It feels like the night before Christmas, y’all.
I know, I know, I’m Jewish. But the U.S. Open tennis tournament starts in, oh, about 13 hours from the time I’m typing this, and as always, I am super-duper excited.
I am so damn lucky for many reasons in life, but one is that for the past eight years I’ve lived less than 45 minutes away from the greatest spectacle in tennis, and for the past six I’ve been lucky enough to have an up-close seat as a writer covering the tournament.
Every year I say this to myself when I look around the Bud Collins Media Center, and see some scribes or broadcasters muttering or complaining about something: Are you freaking kidding me? You people have the best job ever, getting to come to the U.S. Open, FOR FREE, and someone else is paying you to be there, and you get free food! And great seats to the matches!
The Open is amazing, and I’m expecting another great tournament. Since this is my blog I ought to first let you know a few of my U.S. Open preview stories have already been published; first, in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper in Rochester, N.Y., I profiled Jessica Pegula, a super-nice woman who I’ve known and covered for years, who has made a huge breakthrough in the rankings this season.
And then for my new “regular” tennis writing gig at Tennis.One, I did a quick-hitting Open preview for the men and the women, with first-round matches to watch, three players who may win the whole shebang, and other fun stuff.
OK, on to a few other scattered thoughts as this two-week extravaganza gets underway.
— Can’t remember the last time I had this little clue who’d win the Open on the women’s side. You can make a case to me for nine different players, at least, and I’d buy in. Naomi Osaka, the defending champ? Maybe, but her year hasn’t been great since Australia. Ash Barty, the French Open champ? Maybe, but she too isn’t playing great. Serena? Sure, why not, but there are so many psychological, emotional and physical factors she has to deal with this year here at Flushing Meadows.
I’ll pick Wimbledon champ Simona Halep, but really I have no clue (aren’t you glad some people are paying me to cover this?)
— As for the men, well, that’s much easier. Bet almost everything you own on Novak Djokovic, who is by far the best hardcourt player on the ATP Tour. Bet the rest on Rafael Nadal. And say a little prayer for Roger Federer, who will need everything to go right to win.
— Coco-mania is in full swing here. I’m speaking of course of 15-year-old Coco Gauff, playing her first Open and drawing huge crowds last week at practice wherever she went. I attended one of her sessions for a story I’m working on for the Palm Beach Post, and it was pretty raucous when she signed autographs. Gauff is a great, great kid off the court, definitely someone to root for. She starts on Tuesday.
The Open is here! Happy times are here again.
**And now, just because this made me laugh hard, a video of cows all thinking they have to jump over the white lines on the road, and doing it beautifully.
Hilarious. It’s like they’re superstitious baseball players or something.
**And finally today, it’s pretty rare when an NFL superstar retires in his prime, two weeks before the season starts, but that’s happened Saturday night.
Shockingly, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, age 29, announced his retirement. Luck has been battling injuries for several years, and hasn’t played at all this preseason due to a calf injury.
After a constant cycle of injury and rehab, the mental and physical toll finally got to be too much for Luck.
I say good for him. Let him get out while he can still enjoy his life. The NFL chews these men up and spits them out, leaving them broken.
And it was despicable that when news broke Saturday night at a Colts preseason game, and Luck trotted off the field at halftime, some Indy fans booed him.
How dare he try to protect his future health and life, right??? Awful.
My man Pearlman has a great column up on Luck, the booing, and how he made the right decision.