arthur ashe stadium roof

Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova’s Big Changes — The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Big(ger) Changes

Champions are frequently known for their stubbornness.  Sometimes it refers to their unwillingness to surrender a loss quietly, but it also often refers to their refusal to re-tool any part of the game that has brought them so much success.  Unfortunately, that refusal can often hamper an athlete’s career, which is something that Roger Federer apparently plans to avoid.  Federer is playing this week in Hamburg with a new racquet.  His new stick features a 98 square-inch frame, which represents a significant change from the much smaller 90 square-inch frame he has used throughout his career.  The larger frame means a bigger sweet spot and additional power, both of which should help him better compete with the young guns on tour.  We’ll see how he fairs during this brief stint on the clay, but if he’s able to make the adjustment to the new racquet quickly, expect him to be right back in the thick of it for the summer hard court season.

Maria SharapovaTrue Grit

One of the more interesting off-court tidbits to hit the news this past week was the announcement of Jimmy Connors becoming Maria Sharapova’s new full-time coach.  The two briefly worked together five years ago but were unable to come to a financial agreement to make it a full-time gig.  Circumstances have changed in 2013, and the two are teaming up to become one of the most intriguing coach/player relationships in the game today.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  Both have strong egos and like to get things done their way, so it could flame out early.  But both also share the same inherit drive.  They’re both fighters who refuse to rollover in a match and will go to virtually any lengths – sometimes perhaps a little over the line of what’s considered proper – to come away with the win.  Both could feed off each other in those respects and prove quite the successful combo.  Sadly, fans will have to wait a little longer for this new partnership to make its debut, however, as Sharapova was forced to withdraw from the upcoming event in Stanford with a hip injury she sustained at Wimbledon.  But make no mistake.  This will be one of the key storylines to watch this summer.

False Hope

The good news is that the USTA has established a potential timeline for putting a roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium by August 2016.  The bad news is that you probably have a better shot at winning the lottery than that timeline coming to fruition.  As usual, one of the biggest hurdles to putting a roof over Ashe Stadium stems from cost.  The USTA is already currently in the market for an owner representative for its $500-million expansion plan that doesn’t include a roof, meaning that if they were to shift efforts towards building a roof for Ashe, other projects, such as replacing Louis Armstrong Stadium and the Grandstand would be put on hold.  That’s a scenario that’s all the more unlikely when considering that the other issue facing Ashe is that it may not be able to support the weight of the roof in the first place.  So, while we can appreciate the USTA’s efforts to keep the roof possibility in the discussion, this once again appears to be much ado about nothing.


At the front part of the week, in an interview with David Nadal, Toni Nadal told to the world that he talks to Rafa during matches and sees nothing wrong with it, because he figures he shouldn’t have to hide anything at his age.  Look, it’s common knowledge that Nadal, like some other players, receives illegal coaching from the stands.  And you could argue that such coaching frequently has little impact on the outcome of a match.  But nobody wins when Toni Nadal announces that he has no problem being a cheat – and as the generally willing recipient of his instructions, one could argue so is his nephew by extension.  Such an admission shows disrespect to the ATP and its rules.  It shows disrespect to Nadal’s opposition.  It teaches young up-and-comers that it’s okay to cheat, and most importantly, it hurts Rafa Nadal.  As previously noted, Rafa is no doubt one of the best in the history of the game, and he doesn’t need to use cheap tricks to accomplish great feats.  Utilizing illegal tactics should be beneath him and his camp, and it shouldn’t be tolerated.  Though unlikely, it would be nice if after this admission, the ATP would enforce some sort of discipline on the older Nadal to show that nobody, no matter how big the star they coach or their age, is above the rules.

Back for More

The terrorizing doll Chucky is making a return to movies, and as it happens, so is the woman Mary Carillo once referred to as Chucky, Martina Hingis.  Whether to promote her relatively recent clothing line, provide a distraction from the cheating allegations leveled at her by her estranged husband, or just for love of the game, the newly-elected Hall of Famer is planning to team with Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia at the Southern California Open.  Hingis continues to show that she has great hands around the net, and veteran Hantuchova has also proven worth her salt in the doubles arena as well.  If this partnership proves successful, perhaps we’ll be treated to a little more enthralling tennis from these two down the road.

Visual: USTA upgrades of US Open facilities and “lost photos”

By Romi Cvitkovic

The United States Tennis Association announced today that the current U.S. Open facilities in Flushing Meadows, NY will undergo massive $500 million renovations to include two new stadiums and a practice court viewing deck, but still no roof built over Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Key points in the overhaul:

  • Louis Armstrong Stadium: the second largest stadium after Ashe will go from a capacity of 10,000-seats to 15,000-seats, and keep its current location in the Northeast corner of the grounds
  • Grandstand: currently housed directly east of Armstrong, will be torn down and placed in the southwestern corner slightly expanding the grounds. The number of seats will go up to 8,000  from the current 6,000
  • Practice and Northwest courts:  the practice courts will get an upgrade in the form of a new, elevated viewing platform between the five redone practice and three new tournament courts
  • New walkway on Southern courts: in order to accommodate fan movement between the new Grandstand court and Court 17 which was built just last year, the southern row of courts will all be moved 30-50 feet further south.

And speaking of Court 17, it was built by Rossetti Architects, the same architects expected to continue in the renovations of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. They have also built four other tennis centers in the U.S., including two for Masters Series tournaments at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park (home of the Sony Open) and Indian Wells Tennis Garden (home of the BNP Paribas Open).

What is of note though, is that artist renderings from the Rossetti Architects’ website bring up a few interesting observations:

  • Their rendered photo below seems to be of the new proposed Grandstand court meant to be housed in the  southwestern corner. But if you look closely, the date on the side of the stadium states “2009.” There is, however, no visual reference to a Court 17 on the opposite southern corner of the grounds and built last year. Was this photo actually another version of where Court 17 was supposed to be, and not Grandstand as is proposed now?

  • Don’t believe my skepticism? Well, look at this photo. Armstrong and Grandstand as they stand now are fully seen here (top right corner), there is no Court 17 in the southeastern corner (bottom right), but a “new” court in the southwestern corner looks eerily similar in placement and shape to the new proposed Grandstand court. Also, notice anything different with Ashe stadium? Yes, there is this strange contraption called a “roof” over the entire stadium. How did that happen and where did it go?

  • A closer look at the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof rendering:

A New York Times article today cited that “despite years of consultations with engineers, the [USTA] has not found the lightweight, cost-effective technology that is needed [to build a roof over Ashe]. One rejected idea for a roof included resting one on columns surrounding the stadium.” The above photo seems in line with that quote, but if an architectural firm can draw it, you would think they could build it. You would think wrong, apparently.

Check out the National Tennis Center Over the years, and the USTA’s full strategic vision of the US Open facilities’ renovation expected to take the next several years:

Strategic Vision:

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