Many Players miss US Open through Injury, the Seeds are Named and Evert Praises Serena

Clijsters out of US Open:

“Unfortunately, I will not be able to defend my US Open title this year,” the Belgian said in a statement.  “Two weeks of rehab was not enough. Obviously I’m very disappointed. I trained very hard this summer and felt in a good shape to play. If a gradual approach is not taken I will relapse, and therefore I have also no other possibility than to withdraw from the [upcoming] tournaments in Tokyo and Beijing [as well].” The 2001 men’s Champion Lleyton Hewitt is also out of the tournament after failing to recover from a foot injury. He had been handed a wildcard and hoped to partake in the tenth anniversary of his triumph but he has had to withdraw, his wildcard going to fellow Aussie Marinko Matosevic. “He’ll definitely play next year. He wants to help Australia get back into the World Group [of the Davis Cup],” his manager David Drysdale told The Herald Sun. Also disappointingly for neutrals, Canadian prospect Milos Raonic will also miss the year’s final Grand Slam as he recovers from hip surgery. “After extensive deliberation with my doctors + team, I have decided to delay my tournament return until after the US Open at DC vs Israel,” he revealed on his Twitter account. That Davis Cup match takes place September 16-18. “I am feeling great, and working hard w/ my coach, physio, and fitness coach. I am excited to comeback and will continue to keep u updated,” another post read. Sam Querrey and Tommy Robredo will also miss out.

Kim Clijsters

US Open Seeds Named:

World number one Caroline Wozniacki will lead the 2011 US Open women’s draw when the tournament proper kicks off at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in New York on Monday. The 21-year-old Dane has struggled for form this term but has kept her place at the summit of the women’s game and so has been rewarded with the top billing at the tournament for a second successive year. The returning Serena Williams, who missed nearly an entire year due to a foot injury which then led to life-threatening blood clots, used her injury-protected ranking to enter the tournament. But despite her recent excellent form which has seen her win her first titles since her return, back-to-back crowns at Stanford and then the Rogers Cup in Toronto, she has only been seeded 28 in the draw. Russian players Vera Zvonareva and Maria Sharapova make up the top three, while Belarusian Victoria Azarenka is seeded fourth and Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova makes up the top five. As with the women’s seeds, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) has used the current world rankings for the men, meaning world number one Novak Djokovic will get top billing at Flushing Meadows next week. 2010 winner Rafael Nadal is seeded second with five-time champion Roger Federer third. British number one Andy Murray is seeded fourth with Spain’s David Ferrer making up the top five. Mardy Fish will be the biggest American hope as the eighth seed continues his Indian summer towards the end of his career with a semi-final posting at Cincy last week. 2003 winner Andy Roddick is seeded only 21st, while John Isner is the number 28 seed. France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is also in good form and he enters the tournament seeded 11th, while the 2009 US Open winner Juan Martin del Potro is seeded 18th as he continues a return from a long injury spell that has hampered much of his playing time since shocking Roger Federer on Arthur Ashe Stadium almost two years ago.

Serena Receives Highest Praise:

There are few better sources of praise for a modern female tennis star than Chris Evert, and that is just who has been labelling Serena Williams as the favourite to win the US Open. Further to that, she believes the 13-time Grand Slam winner should be compared to Martina Navratilova (who won 18) and Steffi Graf (22). Evert herself won 18. “We saw her at Wimbledon, and I think even though she lost a close match to [Marion] Bartoli, Bartoli played out of her head,” said Evert in an ESPN conference call. “I think that exceeded people’s expectations, that Serena would do that well at Wimbledon after being out for a year and all her health issues. She committed herself. She practiced. She’s won two tournaments. That’s unbelievable. Not to undermine the rest of the field, but it just shows that she’s head and shoulders above anybody else, again, when she’s healthy.  I’d put her right up there [as the greatest of all time] with Martina and Steffi,” she continued. “She’s the best comeback player we’ve ever seen. If you look at the last 10 years, she’s been out, she comes back. Even when she hasn’t been in shape, she can still win a Grand Slam. She is an incredible athlete. She’s got the power. She’s got the speed. She’s got the mental toughness. There isn’t a chink in the armour there at all. Her health is her own worst enemy. Her health is her rival or competitor.”

