By Gillon Gross

8-24

Here it is, my U.S Open preview…….

Moving into the semis- Novak Djokovic has struggled immensely this summer in warmup tournaments before the open; combine that with a tough draw, and many people have him written off as championship contender. I chose to look at things differently. Djokovic’s struggles in recent tournaments means he will take nothing for granted in the early stages of the U.S Open. Once Novak gets through his first three matches, his confidence is back, and so is his game. His superb return skills will have him easily beating John Isner in the 4th round. In all likelihood he will either see Jo-Wilfred Tsonga or Andy Murray in the quarterfinals. Tsonga beat Djokovic 6-2 6-2 last time they met, but I have Murray beating Tsonga in the 4th round. I wouldn’t get too excited about Tsonga’s triumph in Toronto (a warmup tournament) especially because he lost in the first round in his next tournament (Cincinnati). Murray on the other hand has dominated Tsonga in their career head to head. So there you have it, Murray vs Djokovic in the quarters. I am just not ready to pick Andy to pull of a big top 3 win. It’s clear he is lacking in confidence vs the top guns when he gives up a double break lead in the second set vs Federer to lose the match. That’s why I have Novak Djokovic, moving into the semis. Roger Federer will likely face Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter finals, a man who is often referred to as Mini Federer. Dimitrov is an upcoming star, but at the moment nobody can beat Roger at his own game. That’s why I have Roger Federer, moving into the semis. My favorite player David Ferrer will play Tomas Berdych if the seeds hold up. This is a rematch of this years Australian Open quarterfinals, where Berdych came out on top. This time, I predict a different result. It’s been a frustrating 2014 campaign for Ferrer, but he seemed to finally find his game in Cincinati, where he lost to Federer in the finals. You can’t say the same about Berdych as the big man simply isn’t improving. He has had a disappointing summer so far, with no signs pointing to a turn around. That’s why I have David Ferrer, moving into the semis. Last but not least, Milos Raonic. Raonic has Stan Wawrinka in his quarter, but I don’t think the two will ever have to meet. I have Tommy Robredo upsetting the number three seed. Robredo beat Djokovic in Cincy, and the 32 year old Spaniard appears to be playing the best hard court tennis of his career. Wawrinka has not been the same since winning the Australian Open earlier this year. That’s why I have Milos Raonic, moving on to the semis.

And the champion will be……

If you have followed tennis in the last couple months, you know who looks the best. Roger Federer looks like a completely different player from a year ago. He was a shell of himself in 2013 when he lost in the 4th round of last year’s open. He comes into the U.S Open having making the finals in his last three tournaments. There is no question Roger will bring his best, but is it better than Novak’s best? Probably not. Although I have Novak Djokovic overcoming his tough draw to make the finals, he should be both mentally and physically exhausted by the time he gets there. You can’t win a major if you play many long matches. With Djokovic’s draw, long matches are inevitable. I suspect we see some vintage Roger Federer in the 2014 U.S Open en route to his 6th U.S Open title.

What about the women?

Sorry, I simply don’t know as much about women’s tennis. I will watch my favorite players Caroline Wozniaki, Ana Ivanovic, and Serena Williams, but other than that I usually don’t study women’s tennis like I do men’s tennis. So you will have to look elsewhere for your Women’s preview. My apologies.

Tomorrow, I work at 12:30. I’ll be sure to tell you all about day 1 of the U.S Open tomorrow night.

8-22 and 8-23

Walking through the gate at 9 am was actually a pretty cool experience. Fans aren’t allowed to enter the grounds until 10, so players prefer to practice before then. Every court around the grounds were being used for practice. Every fourth person I saw was a player. When the French players walked by each other, “bonjour!” They would sing. So many languages were spoken around the grounds at this time. Just read off the mens top 20- you will find 16 different countries! If you were to make a list of the top 25 baseball, basketball, hockey, or football players, you would be hard pressed to find over five different countries. On top of the multicultural environment, I saw many players at this time. This morning I saw Ana Ivanovich, Feliciano Lopez,  Maria Sharapova, Fernando Verdasco, Tomas Berdych, and Radek Stepanek. I love seeing these people in real life, because they are usually on my television screen. I want to say hi to them, but I never do. If I tried to talk to them, I would feel like I’m invading their precious time without fans yelling for their autograph. Instead, I hope they will say something to me.

