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Thoughts on US Open Day 5: Novak Djokovic gets lucky with retirement and Madison Keys fights back, plus Gael Monfils, Caroline Wozniacki and more.

By Jon Wertheim
September 02, 2016

NEW YORK – Five thoughts from Day 5 on Friday at the 2016 U.S. Open.

• Someone likes Novak Djokovic: the top seed and defending champ may have a bum wrist but his luck is tremendous. After a walkover in his second match against Jiri Vesely—one of just five players to beat Djokovic in 2016—Djokovic needed only six games to advance today. Down 2-4, Mikhail Youzhny retired with a left leg injury. Djokovic is into the fourth round winning one completed match. How’s his wrist? (and right arm?) We’ll have to wait until Sunday.

Keys beats Osaka in tight three-setter, Sock ousts 2014 champ Cilic on U.S. Open Day 5

• Someone likes Madison Keys. Preceding Djokovic on Arthur Ashe stadium, Madison Keys was down 1-5 in the third set to 18-year-old Naomi Osaka. This would have been an intensely bitter defeat for Keys, especially at her home Slam. Two points from defeat, she began dialing in her shots—“harnessing her power” is the cliché—and Osaka retreated. Keys prevailed 7-4, 4-6, 7-6(3) and now meets….

• Caroline Wozniacki, who’s in the midst of salvaging a dismal year. A finalist in 2014, Wozniacki is down to No. 74 in the rankings. But she won her third match in New York with a surprisingly easy straight-sets win over Monica Niculescu. Wozniacki is finally healthy but, more important, she is resisting her defensive instincts and playing aggressive tennis and slugging the ball.

• Gael Monfils has kept his artistic integrity and is still well worth the price of admission.

But lately he has married creativity with pragmatism. On the day after his 30th birthday, he breezed into round four with a straight-sets win over Nicolas Almagro. For a decade observers have watched Monfils—arguably the best athlete in the sport’s history—and asked when his results will match his talent? This summer, we’ve finally gotten a delivery date.

• A match lost in the folds of the schedule, American slugger Jack Sock hit through the 2014 champ Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 and now plays Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for a spot in the quarters.


Hi Jon; After watching Raonic lose to Harrison, I thought he was injured, but upon watching your pre-game show on Tennis Channel I was surprised to learn it was cramping. I really don't understand what cramping is and why a world class trained athlete get cramps.
Eric Bukzin

• To his credit, Raonic attributes his cramps and fatigue not to the heat nor bad hydration but to nerves. I suspect that, after his Wimbledon final and his decision to skip the Olympics, he put too much pressure on himself to thrive in New York.

Five things to watch on Saturday at the U.S. Open: Venus and Serena, del Potro in action

So they scheduled @JackSock @Madison_Keys and @ryanharrison92 all at pretty much the same time ??? 7 Line topic?

• “7 Line” refers to the Tennis Channel morning show that I will shamelessly plug. It’s on daily from 9-11 a.m. ET. And, yes, that was some weird scheduling. You want to show off your new clothes, you don’t wear all three outfits at once.

Mailbag: Never thought I'd New Yorkers (McEnroes) complain about noise, in New York. Is Ashe really that loud now?

• It’s darn loud. And you get the feeling that the USTA wasn’t prepared for all these complaints about the acoustics. From a fan perspective, it’s fine. I actually prefer it to the churchlike, atmosphere-bereft silence of other venues. I do empathize with players who are complaining that noise is preventing them from hearing the ball leaving their opponents’ rackets. (Also, these complaints hold for when the roof is open as well.) It’s a little late for 2016 but my suspicion is sound engineers will be on the case before next year.

Juan Martin del Potro thrives on support at U.S. Open as he continues comeback

I’m a 63 year old life-long tennis player and fan and have a perplexing question about a possible subject matter for a book on women’s tennis. (NOT by me!!) Would there ever be a tasteful and respectable way to go back through the history of Grand Slam finals for the women and get the stories associated with what outcomes may have been influenced by one (or both) of the women being in a bad part of their menstrual cycle?

After watching [a player] lose and listening to Cliff Drysdale talk about how Rod Laver would be able to pull himself up out of a slump during a match I wondered to my wife aloud “yes, but Rod never had to play while he was having his period and possible cramps, etc.”…. and then you think about all of the great players of the past from Margaret Court to Steffi Graf and on and on….. This would either be a ground-breaking subject to discuss or completely untouchable, so I thought it best to run it up the flag pole with you for some wisdom and insight.
Best Regards and Cheers! Duke Mahl 

• Not a topic many are comfortable discussing but there’s no question that bodily cycles can—and did—impact the outcome of matches. After the fact, one occasionally hears that results should be discounted because of cramping. I know of one top player whose “time of the month” coincided with both the French Open and Wimbledon finals weekend and the speculation is that this impacted negatively on her haul of major titles. But unless the player brings it up—which, of course, she would be well within her rights to do—it’s better left unremarked upon. For the record, last year, Heather Watson ventured here and broached “the last great sporting taboo.”

Snapshots from Day 5

Shots, Miscellany

• Our buddy Ed McGrogan has LLS:

• Curt B. has an all time great reader rant: Please accept this e-mail in all seriousness, because I'd really enjoy knowing the answer. You will tell by the tone that I am not a Phil Collins fan. I wasn't at 13, and I am not now.

I hold two things to heart-my love of music and my love of tennis. If I hear Sussudio one more time on ESPN's coverage, I may mute the television. It's like the terrible commercial you must sit through before a YouTube video, only over and over again.

For defending U.S. Open mixed champs Paes and Hingis, age is nothing but a number

Who is responsible for this marketing gimmick? And why? How did it fly, when someone suggested "let's have an irrelevant artist do a residency during the U.S. Open, and we will only play that music...over and over."

Unfortunately I've also learned that his records have been re-mastered in 2016. Great. We've all been waiting. I can only hope this is not planned for the entire fortnight, because it's already overstayed its welcome. And, why isn't ESPN playing Easy Lover? Sorry to harp, but seriously, it's like being stuck in an elevator. The "artist in residency" idea is a terrible one. What's next? Jimmy Buffett? (Village Voice: 7 worst songs of all time)

Thanks for listening (no pun intended).  

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)