Nadal “Considered Golf”:

In his upcoming autobiography Rafael Nadal talks about how he considered switching to golf when doctors diagnosed him with a career-threatening foot injury in 2005. The Spanish multi-Grand-Slam-winner described a feeling of “deepest gloom” upon hearing the news. “(The) diagnosis had initially been like a shot to the head,” Nadal writes. “The bone still hurts me. It remains under control, just, but we can never drop our guard.” He also talks of the mental strength that has helped him to his many victories, and speaks of how it also helped him through tough periods such as then. “What I battle hardest to do in a tennis match is to quiet the voices in my head, to shut everything out of my mind…should a thought of victory suggest itself, crush it,” he continues. “I think I have the capacity to accept difficulties and overcome them that is superior to many of my rivals.”

Roddick Denies Slump:

American Andy Roddick has denied he is currently in a slump despite dropping out of the world’s Top 20, instead blaming injuries and illness suffered this year for the decrease. “I’ve read a lot and heard a lot about a slump, but this is my third event in six months or five months so it’s tough to win when you haven’t been playing,” Roddick told reporters.

Murray Hits Big Milestone:

Andy Murray’s 6-3, 7-6(8) win over Mardy Fish in the semi-finals of the Cincinnati Masters last week was the 300th win of his ATP Tour career.

Kendrick Ban Reduced:

America’s Robert Kendrick has had his ban for doping cut to eight months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Kendrick had originally been banned by an ITF independent panel for 12 months, backdated to May 22, for failing a drugs test. The CAS has decided to cut the initial period down to eight months, meaning he will be able to return to competitive action as of January 22 2012. His results and ranking points he received for Roland Garros have been scratched, and he has been ordered to pay back all the prize money he received for the tournament.

Pre-US Open Rankings Watch:

Spain’s David Ferrer climbed above Robin Soderling in to fifth in the world in this week’s ATP Tour World Rankings just in time to make him the fifth seed at next week’s US Open. Gael Monfils climbs above Mardy Fish in to seventh and Nicolas Almagro climbs back above Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in to the Top 10 and takes the tenth seeding as a result. Fernando Verdasco climbs back in to the Top 20 at No.19. Marcos Baghdatis drops 20 places to No.60 as Japan’s Kei Nishikori (No.48) and Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen (No.50) climb in to the Top 50. While Andy Roddick has dropped out of the Top 20 at No.21, there are two Americans celebrating big climbs as James Blake leaps 21 to No.63 and Ryan Harrison climbs 11 to No.67. Ivo Karlovic, Andrey Golubev and Marsel Ilhan all climb in to the Top 100. Cincinnati Champion Maria Sharapova is in her highest ranking slot in three years as she climbs back up to No.4 in the world in this week’s Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings. China’s Peng Shuai has risen another spot to No.14 in the world to get another career best, and she has also overtaken Zheng Jie as China’s second-highest ranked player ever behind Li Na. Petra Cetkovska is also at a new career-high; No.40. Petra Martic leaps from No.72 to No.59, while Chanelle Scheepers is up from No.101 to No.82. Anastasia Rodionova also leaps in to the Top 100 from No.113 to No.97.

Another Quarters Exit for Rafa and Roger ahead of US Open:

Both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer prepared for the US Open with quarterfinal exits from the Cincinnati Masters last week. Nadal lost 3-6, 4-6 to Mardy Fish, while R-Fed crashed out 2-6, 6-7(3) to Czech star Tomas Berdych. They both received 25 points for the GOAT Race totals, Federer’s points helping him break the 1,000 points mark.

Roger: 1000 Rafa: 1710