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Meltdown of the Week


Finding Roger Federer Meltdown footage on YouTube is like finding a seat on the Number 4 Lexington Avenue subway at 9:30 in the morning. [Non-New Yorkers, take note: it's rare.] The Greatest of All Time usually deals with blown shots by dragging his middle finger across his forehead and tucking his hair behind his ear. Not this time. This was a semi-final match with Novak Djokovic at the 2009 Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Florida. Djokovic just broke Fed in the third and deciding set and was up 15-0 when the Greatest of All Time took his eyes off a routine approach shot that could have evened the score. Federer went through lots of racquets when he was playing the junior circuit; wonder if he felt a little wave of nostalgia upon banging this one hard into the court.

On the Sideline

US Open: Vickie Samantha Flushing Meadows

It was like a Woody Allen movie, this game in which American Vickie Duval was serving for the match, 5-4, in the 3rd set against 2010 US Open winner Samantha Stosur.  It was funny, with the 17-year-old Duval slumping over like a rag doll or throwing her hands up in WTF?! disgust with every match point she squandered.  She would have 3.  

Qualifier Vickie Duval, ranked 296th in the world, leaps over #11 Samantha Stosur into the 2nd round of the US Open. Photo courtesy of US Ong.

It was bittersweet, as the 29-year-old 11th seed's vaunted forehand sailed long, again and again.  

And it was a hit, with Duval and Stosur trending on Twitter, overshadowing the snoozefest featured match on Ashe of that other Victoria, the one with the long blonde braid who's seeded 2nd in this US Open and who took just an hour and five minutes to send Dinah Pflzenmaier hiking home to Germany with two bagels in her rucksack.

Yeah, certainly, you know, not a fast serve. A girl like her, you kind of expect it to be maybe a little bit harder." - Samantha Stosur

The skinny little teen who barely fills out her tennis outfit, the promising junior who was born in Miami and raised in Haiti, whose dad nearly lost his life when a wall fell on him in Port-au-Prince during the 2010 earthquake, sent tremblers through the raucous crowd at Armstrong as she upset Stosur, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the first round in Flushing Meadows.   

Stosur's inside-out winners couldn't keep her from getting ousted at the Open. Photo courtesy of US Ong.The tale of tears for Stosur was her unforced errors, 56, versus her 29 winners.  The Aussie's famous kick serve failed her.  She double-faulted 11 times. She converted just 5 of 16 opportunities to break Duval's 88-mile-per-hour serves, 4 of those chances in that critical 5-4 game in the third set.

There were other chances, too, like in the second set.   

"Yeah, by far didn't do enough from 3-0 up, 4-2 up in the second. Yeah, just let every single opportunity slip away, made way too many errors," said an almost emotionless Stosur after the match.  "At the end of the day it really cost me today."

She says she didn't underestimate the teen. But she sure did underestimate that creampuff serve.

"Yeah, I don't know if it was a matter of reading it. Yeah, certainly, you know, not a fast serve. A girl like her, you kind of expect it to be maybe a little bit harder. But, you know, obviously did enough today to bother me. I didn't take enough of an advantage of it."

Asked about her serve, Duval said she's still growing.  And not just in her technical skills.  She meant, like, literally growing.

"I've gone through a couple stages of struggling with my serve. I'm just working hard on it every day," she said. "You know, I've been having a couple growth spurts, too. I think my balance is a little off. Just keep working, I guess."

Haters, the tip of the day from Vickie Duval, the Giant Slayer? Confidence.

"I definitely think that getting to the next level in tennis is being able to go after your shots," she said.  "These girls hit really hard. I wouldn't have pulled it off today if I wasn't confident in my shots. I was willing to take that risk and it paid off."


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