Cynical Voices

US Open, Fourth Round and Quarterfinals

(21) Roddick d. (5) Ferrer, 6/3 6/4 3/6 6/3

Andy Roddick today defeated David Ferrer in four sets, as comprehensive an upset as the difference in their respective rankings would suggest, notwithstanding that it took place on a fast hardcourt in the USA. It was also a match with baggage, as so many of Roddick’s are these days. Ferrer of course defeated Roddick in that recent Davis Cup tie, on a fast court in Texas, which presumably explains the American’s reaction afterwards, as he lapped the court, high-fiving a sampling of those common folk he suddenly loves so dearly. The court was Court 13, and Das Volk were thus very close indeed.

The match had originally been scheduled for Louis Armstrong, but the initial promise of clear skies was rather undone when water began seeping up through the surface, owing to torrential rain augmenting the water table, and to the decision to build a tennis centre on a land-filled swamp. As puddles spontaneously formed near the baseline, a heated conference ensued, eventually arriving at the resolution to relocate to an outer court. Word all week has been that the outer courts are faster than the stadiums, although Ferrer raised no protest. As for the match, Roddick will doubtless fondly believe his win has silenced those armchair critics who dare question his approach, but the fact is that he played well, and with sufficient aggression that all parties can now tilt back and declare they told us so. He next faces Rafael Nadal. Tell him so.

Other than too much water and Roddick admonishing those with the easiest job in the world, the other story of the tournament has been retirements. With Janko Tipsarevic’s failure to complete his quarterfinal against Novak Djokovic – he could have played on, but by his own admission not well enough to win, a bona fide warrior – the US Open has now claimed the record for most retirements in a single event: 11. Aside from the volume, the most disappointing aspect has been the overall softness of the reasons given. Men’s tennis has very suddenly arrived at a point where it is acceptable to pull out while you’re still able to play, but don’t think you will win. Cynical voices have suggested that Tipsarevic pulled out early not only to protect himself for the upcoming Davis Cup semifinal – he confessed as much – but to spare Djokovic further toil, to risk no pointless injury to his ordained countryman. As I say, cynical voices . . .

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