Action from Four Draws on Day Three
by Christopher Gerby
Appelmans/Oremans vs. Miyagi/Wild
Women's Doubles: First Round
Sabine Appelmans and Miriam Oremans used to comprise one
of the best doubles teams on the women's circuit. They've
fallen on hard times, though, and got off to a sluggish
start against Nana Miyagi and Linda Wild. With a rather
obnoxious fan from Wild's hometown rooting on his
neighbor, Appelmans and Oremans fell behind 1-3. Oremans
blew a 15-40 lead in the fifth game, losing it on an
errant backhand volley which she thought had landed on
the sideline. Oremans argued to no avail and continued
missing shots as she and her Belgian partner lost the
set 6 games to 1 in virtually no time flat.
The Linda Wild fan left to go check out some other
matches, to the relief of his wife, who was repeatedly
chiding him about cheering at inappropriate times. His
absence seemed to be just what the doctor ordered for
Appelmans and Oremans. Miriam's net play was still off,
but Sabine's lobs and passing shots helped stake her team
to a 5-0 lead in the second set. Wild's wild supporter
returned at that point and -- coincidence or not -- she
and Miyagi went on their own run of games, narrowing the
second set score to 4-5. Oremans was even shooting dirty
looks at the exuberant fan. Appelmans opted for a
bathroom break. She was unsure at first where the closest
facilities would be, but once a linesman pointed her in
the right direction, she broke into a brisk jog.
Appelmans returned before long, so I rather doubt it was
a stalling tactic. The break may have been what Oremans
needed to regain her composure, though. She served well,
closing out the 6-4 set with a 15 hold. Miyagi and Wild
have been good doubles players for a long time, though,
and they were not about to fold. Linda was looking very
pumped up (shouting "Come on!" after one victorious point)
as she and Nana jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the third set.
Game 6 was a mini-marathon, many points being determined
by the Appelmans serve (which produced an ace, a double
fault, and several winners). Appelmans put an athletic
backhand volley down the middle to finally clinch the
game after five deuces.
Miyagi/Wild still had a 4-2 lead and Oremans was still in
unusually poor form at net. Miriam pushed a volley long
on game point to trail 2-5. The supposed serve-and-volley
specialist than had her serve broken at 15 to complete a
6-1, 4-6, 6-2 win for Nana Miyagi and Linda Wild. That's a
new team -- and maybe just a short-term partnership -- but
don't be surprised if they win a couple more rounds.
Oremans was largely to blame for this result, but when
the match was on the line in the third set, Miyagi and
Wild came up with some very solid stuff.
Dominique van Roost vs. Rita Grande
Women's Singles: Second Round
While Appelmans was finishing her match on Court 17,
her countrywoman Dominique van Roost was getting started
on Court 7. Van Roost had a 3-2 lead, including a break,
when I arrived. Grande got that back back immediately,
though, drilling a forehand winner down the line for 3-3.
Van Roost broke right back for 4-3, however, spinning
around and pumping her fist as a Grande forehand sailed
long on break point. That sixth game was starting to look
like a mere hiccup -- Van Roost held at 15 and broke at
15. The #13 seed had used her deep, flat groundstrokes to
finish off a 6-3 win of the opening set.
Grande's a pretty good player, but she looked overwhelmed
and outclassed at this juncture. Van Roost stormed through
two more games for an early lead in the second set. She
was quickly broken for 1-2, however, losing that game on
a double fault. That's the thing with Dominique van Roost:
her terrific groundstrokes are frequently being undermined
by erratic serving. Van Roost held serve to 3-3, though,
and smacked a trio of winners in a convincing hold for
4-3. A double fault and a forehand error from Grande
made it 15-40 in Game 8. Grande saved both of those
break points, but Van Roost earned a third. Dominique
then pinned Rita behind the baseline and forced a backhand
error for the break. Van Roost pumped her fist again,
Van Roost took a 40-30 lead in the next game and rared
back for a big forehand on match point, but she sent it
just wide. She would eventually face two break points in
the game, with the 24-year-old Italian still fighting to
stay alive. Grande doesn't really have the type of game
to confound Van Roost, however, and one last forehand
winner from the Belgian put an exclamation point on a 6-3,
6-3 win. Dominique van Roost has been quite impressive in
her first two singles matches of the tournament, but it
gets tougher from here. She'll have to play Mary Joe
Fernandez next, with Venus Williams looming as the
potential fourth round opponent.
