New York: Less than 12 hours after torrential rain, high winds and tornado warnings forced the suspension of play at Louis Armstrong Stadium, closed subway and commuter rail lines, and made driving hazardous in New York City and surrounding areas, the U.S. Open was back in business yesterday.
Sunshine and temperatures in the low 70s prevailed, drying out the grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. There were some puddles, while some traffic signs that had been blown over late Wednesday hadn’t been put back in place, but play began as scheduled at both Arthur Ashe Stadium and Louis Armstrong Stadium. Each had its roof open.
The No. 7 Flushing subway line — which takes fans to Mets games at nearby Citi Field and to the tennis center — was back in operation, as was the Long Island Railroad. Some players had to wait in long lines for bus or van transport from Manhattan to the Tennis Center, but No. 1 women’s seed Ashleigh Barty and opponent Clara Tauson were ready for the start of their match at Ashe. The same was true at Louis Armstrong for No. 11 seed Belinda Bencic and Martina Trevisan. The Grandstand and outer courts also were busy.
Sloane Stephens, who impressively defeated Coco Gauff in straight sets Wednesday night, tweeted after her match that she had been stuck in flooding and traffic congestion for more than two hours as she tried to return to her Manhattan hotel.
“So we decided to stop and make the most of it,” she said, adding a pizza emoji and two photos of a mouth-watering pizza with multiple toppings. She later tweeted that she made it back to her hotel. “Praying everyone gets home safely,” she wrote.
The match between No. 16 seed Angelique Kerber and Anhelina Kalinina, which couldn’t be played Wednesday night at Louis Armstrong, was moved to Thursday afternoon at the Grandstand court.
Barty needed two attempts to close out her second-round match against the 18-year-old Tauson, 6-1, 7-5. Barty had 11 aces, remarkable for a player who is listed as 5-foot-5 and gives away several inches in height to many of her rivals.
No. 11 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, the Tokyo Olympic women’s singles gold medalist, advanced to the third round with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Martina Trevisan. Bencic said one end of the court at Louis Armstrong Stadium was windier than the other, occasionally making it tricky. But a few wind gusts was nothing compared with the previous day’s heavy rain and high winds.
“After [Wednesday’s] bad weather, I’m happy the sun is shining,” Bencic said. Turning toward the spectators, she said, “Thank you everybody for coming. I know it was not easy to get here today.”
No. 7 Iga Swiatek of Poland, the 2020 French Open champion, struggled early but came back for a 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-0 victory over Fiona Ferro of France.
Alexander Zverev advances
Fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany advanced to the third round with an efficient, one-hour, 14-minute romp over Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain. “It’s great to be through in just over an hour,” he said during an on-court interview after his 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 win. “I will need that power later. ... He has beaten top-10 players. I’m happy I lost only four games today.”
He also said being back at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where he lost the 2020 final to Dominic Thiem after being up two sets and a break, gave him inspiration. “I have an opportunity to do better and play great in the tournament, hopefully for a Grand Slam title,” he said.
No break for Tsitsipas
The controversy over Stefanos Tsitsipas’ extended bathroom breaks hasn’t been flushed away.
The No. 3-seeded player drew the ire of Andy Murray for taking long breaks from the court during their first-round match, with Murray declaring he had lost respect for Tsitsipas and suggesting on social media that it takes Tsitsipas “twice as long to go to the bathroom as it takes Jeff Bazos [sic] to fly into space.” Murray added icons of a toilet seat and a rocket to illustrate his point about Tsitsipas’ gamesmanship.
Tsitsipas took extended breaks again during his 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-0 victory over Adrian Mannarino in a second-round match on Wednesday. Afterward, he was asked if he’d heard about Murray’s comments. “I said that we should both discuss it, the two of us, because I followed the rules. I didn’t break anything, any rules,” Tsitsipas said.
The trips off the court — which also usually include changing out of his sweat-soaked shirt — are important, Tsitsipas said. “First of all, you carry less weight on you with all the sweat. You feel rejuvenated, you feel fresh, and you don’t have all the sweat bothering you and coming in your face, on your fingers, everywhere all over your body. It makes you feel better,” he said.
“For me it is important to take that break. For someone else probably not. And everyone has his own time. I try and be as quick as I can. Sometimes I just need a bit more time. That’s all.”
He also asked reporters how long a break Murray took before the fifth set of Murray’s 2012 U.S. Open final against Novak Djokovic. Told that Murray’s break had been shorter than three minutes, Tsitsipas responded, “OK. So three minutes more make a difference?”
Apparently so, when it’s perceived as disrespect to an opponent.
Tsitsipas next will face Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz in a third-round match today. “He’ s a young talent that has been doing very well recently. He’s been constantly improving, getting up in the rankings. I think he is someone that has a good game for all surfaces,” Tsitsipas said. “Me, personally, I want to play the best of my game against him. I see him as a potential contender in the future for Grand Slam titles and other big events.”