USO Day 13: Back to Bedlam.
It rained cats and dogs over Flushing Meadows today as the tennis world waited around for some actual tennis action and complained about the lack of a roof. And when we finally got to see some tennis, it was blissful bedlam.
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
Conscious of the fact that the way the match ended overshadowed the rest of the contest, I’m going to try to talk about the actual match:
It was gripping. It was tense. It was filled with well-struck, well-constructed points. Serena and Clijsters played like the polar opposites that they are – one was full of passionate intensity, the other – an aura of maternal zen. One attacked with ferocious pace while the other absorbed that pace like water. Bruce Lee would’ve been proud.
I must admit Kim Clijsters was never a player I was crazy about back in the day. I had the same sort of problems with her back then as I have with the Dementievas and Safinas of this world now – too neurotic, slightly bland, no fire in her belly…
Don’t look so shocked – I’m as surprised as anyone to find myself seated first class on her comeback train. It might be the fairy tale nature of it all. Perhaps it’s the fact that a mum who’s out there still creating a career for herself, especially in the field of professional sport, is deserving of admiration just on that merit alone. Or maybe it’s because the field has weakened since Clijsters last played, highlighting the quality of her tennis.
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
Or maybe, Clijsters has come back a different player. She’s calmer, almost Federeresque in her zen demeanor on court. Even her defensive shots had more pace, greater depth than what we’ve become accustomed to seeing from JJ or Wozniacki. And they were hit with more conviction and commitment.
After watching Dinara and Vera implode in the last few weeks, it’s refreshing to see Clijsters with her head held up high, calmly constructing points against Serena. No inferiority complexes, just positive body language emanating out of her.
The Kimpossible did more than just to wait for Serena to self-destruct. She took it to Serena, mixed up her shots with the slice, moved Serena around. She caused Serena to feel tense from the very start.
As a result, Clijsters became the first person (I believe) since … Justine Henin at the 2007 US Open to beat both Venus and Serena en route to a title – as a mother, a “former retiree”. As someone who’s been away from the game and the public eye for the last two years.
I ain’t giving it to her just yet, but barring a total implosion, I don’t see Hot Woz winning. Everything that Caroline can do on a tennis court, Kim can do with more zing.
Perhaps fitting to the overall vibe of the WTA, the gripping match ended with even more gripping drama. We’ve all seen what happened – a controversial foot fault, and an even more controversial reaction to the foot fault.
To state the obvious:
– The call was dubious.
– It was made at a bad time.
– The lines woman did nothing wrong.
Was it the best choice to call a foot fault? Nope. It was totally inappropriate given the moment and occasion. Do we really believe in the myth that lines persons can be robots who just call what they see? Do we honestly think that there is no discretionary decision-making involved in a call – however momentary and fleeting that decision-making process may be?
But from a purely positivist perspective, rules are rules. And there’s not a whole lot you can hold against the lines person.
Even so, Serena should’ve never reacted the way she did. It came off as a petulant, muscular diva threatening a small Asian lines person. ‘Might’ against ‘right’. Reading some of the reactions to the drama on fan forums and youtube, it’s disappointing to see cultural stereotypes seeping into popular perceptions of the event.
I’d cut her some slack though, as overboard as her reactions were, she wouldn’t be Serena Williams if she didn’t explode into expletives. That’s part and parcel of the way she functions. I’m hoping for Serena to change her tune and issue a formal apology. Most likely, the ITF will give her a cursory slap on the wrist for it too:
…Williams will be asked to explain her actions and comments toward a female line judge at the end of her semifinal defeat to Kim Clijsters on Saturday night. A source revealed that representatives from tennis’ governing body – the International Tennis Federation – plus members of the Grand Slam Committee, which oversees the four major tournaments – will convene along with U.S. Open referee Brian Earley on Sunday
The group is expected to review video footage of the incident, seek clarification from the line judge and most likely hand down a heavy fine to Williams. A representative from the WTA Tour is also expected to be included, although the Tour does not have jurisdiction over Grand Slam events.
Let’s hope they don’t treat Serena’s overreaction with an overreaction of their own.
In other matches, CWoz finished off Wickmayer as expected. I only watched the last game after the Clijsters match ended, so I can’t say much. From the single game I saw, it looked as uninspiring as it promised to be.
EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images
For the men’s side, Gonzo turned up braindead for the last set against Rafa, who pounded his topspin forehand high to Gonzo’s singlehanded backhand for a quick 76 76 60 victory. Well … that’s good practice for playing a certain Swiss.
Ahem ahem. Who was the person who thought Rafa would do well at this US Open against a chorus of “hahaha..ummm..noooo…kthxbye”? That would be Yours Truly. Thank you very much.
As for tomorrow’s semis: should Roger lose to Djokovic, you’ll find me in bed … with Vodka.
Should both Federer and Nadal get through their respective semis, I’ll be preparing myself for nuclear armament as every heathen descends on tennis world to launch full-scale internet haterade.