Andy Murray vs. Donald Young
American Donald Young will attempt to keep his best-ever Grand Slam showing moving along as he faces fourth seeded Andy Murray in the opening match on Arthur Ashe stadium at 11am. It is hard to believe that Young is only 22 years old as it seems he has been struggling on the ATP World Tour for years already. Actually, he has been struggling on the Tour for years as he rushed into his professional career at the tender age of 15.
Young has slowly begun maturing and making some strides this year that have signalled he is ready to move towards the expectations the tennis world has held for him for so long. Earlier this year he defeated Murray on the hard courts of Indian Wells. More recently he made the semi-finals of a level-500 tournament in Washington, D.C. as well.
That meeting in March was the only career encounter between Young and Murray, but expect a much different result on Tuesday. Young has been riding an emotional roller-coaster in New York with big wins over Stan Wawrinka and Juan Ignacio Chela, but faces a player of an entirely different calibre in Murray.
The Scotsman has amped-up his game over the past month and is not playing at the same mediocre level he was at earlier in the season when they first met.
Young can take home a lot of confidence from New York but he won’t take another victory.
Prediction: Murray in three
Gilles Muller vs. Rafael Nadal
No-doubt recovered from his press-conference cramping incident from Sunday that was highly and uncomfortably covered by television cameras, Rafa Nadal will be feeling just fine as he faces severe under-dog Gilles Muller.
Nadal has yet to drop a set in the tournament and the defending champion rarely bows-out of a Grand Slam early. While I still have doubts about his ability to defend his title from a year ago, I can’t see him getting bounced by Muller.
The pair have a career head-to-head record of 2-1 in Nadal’s favor, but Muller’s win was back in 2005 when Nadal was still discovering his game on hard-courts. More recently, they met at Wimbledon this summer with Nadal prevailing 7-6, 7-6, 6-0.
Muller has performed well in New York before, making the quarter-finals in 2008. He may give Rafa a challenge for a set, but otherwise will have to come up with the best tennis of his career to cause an upset.
Prediction: Nadal in four
John Isner vs. Gilles Simon
In a match that will offer fans a real contrast in styles, bit serving American John Isner will take-on the hustling baseline game of Frenchman Gilles Simon. This will be the first meeting between the two and the result is really anyone’s guess.
Simon’s best Grand Slam result was the quarter-finals of the Aussie Open in 2009 while Isner has made the fourth round at three majors including this one.
Both players have solid winning records on the Tour this year while Isner came into the Open with a tournament win in Winston-Salem. Both have had to beat top-level players in their journey here so far, with Isner defeating Marcos Baghdatis in the fist round and Simon just coming off a victory against Juan Martin Del Potro.
I see this one going the distance with at least a couple of tie-breaks given Isner’s outstanding service game. Could go either way but I’ll take a leap and go with Isner thanks in-part to the crowd support he’ll receive.
Prediction: Isner in five.
Andy Roddick vs. David Ferrer
In the opening match of the evening session, the third American man in action on Tuesday will be 2003 champion, Andy Roddick.
Roddick has finally found his game after struggling with injuries and consistency issues all summer long. He dispatched Julien Benneteau in routine fashion in the previous round and the Frenchman had been playing some great tennis coming in. Things are about to get a whole lot harder against Ferrer.
The Spaniard can hang on any surface and will never, ever, get tired. Ferrer holds a 5-3 advantage over Roddick in their prior matches and defeated him this year in Davis Cup play in straight sets on hard-courts. For those who don’t know Roddick well, he is a guy who lives for representing his nation. He gives 110% in Davis Cup matches, so you can imagine how well Ferrer must have been playing to attain the victory on that day.
While I feel that Andy may yet have a crack at going deep in another Grand Slam before the end of his career, I don’t see it happening here with Ferrer standing in his way.
Prediction: Ferrer in four.
After the exciting match between Caroline Wozniacki and Dominika Cibulkova, which Caroline won in straight sets 6-2, 7-5, Wozniacki sat down with Next Contenders for an exclusive interview.
Here is an excerpt of the interview and you can find the article at American Express’ NextContenders.com
Sweet Caroline did it again on Wednesday night, knocking out her quarterfinals opponent, Slovak Dominika Cibulkova, in just two sets 6 2, 7 5, and continuing her impressive run of not dropping a single set at the Open, despite the windy conditions on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“I’m happy to be through definitely, it was a tough one,” Caroline told me when we caught up after the match. “The wind was not easy to cope with. It was just about getting it in. I wasn’t really thinking to place it anywhere special, I was just thinking about getting it in. But a win is a win and I’m happy to be through to the semifinals.”
Next up, Caroline faces seventh-seeded Vera Zvonareva of Russia, who she beat in the finals of the Rogers Cup in Montreal last month in straight sets, and who also made it to the finals of Wimbledon this year.
“She’s a tough player. She’s a good competitor,” Caroline said. “She takes the ball and really tries to be aggressive all the time. So it’s going to be a tough match.”
Of course, Caroline’s game has improved greatly since her last Open, which she’s not shy about admitting. “I definitely think I’m a better player now than I was before,” she said, to which I asked how exactly she upped her game.
“Well, the fitness definitely has been a big part of it— boxing, running, a lot of cardio. I’m in better shape now than I’ve ever been, I think, and that’s helped me to get into the right positions for my shots and that’s a good feeling to know that you can just continue.”
