On Friday I played hooky with Stan, heading over to the Billie Jean King United States Tennis Association National Tennis Center (BJKUSTANTC) to watch the U.S. Open, something I have been wanting to do for like the past decade and a half. It was pretty exciting up until I watched some actual tennis. The big match, the reason Stan and I went, was to see the women’s semifinal clash between Justine Henin and Venus Williams. It was, however, the last scheduled match of the day session, meaning there was lots of time to kill considering we got there at like 10:30. The rundown of matches we saw:
- some kind of special Champions (read: old people) mixed doubles match between Hana Mandlikova/Ilie Nastasie and Ilona Kloss/Guillermo Vilas
- some junior girls quarterfinals matches, including an upset of #1 girl Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (by the end of the day I fucking mastered that last name), and a drubbing to the last American hope Laura Albanese by #2 Urszula Radwanska (sister of Agnieska, who took out Maria Shreikapova in the main draw)
- a junior boys quarterfinal between two boys whose names I don’t quite remember (Greg Jones and a kid whose first name was Jerzy I think). I believe Jerzy was Serbian, but that’s just because it seems like every up-and-coming tennis player is a Serb. We sat behind the kid’s family, and to hear them exhort the young lad was pretty neat, except the dad kept yapping on his goddam cell phone.
- the first women’s semifinal between Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anna Chakvetadze, which was an absolute abomination. Kuznetsova was seemingly unable to hit the ball within 5 feet of the lines for the first set, and was so unnerved she actually had the gall to tell the umpire to have the crowd be quiet when she’s serving. That’s funny, because absolutely no one was making a sound, because wtf was there to cheer about? Feeling left out of the Unholy Trainwreck, it was then Chakvetadze’s turn. As I watched this atrocity in absolute pain and boredom and heat and discomfort, I wondered if there was ever such a big match played so lousily by both players. I also wondered if I was just being too harsh because I couldn’t really give a flying fuck about either (apparently I was not). I then commented to Stan, “Whoever wins this is gonna get killed in the final.” I was right.
That UNFUCKINGBELIEVABLY BAD MATCH was fortunately alleviated by a tense, dramatic, wonderfully played match between Henin and Williams that unfortunately was won by Henin (I do not like her, but I respect the hell out of her game). The acrobatics by both players, the unbelievable retrieving and shotmaking, the high level of quality in both of their games as well as the sheer theatre of it was a marked and welcome contrast to the FUCKING ATROCITY that preceded it.
I almost wanted to head straight to Shea afterwards, but being a) broke and b) tired as all hell after watching mostly mediocrity all day while roasting in the sun made me really crave a shower, some chicken wings, and my bed. I listened to the Mets just pound on the Astros, which is always a good way to end a day.
Saturday I had to go to work because I skipped out the day before. Boo work. Tommy Glavine was perfect through five innings. I watched the archive of this match on MLB.com for the final three hours of work. I had absolutely nothing to do.
Sunday! Return of Pedro to Shea! Sunday was big for sports in NY. Pedro’s homecoming, The King vs. The Upstart across the street (Roger Federer ended up taking out my longstanding crush Novak Djokovic in straight sets, though Djokovic had five set points in the first and two in the second…gah, Novak!), and the first day of that little sport called football (I don’t like football. I don’t. I much prefer football being pleasant background noise up until December. I am, however, in a fantasy football league. I have no idea what I’m doing).
Being at Shea for Pedro’s return was borderline magical. The complete and total adoration for him was palpable throughout his five innings of work, his majestic double off Roy Oswalt, the curtain call he took. Not really much to say, it was an almost perfect day with Pedro pitching shutout ball and the Mets scoring a few runs thanks to Beltran’s two RBIs and a massive two-run shot by Alouuuuuuuuuuuu.
Oh there was that whole business of Guillermo Mota giving up a first-pitch home run, following that up with a single, then throwing away an easy out on a bunt, but who really is surprised anymore. I decided to get up and smoke and take a stroll. Smoking: better for your health than watching Mota do anything related to baseball.