Arnault Clement on the run returning a backhand shot yesterday
Who ever said Tennis is on the decline (or that the rest of the country is in a deep recession)?
You would never know it during the fourth consecutive day of sweltering heat at the US Open held at Flushing Meadow's Billy Jean King Tennis Center.
The fans were out in droves. The Armstrong and Ashe arenas were sold out by noon. and as I arrived at 1PM, I felt almost like a squished sardine in a rush hour 42nd Street Shuttle train with no air conditioning.
And why shouldn' the venue be nearly packed to the gills when the winner of the men's or women's singles title can pocket up to $2.7 million along with the coveted trophy?
Who wouldn't want the opportunity to see Raphael Nadal, the world's #1 player win the only Grand Slam that has eluded him!!!
The tournament sponsors are heavy handed as usual. Lexus is out and Mercedes is now in along with Chase bank, Continental Airlines and American Express. The latter has its logo ubiquitously displayed on a single piece earphone gratuitously handed out to fans to follow wirelessly a play by play analysis--even on the grounds courts!
Mercedes is proudly displaying its flashy new coupes as well as its reinvented Gull Wing with a multimedia mammoth screen display booth.
I hung out on court 13 most of the day and got to see some great matches. Arnaud Clement, a surprise finalist at the Australian Open in 2001 was in top shape, had won the first set and at 4-3 in the second set, his amazing opponet Eduardo Schwank of Argentina, lost his footing and twisted his ankle; after receiving some first aid, Schwank continued to play and had to retire, though not before evening the score at 5-5.. The two were playing top tennis.
Maria Kirilenko #23 in the world is an aggressive hard-hitting Russian player who easily beat Austrian Yvonne Meusburger in 3 sets; the latter was bagled in the third.
Five Russian women have advanced to the third round: Svetlana Kutznetsova, Vera Zvonareva, Jelena Jankovic, Maria Sharopova and Maria Kirilenko.