Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Rain, Then Sun Delayed Roddick-Ferrer Match at U.S. Open

The sun finally came out at the U.S. Open, but water once again reared its ugly head to make another court unplayable.  Instead of the water falling from the heavens, this water seemed to come from, well, you know where.

The problem?  A two-foot crack in the court forced the relocation of a match between Andy Roddick and David Ferrer, moving the contest to a much tinier venue on Thursday afternoon.

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Already delayed two days by rain, American Andy Roddick's fourth-round match against No. 5 David Ferrer of Spain had to be stopped and relocated from Louis Armstrong Stadium to the much smaller confines of Court 13 because water was seeping through a small crack behind one baseline.

It was kind of funny to watch the players, a platoon of officials-- including chief referee Brian Earley-- and court technicians touch and ponder the situation.  They tried everything from towels to a wet-vac in an attempt to make the spongy area of the court disappear.

In a tournament that started with an earthquake during the qualifying rounds, Hurricane Irene interrupting the opening rounds and rain delays that caused 54 matches to be postponed on Tuesday, it's only fitting to see tennis' version of the Keystone Cops surrounding the small fissure.

It all came to a head on Wednesday, when Rafael Nadal was pulled from the court, after 15 minutes of play, because of slippery conditions during a rain mist.  The defending champion accused officials of putting TV revenue ahead of the player's safety.  "All you think about is money," he told Earley.

Nadal finished his delayed match today by beating Gilles Muller, 7-6 (1), 6-1, 6-2.  Nadal must win three matches in three days, pending the weather, if he is going to repeat.

It looks like Court 13 brought some luck to Roddick.  He won 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

"We play for 15 seconds and then water comes up.  It's like the juniors," said the No. 21 seed Roddick about the crack in the court.

While Roddick and Ferrer retired to the locker room for an hour, the officials and crew tried to correct the problem.   The two players returned to the court only to find out the water was still there and the two frustrated men walked off the court again.

Earley posed this question to Roddick as they walked through a stadium tunnel, "If you have to play on a rotten court, is that something we can do?"

"I don't care where we play," said the exasperated Roddick.

"We've had an inordinate amount of rain, and the rubber mat beneath the surface of the court is completely saturated," said USTA spokesperson Chris Widmaier.  "The sun is actual sucking that moisture out of the ground, and the water is actually coming through the surface."

The 584-seat Court 13 is quite a change for Roddick at the U.S. Open.  He has never played anywhere but the 23,000 seat Arthur Ashe Stadium in his career.  Maybe he should look at the sunny side of things like Nadal did today.

"That's not fair, but it is what it is," said Nadal.  "Here in the Grand Slams, if I am in the position of the U.S. Open, or Wimbleton, or Australia, Roland Garros, I will do the same.  Why Not?"

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