Maria Kirilenko and Sam Stosur, disrespected by US Open schedulers, put on a classic
September 5, 2011
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Yesterday, after two fairly dull and routine mens straight-setters, the USTA decided to move the final match - Maria Kirilenko vs Sam Stosur - off Arthur Ashe and to another court. After moving it, they decided that essentially telling them that they were disposable and nothing but a side-show was not enough, and decided to fool around a row by changing the court they intended the match to be played on at least 3-5 games; first Armstrong, then Grandstand, 17 and back again. It was nothing but a complete shambles.
So what did Maria Kirilenko and Sam Stosur do?
They simply shrugged their shoulders and put on one of the matches of the tournament. And it was amazing. First Stosur struck with 5 games of perfect attacking tennis. Then Kirilenko dug deep and fought back by stepping in to take Stosurâ€™s serve early and attempting to rush to the net at every opportunity (something she did some 51 times in total throughout the match.). The pair then clashed heads in the ‘breaker of the year, with Kirilenko saving 5 match points (including two through challenging her shots that were called out) and taking her 6th set point in front of a roaring crowd. By the third set it was clear that Kirilenko was mentally fried, and though she once again fought with every fibre of her being, it was Stosur who remained more composed to seal the incredible match up and advance to yet another slam quarterfinal.
The saddest thing about all of this is that it represents the viscous circle that tennis is stuck in. Unlike 6-12 years ago, the menâ€™s game is clearly more popular that the womenâ€™s. But when the organisers are so willing to treat all but the WTAâ€™s big three stars as nothing but a little sideshow, it hurts the game even more. Itâ€™s special moments like these that make people life-long fans of both the sport and the players involved, and instead of being broadcast on US TV in its entirety and held in front of 22k screaming (and screaming is an understatement to the the noise made by only 5000 people on Grandstand.) fans as it shouldâ€™ve been, it was pushed to the small Grandstand court and was only available online in most territories while most TV sets showed Andy Murray demolishing a self-destructing Feliciano Lopez. Itâ€™s just not good enough.