MUSING ON ROGER, SERENA AND THE BEATLES IN PUBLIC SPACES: This spring, when she was pregnant, Serena approached some guys who were playing on the public courts in San Francisco’s Dolores Park. It goes without saying that the fellows were a bit taken aback when the great tennis diva approached.
Similarly, yesterday Roger Federer wanted to practice. But he didn’t want to endure the wretched SUV ride all the way out to the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Queens. So his peeps made some calls and voila, he got a practice session at Central Park’s tennis courts. Of course, the park is hardly a stranger to big celebrities. Many – from Paul Simon to Diana Ross to Madonna – have performed before tens of thousands there, and there’s a poignant memorial to John Lennon in the park.
Speaking of the Beatles, their last performance was in a quasi-pubic space atop the roof of their Abbey Road studio. All of this begs our question of the day. Who was more surprised, the guys Serena walked up to in San Francisco, the Central Park strollers who came upon the greatest player of all time practicing on a humble park court, or those lucky few Londoners who out of nowhere heard the Beatles’ last concert?
BTW: Inside Tennis asked Federer about his Central Park practice session. “Sometimes I think [it’s good] having a fun practice session, being in a totally different surrounding like yesterday, where all 20 courts just stopped playing and came out to watch [me] play,” he said. “People were just happy to see [me] there, meet [me], talk to [me], maybe get a photo. They didn’t care about autographs.”
“It was a different crowd. I really enjoyed that. Just to be in that environment for a change. I’ve seen the routine of normal practice sessions and matches, press, all the things we do – it’s always the same. I think this was very refreshing. I hope I can do these things a bit more often.”
“This is getting whack-a-doodle.” – Cindy Shmerler on all the upsets at the US Open
“Look at all the people out here just demolishing the ball!” – a US Open fan with a beer
“Cinderella lost her glass slipper in the third set.” – the New York Post on CiCi Bellis’ first-round loss
“It’s hard to believe that a player, even an 18-year-old with transcendent talent, could significantly improve over the course of three weeks. But if my eyes weren’t deceiving me, that’s what Denis Shapovalov did between his semifinal run in Montreal earlier this month and his US Open debut this week.” – Steve Tignor
“Hey, where is everyone going, don’t you know that Jared Donaldson is playing next?” – a US Open fan
“It’s upsetting. Today was upsetting. The way I played was upsetting. The tournament is upsetting.” – Alexander Zverev, after his second-round loss to Borna Coric
“Maria Sharapova’s comeback to Grand Slam tennis continues, with only slightly less drama and a whole lot more pop.” – Newsday’s Jeff Williams
“Already the youth movement is making itself known.” – Chris Fowler
A LOTTA LOVE FOR SHAPOVALOV: Denis Shapovalov’s speedy rise up the ranks continued, as the Canadian teen – fresh from a victory over Rafa Nadal at the Rogers Cup – knocked out No. 8 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (3) under the night lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium. In the process, Shapovalov became the youngest man in 10 years to reach the US Open’s third round.
Shapovalov had to play qualifying. His next opponent is Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund.
‘I’ve Never Liked Maria Sharapova, But I’m Rooting For Her at the US Open’
‘A Master of Disaster’ – on Nick Kyrgios
‘Canadian Teen Shapovalov Gets Taste of US Open Nightlife’
‘With His Play on Ashe, Shapovalov Made Men’s Tennis Feel Young Again’
A STAR IS BORNA? No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev was the young gun most touted to make a mark at the Open, but he fell to fellow 20-year-old Borna Coric of Croatia. It may not have been a five-set epic, but Coric’s 3-6, 7-5, 7-6, 7-6 win was still a thriller defined by long cat-and-mouse rallies and a pair of tiebreaks in which Coric, after holding on tooth and nail throughout the set, took decisive control at clutch time. For Zverev – who won this year in Rome, Washington DC and Toronto, it’s back to the drawing board, as he was often lulled into off-pace back-and-forth exchanges with Coric, who’d won their previous matches, including in junior play.
ALLIE’S GETTING A KICK OUT OF HER KICKS: American Allie Kiick, 26, has overcome mono, skin cancer and a series of knee surgeries. Kiick came through qualifying but then lost to Daria Gavrilova in the first round. Her father Jim, a former running back for the Miami Dolphins, has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s and suspected CTE and resides in an assisted living facility in South Florida. Allie did keep her promise to herself that if she got through the qualies she would buy herself a pair of $1,000 red stilettos.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: The first thing Norlaila Kyrgios does when she is traveling with her son Nick is to find out where the closest laundromat is. (Just don’t forget the Tide, Norlaila.) Speaking of Tide, Pam Shriver noted that the first big Saturday college game – the clash between the No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide and No. 3 Florida State – was like world No. 2 Simona Halep having to face five-time Slam winner Maria Sharapova.
SAY IT ISN’T SO: Nick Kyrgios said, “There are players out there…that want to get better, that strive to get better every day. I’m not that guy.”
MARATHON WOMAN: Shelby Rogers defeated scrappy Aussie Daria Gavrilova 7-6 (6), 4-6, 7-6 (5) in the longest women’s singles match in US Open history. It clocked in at 3 hours and 33 minutes, ten minutes longer than Jo Konta’s 2015 win over Garbine Muguruza. Speaking of marathons, Patrick McEnroe is planning to run the New York Marathon in November.
A NEW ANDREY: Nineteen-year-old Russian Andrey Rublev served notice that he has arrived as a major player with a decisive 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-3 victory over Cincy champ and No. 7 seed Grigor Dimitrov on Armstrong. Rublev shares the name of a famous 15th-century Russian painter of icons, whose life was dramatized in a 1969 movie of the same name by the director Andrei Tarkovsky.