Semifinal. Azarenka def Williams

Announcer Andy Taylor. 2020 US Open. Semifinal Victoria Azarenka
Announcer Andy Taylor | Voice of the US Open | 2020 US Open Tennis Championships

Match Recap from Announcer Andy Taylor, Voice of the US Open

Victoria Azarenka returns to the US Open Final

Vintage Serena and Vika. Week-2 of a Major. Showmanship. Gamesmanship. Flexing. Conceding. An unanticipated plot twist. Ridiculous athleticism. Mutual respect.

A cheriched rivalry revisted on the sport’s biggest stage, this time without fans. No question, tonight’s Semifinal would have sold-out Arthur Ashe Stadium. It would have sold out grounds passes. Fans would have taken the Seven to Flushing just to watch the match on video walls while crushing Honey Deuces.

It would have lived up to the hype.

The match

Set-1 was all Serena. It’s not that Azarenka got off to a slow start, Serena was simply in “6-time US Open Champion mode.” Textbook will-imposition from ball up. The type of Serena performance we’ve seen time and again during week-2 of the Majors. Most assumed set-2 would be a formality.

They were wrong. Azarenka did everything right in the second. In fact, she only had one unforced error the entire set. She earned her first break to go up 3-2, then broke again to force the decider. During the second, the rally count extended. Points became more dramatic, more athletic. It was an unapologetic throwback to the repeatedly high-level, insane matches these two talents played in 2012 and 2013 — from the Olympics, to the Slams, to the Mandatories. It was special.

And what would a vintage Williams vs. Azarenka match be without a completely unforeseen plot twist? Early in the deciding set, both were beat to hell. Serena spent more time than usual leaning on her racquet. Beet red, Vika danced in place to stay loose. Then, at deuce in the second game, Serena landed awkwardly on her left ankle. She took a medical time out mid-game so the trainer could paper-mache a boot to her foot. When play resumed at deuce, Azarenka won the next two points, scoring the break that earned her the match.

It was Azarenka’s fifth win over Serena — in 23 career meetings. Her 68th win over a top-10 opponent. Most importantly, it was her first US Open defeat of the greatest to ever play the game. And on Sunday, Victoria Azarenka will contest a Grand Slam title for the first time since her battle with Serena in the 2013 US Open Final.

Week-2 of the Majors. This is where Vika belongs. You know that. She knows that. But life got in the way. It’s not in the way anymore. On Saturday, she’ll face 2018 Champion Naomi Osaka in pursuit of her 3rd Grand Slam title.

Looks like the Championship match of the “New York Bubble” Western & Southern Open will happen after all…

Announcer Andy Taylor. 2020 US Open. Semifinal Victoria Azarenka Match Recap

Head to Head: 23rd meeting between these two players

Announcer Andy Taylor. 2020 US Open. Semifinal Victoria Azarenka Head to Head

Victoria Azarenka -27- (BLR) | Semifinal Announcer Introduction

She is now 10-and-0 here in New York’s “Tennis Bubble.” She captured her 21st Singles title at the Western & Southern Open – and tonight, is through to her first Grand Slam Semifinal since 2013. From Belarus – 2-time US Open Finalist Victoria Azarenka.

  • SF — W | [3] Serena Williams -08- (USA) | Score: 1-6, 6-3, 6-3
  • QF — W | [16] Elise Mertens -18- (BEL) | Score: 6-1, 6-0 | RECAP
  • R4 — W | [20] Karolina Muchova -26- (CZE) | Score: 5-7, 6-1, 6-4
  • R3 — W | Iga Swiatek -53- (POL) | Score: 6-4, 6-2
  • R2 — W | [5] Aryna Sabalenka -11- (BLR) | Score: 6-1, 6-3
  • R1 — W | [2] Barbara Haas -139- (AUT) | Score: 6-1, 6-2
[3] Serena Williams -08- (USA) | Semifinal Announcer Introduction

With 23 Majors, she owns more Grand Slam Singles titles than any other active player – man or woman. Tonight, she’s competing in her 14th US Open Semifinal. From Palm Beach Gardens, Florida – Six time US Open Champion, Serena Williams.