And they also provided us with some great videos:
Caroline Wozniacki – Language lessons and loose lips
Caroline on being the face of Stella McCartney’s Adidas line
Caroline says hello to the city of New York
What to wear? The fashionable Caroline Wozniacki tells us what it takes to win it all
Since coverage of the US Open has been quite extensive this year, I’ll stick to the lighter side of tennis for this week and bring you the fun off-court moments. I’ll take a look at Novak Djokovic’s humorous ways, talk about the ‘worst job in sports,’ bring you tennis’ newest role model teenager Ryan Harrison, and talk about my thoughts on what may be going on with Andy Murray in his recent third round exit at the US Open — and it’s not his lack of mental strength or coach. I’m citing a different culprit altogether.
Djokovic, the comedian, gaining American fans quickly
In what was one of the most hotly contested first-round matches, Novak Djokovic squeezed out a win against compatriot and good friend Viktor Troicki in five sets, 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3. But the story wasn’t all in the tennis itself. As temperatures on-court soared to above 120-degrees and the humidity wreaked havoc, Djokovic’s respiratory problems were once again the center of attention. He could have lost in the fourth set, but as luck would have it, the shade came onto Arthur Ashe stadium and relieved Djokovic of some of his woes. He quickly took advantage of the slightly cooler temps and came out the winner.
Novak Djokovic. August 31, 2010
After the match, ESPN commentator Brad Gilbert asked Djokovic on-court: “How nice was it out here to get a little bit of shade?” As Djokovic searched for words, the first analogy that came to mind was that “it was like a ‘sleeping with my girlfriend’ kind of feeling.” The crowd roared in laughter and Gilbert became noticeably embarrassed. But whatever, Djokovic was relieved that he pulled out the win.
His press conference following his win was one for the books. The Serbian “Djoker” seems to be building his American audience base and is getting more confident in his humor once again. It’s nice to see Djokovic back at his lighter, more confident ways – both on and off the court.
If you have a chance, see the live video of his presser as his facial expressions and comedy are ten times better than on paper, you won’t be sorry! Starts at the 5:31 mark.
What is the ‘Worst Job in Sports?’
Ever read the Wall Street Journal to get your tennis fix for the day? Honestly, neither have I. But Tom Perrotta of Tennis.com fame wrote an interesting article in the WSJ a couple of days ago concerning the ‘worst job in sports.’ And guess what it was. Being a tennis coach.
Brad Gilbert, former coach to Andy Murray and current ESPN Commentator.
For all the glitz and glamour we think coaches have in traveling with their athlete(s) and staying at plush hotels in destinations we can only dream of going to, there is a down-side of being a tennis coach. If you’re lucky enough to be a wanted elite coach, then you could probably live comfortably on the money you make as everything else is paid for by the player. But what if your player is not winning or progressing? You’re either ‘out’ or your pay doesn’t change much. Players seem to change coaches every few years anyway, looking for a new outlook or support system.
I can’t even eat leftovers for two days in a row, how can I expect players to stay with the same coach for more than two YEARS in a row? It’s an interesting concept that is often overlooked by the casual sports fan. In other sports, where managers and executives pick their coaches, tennis is unique in that the actual athlete picks the coach. For further reading on this, check out Perrotta’s article as he talks to greats such as Larry Stefanki, Darren Cahill, Brad Gilbert, Mats Wilander, Patrick Mouratoglou, and Bob Brett: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703946504575469961990822120.html
Ryan Harrison. Title? Role model
Unless you’ve been living under a rock this week, you’re familiar with the newest talent that has developed right under our eyes, Ryan Harrison. After coming through qualifying and taking out veteran Ivan Ljubicic in the first round, 18-year-old Harrison took Sergiy Stakhovsky to five sets in a match that lasted over four hours. In fact, Harrison held three match points in the fifth set tiebreaker before double-faulting on his last opportunity and allowing Stakhovsky to serve for the win, which he did.
Although Harrison lost, it doesn’t make his run any less fruitful or devoid of fans. The grace and calm which he exhibited after his defeat speak volumes to his character, and those around him agree. “He has wide open ears, always willing to learn, wanting to grow and develop,” said Tracy Austin, a former World #1. “I love his attitude, and his work ethic as well.”
Ryan Harrison. September 3,2010.
In his press conference, Harrison was quick to say that he has a lot to work on before becoming a “full-time tour player.” I’m just going to keep my head down, and work as hard as I can and listen to the people I trust and develop my game. I’ve got a lot of work to do. From the time I get back home until my next tournaments, my goal is going to be improving my game until I can be a consistent contender, and the ranking and all that stuff will take care of itself.” Parents, if you have any youth looking for a young capable role model, Ryan Harrison is it.
Could Andy Murray’s problem be …. mono?
You’ve all probably heard about Andy Murray’s surprising third-round exit to Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka by now. But I wonder if you’ve thought about precisely ‘Why?’ Forget about lack of desire, mental stability, or coach, Murray may have a different ailment altogether. During the match, he called the trainer twice, once for “tightness in my quad” and the second time because he felt “pins and needles around my right elbow.”
Andy Murray bent over two different times during his match against Stan Wawrinka. September 5, 2010.
At his press conference Murray stated plain and simple that “I lost to the better player, that’s all there is to say.” However, when questions were raised about his physical capabilities he couldn’t pinpoint the problem and this made me wonder. Murray is known for his physical strength and being able to outlast his opponents, so something has to be up.
Andy Muray: “I was disappointed that I was struggling physically. You know, I tried to find a way to come back. Didn’t quite do it. Yeah, I was disappointed that I’ve not been really in that position for a long time. I still feel like I’m super fit. I just didn’t feel great. You know, there was a lot of things that I was feeling on the court. But, yeah, I just haven’t felt that way for a few years now. So I’m going to have to go look at why that was the case and try and get better.”