I wasn’t planning on writing about autographs, but the paragraph above just spurred too many thoughts. If you have been to the U.S Open, you already know what I’m about to say; if you haven’t, you will learn something. Kids are autograph crazy! As soon as a match or practice ends, kids stampede down the stairs for autographs. Now comes the bad part. Imagine 150 squeeky voices calling your name at once, while also sticking oversized tennis balls in your face. Why must you repeatedly say the players name? Andy Murray has eyes and he knows that you know his name! Jerry Seinfeld once asked, why are we quiet at a tennis match, don’t they know we are watching them? Yes Jerry, they know. If I were a player I would probably tell them to be quiet, and then I would sign for them. Why are autographs such a big deal anyways? If I had dinner with Roger Federer, I would not ask for his autograph at any point. To me, the experience of meeting a famous person is what counts, not their signature. I don’t get it and I never will. Now that I have finished my rant, I will tell you about my day.

To be completely honest, I’m in a somber mood on my way back from the U.S Open.  I don’t have to tell you guys when things are bad, but I thought if I did, it would feel that much better when I have good news to report. I want to be above average at my job, but right now I feel like I’m doing an average job. I’m making some bad throws. Everything else is going well, but that’s not good enough. I’m worried that I won’t be able to get on the courts I want to get on this year. I’m concerned that I took a step back from last year. There is no way of knowing if my concerns will become a reality until Monday, when I get my first assignment. If I’m unhappy, I will mostly be sorry to myself, but also sorry to you guys. I’m sure you would rather read about top 10 singles players then doubles on the outer courts. As sad as I seem right now, there is nothing that can stop me from enjoying this year’s open. I will be excited Monday morning regardless of what court I get. I must remind myself I am lucky to be there.

Today I did another women’s match. I did it. I did the whole qualifying week without a men’s match. This is an unbelievable coincidence, one that I didn’t particularly appreciate to be honest. It was a three setter with many breaks of serve. In the end, the Ukrainian 17 seed defeated the Russian 3 seed who looked mentally exhausted by the end of it. Rumor had it she threw quite the fit in her match on Thursday. As you know, I was upset with myself after the match. The only thing that could’ve made me feel better was some good tennis, but rain forbade that from happening. It also prevented me from having another shift.

This entry will serve as Fridays and Saturdays entries. Remember, tomorrow is my U.S Open preview.

8-21

The draws are out! Today you will learn I am not only a ballboy, I’m an analyst. On Sunday, I will give you all my predictions for the tournament and an in depth U.S Open preview. This time, I’ll keep it short and sweet. Top seed Novak Djokovic better take it one match at a time, because his draw is as nasty as it gets. He could see the big serving American John Isner in the round of sixteen, followed by Murray or Tsonga, and possibly Stan Wawrinka or Milos Raonic in the semifinals. Federer should have a much easier time on the bottom half of the draw. His biggest threats are probably Grigor Dimitrov, Tomas Berdych or David Ferrer. This is an incredibly lopsided draw in favor of the 32 year old maestro, Roger Federer, and an unsettling draw for Djokovic fans. With the absence of Nadal, this may present the biggest opportunity in years for players outside of the big four to win a major. I am a die hard David Ferrer fan trying to remain hopeful for a miracle. Once again, I will provide my full in depth analysis on Sunday.

 

As for today, my day off came as a surprise to me. Last year I worked every shift, every day. Rookies don’t get days off during qualifiers because they need time to be evaluated. I welcomed the news of a day off last night due to my sore lower back, but by 3 pm this afternoon, I wished I was at the open. When I’m not there, I feel like I’m missing something. Things are happening without me. Most people probably don’t get this feeling, but if you haven’t noticed, I am somewhat of a fanatic.

 

I can tell you that I’m very excited for tomorrow. Friday is the best day of qualies.  Each match is for a spot in the first round f the U.S Open. By the end of tomorrow 16 players will have officially qualified. The players feel so close to reaching their goal. The fans know this, so they always come out in the largest numbers on Friday. Tomorrow, American players will fill court 17 and court 11 with fans for the first time of the tournament. The difference in environment between qualies and the main draw is profound. Friday is the first time roars from court 17 can be heard across the grounds. I will report at 10 am tomorrow, so I will surely get two full shifts of work. I haven’t worked many hours in qualies, so I need to make them count.

Filed under: Mohl Gross, Tennis, Uncategorized


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