The matchups at the U.S. Open are growing increasingly enticing as we whittle away at the men’s and women’s draws, and on yesterday’s schedule there were plenty of quality showdowns planned — most of which we barely got to see, if at all. With intermittent rain spitting down throughout the day and night, a grand total of two singles matches were completed. The No. 1 and No. 4 seeds Victoria Azarenka and David Ferrer booked their place into the semifinals and quarterfinals, respectively. But in the process of trying to move things along (specifically so that Andy Roddick’s potential final match before retirement would take place on time, no matter what), the USTA might have stumbled in judgment. Today’s order of play is stacked as a result of all the shuffling and cancellations, but don’t hold your breath for any actual tennis just yet; the forecast for today is even more severe than yesterday.
The biggest disappointment yesterday was that Roddick’s match against the favored seventh-seed Juan Martin del Potro was anticlimactically cut short in the middle of a first set tiebreak. Because of the soggy conditions, and perhaps the proposition of eventually seeing Novak Djokovic play on the smaller Louis Armstrong Stadium (which never ended up happening), Roddick played to a half-full house on Arthur Ashe. But the crowd was thrilled to see him break the 2009 U.S. Open champ halfway through, even though he went and gave the break right back while serving for the set. During the tiebreak, they played just one point (won by Roddick) before the rain started coming down again, interrupting the match at the worst possible time. When they resume today during the second match on Ashe, those few initial points that normally warm a player up could cost either an entire set.
But that’s the thing about rain delays: They have the potential to redefine a match. Even if one player had incredible momentum, like Marion Bartoli did against Maria Sharapova in their quarterfinal during the day session, the extra night to assess how your opponent came out, what strategy he or she employed, and what in your game wasn’t working can be enough to swing the story in the other direction. Unfortunately for Roddick fans, the break will most likely benefit del Potro, who seemed out of sorts last night. Since the future retiree is nursing a sore shoulder, it’s fairly crucial that he anchor his upset attempt by at least claiming the initial set.
In this light, don’t be surprised if the rescheduled Sharapova versus Bartoli match experiences such a shift in momentum; Sharapova was clearly caught off guard yesterday by the in-the-zone Frenchwoman who, just a round earlier, shockingly dominated Petra Kvitova with her twitchy habits and quirky two-fisted forehand. Sharapova was trailing in the first set, down 4–0, but it’s overwhelmingly likely that the Russian will storm back after a night of scheming. She may not salvage the first set, but expect her to raise the stakes in the second at least.
Thus, the rain was a blessing for Sharapova, although there was a chance that the two women could have finished yesterday (in theory). Whereas Monday night the USTA was lauded for its shrewd scheduling, moving the Williams sisters to Louis Armstrong and pushing Andy Murray up to the first slot, yesterday they faced some heat. Not long after Sharapova and Bartoli were ushered off the court, tournament organizers announced that the match would be postponed to the following day, and that the day session on Ashe was “complete.” Rather than finishing a match that had already started, the schedule was cleared to allow for the night session to begin on time, despite the fact that there was little chance of fitting a men’s three-set match into the small window of opportunity we had in terms of clear weather.
It’s worth noting that the night session fell short of completion (in terms of the tournament’s inclement weather policy) by just five measly minutes. Attendees can thus either exchange their tickets for a session today on Armstrong, a day session in Ashe on Thursday or Friday, or receive a voucher for the same session in 2013. Either way, Andy Roddick won’t be there. All of this just makes you wonder: Has anyone ever suggested to these guys that they get a roof?