Anyone know where I’m going with this? Well, if Andy Roddick’s recent tumble gives any hint, my speculation is that Murray may be suffering from a mild case of mononucleosis as well. I’m no doctor, but that fact that he can’t pinpoint his problem and was “struggling physically” remind me of Roddick’s statement earlier this year when he said he wasn’t feeling strong enough mentally or physically and couldn’t fathom why. These players are in constant contact and mono travels like the plague in locker rooms and lounges. To me, this would spells disaster on tour as we’ve already seen Roger Federer and John Isner openly talk about their stint with mono. Here’s to hoping the ‘popular trend’ ends, but it could only get worse before it gets better.
I picked up on a strange statistic at this year’s US Open. Not only are all four remaining men in Rafael Nadal’s quarter Spaniards, but there are a total of six Spaniards in the fourth round — that’s almost 38%! Did the US Open’s blue courts somehow turn into clay this year?! For a country known for producing talented clay-specialists, Spain is quickly turning into a force on all surfaces.
By Leigh Sanders
Great Britain’s top star Andy Murray has reiterated his intention to break his Grand Slam duck in 2010. Speaking to BBC Scotland, he said that he feels he improved throughout 2009 and firmly believes next year will be his best yet. “I always said I’d play my best tennis between 23 and 27 and I’m 23 next year,” said Murray. “I had three tough losses in the Grand Slams. Hopefully, I can turn that round next year and draw on the experience.”
*The ATP has announced its top five matches of 2009 and three of the selections were held at Commonwealth-based tournaments. Unsurprisingly, the nail biting Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick takes the No. 1 slot. Rafael Nadal’s semifinal victory over compatriot Fernando Verdasco at the Australian Open ranks third while Nikolay Davydenko’s triumph over Roger Federer in the ATP World Finals semifinal at London, England’s o2 Arena placed fifth. Meanwhile, British No. 1 Andy Murray’s shock defeat to the Croatian Marin Cilic in the US Open fourth round ranked third in the top five upsets of the year but Murray still made the ATP’s list of the year’s top players.
*The news of former world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo’s retirement has led to praise for the two-time Grand Slam champion from many quarters. Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak is one who will be sad to see her leave the world’s tennis arenas and with particular reason; it was Aleksandra who defeated Amelie in her last match at this year’s US Open. “She was a lot of fun to watch because not only did she do everything well, but she did it with flair at the same time,” said Wozniak. “It was an honour for me to play her in her last match, especially since we played on Arthur Ashe stadium court at the US Open – it was one of the biggest wins of my career and a very special moment for me.”
*Some of Australia’s biggest tennis names are missing from the first round of playoffs competing for wildcard berths at the 2010 Australian Open. Chris Guccione, Carsten Ball and Sam Groth are all suffering from injuries and will miss the December 14-20 event.
*The Medibank International Sydney championships in Australia have announced their strongest lineup to date with nine of the world’s top ten players in the women’s field taking to the courts. Joining the likes of Serena Williams, Dinara Safina and Caroline Wozniacki will be home favourite Samantha Stosur. The home fans can also cheer on Lleyton Hewitt in the men’s event but he will have to overcome players of the calibre of Gael Monfils, Tomas Berdych and Stanislas Wawrinka if he is to emerge victorious.
*Great Britain’s Anne Keothavong saw the third greatest decline in ranking spots on the WTA tour during 2009. She started the year at No. 60, rising to No. 54 by July but a knee injury then finished her season and she ended the year at No. 98. It is, though, her second-best year-end finish in 11 years on the tour. The biggest climber was Germany’s Andrea Petkovic (No. 379 – No. 56, 323 places) and the greatest recession was suffered by Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova (No. 44 – No. 99, 55 places).
*Australian tennis is again celebrating with the news that Russian-born Anastasia Rodionova has been granted citizenship. The current world No. 96 becomes the third-highest ranked Aussie player behind Samantha Stosur and Jelena Dokic. Jarmila Groth was also granted citizenship last month and this continues the strengthening of the sport Down Under.
*Former world No. 1 Alicia Molik of Australia continued her impressive return from retirement by taking another title, this time at the Pro Tour Event in Bendigo, Australia. Her compatriot Matt Ebden took the men’s trophy.
*Former Tennis Canada board of directors chair Harold P. Milavsky was inducted in to the Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame during a ceremony held at the Glencoe Club, Calgary, attended by much of the Alberta tennis and business worlds.
*Third seed Heather Watson of Great Britain is through to the second round of the Orange Dunlop Bowl tournament in Florida. The 17-year-old emphatically beat American Krista Hardebeck 6-2, 6-2. Watson is currently ranked No. 4 in the world for juniors and reached the last 16 in her last run out at the Eddie Herr International Junior Championships.
*Aussie serve-and-volley specialist Pat Rafter triumphed over the Swede Stefan Edberg in the final of the ATP Champions Tour Event in London, England last week.
From tennis legend Jack Kramer passing away at the age of 88 to a possible Justine Henin press conference this week to announce her comeback to US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro earning a winner’s paycheck of $1.6 million plus an additional $250,000 for finishing third in the Olympus US Open Series to Serena Williams being fined $10,500 for her outburst during her semifinal loss to Kim Clijsters at the US Open, these stories caught the attention of tennis fans and insiders this week.
Tennis legend and the first executive director of the ATP Tour, Jack Kramer passed away at the age of 88 on Saturday at his Los Angeles home. Kramer, who won Wimbledon in 1947 and the U.S. Championships in 1946 and 1947, was the top ranked player in the world for most of the late 1940’s. “Jack Kramer was truly one of the greats of the game and was instrumental in the growth and development of the sport in so many ways, both on and off the court,” said ATP Executive Chairman and President Adam Helfant. “He was like a father figure to so many in tennis and his wisdom, enthusiasm and advice will be sadly missed. On behalf of everybody at the ATP, I would like to pass on our sincere condolences to his family.”
