The end of the game on Sunday marks the end of the first week at the American Open and the unofficial center of the tournament. In this context, our SI tennis team takes a look behind the scenes at the biggest storylines of the first week, an opinion on that controversial pep talk and gets another chance to select winners.
The biggest controversy of the first week, and one of the biggest of the entire summer, came on Thursday. That is when referee Mo Lahyani came out of his seat to give a clear pep talk to a dismembered Nick Kyrgios, who then turned it around to defeat Pierre-Hugues Herbert. What did you make of the incident? Was all anger justified? Should he have been removed from the tournament?
Jon Wertheim: The outrage meter is activated, but only slightly. Intention is important in criminal law. In the phase of sentencing, character and past record record is important. The same goes here. Lahyani & # 39; s "pep talk" was inappropriate and far beyond the limits; the professional turned to the personal and that can not happen in a position that is based on neutrality. But the intentions were good. ("It came from a good place", as the host of the talk shows would say during the day.) And his record of service and professionalism and healthy judgment counts. So, unimaginable, Mo was out of line. But everything more than a stand, a not-do-it-again and a round by the internet-pack machine (everything he has already received) seems draconian.
Stanley Kay: How Nick Kyrgios always manages to save himself in these bizarre situations, I have no idea. For the avoidance of doubt, this is not the fault of Kyrgios. I have never seen anything like Lahyani's pep talk, and I think it was totally inappropriate. (Such as Courtney Nguyen wrote on TwitterI think the reaction would have been much harsher if the referee had been a woman, and a woman would probably have been caught on the same offense.) Would something so far away ever happen in another sport?
Kyrgios may want to consider hiring Lahyani as his coach. His pep talk really seemed to work! (Please, just hire a coach, Nick-everyone trainer.)
Jamie Lisanti: The fact that Lahyani stepped out of his chair and went to talk to Kyrgios, aggravated the situation and really turned everything upside down. I want to think that Lahyani has resigned to warn Kyrgios that if he would keep playing like he was – without any effort to return Herbert's ministry while he walked over the court – he would be punished for refueling. He went a little further with his warning and the image of Lahyani bent over to talk to Kyrgios did not help this situation. It is important to note that Lahyani has a history of speaking with players during conversions in a somewhat encouraging way. Here is a recent example with Bernard Tomic.
But only because it is something Lahyani has done before does not make it right. Some people (fans and maybe even players) appreciate Lahyani's care for players and the connection with the game. He will not give a simple warning, like a robot robot with automatic seat. But in the end it is not his job to coach or advise the players, it is his job to arbitrate the match. In that respect, he exceeded his limits a little, despite all good intentions.
Does this situation trigger the same reaction if Kyrgios does not turn things around and eventually loses the game? Probably not. But the interesting part of everything is that we will never know and I think that this has also added fuel to the fire.
Daniel Rapaport: I was not morally angry, because as Jon said, the intentions of Lahyani were pure. But as far as an impartial referee goes, what he did was nothing short of blatant. For what it's worth, I do not think the words of Lahyani have caused the turnaround in the game – Kyrgios does not seem like the type to take things to heart in the middle of a game, but still, you just can not do that . And the fact that he did it before makes it worse, not better. He has been warned. He is insulted. He was told that he should not do it again, and he did it again. There must be some kind of discipline, and there was really no …
The extreme heat policy came into effect on Tuesday and Wednesday, when the main indices remained above 100 degrees throughout the day. What can the Open do in the future if the temperatures are so high? Should there be a temperature above which play is stopped?
JW: And rest assured: 99 of the 100 climate scientists agree – it will be relatively hot in the future. In terms of solutions … tennis could use common sense instead of the objective classification of the wet bulb. The game can be delayed until the temperature decreases. Someone suggested a nighttime tennis extravaganza on these oppressively hot days. Not bad. But I do think that it is said that the top players – who, presumably in the best physical condition – were noticeably quiet last week. Sport does not always have to be comfortable. And although the health of players (and fans and fans) comes first, we must also ensure that players with inferior fitness are not rewarded.
SK: As the world gets warmer, this kind of extreme heat waves will occur even more. So yes, tournaments must be prepared to stop playing if conditions are unsafe. We already have rain delays; organizers must take into account heat delays. Or, if you really want to be radical, make men's best-of-three matches! (Do not @ me.)
