Well. The U.S. Open happened, and some celebrities watched it. DelPo made me cry when he cried; that hug from Djokovic at the net was downright tender. You’ll get back there, Juan Martin. YOU WILL.
I’m gutted for Naomi Osaka that she won under such tense circumstances that clearly made it impossible for her to enjoy it. She’ll get back there, too, I’m sure of it. And I’m upset for Serena. I don’t think she deserved the verbal abuse penalty that cost her a full game. Through her anger, she remained clear in her arguments, and never swore or used any questionable language at all, and I didn’t even think she badgered him. Male players have broken rackets and dropped f-bombs at the umps and more, and received no penalties for it.
A serious Come to Jesus needs to happen with USTA umps. Any sport that relies on subjective eyes and ears is going to have its challenges, like variable strike zones or confusion about the helmet rule. The men took their shirts off during breaks during the entire tournament, due to the heat and the need to change them — Djokovic even sat there and luxuriated in his shirtlessness for a minute, a cheeky grin on his face — but when a woman did it, she got a penalty. Thiem smashed his racket to bits, and got no penalty. The “receiving coaching” thing is against the rules, but it’s also nebulous to me because you can’t control what the people in your box are gesturing at you. If you look up there for a thumbs-up, and your coach instead is making a coaching-type gesture, then you’re “received coaching” whether you actually got it or wanted it or not. There’s got to be a better way here, even if it’s… I mean, maybe coaches shouldn’t be allowed to watch from the stands? I don’t know. We come back here to consistency, though: If you’re going to penalize Serena for allegedly receiving coaching, for example, then a) you need to penalize Rafa and the rest for it too, because they all look up at their boxes and interpret hand signals from their crews; and b) you cannot have an ump climbing out of his chair to give a freaking pep talk to freaking Kyrgios.
And while we’re here, one to ponder: Sure, breaking a racket is dumb, but should it be a penalty? Who does it hurt but the person having the tantrum (and, of course, the racket)? I always see that and think, “Oh, you’re giving your opponent some ammo here; they know you’re on the emotional ropes.” Directing your vitriol at someone else is one thing, but when it’s at yourself and your equipment, that seems like your business. I get wanting to hold professionals to a high standard, but isn’t there’s a point at which asking your players to behave like robots is deleterious to the game too? No one wants to see two automatons banging a ball back and forth. If we did, we’d watch Pong tournaments.