According to Belgian television station RTBF, former world No. 1 Justine Henin has ordered 14 racquets and may hold a press conference as early as this week to announce her return to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.
By winning the US Open men’s singles title on Monday evening, Juan Martin del Potro earned a winner’s paycheck of $1.6 million plus an additional $250,000 for finishing third in the Olympus US Open Series. Women’s champion Kim Clijsters earned a winner’s paycheck of $1.6 million. Men’s doubles champions Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy and women’s doubles champions Venus and Serena Williams each split a winner’s paycheck of $420,000. Mixed doubles champions Travis Parrott and Carly Gullickson spilt the winner’s paycheck of $150,000.
Serena Williams was fined the maximum $10,000 by the US Open for unsportsmanlike conduct following her tirade during her semifinal loss to Kim Clijsters. Williams was also fined $500 for racquet abuse during her loss. The Grand Slam Committee is currently looking into the incident and could force more fines and a suspension.
Writing on her official website, Serena Williams says, “I want to amend my press statement of yesterday, and want to make it clear as possible – I want to sincerely apologize FIRST to the lines woman, Kim Clijsters, the USTA, and tennis fans everywhere for my inappropriate outburst.” “I’m a woman of great pride, faith and integrity, and I admit when I’m wrong. I need to make it clear to all young people that I handled myself inappropriately and it’s not the way to act — win or lose, good call or bad call in any sport, in any manner. I like to lead by example. We all learn from experiences both good and bad, I will learn and grow from this, and be a better person as a result.”
US Open officials announced that they are ready to start developing plans to build a roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium but the final decision on when and if they actually will build a roof is a little bit away. The estimated cost to build a roof would be around $100 million. “We are substantially farther along the road of consideration than we were six months ago,” said Gordon Smith, Executive Director of the USTA. “It will be some time before there’s any decision made on whether or not to go forward with the roof.”
According to a study by Barclays and Professor Tom Cannon of the University of Liverpool, the British economy has increased by $405 million (UK) because of Andy Murray’s recent rise to No. 2 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings. With Murray’s popularity rising at a fast pace, people are spending lots of money on everything from equipment to advertising to sponsorship. Cannon also mentioned in his study that the $1 billion (UK) spending gap between tennis and golf will soon close.
A LeRoy Neiman watercolor painting of Serena and Venus Williams, that was expected to be sold around $60,000, received no bids during a recent US Open auction in New York. The proceeds of some of the other items benefited USTA Serves, which funds community tennis programs and college scholarships.
Melanie Oudin’s magical run to the quarterfinals at the US Open was a ratings winner for ESPN2. About 2,324,000 viewers tuned in during Oudin’s loss to Caroline Wozniacki. The night before during the Venus Williams vs. Flavia Pennetta match and Rafael Nadal vs. Gael Monfils match, 2,128,000 viewers tuned in to watch.
BackOffice Associates, LLC, has announced that Melanie Oudin has signed a multi-year promotional partnership. BackOffice Associates, LLC, is the world leader in SAP data quality.
The organizers of the Shanghai ATP Masters 1000 presented by Rolex are giving fans the opportunity to vote on which trophy they would like to see presented to the tournament champion. Malaysian manufacturer, Royal Selangor, has created three trophies that fans can vote for on the official tournament website. Each person who votes for the trophy will be signed up for a chance to win a trip to Malaysia to see the trophy being made.
At the recent Legends Ball held at the Cipriani on 42nd Street in New York City, the following awards were given:
Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon received the Joseph F. Cullman III award.
Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe accepted the Eugene L. Scott award for her husband, the late Arthur Ashe.
Martina Navratilova earned the Danzig award.
Fred Stolle received the Johnston award.
More than $130,000 was raised during a silent auction at the Legends Ball. $18,000 was raised for a hitting session with Monica Seles, $6,000 for a hitting session with Jim Courier and $15,000 for a men’s and women’s finals travel package to Wimbledon.
Roger Rasheed, coach of Gael Monfils, and Vlado Platenik, coach of Dominika Cibulkova, are spearheading a new organization called, Tour Level Tennis Coaches Association, to support coaches and trainers by offering them benefits, forms of insurance, financial services, job training and mentoring.
On September 11, CNN’s Tony Harris and Natalie Morales of The Today Show on NBC hosted a Breaking the Barriers reception to honor the National Junior Tennis League on the 40th anniversary of its founding by Arthur Ashe.
Rafael Nadal will not play Davis Cup this weekend for Spain’s semifinal tie against Israel due to an abdominal injury. Juan Carlos Ferrero will take Nadal’s spot on the roster.
Roger Federer is scheduled to compete for Switzerland this weekend during their World Group Playoff match against Italy.
Andy Murray announced that he is fit to participate this weekend in Great Britain’s Davis Cup Zonal tie against Poland.
ATP World Tour CEO Adam Helfant said the tour is looking into an All-Star event for the players that will happen right before the Indian Wells Masters 1000 event. “We’ve talked to our players about it and our players are excited about it and committed to it,” said Helfant.
According to the Melbourne Herald Sun, former Australian tennis star Mark Philippoussis has sold his family house in Australia to pay off an outstanding mortgage. Philippoussis is still being sought out by American tax authorities for $500,000.
Federal officials from the Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York conducted two raids in two separate apartments – just blocks from the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York – early Monday, the same day of the conclusion of the 2009 US Open.
