The 81 degree heat (27 Celsius) may have even claimed a victim or two, my wimpy relocated Northern self among them. I had just the tiniest bit of heat exhaustion, I think. I stayed away from the Andy Roddick common-cold-and-cough press conference (remember when he listed those 16 ailments in all the US Open Novak Djokovic verbal jousting a few years back? Hilarity.) and I still felt unwell afterwards! Lame, I know.
Anyway, at 11am play began, with top seed Blaz Kavcic trying to advance to the main draw over eighth seed Donald Young (who, not coincidentally, was also trying to advance to the main draw. Funny that.). I was expecting a tough contest, but it didn’t turn out that way. Kavcic got an early break at 1-all, when Young sandwiched a double fault between two missed forehands, and the 23-year-old Slovenian converted his first break point on a forced error from an angled Blaz backhand.
The crowd tried to get behind The Donald throughout the match, but to no avail. Young was a picture of anguish throughout the encounter, seeming ultimately frustrated, downcast and dejected. Serving at 1-3, he was broken again thanks in part to a couple of netted backhands and a missed forehand sitter. He tossed his racquet to the chair, down a 1-4* double break. Kavcic was just superior in every way on this day, especially with his trademark scrappy movement, running forehands and offensive backhands from defensive positions. The top seed closed out the first set 6-2.
Young started anew with serve in the second, but it was more of the same. A netted backhand, a Kavcic running-forehand-down-the-line passing shot, a Young racquet toss, and a couple of missed forehands. Broken again in the first game of the second frame. “I’m playing like a girl,” Young opined. Blaz was constantly catching Donald out with serves to his lefty forehand as leaned to anticipate the righty serve to his backhand, resulting in a lot of service winners for the Slovene. Kavcic extracted himself from a 0-30 hole serving at 3-1 with a couple of those. “That’s the fifth time now!” Young shouted after the second one in the game. Well, Donald, my notes show a few more times than that, but at least you’re onto him!
Of course, Kavcic heard Young shout that bit of revealing information, so what did he do next time he was in trouble on his serve? That’s right: service winners to the backhand. Keep your cards a little closer, Donald. Jeez. Kavcic saved two break points serving at 3-2 and held. Donald comported himself in a lengthy, thoughtful squat after that game.
Serving at 3-5, Young all but gave up: after a huge Kavcic crosscourt pass with extra gruntage and a follow-up fist, the 21-year-old American still-hopeful hopelessly shanked a forehand, double faulted, and then sayonara. Kavcic over Young 6-2 6-3.
A poor effort from Donald, but guess what? Due to three withdrawals (not only Roddick, but Julien Benneteau and Radek Stepanek also bailed), Young advanced to the main draw anyway. Last night he tweeted: “Sometimes God puts you in the same circumstances over and over again until you learn from it and change! Make the most of the nxt chance..” I hope for his sake he rights the ship in his second-chance first-round match against fifth seed Kevin Anderson in the first round. It’s a tough ask, but at least we’ll hope for a more positive effort.
I was able to run over and catch the final set of seventh seed Marinko Matosevic’s comeback 1-6 6-3 6-3 upset over second qualifying seed Igor Kunitsyn. It was an impressively mature effort from the heretofore (and probably still) combustible Aussie. Serving at 4-3 15-0 in the third, an overruled call went against him. But instead of losing his shiznit, as was his previous method of handling such situations, he just mildly made his case, visibly collected himself, and fired a service winner. “Ajde!” the transplanted Bosnian-Herzegovinian shouted, looking over at coach Mark Woodforde, who is no doubt a stabilizing influence. Or at least trying to be.