US OPEN 2023 WRAP-UP
The US Open was a somewhat strange tourney this year. There was a new Women’s Champion for the ninth year in a row, and three of the four Men’s semi-finalists were previous champions, including the last two. (Carlos Alcaraz last year and Daniil Medvedev the one before.) And there was a crazy almost-hour-long social protest in the stands that held-up the first women’s semi-final. (But Coco Gauff‘s good reaction to it, saying she believes in social warming, as well–which all normal people do–I actually liked her for the first time.)
This 2023 US Open just might be the thing to finally stop my sports-watching obsession, though. I could not be more disappointed with the results, in both the Men’s and Women’s competitions, if I tried! I was wishing that anybody would have won those titles other than the two who did!
So before I say anything else, let me tell you why I rooted against both winners during the entire two weeks.
American teen-ager Coco Gauff seems okay enough, but I like all the other contenders, (outside of creepy Jelena Ostapenko,) more than her. There are so many incredible human interest stories in the field that I can’t help but root for others. For example, my favorite female player, Elina Svitolina, is not only from Ukraine, but helps her country all the time, with both money and moral aid. And, she just had a baby in October!!! And she’s already back playing professionally, and doing quite well, to boot. And she’s married to adorable and hilarious player, Gael Monfils, so I always love to watch those two as long as possible.
Then there’s Tunisian Ons Jabeur, who’s the highest-ranked African and Arab tennis player in history! More importantly, she’s considered to be one of the nicest players ever. And she played all four of her rounds here with the flu!!! What grit and determination she showed.
There were so many interesting stories here, of mothers competing, people retiring after this tournament, (like Americans John Isner and Jack Sock,) and players coming back from major injury and hardship. So I found it hard to root for a teen-ager, especially one who’s blessed with incredible athletic genes from both parents.
But the main reason I root against Coco Gauff is that I’m disgusted by the ESPN commentators’ jingoistic adoration of the girl. If she was from another country, they’d barely mention her! And I have a bit of disdain for her cutesy moniker of “Coco”; her name is actually Cori, but using that would take away from the attraction of her. (But that’s the kind of name that the ESPN team is prone to like, anyway; they call each other “Chrissie” and “Pammie” and “Cliffie,” which is a tad nauseating to hear from senior citizens every few minutes.)
And I really wanted funny, entertaining, and honest Aryna Sabalenka to win the Championship. (Of the two finalists—I wanted Svitolina to win out of the whole field.) As much as I feel awful for Madison Keys to have lost in the Semi the way she did, (after winning every game in the first set,) Sabalenka was amazing in that match. To come back from as far down as she was, and win it, was a Herculean feat, one I’m glad I witnessed.
By the way, I found Gauff’s message to her “doubters” in her Championship speech to be really nasty. People are allowed to have their opinions, and in the case of sports pundits, they’re actually paid to voice them! Since she was #6 in the world at the time, and had lost in the first round of the recent Wimbledon tournament, (to a much lower-rated American,) and had never won a Major, (while there were several Majors and Olympics Champions in the draw,) and she was playing the new World #1, it was perfectly reasonable to think she wasn’t going to win this title, either. There was no need to scold people who thought that someone else would win it.
And a word of caution to her, to not let this first win go to her head. There have been other recent teen winners of the US Open, (also-nineteen-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu in 2019, who beat Serena Williams!, and also has a nickname—Bibi—but doesn’t feel the need to use it instead of her real name, as Coco does; and then-eighteen-year-old Brit, Emma Raducanu, who not only won this title as a qualifier but did not drop a set during the entire tournament!,) who have never gone on to experience any more good results since! So Coco needs to talk to herself, not people with opinions on who will win any sporting event.
On the men’s side, I really dislike Novak Djokovic. At first, I just didn’t want him to pass my beloved Roger Federer, The Stranger I Love Most. (On an amusing side note, I had once told my fabulous female gynecologist about my love for him. So when I saw her recently, and mentioned him again, she told me to just fantasize about him! Ew. I don’t have even a modicum of a crush on him!!! I just love him as a person and an endlessly classy public figure, who has never put a foot wrong! So I hope that you all realize what my admiration of him rightly is.)
Getting back to Novak, I used to occasionally like him, like when he did impressions of the other players’ quirky serves. But now, he’s basically an unlikeable d**k. He’s always wanted to be popular like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are, and he’s clearly bitter that he’s not. And never will be.