Officials raided apartments on 144-67 41st Avenue and on 146th Avenue in Flushing after they had been visited by a suspected associate of Al Qaeda over the weekend. The normal high security at the U.S. Open was noticeably increased on the final day of the tournament Monday, with increased police presence on subway lines going to and from the tournament and on the streets surrounding Arthur Ashe Stadium
No arrests were made in the raids and no weapons or explosives were found. Senator Charles Schumer of New York said the raids were preventative. According to the New York Times, the raids occurred after a man of Afghan descent under surveillance because of suspected Al Qaeda ties visited New York City over the weekend and then left.
The 2009 U.S. Open was scheduled to conclude on Sunday, Sept. 13, but rains on Friday and Saturday pushed play to Monday, where Juan Martin del Potro defeated Roger Federer in five sets to win the men’s singles title. Earlier in the day, Venus and Serena Williams won the women’s doubles championship over Liezel Huber and Cara Black.
Women’s singles: Kim Clijsters beat Caroline Wozniacki 7-5 6-3
Men’s doubles: Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy beat Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 3-6 6-3 6-2
Women’s doubles: Serena Williams and Venus Williams beat Cara Black and Liezel Huber 6-2 6-2
Mixed doubles: Carly Gullickson and Travis Parrott beat Cara Black and Leander Paes 6-2 6-4
Boys’ singles: Bernard Tomic beat Chase Buchanan 6-1 6-3
Girls’ singles: Heather Watson beat Yana Buchina 6-4 6-1
Boys’ doubles: Cheng Peng Hsieh and Marton Fucsovics beat Julien Obry and Adrien Puget 7-6 (5) 5-7 10-1 (match tiebreak)
Girls’ doubles: Valeria Solovieva and Maryna Zanevska beat Elena Bogdan and Noppawan Lertcheewakarn 1-6 6-3 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Men’s wheelchair singles: Shingo Kunieda beat Maikel Scheffers 6-0 6-0
Men’s wheelchair doubles: Stephane Houdet and Stefan Olsson beat Maikel Scheffers and Ronald Vink 6-4 4-6 6-4
Women’s wheelchair singles: Esther Vergeer beat Korie Homan 6-0 6-0
Women’s wheelchair doubles: Esther Vergeer and Korie Homan beat Daniela DiToro and Florence Gravellier 6-2 6-2
Alberto Martin beat Carlos Berlocq 6-3 6-3 to win the AON Open Challenger in Genoa, Italy
“When I would have a dream, it was to win the US Open, and the other one is to be like Roger. One is done.” – Juan Martin del Potro, after beating Roger Federer and winning the US Open men’s singles.
“Five was great, four was great, too. Six would have been a dream, too. Can’t have them all. I’ve had an amazing summer and a great run. I’m not too disappointed just because I thought I played another wonderful tournament.” – Roger Federer, after losing the US Open men’s singles final to Juan Martin del Potro.
“I can’t believe this happened. Because it still seems so surreal that in my third tournament back I won my second Grand Slam. Because it wasn’t in the plan. I just wanted to come here and get a feel for it all over again, play a Grand Slam so to start the next year I didn’t have to go through all the new experiences over.” – Kim Clijsters, who won her second straight US Open women’s title four years after her first title.
“I think that I’ll learn that it pays to always play your best and always be your best and always act your best no matter what. And I think that I’m young and I feel like in life everyone has to have experience that they take and that they learn from, and I think that’s great that I have an opportunity to still b e physically fit to go several more years and learn from the past.” – Serena Williams, after losing her semifinal to Kim Clijsters after receiving a point penalty on match point.
“I cannot really tell that I was playing bad. She was playing good.” – Kateryna Bondarenko, after losing to Yanina Wickmayer.
“Today, I could’ve been better in pretty much every part of my game, whether it was mental, forehand, backhand, return.” – Andy Murray, after losing his fourth-round match to Marin Cilic.
“I lost it myself because I made so many unforced errors. So many unforced errors, you can’t win against anybody. No chance.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, after committing 69 unforced errors in her three-set loss to Caroline Wozniacki.
“I was thinking, every point, do the same, try to put the ball in the court. When you fight that way to the final point, you have many chances, and that’s what happened today.” – Juan Martin del Potro, after his quarterfinal win.
“I think the biggest weapon can be mental toughness. It doesn’t have to be a stroke or a shot or anything like that. If you’re mentally tough out there, then you can beat anyone.” – Melanie Oudin, after beating Maria Sharapova to advance to the fourth round.
STARTING NEW ERA
By winning the US Open, Juan Martin del Potro became only the third player to beat both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the same tournament. He also became the first player this year to defeat the world’s top three players, having also beat Andy Murray in Madrid, Spain. Del Potro is the first South American to be in the US Open final since fellow Argentine Guillermo Vilas won in 1977, and the first South African to be in a Grand Slam final since Fernando Gonzalez of Chile lost to Federer in the 2007 Australian Open.
SO SWEET, SO WRONG
After he ran onto the court to kiss Rafael Nadal, a New York City man, Noam U. Aorta, was arrested and charged with trespassing. Aorta jumped out of the stands after Nadal beat Gael Monfils in a fourth-round match. “For me it wasn’t a problem. The guy was really nice,” Nadal said. “He said, ‘I love you,’ and he kissed me.” District Attorney Richard Brown called it “particularly disturbing” since Aorta made physical contact with Nadal, noting that Monica Seles was stabbed in 1993 by a spectator who jumped out of the stands in Hamburg, Germany.
SAFINA STILL ON TOP
Serena Williams lost the chance to move back into the number one spot on the women’s tennis tour. The American could have replaced Dinara Safina on the top of the rankings if she had successfully defended her US Open title. Instead, she lost to eventual champion Kim Clijsters in the semifinals and, consequently, will remain in the number two spot.