Andrew Ilie vs. Markus Hipfl
Men's Singles: First Round
If you read my Montreal match reports -- or if you've
been paying relatively close attention to the pro tennis
scene this year -- you know all about Andrew Ilie. The
Romanian-born Australian is an endlessly entertaining
collection of eccentricity, energy, talent, and attitude.
He goes for broke on every point and conducts himself in a
very enthusiastic manner. Ilie came out firing at the start
of this match against little-known Markus Hipfl. He
launched aces on the match's second and third points,
with the latter clocking in at a very impressive 135 MPH.
Ilie's not tall at all by tennis standards, but he is
absolutely brimming with power, especially on his
Hipfl was content to keep the ball in play and hope for
errors. While the fans were gasping about Ilie's
incredible racquet speed, Hipfl kept on winning his own
service games. The Austrian broke for a 4-3 lead and held
at love with an ace. Ilie fought back to 4-5 and got an
elaborate, loud chant ("Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi!
Oi!" was part of it) from some flag-wielding supporters
during the change of ends. It did no good -- Hipfl once
again closed out a love hold with an ace, clinching a 6-4
win of the set. Just 25 minutes later, Hipfl also had the
second set in hand, having won it 6-1. Markus puts some
spin on the ball and certainly places his shots well, but
the lopsided score was mainly due to a steady barrage of
Ilie errors. He wasn't missing by much, but he was
missing far too often.
Hipfl held at love to open the third set and went up 2-0
when Ilie blasted yet another backhand just wide. Ilie
stormed over to his chair, held two fingers close together,
and said "this much wide" before throwing his towel. He
was one frustrated Aussie. Hipfl, meanwhile, was pretty
stoked about closing in on a straight sets win over a
dangerous opponent. He shouted "Come on!" after holding
for 3-0. Ilie finally changed his game plan, mixing in
some off-pace shots just to get his teeth into some
rallies. It didn't work, though -- Hipfl won his sixth
and seventh consecutive games for a 6-4, 6-1, 5-0 lead.
He'd come in ranked just #73 in the world, but he was
one game away from closing out a startling rout.
Ilie came back out very quickly, midway through the
changeover, seemingly in a hurry to get this debacle over
with. He double faulted to 30-40 and faced match point.
Then a funny thing happened: Ilie's fearless groundstrokes
started finding their mark and the crowd really got fired
up. Everyone -- Ilie included -- knew this match was
virtually over, but Hipfl was the only one who didn't
enjoy the display of explosive shot-making Andrew started
to put on. Ilie twice saved match points with winners and
blew kisses to the crowd after getting a big ovation the
second time. He was showing off now, leaping high into
the air while hitting remarkably fast strokes. He got the
Ad with a second serve ace, bellowed a "Come on!" of his
own and did an exaggerated muscle pose.
Ilie finally won that long sixth game with a laser of a
backhand winner. He triumphantly thrust his arms into the
air, shook his fist in a circle, and even performed Anna
Kournikova's old "raise the roof" gesture! He'd played a
pretty horrendous match, but he was having all kinds of
fun now and really feeding off the positive feedback he
was getting from the crowd. At 30-40 in the following game,
Hipfl missed a backhand, surrendering a service break for
the first time all afternoon. Andrew started shaking his
fist again and what at first looked like a lark was
becoming a genuine comeback. The flaky Aussie was down
just one break in the third set.
Right after Game 7, a scowling Hipfl walked up to the
chair umpire and asked him to reign in Ilie. Personally, I
think Markus should have concentrated on his own tennis
instead of complaining about his opponent's essentially
harmless antics. The umpire bought the argument, though,
and had a few words with Ilie, who looked truly hurt.
