At The Open With Marcia Frost...
Monday, August 25th-Main Draw Day One
I really thought I would be able to report by now that at least one college or junior player broke through, but that was not to happen today. I spent the day watching my favorites lose, though I did see some great tennis.
When Maria Kirilenko won the US Open Junior Championships last year, it was not without shocking a number of players (and spectators) with her amazing play. Since then Maria has only improved. She is one of the smartest players I've ever seen and has the ability to adjust her game to overcome her opponent. Today was no exception.
There was nothing wrong with Theresa Logar's play today. She was right on with a powerful serve and terrific strokes, but whatever she did, Maria Kirilenko did it one better. The first set was almost an even match as Maria's one break decided it 6-4. The second set was a totally different matter. As she had done to previous opponents through the qualifying, Maria learned from her mistakes of the first and did not repeat any of them in the 6-2 second.
Like so many others, I gasped when I heard that NCAA singles champion Amber Liu was to play top-seeded Kim Clijsters in the first round. I have to say that it was definitely not the wipeout that everyone expected. After Opening Night ceremonies that included the cast of Movin Out perfoming and the New York City Color Guard, Amber faced Kim with a confidence. It took Kim a little while to get going and Amber took an early two game lead. Unfortunately, those were the only games Amber would win in that set.
There was no time during the match were Amber Liu looked like she did not belong in Arthur Ashe stadium. She may be an amateur, but she played like a pro and kept Kim Clijsters moving. Thought she did lose 6-2,6-3, she did it with dignity and gained a great experience.
One past NCAA champion who was not at her best today was Bea Bielik. Since her breakout performance here last year Bea has climbed the rankings to an impressive 138. Many were expecting her to upset Patty Schnyder today, but that was not the case. The large crowd seemed to make Bea more nervous than she had been last year playing on Arthur Ashe against Justin Henin. She missed shots and her spectacular serve was rarely on as Patty took the first set 6-1. The second set was somewhat better and some of Bea's signature backhands and serves were visible, but it was too little too late. After she survived three match points, she succombed to the fourth for a 6-4 final set.
Brian Baker has been here before, earning wildcards the last few years. This year is different, though. This year he is a professional tennis player and Jurgen Melzer let him know that he was now playing with the pros. It was a tough, close match and Brian was in it all the way. He lost the first two sets (both 6-3) and fought back to take the fourth, 7-5. Jurgen was determined not to go down and stayed with it until he took the match with a fourth, 6-3.
Another player who was taught a lesson about playing with the pros today was Robert Yim. Last week Robert made the very difficult decision to turn professional and not attend UCLA as planned. I am sure there were moments today when he regretted that decision. It was a matchup of one of the oldest players in the draw against one of the youngest and, as often happens, experience paid off.
Robert Yim was very much in the match against Todd Martin. Though Armstrong stadium was a bit overwhelming at the beginning and he lost the first set, 6-1, Robert just missed the second after he brought it to a tie-breaker. The third set was a battle and it looked a lot closer than the 6-2 ending in Todd's favor. It was certainly a respectable beginning to Robert Yim's pro career.
There are a few more amateurs to go between the singles and doubles draws. It was not to be today, but....
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