy 6-1 6-4 6-3.
1731: Marat Safin's tactics today? Hit every ball as hard as he can, hope some of 'em go in. He saves a break point and now leads 4-1.
1727: Just flipped over to see what dear old Marat's up to - and seen him wallop the ball straight at Jurgen Melzer's head. He apologised, but I'm not sure Melzer is convinced. But if it was a tactic by Safin, it worked. He breaks to 15 and leads 3-1 in the first set.
1721: Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada wraps up a 6-4 6-0 win over an out-of-form Amelie Mauresmo. The Frenchwoman was seeded 17th, but not much of a shock that one. Wozniak up against Flavia Pennetta in round three.
1718: In the battle of Jamie Murray's exes, Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram have beaten Eric Butorac and Scott Lipsky. If you're wondering where Jamie is: so am I. He's not entered in the men's or mixed doubles in New York. Andy's big bro has been having an awful season, and his doubles ranking has dropped to 121.
1709: Sania Mirza made 28 unforced errors in that 12-game match against Pennetta, and hit six winners. Not great numbers. Gael Monfils now two sets up against fellow Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.
1706: Another double fault from Amelie Mauresmo, and again it's at break point down. She trails the world number 39 6-4 2-0. Winner of this one plays Flavia Pennetta.
From Eagleeeee! on 606: "Hmm, not surprising really. Penneta has to be feeling super confident having had some good results recently. Mirza has always had a shaky game, big hits that can miss big."

1658: Couple of bagels for you, Sania? Certainly madam. Tenth seed Flavia Penetta routs her Indian opponent Sania Mirza in 50 minutes. And there's a double fault from Amelie Mauresmo which gives Aleksandra Wozniak the first set 6-4.
1649: Double bagel is on over on Louis Armstrong. Flavia Pennetta leads Sania Mirza 6-0 4-0. Not sure if Mirza is injured - but that is a very surprising scoreline if you ask me.
1641: Hope Dinara Safina isn't a New York Times reader. The newspaper's front page today features articles on Afghanistan, US policy in Japan, swine flu - and the state of serving in women's tennis. The headline reads: 'Toss the Ball. Hit the Ball. Oops! Oops!' Safina served up 11 DFs as she scraped past Aussie wildcard Olivia Rogowska yesterday.
1636: Over on Louis Armstrong Stadium, Sania Mirza is having her clock cleaned by 10th seed Flavia Pennetta. The Italian has served up a bagel in the first set.
1632: Gael Monfils is not hanging around today. The Frenchman - seeded 13th - has already taken the first set 6-1 against Jeremy Chardy. Chardy is the world number 34, and might have been expected to put up a bit more of a fight.
1626: I agree, that would be a very Safin-esque performance. But let's not forget that the Russian has managed three wins since the French Open. Anyway, I must crash on before this becomes 'Live text - Safin', an idea that was cruelly was given the boot at an editorial meeting earlier today.
From yesyesok on 606: "Marat will win tonight, and then in one last shebang will knock out Juan Martin del Potro in round two on Friday, before falling in round three to Chris Guccione. Mon the Safin!"
1624: Of course, we may also say a Grand Slam goodbye to Fabrice Santoro today. Court 11 is your destination if you fancy a last glimpse of the French magician, who is up against Juan Carlos Ferrero.
1620: If you - like Danny in Lytham - wish to send your tributes to Marat, or chip in with any other tennis-related chit-chat - I'd suggest you tap 81111 into your phone or head over to 606 or Twitter.
From Danny, Lytham, via text on 81111: "I predict Marat Safin to go out with a bang! Some Hollywood shots and hopefully a broken racket as a tribute to his famous tantrums."
1613: Roger Federer and Serena Williams headline the night session, and we'll also see how Juan Martin del Potro, Amelie Mauresmo, Gael Monfils, Kim Clijsters and Lleyton Hewitt get on. Aaah. Kim Clijsters and Lleyton Hewitt... remember?
1611: Away from the tears (from me) in the Louis Armstrong Stadium, world number three Rafael Nadal (feels weird writing that) finally gets to start his campaign today against Richard Gasquet. Before that, Venus Williams tests out her dodgy knee against fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands (she of the wacky outfits). In action early doors: Gael Monfils, Amelie Mauresmo and, er, Flavia Pennetta.
1607: And before you ask: no, I have absolutely no faith in Safin. He plays Jurgen Melzer today and I predict a close first set followed by a 6-1 6-3 capitulation, or something like that. Anyway, winning is not the point. It's all about the show with Marat.
1600: Hello. You find me with a heavy heart, for today we are likely to witness the final Grand Slam match of my favourite player ever: the magnificent Marat Safin.

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