But now at the Open, he did the most unsportsmanlike thing I’ve ever seen any player do in my entire life. It was actually shocking. He had just beaten young American Ben Shelton in their Semi-Final, which, very surprisingly, Ben had made. When Ben wins a match, he looks at his team in his player’s box, (not at his opponent he had just beaten,) and does a quick miming motion of making a call and then hanging the phone down, (not in an angry way,) which is his cute shout-out to his fellow Florida State college athletes, (including one who’s a World Champion track star.) It’s just a low-key little celebration for the twenty-year-old that he is.
Well, when a-hole Djokovic beat Ben in the semis, Novak imitated Shelton’s signature move as he walked to the net to shake hands! But he slammed the imaginary phone down! I’ve never ever seen that particular rudeness before. No one else would even think of doing something like that!
No commentator, nor Djokovic himself, had an explanation for his extreme rudeness to another player, especially one who has never done anything wrong to him. And then, as if that disrespect wasn’t enough, Novak did not applaud for Ben as he walked off the court! In all my
years decades of intense tennis-watching, I have never ever seen rudeness like that. So now I’m going back to detesting the jerk.
Ben was classy in his post-match press conference. When asked about Novak mocking him, the young guy, (whose dad was also a pro tennis player, so he’s been around the sport his entire life,) actually stuck-up for Novak, (probably because he felt he had to,) saying, “I didn’t see it until after the match. I don’t like when I’m on social media and I see people telling me how I can or can’t celebrate. If you win the match, you deserve to do whatever you want. As a kid growing up, I always learned that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Good ending to that statement, Ben! You go, boy!
There’s one more thing that Djokovic did that annoyed me—his supposed “tribute” to Kobe Bryant when he won the tournament was downright gratuitous and exploitative; it was just an attempt to get cheers from the crowd. And love from everyone who was a fan of Kobe. It had nothing whatsoever to do with Novak’s win at the Open, nor his tennis career in general! He was hitching himself to Kobe’s wagon because he had just won his twenty-fourth Major title, and Kobe’s jersey number was twenty-four. What a stretch. He wanted everyone to say how wonderful he was to “pay tribute” to Kobe in that moment, and all the sports and news outlets fell for it. How could they not, actually? They all love to get in any mention of the basketball great that they can. It’s just one more shameful act on the part of the desperate-for-love tennis player.
On a much happier note now, to explain a little of why I love this sport, there’s so much more to many of these players than meets the eye. For example, Russian Andrei Rublev not only has his own clothing line, but he speaks fluent Spanish to his coaching team, because they’re all Spanish. And his countrymen, Daniil Medvedev, speaks fluent French to his coach who’s French. Some of these players speak five languages!
But ESPN needs me to restructure things for them. I’ve given up trying to make the host Chris McKendry stop saying “sawL” and “drawL” for “saw” and “draw,” (among so many other speaking errors she makes,) because that’s just a thankless task at this point.
But the “panels” need to start discussing the interesting news each day; it’s so frustrating for them to ignore what’s been happening the day or night before. All they discuss, ad nauseam I must add, is the Americans who win. If one of them loses, they’re never mentioned again. The commentators need to give us the latest on injuries and illnesses. For example, gorgeous Italian Matteo Berrettini, about whom they always spoke when he was doing well a couple of years ago, twisted his ankle really badly in an early round, and had to retire from his match. And they never said even one more word about him the entire tournament!!! Disgraceful.
And I know that the players give them a list of the people in their guest boxes, but the match-callers rarely impart that info to the viewers. We’d really love to be in on the competitors’ personal lives—that would bring so much more interest to the audience!
And enough with the jingoism; we all care about players other than just Americans. They can cover them a bit more, if they like, but not like they do now.
Worst of all is that, even though they did mention the great Arthur Ashe a few times in the entire two weeks of coverage of which I viewed every single second, they did not make the fuss I feel he deserves. Saturday, September 9, was the anniversary of Arthur winning the very first US Open of the Open Era, which is a major big deal. How did they not commemorate that?! Especially because he was the first black player to do so, and now here was Gauff, a young black player herself, book-ending that achievement! And they were playing all the Finals on none other than…Arthur Ashe Stadium!!! Just another reason why ESPN needs me to run the show for them.
Lastly, I apologize to everyone for not doing even one tweet during the proceedings. I just had to go out to an event, (sports-related, of course,) on the very first night of the tourney, which made me always be hours behind in watching all the TV coverage. That meant that my tweets would not be timely. Plus, I was never on the computer that entire fortnight because I didn’t want to learn of any results by accident. I kept thinking that I’d catch-up and then tweet my thoughts out, but it just never happened, no matter how little sleep I got.
So I’ll try again for the next big event, which was supposed to be the Emmys this week, but our SAG strike put an end to it. However, there always seems to be something else right around the corner, doesn’t there? And if I can bear it, football season is already here now. (I guess my sports self-ban didn’t last very long.)