By Kevin Ware
(February 14, 2013) SAN JOSE – Here are some more courtside impressions from an eventful Day Three at the SAP Open. It was mixed bag of fun matches and dramatic wins. But let’s start with the sad and unsettling loss by Donald Young.
- I don’t know what to say anymore regarding the sad and curious case of Donald Young. With each shot he makes, you see the talent that took him to No. 1 in the juniors; yet with each unforced error and pained aftermath, you’re reminded of the reasons that his pro career has hit the proverbial wall. His loss to Michael Russell during the day session was about as ugly as it gets. Neither guy played well, but Donald’s lack of confidence at crunch time was the tipping point. Every gaze over to his box is filled with agonizing pleas for help that isn’t arriving anytime soon. It’s tough to watch. Even though us in the “media” should maintain some semblance of neutrality, it doesn’t stop me from hoping that Donald comes back from the brink.
- Lleyton Hewitt and Marinko Matosevic are quite an entertaining doubles team. Lleyton is the clear leader, but Marinko holds his own pretty well. Best part is they look like they’re having a great time playing together. We should all be so lucky with our partners, right?!
- Steve Johnson continued to make the most of his wildcard with a stirring 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 win over Ivo Karlovic. After losing a tough first set by playing a horrible tiebreaker, Johnson stood toe-to-toe with one of the best servers in the game and found a way to break for the second set. In the third set tiebreaker, Karlovic served an ace to go up 6-4 in the tiebreak. With two match points in hand, Karlovic inexplicably ran off the rails; committing three consecutive unforced errors to give Johnson a match point. Karlovic followed a strong approach to the net, and all Johnson could do was toss up a high defensive lob. Out of the blue, Karlovic was struck by a case of “tentative overhead-itis”. He smashed the ball weakly back to Johnson, who happily thundered a hard and low forehand to Karlovic at the net. The big man could only muster a flubbed volley response. Game, set, and match to Johnson, who had no business winning that match but did anyway.
- The night session pitted American John Isner against Canadian Vasek Pospisil. John is 27 and Vasek is 22, but they both look no older than 14 (plus/minus a year or two).
- Isner was slow in finding his game for the match, but didn’t blame any of it on his knee. However, he did admit to having back issues because of his flight. With all of Nemo’s canceled flights, he lost his upgrade seat and had to fly coach in a window seat to San Jose. The ATP website lists John’s official height as 6′ 9″. Just think about that the next time you complain about being in a middle seat! FYI, if John flies coach and no exit rows are available, window seats are his only option to save his knees from the battering they’ll inevitably take with the cart going up and down the aisle.
- Bay area actress Diane Amos was in attendance tonight at the HP Pavilion to watch the evening session at the SAP Open. Or as I put it more succinctly in one of my tweets at the start of Isner’s match, ” Random fact: the Pine Sol lady is in the house tonight for the Isner match.”
- When asked what he did to pay back Sam Querrey for bailing the US team out of trouble in Davis Cup action after his own 5-set heartbreaker to Thomaz Bellucci, Isner said “I think he took some of my money in cards that night actually, and I didn’t do it on purpose.”
The tournament action heats up on Day Four with a day session featuring young Americans Tim Smyczek and Steve Johnson battling for a spot in the quarterfinals, as well as the anticipated match between Sam Querrey and Lleyton Hewitt. The night session features the return of the defending champion, Milos Raonic, as he takes on Michael Russell; plus more doubles action with the Bryans. I will save my Raonic/Russell “tall and small” jokes for after the match…