New York – In one of the U.S. Open’s most bizarre match stoppages, blowing wind and rain under the corners of the Louis Armstrong Stadium roof halted a men’s second-round match on Wednesday.
South African Kevin Anderson was playing Argentina’s 11th-seeded Diego Schwartzman when showers stopped them three points into the second set.
Torrential rains, the remnants of deadly Hurricane Ida, were blown under the corners of the retractable roof at the facility, opened in 2018.
The storm eventually swamped Armstrong stadium, with the court looking closer to hosting a 100-meter freestyle race than a tennis match.
The U.S. Tennis Association announced the completion of the match would be moved to Arthur Ashe Stadium, where Schwartzman finished off a 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-4 victory.
A women’s match scheduled later at Armstrong, pitting German sixth seed Angelique Kerber against Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina, was postponed to Thursday.
Wind-blown rain forced a drying machine onto the court and a host of towel-wielding workers to try and soak up moisture from the rain-slickened court.
— Jason Bordoff (@JasonBordoff) September 2, 2021
The first stoppage came at 5-5 in the first set, when the machine helped get the court back into a playing condition.
The second stoppage came at 4-4 in a first-set tie-breaker and consisted mostly of wiping down the lines so play could continue.
When it resumed, Schwartzman won the first three points to win the set. Anderson led 30-15 serving in the first game of the second set when the decision was made to suspend the match.
The area was under a tornado warning and flash flood watch from the U.S. National Weather Service during the deluge.
Earlier at Arthur Ashe Stadium, world No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas fired down a career-high 27 aces on the way to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 6-0 win over second-round opponent Adrian Mannarino on Wednesday, but another protracted bathroom break drew jeers from the crowd.
Tsitsipas won all of his first-serve points in the opening set and fired off 53 winners in the match to Mannarino’s 26 and looked set for a straightforward win before the Frenchman won a third-set tiebreak.
Tsitsipas then retreated to the locker room for a bathroom break of more than seven minutes, leaving Mannarino to ask for some balls to be brought out so that he could stay loose ahead of the fourth set.
Tsitsipas, who infuriated Andy Murray in the first round by taking a break of over seven minutes, was met with a chorus of boos from spectators when he returned and even as he served to start the set.
The jeers had little impact on his performance, however, as he powered through the final six games to set up a third-round match against Spanish teenager Carlos Alvaraz.
Tsitsipas said after the match that he was completely soaked with sweat after the third set and that important for him “to feel refreshed.”
“I haven’t done anything wrong, so I don’t understand,” Tsitsipas said after the match, adding that he had nothing against the fans who booed him.
“I love the fans. But some people don’t understand,” he said. “They haven’t played tennis at a high level to understand how much effort and how much difficult it is to do what we are doing.
“Sometimes we need a short break to do what we have to do.”
Mannarino said he did not believe Tsitsipas had done anything wrong but that tennis officials should rethink the rules allowing the protracted breaks.
“The rule is wrong because it’s not fair to cut the pace of the match like that but I don’t think he’s doing anything wrong because he’s allowed to do that,” he said.
Roland Garros runner-up Tsitsipas also said he did not realize he had exceeded his previous career high of 22 aces in a match.
“I just felt very loose on my serve. My ball toss was very consistent,” said Tsitsipas. “I didn’t really think about it, that it was that many.”
On the women’s side, experience trumped youth as former champion Sloane Stephens’ deadly forehand sealed fellow American Coco Gauff’s fate 6-4 6-2 in the second round.
The pair appeared evenly matched early in the affair but the 17-year-old Gauff handed Stephens a critical break with a double fault on the last point in the ninth game and never regained the momentum from her 28-year-old opponent.
In the second set, Gauff failed to convert on the only break point opportunity she had against the 2017 winner, who had eight forehand winners across the one hour and six minute meeting on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“The forehand was key today,” Stephens said after the match. “I wanted to come out here and really execute and play my game.” Stephens calmly won the last seven points in a row, as she dominated from the baseline and had a two break advantage headed into the final game.
The off-court friends hugged at the net after the match and Stephens heaped praise on the 23rd-ranked Gauff, a fan favorite at Flushing Meadows who reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros earlier this year, the best major performance of her career.
“I love Coco, I think everyone knows I love Coco,” said Stephens. “I’ve seen her game really transition and change. … I know there’s going to be great things ahead for her.”
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