Another year, another trip to the U.S. Open. My 2005 Labor Day excursion was the one that inspired me to start my blog, yet 11 years later it's still a thrill to walk through the gates of what is now known as the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens.
Things got off to a glamorous start when we saw Chris Evert and Mats Wilander in commentator mode. (It probably wasn't the best time for me to scream "UNBLOCK ME on Twitter, Chrissie!," although I did tweet that to her from another one of my accounts and she FAVORITED it, without unblocking @kenneth212.)
Wilander was that safe boyfriend I turned to after Bjorn Borg broke my heart by abruptly retiring.
Damian and I were impressed with the new roof in Arthur Ashe stadium, which seemed to cut down on the swirling wind without making you feel claustrophobic.
When we went to get a bite as Andy Murray finished off Grigor Dimitrov, it started to rain for about 45 seconds -- and by the time we returned to our seats, the roof was closed (although we didn't notice for another half hour!).
While the men's match sounded like the likely highlight of the evening given the Bulgarian's decent record against the Wimbledon champ -- including a three-set victory this year in Miami -- it was fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwańska against 18-year-old Ana Konjuh that was the thrill-fest. A rematch of their epic Wimbledon second-round encounter that Aggie won 6-2 4-6 9-7, this time was much different. After getting broken early, the young Croatian played like a seasoned pro, blasting winners from all over the court while also displaying a Radwańskan touch. Konjuh becomes the youngest U.S. Open quarterfinalist in a decade, and will now face Karolina Pliskova for a spot in the semis. (Fun fact: Two years ago, Konjuh was on a hot streak and being touted as a rising star when she was knocked out in the first round of U.S. Open qualifying by Aggie's younger sister, Urszula!)
After the match, I went over the Hall of Fame to pay my respects to Steffi Graf and Chris Evert. As you know, the only thing that normally becomes between them and me is Tracy Austin, but I stepped in for a change. Looking ahead, I don't have a lot of faith in Novak Djokovic's game this time around. And after seeing Murray dismantle Dimitrov, I have sinking feeling the misanthropic Scotsman will be going home with his second U.S. Open, and second Slam of the year.