NEW YORK -- Remember the name -- Scoville Jenkins -- and file
away his game as one to watch in the future.
He's fast, he's flamboyant and he gave French Open champion
Rafael Nadal fits in a compelling duel between 19-year-olds before
fading to a 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 defeat Wednesday night in the second
round of the U.S. Open.
Jenkins, from Atlanta, came into the Open courtesy of a wild
card and won his first Grand Slam match in the first round after
four hours and five sets against qualifier George Bastl. With his
dreadlocks flapping as he dashed around the court in a swirling
wind against the second-seeded Nadal, the net-charging Jenkins
showed he can be dangerous even when he faces the top players on
"I stepped up," said Jenkins, who is ranked 350 spots behind
Nadal. "It gives me a lot of confidence knowing that I can be
right there with the No. 2 one day."
Nadal needed all his speed to catch up to Jenkins' drop volleys
and baseline shots. The slim difference between them in each of the
three sets was attributable to the Spaniard's greater consistency
and the price Jenkins paid for his daring. Jenkins hit nearly twice
as many winners -- 45 to Nadal's 23 -- but had far more unforced
errors -- 49-13 -- in a match that was delayed by rain for more than
an hour and ended at 12:47 a.m.
One call in the second set made a huge difference. Jenkins was
serving at 5-5, 30-love, when a forehand pass by Nadal was called
good. Jenkins, standing near the ball, argued that it was wide, and
the fans booing the call agreed with him. Replays appeared to show
that the ball was, indeed, wide. But the call stood and the rattled
Jenkins double-faulted on the next point, then lost two more for
the crucial break that gave Nadal a 6-5 lead he didn't waste.
"He has a very good future," Nadal said. "I needed to play
100 percent to win this match."
Jenkins needed the help of a trainer after the second set to
treat a torn toenail. Now Jenkins hopes he can also get some help
with a deal from a shoe company.
"Shoes that won't break my toenail off, that would be great,"
A trailing front from remnants of Hurricane Katrina blew through
the Open, the sun played peekaboo all day, dark clouds came and
went after morning rain, and the lingering heat and humidity
continued to test the mettle of players.
Paper and plastic scudded across the courts, umpires'
microphones rumbled with the sound of the wind, and the jets that
are often diverted away from the National Tennis Center roared
constantly overhead to and from nearby LaGuardia Airport. Lobs that
looked as if they were perfect sometimes sailed long, sometimes
flew back toward the net. It was a day for double-faults, a day for
Not surprisingly, the top players handled the shifting
conditions better. A day after former champion Andy Roddick fell in
the first round, there were no major upsets.
In men's day matches, former champ and No. 3 seed Lleyton Hewitt
won in straight sets, and No. 15 Dominik Hrbaty, No. 17 David
Ferrer and No. 25 Taylor Dent all advanced.
Hewitt romped to a 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 first-round victory over Albert Costa.
"It was just extremely difficult conditions," Hewitt said. "You want to get it under your belt, get into the tournament and get back into the locker room as quickly as possible."
Gilles Muller couldn't follow up on his stunning upset of Andy Roddick on Tuesday night, losing in doubles with American partner Robby Ginepri.
Temperatures heated up again at the Open, with the thermometer reading 86 degrees at midday. But it was the wind that was the big problem, gusting and swirling and making the simplest of shots look like something quite different.
Costa, who hadn't played a hard-court match since the Australian
Open, seemed particularly flustered. He had to pause before serving
several times, and there were a couple of points where he looked
mystified at where the ball was going.
"I think I just handled the conditions better," Hewitt said.
"I don't think these kind of conditions suit his game."
Hewitt had won five of his previous six meetings with Costa, but
the two haven't played each other since 2002. No matter. Hewitt
raced out to an early lead, dropping only two points as he took the
first three games of the first set, and Costa never recovered.
The 2002 French Open winner had only two break points the entire
match, and couldn't convert either. Hewitt, on the other hand,
converted seven of 11 breaks, including three in the last set. He
had 23 winners to Costa's nine, and only 17 unforced errors. Costa
made 35 errors, double-faulted five times and had no aces.
"Maybe the situation has changed because I'm playing at my
worst level now," Costa said. "I saw him many times and I think
he's playing much better now."
Hewitt was in such control he didn't even need to yell at
himself. Or anyone else. The Australian is known for his boisterous
on-court antics, with his trademark move a shout of "Come on!"
while pointing his fingers at his head. But with new wife Bec
Cartwright sitting in the stands, he was on his best behavior. Some
raucous Aussie fans in the upper deck made more noise.
Costa has now lost in the first round at his last five Grand
Slam events. He missed Wimbledon with a knee injury that required
surgery, and the 30-year-old said after the match that retirement
is an option.
"I want to finish this season and then decide," he said. "If
I finish, I finish altogether. I can't play only on clay."