"I'm not doing anything illegal. If I drop my pants, then
maybe I'm doing something illegal -- something ugly too --
but I'm not doing anything illegal." Andrew then turned
to Hipfl and said, "Come on, man. Be a good sport." That
whole interlude killed Ilie's buzz. He lost the
first two points of Game 8 and asked the umpire, "Is that
better? I'm losing now." For bizarre emphasis, Ilie held
his pinky finger up to his mouth -- an imitation of Dr.
Evil from the "Austin Powers" movies.
Hipfl squandered a third match point, but raised his own
arms in celebration when Ilie clobbered a forehand wide
on match point #4. The crowd was still very much in Ilie's
corner, though. He mouthed the words "thank you" and blew
some more kisses. He did shake Hipfl's hand, but
earnestly told him, "That's bull****." Ilie finished by
making a big show of shaking the allegedly evil umpire's
hand. "Thank you! Thank you! You're a good umpire!" He then
signed a couple autographs and left to one more rousing
hand from the crowd. Even in a hopelessly lackluster 6-4,
6-1, 6-2 defeat, the irrepressably irreverent Andrew Ilie
gives the people their money's worth.
Gimelstob/Reneberg vs. Coupe/Koenig
Men's Doubles: First Round
Justin Gimelstob is many things: a two-time Grand Slam
mixed doubles champion; a guy counted on to be one of
the future stars of American tennis; a player who's
generally more fired up than consistent. He's also a big
kid from Jersey who's been coming to the U.S. Open for
about as long as he can rememeber. The Open grounds seem
to be crawling with Gimelstob relatives, friends, and
acquaintances. For instance, before this match got
started, I overheard a woman whose son is friends with
Gimelstob tell a story about the time Justin made pasta
for 14 people. It wasn't great pasta, but it was the
effort that counted. That's a pretty fitting metaphor for
Gimelstob's spotty young career, now that I think about.
Gimelstob's had more success in doubles than singles.
His partner for most of 1999 -- Patrick Galbraith -- is
out for the remainder of the season, so Justin ended up
teaming with Richey Reneberg. They've partnered a few
times this season, winning a title in Scottsdale, and
they work quite well together, in spite of a considerable
difference in age (Richey turns 34 in about a month) and
height (Justin's a pretty towering 6 foot 5). They got the
15th seed here and looked very stong in the early going.
Doubles specialists Brandon Coupe and Robbie Koenig
quickly found themselves trailing 1-3, Koenig's serve
having been the first broken.
Gimelstob was as fidgety as ever, constantly tugging at
his shirt and mimicking groundstroke motions with his
hand. He was serving big, though, and his partner was a
wall at the net. Reneberg ripped a winning backhand to
break Coupe for 4-1 and Gimelstob held at love for 5-1.
Koenig held for 2-5, but he and Coupe still had not won
a single point against serve. That changed when Reneberg
double faulted early in Game 8. However, he struck a
winning backhand volley to take the game and the set, 6-2.
Gimelstob smiled and patted Reneberg on the back.
Coupe was broken again to open the second set and
Gimelstob smacked another ace in another love hold for
2-0. In the third game, a Koenig serve clipped the tape
and landed right in front of Gimelstob. He was sure it
was a fault, but no call ever came. Justin collapsed to
his knees and looked around, confused, asking which
linesman was supposed to make that call. "I think they're
on the wrong lines," he suggested. Koenig held at love
for 1-2, but Gimelstob and Reneberg went back to
dominating. Justin closed out yet another love hold with
an ace for 4-2 and Reneberg hit some terrific winners
(nearly running into the stands on one of them) in a
break for 5-2.
Reneberg's serve isn't huge like Gimelstob's, but he
recorded an ace for 30-0. Two points later, Richey
knocked off a forehand volley to wrap up a 6-2, 6-2 win
which took only about 50 minutes to play. Coupe and
Koenig didn't offer much resistance -- Robbie was
particularly off -- but it's not by accident that
Gimelstob won all 16 of his service points. If form
holds, the tournament will see a potentially very
exciting third round bout pitting Gimelstob/Reneberg
against the #1 seeds, Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes.