Tuesday, September 03, 2019

US Open 2019: French Fries, Pastries and Also Great Tennis

This past weekend we made our annual trip to the US Open Tennis Tournament. While Friday's matches were good, Saturday's were great.

On Friday, we saw Federer, Djokovic and Serena all dominate their opponents. We watched Kei Nishikori take on Alex de Minaur. And while we had high hopes for a Kei comeback, Alex never really let him get control of the match. In short, it was solid tennis but nothing extravagant.

This changed on Saturday when we watched Taylor Townsend take on Sorana Cirstea. Townsend has a reputation for playing serve and volley tennis, a style of tennis that commentators will frequently remind you is distinctly old school. Townsend won her first set in the most difficult way possible: she kept losing games and then breaking back to recover. While her rushing the net strategy wasn't working for most of the first set, she stuck with it. By the second set she had tuned her strategy, and was crushing it. It was a thing of beauty to watch.

It's not just Townsend's on-court strategy that I loved; she has great between sets schtick as well. For one, she busts out a journal to review, a move that implies everything is going to plan. But that's nothing compared to her other move: jumping rope. While her opponent was seated between sets, she grabbed a jump rope and went to town. Her message: Who's tired? You're tired? I'm not tired. Nope, I've got energy to burn.

After that match, we made our way to Ashe to watch Andreescu beat Wozniacki, another unlikely victory.

We closed out the day by watching Monfils take on Shapovalov. This was exactly the kind of 5 set battlefest one hopes for. While it looked like Monfils would take it in 4, Shapovalov pushed it to 5 sets and kept fighting all the way. Monfils, for his part, never lost hope and took the longer match in stride. After Monfils prevailed we heard him speak at the post match interview. Monfils has a reputation for being a showman, which at times has made commentators suggest he doesn't take the game as seriously as others. So I was a bit surprised when this veteran gave such a humble, authentic and entitlement-free interview. I've always been a fan of Monfils, but now I'm even more so.

Overall, it was two great days at the Open. Other highlights include: walking past the massive crowds at the East Gate to enter without waiting in line at the South Gate. Stopping by Iris Tea & Bakery to pick up delicious baked goods to nosh on throughout the day. Savoring waffle, Korean and Vietnamese style french fries. Scoring a free cooling towel that was perfect for keeping the sun from baking my legs. And taking Amtrak instead of driving to NY for a less-stress and more-leg-room travel option. Good times!

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