JL: Should players be outside in 120 degrees? No. But the temperatures at the beginning of last week are typical of a late August day in New York or an afternoon event in Melbourne at the end of January. Athletes have competed in extreme sports in extreme conditions and heat management is simply part of the game. The American Open was quick to set the breaks for both men and women because of the heat and that rule is the right decision for this kind of weather. But cancel matches? I say play.
DR: When I had been on the premises for two days, I can confirm that it was uncomfortably hot. But as Jon wrote, sport is not meant to be comfortable. Yes, there were still a few retirements than normal, but it was nothing big. I would not say that the circumstances felt unsafe, and I do not think anyone had serious health problems caused by the heat. For example, if it had been 10 degrees warmer, further action was justified. I do not know which temperature is the tipping point – above which they stop playing – so I go with the classic "You know when you [feel] the."
Give us one unresolved player on the left in the men's or women's treks that the semi-finals could make.
JW: Karen Khachanov in the back? Seriously, as I write this, I would say Lesia Tsurenko or Marketa Vondrouskova, who will play each other in the fourth round, and …. I have nothing for you on the men's side. I can imagine that we see a quartet of high seeds in the last four, now that Stan Wawrinka is out.
SK: I am going with Lesia Tsurenko, who has yet to drop this tournament. Her two most recent victories: 6-4, 6-2 on Caroline Wozniacki and 6-4, 6-0 on Katerina Siniakova. Tsurenko unnoticed Marketa Vondrousova in the fourth round.
JL: After disrupting No. 13 Kiki Bertens, the 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova is in the fourth round. With that part of the making up for grabs, why not her? There are not many other non-probed players to choose from.
DR: Vondrousova. A star in the making, and this feels like her coming out party. She does not get Tsbergenko in the fourth round and the winner of Osaka / Sabalenka.
Apart from the historical loss of control of Simona Halep, which player was the biggest disappointment?
JW: The camera angle-since fixed-on the new Louis Armstrong? As far as players were concerned, she was not exactly gaining momentum, but Garbine Muguruza – a twofold big winner – continued her run of inexplicably bleak play. You hoped Jack Sock would finally start his year in his home Slam. Instead, he is stopped in the second round and can end 2018 outside the top 100 after he has started in the top 10. Caroline Wozniacki won the previous hardcourt major and did not overstep the second round. (Then again she lost for a good player on a slow track.). Per question Halep was the WOD (Week One Disappointment) with a considerable margin.
SK: Lendl or no Lendl, Alexander Zverev continues to wrestle with Grand Slams. His fourfold loss against Philipp Kohlschreiber is more of the same story. I have no explanation for Zverev's inability to do it on the biggest stage, and I am still optimistic that he will process everything that stops him sooner than later. But the discrepancy between Zverev at Masters 1000 events and Zverev at majors remains bizarre. Let's also give some love to Philipp Kohlschreiber, in his fifth American Open fourth round in seven years.
JL: My choice for the uncontaminated player who could go far in this tournament is the result of a rather disappointing performance by Kiki Bertens. After a sensational summer ahead of the American Open – and an even better draw – Bertens looked like a darkhorse favorite on the women's side. And after handing out a bagel in the first set of her opening game and sharp in her second round, straight-sets victory, Bertens again looked forward to having control over the game against Vondrousova. But the number 13 seed just could not do it on Saturday and I think she looks back on this as a missed opportunity.
DR: Jack Sock had a chance to end his disappointing year in a good tone and appeared in good shape after a light-hearted victory in the first round on Andreozzi. He drops his next game at Basilashvili and has not reached the third round of a major since the Australian Open 2017. Once considered the second best hope of American men's tennis, Sock is now 26 years later on a career crossroads.
If you can redo your choices to win, both on the male and female side, who would you take?
JW: As far as the women are concerned, the heart says Serena; but the head says Sloane Stephens, who compiled himself as the highest remaining seed and the defending champion (both are them). As for men, I am worried about the knees and durability of Nadal. But I will remain with him as a fearless correspondent who I am.
SK: I still have a good feeling about Juan Martin del Potro on the men's side. On the women's side I originally chose Simona Halep. (Completely nailed that.) Reluctantly, I take a mulligan. At this moment it is difficult to bet against Serena Williams. She just played her best tennis of the year against Venus Williams on Friday. The rest of the draw will not be easy – Kaia Kanepi will be a good fourth round test, but Serena seems to be the right player.
JL: I will pass this on – I stay with my original choice of Madison Keys and Rafael Nadal for the titles.
DR: I feel nice, beautiful, beautiful, good in my original calling from Djokovic and Serena.