US OPEN BUZZ: The Most Popular No. 142 Player in the History of Tennis?

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Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

REFLECTIONS ON THE SOFT SIDE OF TENNIS: Donald Trump talks about the softening and then the hardening and then the softening of his policies. Similarly, Nick Kyrgios said when things get tough he sometimes has a tendency to go soft. Saturday night, playing against 28-year-old Ukrainian Ilya Marchenko, ranked No. 63, a despondent Kyrgios had to pull out of the match due to a hip flexor injury. Speaking of soft, Serena Williams felt her new dress has “kind of like a superhero design. Like a really powerful strong character that is strong, yet isn’t afraid to be soft at the same time.”

HEADLINES

THE ROOF! RAIN OUT…NOISE IN

COMRADESHIP KEY TO RECENT RISE OF BRITISH CONTINGENT

BEAT DJOKOVIC – HE’LL GIVE IT HIS BEST SHOT

OUCH! The big electronic sign at the US Open saluted former US champ Vic Seixas. Too bad it showed Spain’s Manuel Santana.

HEY WTA, MOVE THE TOUR TO NEW YORK: Last year’s US Open finalist Roberta Vinci has reached the US Open quarterfinals four times. She’s done so well here that one writer asked her if she’s going to go ahead and ask the WTA to hold all of their tournaments in New York.

SAME OLD SINKING FEELING: Once again, in the first weekend of a Grand Slam, two fine Americans – in this case Jack Sock and Madison Keys – were simultaneously going down to quality opponents, Jo-Willy Tsonga and Caroline Wozniacki. Once again, the only American competitors left in a Grand Slam are named Williams.

TIGER WOODS IN A TENNIS SKIRT:  Mark Cannizzaro claimed, “Serena Williams is Tiger Woods in a tennis skirt. Much the way Woods did…before his body began to fail him, Williams makes what she does…look so easy it makes you wonder if her greatness is being taken for granted.”

THANK GOD VENUS AND SERENA DIDN’T TAKE UP BEACH VOLLEYBALL: With Venus and Serena now being the top two American players and the only two Americans remaining in the draw, Pam Shriver said it is hard “to think what American tennis would be like without the Williams sisters playing into their 30s.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“No Federer. No Sharapova. No problem. The 2016 US Open already has put plenty on display.” – Jon Wertheim

THE MOST POPULAR PLAYER THIS SIDE OF RAFA OR ROGER?

• Is Juan Martin del Potro the most popular player in tennis who isn’t named Rafa or Roger? Or we could have asked is Delpo the most popular US Open wildcard in memory or the most beloved No. 142 player in the world ever? BTW: Jimmy Connors, late in his career, was ranked No. 141. Like Delpo, the champion’s low ranking was due to a wrist surgery.

• “I feel I am [in] my home [country]…you make me so happy every day.” – Juan Martin del Potro, whose home of Tandil, Argentina has a population of 110,627.

• “This is a show, and the crowd was supporting Juan Martin del Potro. I am trying to focus on my match. I don’t care.” – David Ferrer, who lost to the popular Argentine in straight sets.

JUST WONDERING: Has the No. 1 player in a nation ever been as supportive of lower ranked players in his country as Andy Murray is towards the likes of Kyle Edmond, Dan Evans, Ross Hutchins and the late Elena Baltacha?

NO KIDDING: When Madison Keys was on the brink of going down 5-1 to the streaking Caroline Wozniacki, Pam Shriver said, “We know what happens when Madison Keys goes down 5-1 in a set.” (In her previous match, Keys raced back from 5-1 in the final set to overcome Naomi Osaka.)

OLD MAN IVO: Croatian Ivo Karlovic, 37, became the oldest man to reach the US Open fourth round since Jimmy Connors was 39 in 1991. He stopped the run of 19-year-old American qualifier Jared Donaldson.

WILLIAMSES STILL DOMINATE: At the Open, the pattern has been clear: Venus and Serena play on the same day, and they dominate coverage in the papers the next day.

GRADES OF DANGER: Serena Williams‘ coach Patrick Mouratoglou told the AP that Serena’s next opponent, Yaroslava Shvedova, “is dangerous. But I think Serena is even more dangerous.”

SAY IT ISN’T SO: Too many of the good seats at the Grandstand aren’t taken because they’ve been pre-sold to corporate or deep pocket folks. There’s just something wrong when fans squeeze in to the standing room only section of the place for a great Gael Monfils match while empty seats abound below. Memo to the USTA: Let the people, the real fans, use the good seats at the Grandstand.

A GREAT COMMENTARY ON A GREAT SPEECH: Peter Bodo wrote that the retirement speech Andre Agassi gave 10 years ago at the US Open was “the heartfelt farewell of a single man, but it feels like the valedictory address delivered on behalf of a tennis generation the likes of which we’ll never see again. It feels like an epilogue. How lucky we are that it was so touching. So inspiring. So gracious. That it so quickly got out of its own way.

“Agassi’s paean to the game was both a confession and an admission. It completed the lifelong journey of tennis’ most celebrated prodigal son. Without overt intent, the address passed judgment on a life lived in tennis, a life that incorporated all the joys and sorrows and all the rewards and pitfalls of a specific era.”

IT’S TOUGH TO BE KING: Mats Wilander famously said he couldn’t wait to no longer be No. 1. He didn’t exactly enjoy the pressure. Former No. 1 player Rafael Nadal, who recently served a term as the ATP president, told Spanish reporters, “I would be lying if I said it was a positive experience – because it was not.”

FOUR FOR FOUR: Madison Keys lost in the fourth round of each of the four majors this year, which is actually a great accomplishment. Okay, she has yet to win a big tourney, but the 21-year-old has a good spirit, an abundance of talent and a bright future.

MADISON’S NERVES: Keys said that once she’s in the second week of a Slam, she starts to get ahead of herself because she wants it so much. That’s when her nerves set in. Today she admitted she panicked a bit doing her 6-3, 6-4 loss to Caroline Wozniacki.

TOO MANY COOKS: As she was explaining why she likes to play in New York, Caroline Wozniacki referenced her apartment there and how great it is to be home where she can cook, but then quickly corrected herself, saying, “Wait, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I don’t cook. My mother cooks for me. And she does my wash too.”

OH, SO CLOSE: Dan Evans came within a point of making the fourth round, but faltered and eventually collapsed against No. 3 seed Stan Wawrinka 4-6, 6-3, 6-7(6), 7-6(8), 6-2.

GO FIGURE: While the more widely distributed ESPN network featured a football game between Alcorn and Bethune, the less popular ESPN2 featured the Jo-Willy TsongaJack Sock third round match.