by Karen 

When the Realz Team got together on Friday night to talk about the US Open draw, we decided to go ahead and do a Game of Thrones theme. This was long before the Draw had even been done.  We felt, much as the Draws broke at the last 3 Majors that this one would be epic in its lopsidedness.  

Once we all got the Draw and started going through it, it became clear that we were seeing House Stark and House Baratheon everywhere we looked.  If you are a GoT fan, you know that in House Stark, everyone of prominence dies and the ones who have survived are the ones that you never expected to survive.  It was the same thing that happened with the top half of the Draw.  In House Baratheon, the only person who is left is the bastard child of Robert Baratheon.  

And so today, the top half of the half became House Stark in reality.  There was carnage from every angle and when it was all finished, there were a few names that no one had considered who were unceremoniously dumped out of the US Open.

Much like in GoT, before we were all comfortable with the show, the patriach of the family, Ned Stark was beheaded (Maria Sharapova, the No. 3 seed withdrew due to injury).  As the matches progressed, the seeds in that portion of the draw fell like nine pins:  Ana Ivanovic going out to Cibulkova, Pliskova going out meekly to qualifier, Anna Tatishvilli, Carla Suarez-Navarro, who is now on a 7 match losing streak, went out in straight sets to Allertova.  While not highly seeded, other seeds to go out today were Jankovic (by Dodin) and Kuznetsova (Mladenovic).  

Venus Williams struggled mightily against a feisty Monica Puig who saved 4 MPs in the second set but ran out of gas in the third.  Other notable winners today were Belinda Bencic, Elina Svitolina and Aga Radwanska.

There were a number of disappointing performances, most notable of which was the ousting of this year’s US Open Series champion, Karolina Pliskova. It was another disappointing performance from this newly minted top 10 player at a Major and surely she needs to look not only at her preparation for these big events but also her lack of ability to perform on the biggest stages of tennis.

The OOP for day 2 features the bottom half of the draw.  The Spin’s Picks are below.  

Court Assignment
Arthur Ashe
Halep v. Erakovic
Loeb v. Wozniacki
Kvitova v. Siegemund
Louis Armstrong
Safarova v. Tsurenko

Azarenka v. Hradecka
Dulgheru v. Kerber
Petkovic v. Garcia
Court 4
McHale v. Cetkovskaa
Sasnovich v. Lisicki
Court 5
Lepchenko v. Flipkens
Schiavone v. Wickmayer
Court 6
Sakkari v. Wang
Rogers v. Vickery
Court 7
Georges v. Schmiedlova
Dominguez-Lino v. Gibbs
Court 9
Bacsinszky v. Strycova
Krunic v. Kovinic
Court 10
Pironkova v. Barthel
Pennetta v. Gajdosova
Court 11
Chirico v. Konta
Robson v. Vesnina
Court 12
Ostapenko v. Beck

Court 13
Errani v. HIbi
Cornet v. Nara
Court 14
Tomljanovic v. Knapp
Rodina v. Mrdeza
Court 15
Govortsova v. Begu
Giorgi v. Larsson
Court 16
Putintseva v. Bondarenko

Panova v. Niculescu
Court 17
Witthoeft v. Muguruza
Babos v. Stosur

Today, there was a new addition to ESPN’s coverage where they are now interviewing players after the first set of a match.  Today was the first time that this was being done and as can be imagined it did not go over well with tennis fans.  

What makes this whole new shit and giggle addition to tennis so incredibly hypocritical is that the commentators who are advocating for new and interesting ways to bring tennis to fans are the same ones who sit in the booth and criticise the players when they call a coach on court for a consultation or when they get distracted by external situations.  

As a tennis fan I don’t much care for on court coaching.  I don’t care for commentators going down court side to interview players during a match.  I really don’t care what the mindset of players are before, during or after a match.  I rarely ever read press transcript because most of them are filled with answers that give little or no insight into how players think.  It is rare to even read a think piece on a tennis player and come away thinking well that was enlightening.  I did not know that 

As a tennis fan, blogger and a player of the game, what I want from tennis is to be able to turn on my tv and watch a tennis match.  I don’t care where in the world it is being played, what time of the day it is being played.  I just want to watch tennis.  When the Majors roll around, I like many other tennis fans, take vacation time just so that I can watch tennis uninterrupted all day long.  So for me on a personal level the gimmicks of tennis does little or nothing to draw my interest into the game. 

Today, while ESPN was fulfilling its mission of broadcasting tennis, you were unable to turn on your tv and find tennis on tv. This is the US Open. The largest tennis sporting event in the United States. From what I understand from my fellow tennis fans who reside in the US, there was absolutely no tennis on tv.  None. Zero. Bupkis. This, at a time when you have Tennis Channel airing matches from the Citi Open because they are precluded from showing any live tennis from Flushing Meadows. 

This is not how you bring in fans to the sport.  You don’t embargo another network from broadcasting the sport because you have the rights.  How does this benefit the sport?  If people can’t find tennis on tv, after a while they will lose interest in the sport and turn to something else.  

ESPN has complained that viewership for the French Open has declined and as a result they have decided to no longer carry that particular Major.  Surely if they continue to embargo and prevent fans from accessing tennis on their tv, we will soon have to be searching for streams to watch the Australian Open.  At some point this will affect Wimbledon and the US Open and then what? 

The sport does not need gimmicks. What the sport needs is to be visible and ESPN now has the ability to do that.   Make it happen.  

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