The US Open was the third tournament back for US Open champion Kim Clijsters since she ended her two-year retirement. And you need to play three tournaments to get a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour ranking. In this week’s rankings, Clijsters is number 19 in the world.
The world’s top doubles team, Cara Black and Liezel Huber, are the first to qualify for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, which will be held October 27-November 1 in Doha, Qatar. It will be the third trip the final Championships for Black and Huber, having clinched the title in the last two years. The top four doubles teams will compete for the title. Two players have already qualified for the eight-player singles competition, Dinara Safina and Serena Williams.
STANDING FOR ELECTION
Doubles players will get a chance to shine in the 2010 International Tennis Hall of Fame ITHF) balloting. The ITHF announced the names of the 12 nominees for possible induction into the Newport, Rhode Island, shrine next year, including Beatrizs “Gigi” Fernandez, Natasha Zvereva, Todd Woodbridge, Mark Woodforde and Anders Jarryd. On the ballot in the Master Player category are Owen Davidson, Peter Fleming and Bob Lutz, while the Contributor category has four nominees: wheelchair tennis pioneer Brad Parks, coach Nick Bollettieri, Lawn Tennis Association chairman Derek Hardwick and Japan’s Eichi Kawatei. Voting for the 2010 ballot will take place over the next several months with an announcement of the induction class scheduled for January. The Class of 2010 induction ceremony will be held July 10 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport.
Ai Sugiyama is ready to say sayonara. The Japanese veteran says she will probably retire at the end of this year, concluding her 17-year career. She once was ranked as high as number eight in the world. “I am normally the type that can picture what the near future holds, but to be honest at this moment in time, I can’t see myself competing next season,” Sugiyama told Kyodo news. She won six WTA Tour singles titles and doubles championships at the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. She lost in the Australian Open final this year.
When Kim Clijsters won the US Open, she became the first mother to win a Grand Slam tournament singles title since Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley captured Wimbledon in 1980. But Clijsters wasn’t the only mother competing at America’s premier tennis event. Sybille Bammer of Austria lost in the first round to Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, while Rossana de los Rios of Paraguay fell to 14th-seeded Marion Bartoli in her first-round match. After the birth of her baby, Bammer climbed as high as number 19 in the world and won at Prague, Czech Republic, earlier this year. De los Rios has won six ITF singles titles since giving birth to her daughter in 1997.
Sloane Stephens was looking forward to the US Open junior girls tournament, where she was seeded fourth. But just before junior play got underway, Stephens’ father, former NFL running back John Stephens, died in a car accident. The 16-year-old from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, took a day off to fly to her father’s funeral in Louisiana, then returned to win her second-round match. But she lost her next outing to Jana Cepelova of Slovakia 4-6 6-1 6-0. “I was trying to focus and do things I should have done, but mentally I wasn’t there,” she said. The youngster had reconnected with her father three years ago and she had met him only a handful of times, but the two had developed a relationship over the telephone.
Venus and Serena Williams won their 10th Grand Slam tournament women’s doubles title, beating the top-seeded team of Cara Black and Liezel Huber. The sisters have never lost in a Grand Slam tournament once they’ve reached the final. “Hopefully that’s a record that won’t end yet,” Serena said. It is their first US Open doubles crown since 1999, and the sisters are now halfway to the record set by Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver.
As far as fans were concerned, Melanie Oudin didn’t outstay her welcome at the US Open. That’s not true about her New York City hotel room. The 17-year-old from Marietta, Georgia, was one of the biggest surprises of this year’s final Grand Slam event, reaching the quarterfinals before being eliminated. But she outstayed her hotel reservation at the Marriott in Manhattan, according to SportsBusiness Journal. Her management company quickly got her a room at the Intercontinental Hotel. Oudin, who was not seeded, was not expected to play in the second week of the US Open. So the room she shared with her mother was apparently reserved for someone else. “Obviously we will not be sending any of our players back to that hotel (the Marriott),” Oudin’s agent, BEST Tennis president John Tobias, told the Journal.
He won the first US Open in 1968 and the main stadium at America’s premier tennis tournament is named for him. But it wasn’t until this year that Arthur Ashe was inducted into the US Open Court of Champions, which honors the greatest singles champions in the history of the 128 years of the US Championships/US Open. Ashe joined prior inductees Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Jimmy Connors, Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Althea Gibson, Steffi Graf, Billie Jean King, Jack Kramer, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Molla Bjurstedt Mallory, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Bill Tilden and Helen Wills. An international panel of journalists selects the inductees annually. Former President Bill Clinton participated in Ashe’s induction ceremonies.
SET FOR DOHA
US Open runner-up Caroline Wozniacki and Elena Dementieva are the latest to qualify for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, which will be held October 27-November 1 in Doha, Qatar. The world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams will compete for the Sony Ericsson Championships title and a share of the record Championships prize money of USD $4.45 million.
STAYING IN TOUCH
Fans attending the US Open sent a record number of emails and text, picture and video messages from in and around Arthur Ashe Stadium the first week of the tournament. “US Open fans are letting their fingers do the talking this year as increasing numbers of Verizon Wireless customers use Smartphones and PDAs to stay in touch with their homes and offices,” said Michele White, executive director-network for company’s New York Metro Region. “The number of data connections established by Verizon Wireless customers in and around the tennis center during the busiest hours of the event last week was 80 percent higher than last year while voice traffic was down.”
Despite the gloomy global economy, the women’s tennis circuit is doing just fine, thank you. Stacey Allaster, CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, said they have lost just one title sponsor in 2009 and have added two new tournaments in 2010. “The bottom line is we want to be a credible product, consistently delivering to fans and sponsors, and in 2009 our athletes have done that,” Allaster said. Of the tour’s 51 title sponsors, only one has dropped out, and that is “an incredible success story for women’s tennis,” she said. Tournaments have been added in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia, while the Los Angeles event has moved to San Diego.
