WASHINGTON, September 3, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
The final result of Kim Clijster‘s first-round US Open match showed that the Hall of Famer lost, 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 to 21st seed Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia on Court 17 Tuesday evening.
During her virtual press conference afterward, the three-time US Open champion (2005, 2009-10) Clijsters was asked to characterize her performance. She said:
“I think leading up to the match today I didn’t know my opponent. I just knew from last few days watching video on her. Then there was a matter of trying to get a feel for it out there, see how fast the ball is she hits, see how accurate her serve is, kind of get a feel for all that.
“Yeah, I felt like I really started – I was in the match from the start. I felt like I was, yeah, being aggressive and serving well, trying to keep her kind of off balance a little bit in her movement.
“I felt like I had a couple chances early on in the second set where I had some breakpoints. Kind of lost my footing a little bit where I had a shorter ball, missed it. Then she started serving a lot better, I felt. She started returning better. Was just missing less I think than in the first set.
“The third set, I felt like she was, yeah, just seeing the ball very well, just hitting her targets all the time.”
It felt really nice to get out on the match court. I really enjoyed it. We had some great tennis yesterday — probably my best tennis so far and I have to keep building on that. #fortheloveofthegame #USOpen #babolat #fullcourtsport #innerme pic.twitter.com/fPyQs5Fq5s
— Kim Clijsters (@Clijsterskim) September 3, 2020
When she was asked if, despite the defeat, she was headed in the right direction, Clijsters admitted:
“Yeah, I mean, of course. It’s a process. That’s what I told myself at the start when I took this challenge on, was that it’s going to take a lot of hard work and losses. That’s part of it.
“We’ll see what’s up next. To be honest, I’m not sure at the moment yet. Yeah, we’ll see. It’s been a strange year obviously. When I started in Dubai and Monterrey, was excited to play more tournaments, have the family travel with me. But that obviously didn’t happen. We’ll see what the future holds.”
Murray recalls the day Federer showed up to watch
When Andy Murray played his first-round match against Yoshihito Nishioka Tuesday afternoon in Arthur Ashe Stadium, it drew quite a crowd of his peers, including: Naomi Osaka, Johanna Konta, Victoria Azarenka, Grigor Dimitrov, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic, and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
“I think it’s good [to] support each other,” Murray said during his virtual press conference following his win, asked about what has become a nice trend of players watching each other’s matches during this year’s fan-less major. “I just think it just helps a little bit if you’re on the court and there’s just a few people around. It’s better than no one, that’s for sure. Yeah, [it] helped me a little bit today.”
Some spectators at Murray-Nishioka macth 🙂 pic.twitter.com/2Hur2q3IFm
— Rena (@_irenka23_) September 2, 2020
It turns out that it’s not the first time Murray has played in front of a famous audience of peers, and chances are good that he’ll have plenty of interested parties watching him and No. 15 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime face off on Arthur Ashe Stadium Thursday night.
“When I played in the  Olympics against [Stan] Wawrinka in the first round in London, [Roger] Federer was sitting in his box for that match,” Murray said. “That was a bit weird. I don’t know. It was just a bit weird looking up and seeing him sitting in the players box when, usually, you look up and see kind of coaches and family and whatnot. He was there in his Swiss track suit. He’s obviously one of the best players of all time, and he was just sitting in the box. I played well in that match, so I don’t want to say he put me off. Yeah, there’s not anyone I wouldn’t want to watch me, but you definitely feel certain players’ presence more than others.”
As it happened, Murray would beat Federer a week later, in the Olympic tournament final, winning the first of his two Olympic gold medals.
Life Inside the Bubble
Before there was Benoit Paire, there was Guido Pella. The Guardian’s Tumaini Carayol spoke to the 36th-ranked Pella from Argentina, who was grounded from playing the Western & Southern Open after his physio tested positive for COVID-19.
Guido Pella was absolutely seething in his press conference today as he described being forced to quarantine for two weeks after his physio tested positive for coronavirus (he then tested negative 5 days later). I asked about his last two weeks and his response took 4 mins: pic.twitter.com/aUuHfQzq44
— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) September 2, 2020
Happy 68th Birthday – Jimmy Connors
🎂 68 years old today, Happy Birthday to the legendary Jimmy Connors!
🌟 109 titles
🌟 164 finals
🌟 8 Grand Slams
🌟 268 weeks as World No.1 (160 in a row) pic.twitter.com/7NBEnaXHXr
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) September 2, 2020
What they’re saying
“I always said he reminds me a lot of myself. I’m just a big fan… I know what it’s like to be down, I know what it’s like to be injured, I know what it’s like to be counted out.”
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 2, 2020
What they’re sharing on social media
Sashia Vickery / Be Open
— Sachia Vickery (@SachiaVick) September 2, 2020
Michael Mmoh / Black Lives Matter
— Michael Mmoh (@MichaelMmoh) September 2, 2020