The Week That Was: Fed Scares In Flushing

Roger Federer may be the greatest tennis player of all-time but what really is impressive is that he was able to get a public court to practice on in Central Park the day after he struggled in a five-set match against 19 year-old American Francis Tiafoe. Even the biggest celebrities have to reserve time well in advance for those courts!

The preparation paid off because Federer was able to hold off Russian Mikhail Youzhny in five sets the following day. Roger said that he wanted to practice in Central Park because he is staying in Manhattan and did not want to deal with a car ride across the RFK Bridge to get to the practice courts at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. My guess is that he wanted a mental break away from the US Open for a day.

At age 36 and competing with a surgically repaired left knee while also having back issues, Federer admitted that in all likelihood he will be having longer matches if he is going to win. The days when he could routinely put even the best opponents away in three sets are in the past.

After winning her first round match at the Open I asked Venus Williams if after all of these years she still gets a thrill out of being a US representative at the US Open. She downplayed that by basically saying that while she is an American it’s really not on the forefront of her mind.

The tennis draw gods were unkind to the #2 ranked female player coming into the Open, Simona Halep. Normally the first round match-up is a walkover for someone ranked that high but her opponent was far from an unknown. Maria Sharapova, who was given a wildcard berth and was unranked coming off of a suspension for using unauthorized drugs, beat Halep in three sets.

A number of players including Caroline Woznaicki were unhappy that Sharapova was able to avoid competing in the Qualifiers Week because of the largess of the United States Tennis Association who gave her automatic entree into the tournament. 

Donald Young, who many thought would be the Tiger Woods of tennis not so long ago, lost a tough second round, five-set match to Gael Monfils. Afterwards, Young candidly told reporters that he knows that he has never lived up to that billing.

Young also spoke about the difficulties of making a living in tennis where only a small percentage of players get the big endorsements. Those harsh economics make it difficult for minorities to turn pro but he did add that tennis is a great way to earn  college scholarships.

This Thursday is Community Day at the US Open and there is no admission until 6 PM. It’s a great opportunity to watch the various doubles and juniors matches.

Houston got its revenge on Harvey last Saturday. Unfortunately for the Mets, it was the Houston Astros who battered starting pitcher Matt Harvey for seven runs in two innings. It was Harvey’s first start in over two months as he was forced to go on the disabled list with yet another right shoulder injury in mid-June.

Mets management will breathe a sigh of relief if and when the Mets win their 63rd game of the season since that would mean that the team couldn’t lose 100 games this year. Yes, it’s been that kind of dreadful season when that is a key organizational September goal.

Wayne Randazzo, who hosts the Mets pre and postgame shows on their flagship radio home, 710 WOR, did a nice job filling in for SNY TV play-by-play broadcaster Gary Cohen last week when the Mets were in Cincinnati to take on the Reds. Randazzo has a nice relaxed way of calling a game which was reminiscent of Vin Scully.

I was somewhat surprised that veteran Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia complained about Red Sox hitters trying to bunt on him to get on base knowing that he has bad knees. He certainly realized that teams always look for their opponents’ Achilles heel as part of their game strategy.

Tennis legend and Douglaston native John McEnroe has just published, “But Seriously,” (Little, Brown) which is the followup to his bestseller “You Cannot Be Serious.” McEnroe riffs on dealing with aging; his relationships with peers Bjorn Borg and Ivan Lendl; appearing on an episode of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm”; opening his Sportime tennis academy on Randall’s Island; and lots more. It’s a quick read and you can’t help but hear Johnny Mac’s voice as you turn the pages.

It’s tough for a lot of us to get back into work/school mode but that’s what we all have to do now that Labor Day has passed. If you are having trouble getting going in the morning then you might want to get a Keurig coffee maker and try the Green Mountain Coffee Dark Magic K-Cup pods.

 To make sure that you are on time for wherever you need to be Armitron, which is based on Little Neck, has plenty of stylish watches for under $100 including one which contains small Swarovski crystals.

Many of us also put off cleaning or engaging in home improvements until the heat of the summer has abated. Black & Decker makes the ScumBuster, a battery-operated power brush that allows you to effortlessly clean shower tiles and other bathroom fixtures. B&D also makes a number of inexpensive power tools as drills, saws, and sanders for do-it-yourself fixer uppers.

New York Fashion Week always gets started the Thursday after Labor Day. Most runway shows feature too many models whose frames border on anorexic. That won’t be the case on Saturday, September 16 at the Kings Theater in Brooklyn however when women’s plus-size retailer Ashley Stewart holds a modeling contest,/entertainment extravaganza called Finding Ashley Stewart 2017. Suave actor Boris Kodjoe is the host while the celebrity judges will include former Giants linebacker and current team radio analyst Carl Banks and one-time Mets first baseman Mo Vaughn.

Both Carl Banks and Mo Vaughn have men’s clothing companies. Banks is the CEO of Starter while Vaughn has the same title with his startup, MVP Fashions.

St. Albans native James Todd Smith better known as hip-hope performer/actor LL Cool J has never forgotten his roots. He just completed hosting his annual Jump and Ball Tournament that took place during August weekends at the Daniel O’Connell Playground in St. Albans.   

I spoke to LL at the CBS Television Critics Association conference in Los Angeles last month. He told me that the goal of Jump & Ball is to give kids in Southeast Queens a taste of day camp sports and other activities that their families otherwise couldn’t afford. He added that although he works in LA where he films “NCIS” he gets back quite often to St. Albans. “My mom still lives here and she wouldn’t want to live anywhere else!” he told me with a smile.

LL Cool J is slated to be a Kennedy Center honoree in November which is an event traditionally attended by the president of the United States. President Trump however has stated that he has no plans to attend this year’s ceremony. I am hoping that he changes his mind. It would be nice of him to greet a fellow Queens native.

Music fans are s passionate lot but I have yet to meet anyone who has ever spoken negatively about the music of Steely Dan. That may be why the death of group co-founder and Queens native Walter Becker at age 67 unleashed so many tributes.

His partner, keyboardist Donald Fagen, handled the lead vocals on most of the band’s recordings with Becker content to work on composing; handle the production of their seven albums; and play bass guitar on all of the tracks. Walter did sing lead though on my favorite Steely Dan song, “Dirty Work.”

Becker spent the early years of his life in Forest Hills. Another Forest Hills native son and guitarist, Walter Egan, who is best known for his catchy 1978 hit “Magnet & Steel,” told me that many people mistakenly thought that he was in Steely Dan because he shared a first name with Becker and his last name sounded like that of Becker’s 50-year musical partner.

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