  • SF — L | Victoria Azarenka -27- (BLR) | Score: 6-1, 3-6, 3-6
  • QF — W | Tsvetana Pironkova -NR- (BUL) | Score: 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 | RECAP
  • R4 — W | [15] Maria Sakkari -22- (GRE) | Score: 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-3 | RECAP
  • R3 — W | [26] Sloane Stephens -39- (USA) | Score: 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 | RECAP
  • R2 — W | Margarita Gasparyan -117- (RUS) | Score: 6-2, 6-4 | RECAP
  • R1 — W | Kristie Ahn -96- (USA) | Score: 7-5, 6-3 | RECAP

A New Reality | 2020 US Open Tennis Championships

In late February and early March, announcer Andy Taylor compèred two of the final professional tennis events before the global coronavirus pandemic put the skids on the 2020 season. In Doha, he hosted Aryna Sabalenka’s relentless run to the Qatar Total Open title. Then in Honolulu, he emceed Team USA’s Davis Cup Qualifier victory over Uzbekistan. Including Bob and Mike Bryan’s final professional match.

As U.S. coronavirus cases continued to mount, the day following Team USA’s 4-0 victory, all professional sports came to a grinding halt. Over the next five months, as Americans stayed home and “socially distanced,” nearly 6-million contracted the illness. Tragically, over 180-thousand perished. Worldwide, COVID-19 killed over 840-thousand and sickened 25-million (at the time of this writing).

New York hosts the resumption of the 2020 tennis season

Early on, New York City was the epicenter of COVID’s outbreak. The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center became prime real estate for New York’s coordinated pandemic response. Additionally, the state used Louis Armstrong Stadium as a warehouse to pack meals for patients, front-line workers and students dependent on the city’s school lunch program.

In late July, after New York “flattened the curve,” Governor Cuomo green-lighted the USTA’s plans to resume the 2020 tennis season in Flushing. Without fans. Without qualifying. Rather, the Western & Southern Open moved from Cincinnati to the grounds of the US Open. Furthermore, the USTA implemented strict COVID-19 testing policies. It limited the number in each player’s entourage. Additionally, it created a protective “Bubble” for all tournament participants at nearby hotels and on-site.

Announcer Andy Taylor | 19th US Open Tennis Championships

After a five month pause, with the coronavirus “politicized” and still spreading unchecked through portions of the population, Andy was hesitant when asked to be a part of the sport’s return. However, after carefully considering the USTA’s extensive health and safety protocols, he soon realized the US Open could in fact be one of the safest environments to avoid COVID’s spread.

Masks are mandatory. For crew, testing occurs every fourth day. To ensure best broadcast quality, the USTA understood that Arthur Ashe Stadium’s announcer would need to work without a mask. Therefore, they isolated Andy in his own booth. Thus, keeping production team members free from aerosols emitted during player introductions.

Rather than fly, Andy drove to Flushing. He uses his own vehicle to shuttle back and forth from the hotel to the venue, which limits his exposure to others. Additionally, this allowed Andy to bring his own hot plate and coffee machine, completely eliminating the need for others to bring him meals and supplies. Essentially, the Voice of the US Open is working from a bubble within “The Bubble.” Responsibly limiting contact with colleagues and players as much as humanly possible.

A new Grand Slam Global Pandemic Presentation

With the global emphasis on social distancing to avoid further outbreaks of COVID-19, the world of sport production is reinventing “the show” by harnessing new technologies that have emerged over the past decade. As always, the core goal is to meet fans where they are.

In other words, with fans exclusively watching on television – or on-the-go through mobile devices – the 2020 US Open “stadium show” is now geared toward the camera, rather than the ticket holder. This year, Andy and the stadium production team are working closely with ESPN to integrate the broadcast and stadium presentations. Instead of narrating player introductions exclusively for fans on site, intros and all aspects of the stadium show are now part of the broadcast product streamed to fans worldwide.

The true creator is necessity, who is the mother of our invention.

Jowett | English translation of Plato’s “Republic”

Live sport presentation is a brave new world. Through perseverance and bold experimentation, the US Open continues to innovate; determined to feed each tennis fan’s hunger after five months of the world’s new and humbling collective-reality.