Tennis nuts Prince
4:35 p.m., U.S. Open Official Citizen time, and Melanie Oudin is having a hit about with Louisa Chirico on Court 5. USTA coaches hover observantly and gesture enthusiastically every handful of exchanges. Oudin’s on-court countenance can be anticipated. Her mouth opens and eyeballs widen when she sets up. And hitting the ball, Oudin scrunches up her face, a little rictus of obstinate effort, which flares her nostrils and nose ring. When she makes a mistake, she looks down in a tired, slightly dejected kind of way.
5:15 p.m. Out on Court 4, Matthew Ebden and Bernie Tomic (Aussie/Aussie) are taking on Raven Klassen and Alex Bogomolov, Jr. (South African/Russian). Bernie’s got on the most intensely colored, highlighter yellow Nike hat, while Raven and Bogie wear Prince and Athletic DNA, respectively. The crowd is not so much a crowd as a gathering, which fills the bleachers sparely and is sleepy and laconic; at one point, Bogomolov hits a nice backhand dipper, but there’s only a smattering of claps.
The official time reads 5:31 p.m. in Louis Armstrong stadium, where Angelique Kerber and Olga Govortsova are futzing with their bags. The stadium has clearly seen some traffic, what with all the empty bottles and munchie wrappers scattered about me; the smell of ketchup and fries nauseously wafts over me. I look down at the court, transfixed by Kerber’s warm-up top, which sports no sleeve on the right side and half a sleeve on the left. Is this a functional design? Like the baseball pitcher’s half jacket? Whatever it is, it isn’t battle tested. The warm-up comes off and Kerber walks out to the baseline in this year’s ubiquitous yellow and Adidas threads. You must already know this, but her legs are huge; in person, they’re just absolutely gigantic. Walking, her quads becomes throbbing rectangles; serving, they judder as shock waves resonate up and down through her hips.
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