The Reuters global sports blog
from Photographers Blog:
By Jeff Haynes
The U.S. Open is always one of the toughest events of the year to work. As photographers working a golf tournament we have to deal with more challenges during a week of golf than we might during the whole rest of the year. Weather, Tiger, blisters, Tiger, hills, Tiger, tight leader boards, Tiger, long days, Tiger, a sore body, Tiger, fog, Tiger, marshalls, Tiger and 155 other golfers not named Tiger.
Working with three outstanding Reuters’ photographers - Robert Galbraith, covering what he figures is around his 80th Major Golf Tournament dating back to the 1982 U.S. Open where Watson and Nicklaus battled at Pebble Beach, Matt Sullivan and Danny Moloshok - made this a very enjoyable week. Each day these guys came up with amazing photographs telling the story of the day.
During the week leading up to the actual tournament our days start with 4:55 am wake-up calls, bus rides to the course and greeting Tiger Woods. Tiger is always the first golfer off in the morning on either the 1st or 9th tee before 7 am as we take pictures of his practice round and then try to find interesting and meaningful pictures of other golfers in the news. Casey Martin made news early on in the week, with him qualifying for a U.S. Open and being able to use a golf cart to help him around the course, because of a rare blood disorder he has had since birth. He sued and won a law suit more the 8 years ago granting him the right to use a golf cart during his round. Defending champion Rory McIlroy came in with high hopes of defending his title along with the number 1 ranked player in the world, Luke Donald. These three players would need to be photographed along the way, along with many other well deserving golfers, and the beautiful course itself.
The toughest day in golf for everyone working the tournament is Thursday of the U.S. Open. It is one brutal day of work from start to finish. From the first tee time of 7am to following the last golfers off the course at 7 pm. If you can survive Thursday at a major you can probably survive just about anything. Not only the photographers have to deal with the obstacles it takes to make an outstanding picture but there are those behind us too. We photographers relied on the picture editing skills of Joe Skipper and Mike Fiala to look through thousands of images a day to choose the top 300 or so. These were then all processed by Beck Diefenbach and posted to the Reuters newswire as fast as possible to meet all of our clients’ needs.
Luke Donald’s complete dominance of Wentworth’s brutal West Course has led the world to sit up and take notice, while his chanting fans have also made their mark.
Not that people were not aware of Donald before, just that his latest victory and the fashion in which he won Europe´s PGA have raised his profile in his native England and made him the golfer to beat again.
The U.S. Open final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was one of the most physical battles ever seen on a tennis court.
The sheer speed of their groundstrokes and length of the rallies were incredible. Djokovic dominated Nadal in the first two sets, to win them 6-2 6-4. He was on top of the baseline forcing Nadal to play well behind the baseline and not allowing him to play inside the court and dictate. Nadal though is tenacious and was down a break three times in the third set and broke Djokovic while serving for the match to end up winning the third set in a tiebreaker. Unfortunately, Nadal had nothing left in the fourth set.
Week two of the U.S. Open had many stories. Would the weather destroy the momentum of the event? How would the courts hold up? Will the U.S. Open finally make plans to build a roof? Who would be the men’s and woman’s U.S. Open champions?
On the woman’s side Serena Williams made the finals easily and was the big favorite to win the title against Sam Stosur. Stosur had the longest match in US Open history and played the longest tie breaker in U.S. open history as well, to make the finals. Nobody except Sam Stosur thought she would win. If she won, she would become the first Australian woman to win a major since 1980. She played the match of her life and won 6-2 6-3.
The first week of the US Open is always interesting. It’s easy to get a sense of what is going to happen, who is playing well and who is struggling. The weather conditions have been warm but not as humid and hot as last year, no major issues for the players – with the exception of Rafael Nadal and his cramps post match during his press conference.
On the men’s side Novak Djokovic has been sensational and has appeared to have had no issues with his shoulder that was worrying him in Cincinnati. Djokovic still looks like the favorite and is hitting the ball better than anyone in the tournament. Roger Federer has looked good as well, but had his first test against Mario Cilic. The big question mark around Federer is how will he play the big points if he plays Djokovic in the semi-finals but before getting there he has a tough section.
The men’s side of this year’s US Open is going to be very interesting.
Will Novak Djokovic’s shoulder hold up and can he win his third major of the year? Will Roger Federer win another major with one of the toughest sections of the draw? Can Rafael Nadal get his form back to defend the title? Will Andy Murray win his first major? And finally, who are the dark horses?
Djokovic’s first two rounds look comfortable, then his route gets interesting with a possible match up against Nikolay Davydenko in the third, Richard Gasquet in the fourth and Tomas Berdych in the quarters before he most likely meets Federer in the semi-finals, if Federer gets there! Berdych could be the danger man in the section if his shoulder recovers from Cincinnati.
The Cincinnati Masters became a very important event before the US Open because a lot of the big names lost early in Montreal and needed to get match play before the Open started.
How would Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Andy Murray perform? Could Novak Djokovic continue his amazing run of only one match lost all season, having just won Montreal a week earlier?
Djokovic even took a shining to the hallowed Wimbledon turf, describing his post-win snack as “well kept”, but in all seriousness the Serb is winning fans left right and centre and on Monday will be confirmed as world number one for the first time.
While the European Tour celebrated its fifth successive major champion after Rory McIlroy’s astonishing eight-shot victory at the U.S. Open, American golf grappled with an unprecedented title drought.
For the first time since the Masters was launched in 1934, U.S. players have failed to triumph in five consecutive majors. Not since 1994 has a year gone by without an American holding at least one of the four grand slam crowns.
Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova rescued the
women’s singles at the Australian Open from anonymity on Sunday
when they contested a four hour 44 minute epic that contrasted sharply with some of the dross served up by their rivals.
The third set alone lasted three hours as Italian Schiavone, a breath of fresh air for women’s tennis at the ripe old age of 30, edged a fourth round thriller 4-6 6-1 16-14.