We tried it three times last year and it went well, so here goes for the first time in 2008: a live blog! Follow along by clicking "READ MORE" and please hit me up on aim at johnkoblin if you’d like to chat.
8:31: There are about 20,000 people filing in all at once, so we’re not entirely filled up yet.
8:33: Early question: awkward tennis from the Williams sisters (as we usually see) or fun tennis (as with their Wimbledon final two months ago)?
8:35: It is cold here! Both players are wearing jackets in warm-ups (Serena in a Nike jacket, Venus in an Eleven jacket, the brand she started) and I’m in short sleeves and kind of shivering!
8:47: Early break for Venus in the third game; she’s up 2-1 in the first set.
8:59: Crowd is dead silent, and we’ve got some shaky tennis early on. Venus hit at least three unforced errors long after having Serena 0-30 and giving up a double break chance. Venus is still up a break at 3-2, but we definitely need both of them to take their tennis up a couple levels.
9:13: Venus holds a very tough game after saving two breaks. Tennis quality excellent in that game, but the crowd is still quiet and it’s packed now.
9:14: two things noticed over the last two games. (1) venus retrieves some serena shots that she doesn’t expect anyone else to get to and (2) serena hits the shit out of venus’ first serve like no one else does.
9:22: With Venus serving for the set, Serena comes alive! She came to the net three times in that game, and hit a soaring sideline winner to break Venus. 5-5.
9:28: Serena saves a break point, holds her serve and goes up 6-5. The early nerves are long gone now. This is very good tennis.
9:33: Venus holds, and it’s a tiebreak
9:38: They switch sides, and Venus has the min-break at 4-2, after two sloppy Serena errors into the net; prior to those shots, high quality stuff from both of them
9:41: It’s the first Serena wail of the night. It took 1 hour, 3 minutes, but an error that sails long gives Venus a set point
9:42: Serena rebounds! Is this 2002? The Scream never works, and she unleashed one and delivered a beautiful forehand winner, and an ace on her serve. 6-6, switch sides.
9:45: Well, hello, Serena! It must be 2002! She wins the last four points of the tiebreak, pumps her first with a ‘Come on! and steals the set. Upset in the making? Because here she comes.
9:46: Let’s see how Venus rebounds. Remember earlier today my friend Goldburn told me that she is more adept recently at fighting off adversity than Serena, and that’s probably true.
9:59: O.K., so. You know how everyone talks about the swirling winds here? Let me say, for the first time I understand what they’re talking about. I just went out for a smoke and in the course of about an 8-minute long break, smoke blew east, west, and north, ensuring that I hit the absolute most amout of people as possible. What can I say? It’s a utilitarian wind.
10:06: Uh oh. Errors returning? We’re on serve, and at 30-30 Serena hit an error to give Venus a break who then hit an error to get it to duece. Serena holds, it’s 2-2.
10:11: Venus gets the break! Attacks Serena’s serve gorgeously and she goes up 4-2 here in the second.
10:14: Serena blew two break chances from two wonderful serves from Venus causing two errors. Serena is 1 for 5 in break chances tonight.
10:16: Venus holds, up 5-2. Venus is nasty right now.
10:18: I just took a quick stroll around the media center, and the only person with a TV tuned into the Giluiani’s speech at the RNC is Bud Collins’ wife, Anita Klaussen. You know, the one with the Obama eerings.
10:21: The quality of this match is really delightful. The Canadian and French-speaking reporter from the Globe and Mail who sits next to me just had this reaction to a rather lovely rally between Serena and Venus: "Ooooh la la."
10:24: Venus serving for the set, and she has just blown three(!) set points, that’s five for the match. It’s 5-3 Venus in the second, and we’re at deuce.
10:26: Another Venus error! Ball sails long, and it’s ad Serena
10:27: Final error wide, and Venus loses the game and a golden opportunity. We’re on serve again.
10:36: Venus holds and goes up 6-5.
10:37: Just walked around to see if anyone was watching Palin’s speech during the change-over. Only Anita, Bud Collins’ wife. Everyone else is writing on deadline and griping how late the Nadal-Fish match is going to begin. "They should just cancel it," said one daily newspaper reporter.
10:40: McEnroe is campaigning that they cancel the Fish-Nadal match as well. If this goes to a third set, their match won’t begin until midnight.
10:42: Venus just blew her sixth set point of the night (fourth in this set) on another error that sailed wide.
10:43: Tight tennis everywhere now! Serena had a chance to force it to a tiebreaker but dumped the ball into the net with an open court in her foresight.
10:44: Serena howl! After a big point, high quality tennis there, Serena with the ad
10:45: Serena backhand flies wide, back to deuce. The 12th game of the second set will be your critical one, whoever wins it
10:45: Error from Venus on a routine forehand, and now Serena has another shot to bring it to a tiebreak.
10:46: Stunning Venus forehand winner in the tighest spot imaginable. Serena stood motionless in the middle of the court as the ball skirted into a corner. Vintage Venus, playing the angles. Deuce.
10:48: Serena ace, her ad again. Isn’t it more fun serving? Her seventh ace of the night (Venus has 8)
10:49: And there’s another Venus error off the forehand, giving her 39 for the match versus Serena’s 26. That could be the point of the match. We’re going to a tiebreak.
10:53: Change-over and Venus is up 4-2. The tennis is sloppy, but it is dramatic. This isn’t awkward at all.
10:54: In the immortal words of Charlie Steiner: ‘She just won’t go away!’ Serena hit impossible shot after impossible shot, falling backwards far beyond the baseline, but Venus ultimately prevails at the net. The entire media room just applauded her incredible effort (who said no cheering in the press section?). And this is right after Serena’s leg-split!
10:56: You know, you almost never see athleticism of this magnitude from Serena or Venus because, well, no one tests them quite like this and they so rarely ever test each other like this
10:57: It’s 6-3 Venus now. She’s had a million set point chances tonight, now she has 3 more set points
10:57: She blows set point number one with a backhand error that falls wide–but after an incredible point. This is better than the Wimbledon match right now.
10:58: And there goes number two! It’s 6-5 Venus now, and that’s now a total of eight blown set points in this match. One more chance.
10:59: On a rather routine overhead, Venus hits hit wide. Nine blown set points. This tiebreak, all on errors. Change-over, it’s 6-6, her serve and what a terrible way to see it happen.
11:01: Venus error long, her 44th of the night and it’s Match Point Serena. Venus’ serve. I can’t believe we’re here already
11:02: Serena wins. Forehand hit long by Venus. Serena started celebrating, but Venus challenges and it falls long.
7-6, 7-6 victory for Serena. This was better than the Wimbledon final
11:12: Hey, I didn’t realize Hank Kuehne–Venus’ golfer boyfriend from last year–was still in the picture. But evidently, he is. He was pacing fast to make it to the locker room in time to see Venus, but he was a little late. When Serena walked in, after her on-court interview, he said hello and congratulations and she barely seemed to notice him. The only remarks she had, which was given to the small and general crowd gathered outside the locker room, "Definitely can’t believe I won."
11:15: They have the lights on in the entryway for the court, meaning we’re going to have men’s tennis tonight. See you again at 3am!