Three teenagers have been convicted in Malmo, Sweden, for rioting outside a Davis Cup tie between Israel and Sweden in March. The three Swedish males, aged 17 to 19, were sentenced to community service for juveniles. Two of them were also ordered to pay USD $19,020 for sabotaging a police vehicle. The three were among 10 people arrested after protesting Israel’s offensive in Gaza. The court had previously sentenced two others to 9 and 15 months in prison. No spectators were allowed to watch the matches after Malmo officials said they could not guarantee security. The International Tennis Association (ITF) fined the Swedish tennis federation USD $5,000 for that decision and banned Malmo from staging Davis Cup matches for five years.
SAY IT AIN’T SO
A media report that he and his wife are living in fear amid crime and poverty in the Bahamas has brought an angry response from Lleyton Hewitt. The 2001 US Open champion told a newspaper that the report in an Australian magazine was “absolute rubbish.” Hewitt said he and his family have had “fantastic experiences” in the nine months they have lived in a gated community on New Providence island. “For us it’s a fantastic place to raise a young family.”
SAYS YOU, SAYS ME
You knew it had to happen. Novak Djokovic and John McEnroe took turns imitating each other during an impromptu US Open moment. Following his victory over Radek Stepanek, Djokovic called McEnroe down from his television booth, then mimicked the mannerisms and serving style of the four-time US Open champion. He tossed his racquet onto the court and screamed at an imaginary umpire. Once McEnroe arrived on court, he unbuttoned his white shirt, rolled up his sleeves and, using a borrowed racquet, bounced the ball repeatedly, imitating Djokovic’s pre-serve habits. Two years ago, Djokovic delighted the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd by impersonating Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova, among others. “What I’ve done in 2007 with those impersonations and tonight playing with Johnny Mac, I think that’s what the crowd wants, especially in these hours,” Djokovic said. “I think these night matches are very special.”
Her exciting run to US Open quarterfinals kept Melanie Oudin in New York City doing what she wants to do. She doesn’t do the ordinary high school things, like going to the junior prom or homecoming, or even hanging out with friends at the mall. “She doesn’t do any of that kind of stuff, and she’s OK with it,” said Katherine Oudin, Melanie’s mother. “I know she misses the normal life a little, but she does not regret it at all. Zero. She’s totally OK with it because she knows this is what she’s wanted her entire life.”
SOCKING IT AWAY
Each of the singles champions here at the US Open will take home USD $1.6 million, a nice tidy sum in any language. Going into the year’s final Grand Slam tournament, Roger Federer has earned USD $36 million over the past 12 months. His three Grand Slam wins – 2008 US Open, French Open and Wimbledon – and other tournament play netted him USD $8 million. And when he won his first-round match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center this year, he became the first player to surpass USD $50 million in career earnings on the court. The 28-year-old Federer has 10-year endorsement deals with Nike, Rolex, Wilson and Swiss coffee machine maker Jura. His Nike contract extension that he signed in 2008 is worth more than USD $10 million annually. Maria Sharapova is close to Federer in off-court earnings. The Russian earned USD $22.5 million over the past year despite missing most of the season with a shoulder injury.
The US Tennis Association (USTA) has been sued by a New York City documentary filmmaker who claims the ruling tennis body discriminates against wheelchair players by refusing to sell broadcast licensing rights to their matches. Brooklyn, New York, filmmaker Alan Rich is a lawyer who is representing himself and seven handicapped players. He has been filming a documentary about the players called “Fire in the Belly.” Rich contends that because the major networks covering the tournament – CBS, ESPN and Tennis Channel – do not cover wheelchair events, he should be given the rights. USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said his organization limits filming of matches to the three television companies that have contracts with them. He said that two years ago, Tennis Channel aired the wheelchair finals competition live and produced a half-hour highlights show of the tournament.
Jeremy Chardy will play Davis Cup for France against the Netherlands. Chardy replaces Gilles Simon, who has a knee injury. France plays the Netherlands for a spot in next year’s World Group. The French team also includes Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and doubles specialist Michael Llordra. Chardy originally had been selected as an alternative. That role now goes to Julien Benneteau.
Sixteen writers were honored at the US Open by the US Tennis Writers Association in the 10th annual USTWA Writing Contest. William Weinbaum and John Barr of ESPN.com won first place in Hard News/Enterprise for their story about the controversial match between Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo Arguello. Other first-place winners were: Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle, Column/Commentary; Cindy Shmerler, TENNIS Magazine, Feature Story (Pro); Stephen Tignor, TENNIS Magazine, Feature Story (Non-Pro); Filip Bondy, New York Daily News, Game Story (Pro); and Paul Fein, TennisOne.com, Service Story.
The USTWA announced the election of its board of directors at its annual meeting at the US Open: Cindy Cantrell, Tennis Life; Paul Fein, freelance writer; Ann LoPrinzi, The Times of Trenton (New Jersey); Richard Kent, freelance writer; Jim Martz, Florida Tennis; and Art Spander, The (San Francisco) Examiner. Fein, Kent and Spander are new to the board. The officers will be determined by the board.
