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By Chris Oddo

Ryan and Christian Harrison play US Open doubles (August 28, 2012) -- Sunny skies, fuzzy yellow balls and hard courts as blue as your neighborhood swimming pool -- what more could a tennis fan ask for? A roof over Ashe?  A one-on-one hitting session with your favorite player? Well, life isn't perfect, sure, but if you were watching Day 2 of the US Open on a gorgeous Tuesday afternoon, you know that as far as tennis in America goes, it was as good as it gets.

Here's 10 quick thoughts on Day 2:

1.
American men's dubs surpasses wildest expectations

Shocking would be an understatement. Out of this world wouldn't suffice. Grab all the superlatives you ever heard of and toss them into one paragraph and you're still not going to do the American men's doubles players any justice.

Three fledgling American unseeded duos took out the first, fourth and seventh seeds today, driving their wrecking ball through the bottom half of the draw (and some of the top), leaving a hole the size of Texas in a draw that now looks decidedly red, white and blue.

Ryan Harrison has yet to fulfill his promise on the doubles court and his younger brother Christian is just cutting his teeth on tour, having lost in the first round of qualies in the singles. But the Harrison brothers a.k.a the Brothers Harrison proved that they can be pretty formidable as a pair today when they upset the fourth-seeded doubles team of Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 7-6(3), 2-6, 7-6(7) in the first round.

The news was shocking, but the shock factor grew exponentially when Steve Johnson and Jack Sock combined to knock out the top-seeded duo of Daniel Nestor and Max Mirnyi 6-1, 6-7(4), 6-2. Then it was Donald Young and Nicholas Monroe's turn (Nicholas who?), as they took out the seventh-seeded pairing of Michael Llodra and Nenad Zimonjic. Brian Baker and Rajeev Ram also advanced today in doubles action for the Americans, along with Scott Lipsky, who paired with Mexico's Santiago Gonzalez, and Eric Butorac, who paired with Australia's Paul Hanley.


It was truly a banner day, and the Bryans have yet to play.

2.
Venus, Venus, Venus

Venus Williams dropped the first two games of her first-round match with Bethanie Mattek-Sands today, but after that minor hiccup the show was most certainly on for Venus, and that includes showing off her new floral print tennis dress, designed and worn oh-so well by Venus herself.

Williams stormed to an easy 6-3, 6-1 victory in 62 minutes over Mattek-Sands and she will now get some rest before a massive second-round tilt with sixth-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany.

***Williams lost a very close 7-6(5), 7-6(5) decision to Kerber a few weeks ago at the Olympics.***

An aside: ESPN provided a slo-mo shot of Venus flying through the air with legs scissor-kicking as she knocked off a swinging volley from the net, and it was one of the most crazy-beautiful things I have seen all year. The artistry and sheer athleticism of Venus, even at 32, are a force to be reckoned with.

Her tilt with Kerber should be a popcorn-worthy doozy of a match.


3. Mahut - Petzschner: tube socks, a knee brace and a fifth-set breaker

Not to be outdone by the always garish Bethanie Mattek-Sands, tube sock-wearing Philipp Petzschner of Germany pulled up his black, nerdy tube socks as high as they could go after dropping the first two sets against Nicolas Mahut today. The result? A five-set come-from-behind victory that ended in a not-so-dramatic fifth-set tiebreaker.

Score one for the tube sock wearers. The fashionable (not) Petzschner will face Nicolas Almagro in the second round, and if he continues serving as big as he did against Mahut down the stretch today, he just might have a chance. Petzschner lost only 13 first-serve points in the last three sets of his comeback.

As always, it was sad to see the wildly entertaining and charismatic Mahut go down so early.

4. I'd rather see Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova on the same side of the net

Anybody familiar with their phenomenal doubles pairing knows that it's far better to watch Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova join forces for doubles than compete against one another in the singles draw. But unfortunately, King and Shvedova, two-time Grand Slam doubles champions, were drawn opposite one another in the first round this year.

Shvedova moved on with a 6-4, 6-2 victory this afternoon, but the pair's warm embrace at the net after the match made it clear to anyone watching that the fifth seeds are still the best of friends.

King and Shvedova have reached the doubles finals in the last two years at the US Open, and they are the fifth seeds this year.

5. Which pro tennis player would you like to buy a hot dog from on the street?


When posed with this off-kilter question for a Q and A with US Open.org, Jack Sock chose Ana Ivanovic as the player he'd most like to buy a hot dog from on the New York streets. I'll take Francesca Schiavone or Andrea Petkovic, or better yet, both. How about you?  

6. Roddick on the podium:

Andy Roddick was asked about the difference in his game from today's straight set victory over young American Rhyne Williams back to the days when he was competing for Grand Slam titles. Here was his reply:

“No, the game completely changed.  I was able to kind of recognize it.  It's funny, because the things I feel like I get criticized for have kept me around a lot more than my contemporaries.
       
“I saw the way the game was going.  You have to get stronger and quicker.  I don't think there was much room for a plodder who could hit the ball pretty hard.  It was a conscious effort at times, and I feel like that's added to longevity a little bit.

“I think the game has become a lot more physical.  I think you have to be a fully grown human to deal with kind of the ins and outs of the physical grind.
    
“I think that's probably why you're seeing what you see now.  I mean, you have to kind of be able to kind of take a beating week in and week out.  It's not as much about shot making now as it is about kind of movement and that sort of thing.”

7. Tsonga confesses his love for Patrick Rafter

After his straight-set win over Karol Beck on Grandstand, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was asked which player he’d like to face if he could go back in a time machine and face any ex-pro. He chose Patrick Rafter. Here’s why:

“Yeah, I loved him,” said Tsonga.  “I loved the way he played, you know.  I have a lot of respect for this guy. You know, I want to play sometimes like him a serve and volley, but on the tour, you know, it's still difficult to play like this because the ball goes so fast and you don't have time to join the net.”

8. Clijsters US Open win-streak is the second-longest in history


According to WTAtour.com’s stats corner, Kim Clijsters 22-match US Open winning streak is second to only Chris Evert’s record of 31 consecutive wins. Evert who won the US Open six times, won 31 straight from 1975 to 1979. Martina Navratilova, Monica Seles and Venus Williams each won 20 straight at the US Open.

Clijsters is one of only nine players to have won titles in three consecutive appearances at the same Grand Slam. Clijsters won the US Open in 2005, 2009 and 2010.

9. Schiavone: Iron Woman

Today’s match against Sloane Stephens was Francesca Schiavone’s 49th consecutive appearance without missing a Grand Slam. On the men’s side, Roger Federer is playing in his 52nd straight Grand Slam at this year’s US Open. Unfortunately for Schiavone, she was bested by an up-and-coming (and much younger) Sloane Stephens today.

10. Venus on loving her lot in life

Venus Williams has become a pillar of positivity these days, and I am so on-board with it. You have to love her answer to the question posed below. It would have been easy for her to go into a "woe is me" litany, but now, just before a huge second-round match, is clearly not the time...

Q.  Can you remember the last time you played a tennis tournament in which you weren't coping with some health issue?
    
VENUS WILLIAMS:  No (laughter).  But everybody has their lot in life, and I've had mine.  I've had an unbelievable lot.  I'm living my dream every day for the last 15 years, so I can't complain.

(Photo Credit: Andy Kentla)

 

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