When In New York, Do As The Romans Do

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Harjanto Sumali

MATCH OF THE TOURNEY: The Matteo Berrettini vs. Gael Monfils 3:56 marathon, that the Italian won.

GO FIGURE: Berrettini, who’s said to be built like a box, makes barrel-chested Stan Wawrinka look kind of scrawny.

A TOURNEY WITHOUT SCRAPPY CITY RATS: The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay wrote that he had just “one mild grievance, and it’s that, sometimes, this giant tennis tournament feels more US than it does New York City…it isn’t very New York gritty…[It] isn’t the place to come to if you want to see a scrappy city rat carrying a giant piece of pizza in its mouth. Or a 20-person brawl in the stands. Or a gargantuan pothole in the middle of the court, with a family of pizza rats inside, all of them wearing Ramones t-shirts.”

ARACHNOPHOBIA AND MR. FEDERER: When an Italian journalist told Federer not to worry about his question, Roger said he was afraid of spiders, not the guy’s question.

ORIGIN STORIES: Bianca Andreescu’s parents came to Canada with two suitcases. Andre Agassi’s dad came from an apartment in Iran he shared with 12 others. Frances Tiafoe’s parents fled from a brutal civil war in Sierra Leone. Martina Navratilova defected from Czechoslovakia on her own.

LASAGNA DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN:  We suspect these Italian-American tennis enthusiasts are stoked about Matteo Berrettini reaching the semis: Mary Carillo, Nick Bollettieri, Nick Saviano, Kathy Rinaldi, Jennifer Capriati, Jeff Tarango, Dick Vitale, Bjorn Fratangelo, Sammy Giammalva, Vince Spadea, Derrick Rostagno

GENDER BENDER: After Elise Mertens efficiently won the first set over Bianca Andreescu, Pat McEnroe asked, “Can I say workman-like about a women’s first set?”

QUOTEBOOK

“A showman needs a stage and Ashe Stadium is giving it to Monfils.” – Cliff Drysdale

“It has been physical, it has been tactical, it has been emotional. We have seen just about everything in this match. It’s been a wonderful performance.” – Darren Cahill on the Berrettini vs Monfils five-setter

“For sure I was dying inside.” – Matteo Berrettini

“As I was playing I thought, ‘This is one of the best matches I ever saw.’ I was playing but I was watching, too.” – Berrettini who double-faulted at MP 

“There was some serious choking going on during the last couple of points.” – Rennae Stubbs early in the Bencic vs Vekic match

 “His nickname is ‘El Pequeno’ but he doesn’t play short.” – Brad Gilbert on Diego Schwartzman

“If you want to make some progress you have to take some steps backward.” – Darren Cahill on Grigor Dimitrov

NO LONGER LILY WHITE: When it comes to race relations in America, our country still has a long way to go. As for tennis, it used to be a lily-white sport. Thankfully at this year’s Open there were some nice moments. Legend Billie Jean King noted that she’s just a white woman, but then gave an eloquent speech to honor the unveiling of Althea Gibson’s statue. Teen wonders Coco Gauff and Caty Mcnally captured hearts and drew huge crowds on court. Some suggested their doubles match may have drawn the highest TV rankings for a women’s double match ever. The long-standing interracial romance of quarterfinalist Gael Monfils and semifinalist Elina Svitolina is a wonderful storyline. 

TONI MORRISON LIVES ON: Tennis’ foremost literary critic, Andrea Petkovic, said she really didn’t know that much about Toni Morrison, the late great Nobel Prize winner who wrote with such power and passion. But the German said that after Morrison’s death August 5th she went out and bought three of her books. Serena said the imaginative novelist “was a great writer and a great advocate. It was a tough loss for everyone…An icon like that means so much to not only African-American culture but to culture in general. The things she wrote and the literature she was a part of are something that will live on forever.”

AMERICANS LEFT IN THE DRAW: Serena in singles, Caroline Dolehide and Vania King in doubles and Bethanie Mattek-Sands in mixed with Brit Jamie Murray.

HAPPY TALK: After one of his day matches, in which he sported a bright purple shirt, Rafa said he “tried to play with happy colors.” The on-court commentator replied, “Rafa, you can come and play in any color you want.”

THE GREATEST TENNIS STORY EVER TOLD? Is the dominance of the ATP’s Big 3 – Roger, Rafa and Novak – combined with the shortfalls of roughly two generations of hopefuls, the greatest men’s story of the Open Era? Nonetheless, this is the first time since the 2010 French Open that both Federer and Djokovic have gone out before the semis.

WHO’D OF THUNK IT? Grigor Dimitrov began the Open at No. 78, playing his first-round match on Court 11 in front of barely 100 fans. Yesterday, he beat Roger in front of 23,000.

ALPINE SURVIVOR: Yesterday there were three Swiss players in the draw. Then Federer and Wawrinka, who have 23 Slams between them, lost. So just as she was at the 2018 French Open, Belinda Bencic is left as the last Swiss player standing.

JUST WONDERING: What’s more impressive about Monfils – his charismatic, fun-loving showmanship or his lights-out, best-in-the-biz, athleticism…When there was yet another code violation warning for failing to start a match on time, was that an indication that maybe the rules are a tad too tight?

GOOD TIMES FOR ITALIAN TENNIS: It’s interesting that men’s tennis in France is a lot bigger than in Italy. It helps that France has a heritage that goes back to the first great woman superstar of the 20th century, Suzanne Lenglen, and includes the fabled Four Musketeers from the ‘20s. Plus, it’s great to host one of the four majors. In fact, the French Federation uses the huge profits the French Open to invest in the game and create a hefty infrastructure that includes a slew of French tourneys. Past players become tournament directors and newspapers put tennis on the front page. In Italy, it’s all about soccer. Still, it’s been a great year for Italian tennis. The ATP finalized a deal that moves the year-end championship, held in London for the last 12 years, to the northern Italian city of Turin starting in 2021. Then, in April, Fabio Fognini became the first Italian to win a Masters 1000 tournament.

EVERY GUY IS HIS OWN CHARACTER: With Matteo Berrettini’s upset over Monfils, he became the first Italian to reach the semis in 42 years. Berrettini’s coach and fellow Roman, Vincenzo Santopadre, said the best part of Italian tennis is that Every guy has his own personality, his own character, his own way to play, his own attitude…Usually they have good technique. Sometimes, we could be better…with the mentality, with the culture…how we approach the things.”  

HEADLINE OF THE DAY: Daniil Wins…Like It or Not

DON’T THINK SO: “Life is a race” is the ill-conceived Mercedes slogan we’ve seen time and again during the Open.

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