As Summer Comes to a Close… Tennis Begins to “Open” Up

The 2009 US Open is off to a great start. I find this year’s US Open to be exceptionally spectacular, both on and off the court. For instance, I absolutely LOVE the new feature of including a US Open LIVE feature, where fans at home can watch free, full length matches in high definition complete with commentary. It’s really broadened the availability of tennis in America, strategically increasing popularity through this process. I’ve always been a fan and found it annoying when I didn’t have the TV station that was hosting the Open that day or when the commentators would continuously switch through various courts, never staying on a single match for the whole time.

But what I love most about this year’s US Open is women’s tennis. Of course, men’s tennis is always a pleasure to watch, but it’s been mind-numbingly dull to watch this year. Sure, you might enjoy watching Federer destroy Lleyton Hewitt in a barely entertaining 4-set match, but I’d rather watch a fabulous upset on the women’s side. Speaking of upsets… there’s been plenty. Take Melanie Oudin, age 17, from Marietta, Georgia. This summer, she upset No. 6 Jelena Jankovic at Wimbledon, going all the way to the fourth round. She brought that intensity and a raised level of confidence to the US Open. So far, she’s continuing into in the fourth round, having accomplished two MAJOR upsets (in my opinion, they were even more well-earned than Jelena Jankovic’s defeat). Miss Oudin managed to defeat the 2008 Beijing Olympics Tennis gold medalist and ranked No. 4 Elena Dementieva 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 and even No. 29 and three-time grand slam winning Maria Sharapova 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. Her next match up will be against No. 13 Nadia Petrova. In addition to having these two goliaths out of the tournament so early, No. 5 Jelena Jankovic and No. 1 Dinara Safina fell in two long, hard fought matches. Jelena Jankovic lost in the second round to No. 55 Yaroslava Shvedova 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-6(6) saving two match points! And tonight, No. 1 Dinara Safina fell to Petra Kvitova, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5) in an agonizing and intense match. On the men’s side, James Blake also fell to Tommy Robredo.

It’s always been somewhat natural for most humans to cheer on the underdog. I’ve always loved Sharapova, but when I see her up at the court against Georgia’s own Melanie Oudin, I immediately have an intense disliking for the Russian. It’s always fascinating how humans always love to see upsets, no matter how emotionally debilitating they may be to the high ranked player. I reckon that Dinara Safina, criticized for never having won a grand slam title as a No. 1 ranked player, may go downhill from here. After such a loss (she had four match points), terrible playing in the past week, and continuous criticism from fellow players, fans, and experts… I don’t expect her to bounce back anytime soon. And while you and I may have had our chuckle, our satisfaction of knowing there’s still hope for people who aren’t Number One, most of us fail to see the damage that these seemingly fun and harmless upsets can cause. Sooner or later, we’re going to be cheering for the young teenager who’s on Arthur Ashe, against Melanie Oudin, a top ten player. In the world of ups and downs, everyone has to take his or her own toll.

Published in: on September 6, 2009 at 5:15 am  Leave a Comment