September 1, 2010

Some Like It Hot

In case you haven't heard, it's freakin' hot in New York.

And while ninety-plus degree weather may be great for lounging on the beach this last official week of summer, it's not exactly ideal for running around a tennis court for a couple hours.

But so far, that hasn't seemed to affect the top players at the U.S. Open. Mardy Fish's much talked-about fitness allowed him to withstand a relatively quick five setter while his first round opponent faded in the final sets. Novak Djokovic somewhat surprisingly got himself out of trouble, albeit helped by the encroaching shade late in his match, to pull out his own marathon win. Even players like Marcos Baghdatis who lost their openers did not blame the heat.

These guys are used to it -- as Andy Roddick said last year after his semifinal win in D.C., "You think this is hot, you should try playing in Houston in August." Or Florida. Or Cyprus. Or Argentina. It's a good thing they're all so well-conditioned. Today promises to be even hotter -- both in temperature and in action. A couple guys still have to finish off their first rounds, while other early victors look to continue their runs.

Fourth-seeded Andy Murray begins his campaign in New York this afternoon against Lukas Lacko, a young Serbian who beat Baghdatis at Wimbledon and kept Michael Yani on court for five hours in Paris. It should be an easy day for the Brit, as his improved fitness should help him deal with the elements. But if he's forced to chase down balls over a marathon, the exertion might eventually get to him.

I'm a little more worried about the prospects for John Isner, who faces Estoril finalist Frederico Gil on Louis Armstrong Stadium today. We all know John can last on the court, but he had a bit of trouble in the heat of Atlanta, where he lost sets to world #206 Gilles Muller and college-days rival Kevin Anderson before ultimately succumbing to Mardy Fish in the finals. He's never played Gil, and might get the bonus of a late, cooler match if the matches before him go the distance. But the ankle injury he sustained might give him some troubles -- hopefully, though, the big guy won't tire out in front of the supportive New York crowd.

Roddick has already survived one scorcher at the Open, getting past Stephane Robert in about ninety minutes in the hot August sun-- though it was a solid win, he did start looking a bit tired by the end of the match. Headlining the evening session today, he'll take on Janko Tipsarevic, a feisty player who nearly -- and probably should have -- ousted Sam Querrey in Los Angeles and actually beat Andy at Wimbledon a few years back. The Serb has been nursing an injury over the last few weeks, but Roddick himself is still not a hundred percent recovered from his bout with mono. The man who likes to sweat might do so a bit more than usual tonight as he tries to make another run at this championship.

There is some relief in sight, however. For the guys who survive the next forty-eight hours, it looks like the Labor Day weekend offers a comparatively chilly forecast. And all the winners will have to rely on something more than the weather to heat things up!

1 comment:

Kavitha said...

Heat already too much for Victoria Azarenka. One of my favorites for the title collapses mid-point vs. Gisela Dulko.

Hopefully she'll be okay and everyone else will take extra care to stay healthy and hydrated!

Take care, Vika!