Genoa: Daniele Bracciali and Alessandro Motti beat Amir Hadad and Harel Levy 6-4 6-2
SITES TO SURF
Davis Cup: www.DavisCup.com
Saint Malo: www.opengdfsuez-bretagne.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$150,000 Pekao Open, Szczecin, Poland, clay
$220,000 Bell Challenge, Quebec City, Canada, hard
$220,000 Guangzhou International Women’s Open, Guangzhou, China, hard
World Group Semifinals
Croatia vs. Czech Republic at Porec, Croatia
Spain vs. Israel at Murcia, Spain
World Group Playoffs
Chile vs. Austria at Rancagua, Chile; Belgium vs. Ukraine at Charleroi, Belgium; Brazil vs. Ecuador at Porto Alegre, Brazil; Netherlands vs. France at Maastricht, Netherlands; South Africa vs. India at Johannesburg, South Africa; Serbia vs. Uzbekistan at Belgrade, Serbia; Sweden vs. Romania at Helsingborg, Sweden; Italy vs. Switzerland at Genova, Italy
Group I Playoff: Peru vs. Uruguay at Lima, Peru
Group II Final: Dominican Republic vs. Venezuela at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Group I Playoff: China vs. Thailand at Jiaxing, China
Group II 3rd Round: Philippines vs. New Zealand at Manila, Philippines
Group I Playoffs: Slovak Republic vs. FYR Macedonia at Bratislava, Slovak Republic; Great Britain vs. Poland at Liverpool, Great Britain
Group II 3rd Round: Latvia vs. Slovenia at Jurmala, Latvia; Finland vs. Cyprus at Salo, Finland
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$650,000 BCR Open Romania, Bucharest, Romana, clay
$650,000 Open de Moselle, Metz, France, hard
$220,000 Hansol Korea Open, Seoul, Korea, hard
$220,000 Tashkent Open, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, hard
$100,000 Open GDF Suez de Bretagne, Saint Malo, France, clay
Trophee Jean-Luc Lagardere, Paris, France, clay
NEW YORK – In a strange way, the US Open women’s singles champion was no surprise. After all, Kim Clijsters was the defending champion.
Yes, she shows up in New York City only every few years, but when she does she walks away with some of the top hardware.
Sunday night, Clijsters defeated Caroline Wozniacki 7-5 6-3 to capture her second Grand Slam tournament title, both coming on the hard courts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
“I’m glad I was able to come back and defend my title,” Clijsters said.
OK, so Serena Williams won the women’s singles in 2008. The same Serena Williams who put on a nasty display of pique that resulted in a point penalty at match point in her semifinals against Clijsters.
But Clijsters won in her last appearance in Arthur Ashe Stadium, in 2005. And the last time she played the US Open before that, in 2003, she lost to fellow Belgian Justine Henin in the title match.
Now she becomes the first wild card entry to win a US Open title and the first to win a Grand Slam singles title since Goran Ivanisevic captured Wimbledon in 2001. And with her daughter Jada in the stands watching mommy play, Clijsters becomes the first mother to capture a Grand Slam singles since Evonne Goolagong Cawley won Wimbledon in 1980.
Winning the year’s final Grand Slam tournament, however, was not in Clijsters’ plans.
“I just wanted to start these three tournaments to get back into the rhythm of playing tennis and get used to the surroundings again,” said Clijsters, who earned USD $1.6 million to go along with the trophy. “So I have to thank the USTA for giving me the wild card to come back here.”
The men’s semifinals were also held Sunday in the rain-delayed US Open. Roger Federer, seeking his sixth straight men’s singles crown at America’s premier tennis event and his third straight Grand Slam title of the year, defeated Novak Djokovic 7-6 (3), 7-5 7-5 after Juan Martin del Potro dominated third-seeded Rafael Nadal 6-2 6-2 6-2. The men’s final will be played Monday afternoon.
After her 2005 US Open victory, Clijsters suffered an injury that forced her to miss the event in 2006. Then she retired in early 2007, got married and gave birth to a daughter.
It was earlier this year that she decided to end her retirement and return to the women’s tour. The US Open was her third tournament, enough now to give her a ranking.
Clijsters was the heavy favorite against the ninth-seeded Wozniacki. They forgot to tell Wozniacki that.
In a series of streaks, Clijsters, who beat sisters Serena and Venus Williams en route to the title match, took the first two games of the final before the 19-year-old Wozniacki, playing in her first Grand Slam tournament final, reeled off the next four games for a 4-2 lead. Clijsters, who had committed a slew of unforced errors, tightened her game considerably and began finding the lines with her shots, especially her inside-out forehand.
The former world number had the firepower, while Wozniacki played a steady game, keeping the ball in play, taking the pace off the ball. Yet when the young Dane served for the opening set at 5-4, Clijsters showed the form that has taken her to six Grand Slam tournament finals. She won the next two games to close out the set.
Wozniacki never gave up, her quickness along the baseline and spirited returning keeping her in the points. But Clijsters also has quickness, and the veteran had much more firepower in her ground strokes.
Clijsters finished with 36 winners and 34 unforced errors. The counter-punching Wozniacki had just 10 winners in the match.
Wozniacki had one advantage over Clijsters on this night. When she accepted the runner-up trophy, she thanked the crowd in three languages: English, Danish and Polish.
Several other titles were determined Sunday.
Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes won the men’s doubles, defeating Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 3-6 6-3 6-2.
Seventeen-year-old Heather Watson of Great Britain defeated Russia’s Yana Buchina 6-4 6-1 to capture the junior girls title, while Australian Bernard Tomic stopped American Chase Buchanan 61 6-3.
Cheng Peng Hsieh of Chinese Taipei teamed with Marton Fucsovics of Hungary to win the junior boys doubles, edging Julien Obry and Adrien Puget of France 7-6 (5) 5-7 10-1 (match tiebreak). The girls doubles was won by Valeria Solovieva of Russia and Maryna Zanevska of Ukraine, 1-6 6-3 10-7 (match tiebreak) over Elena Bogdan of Romania and Noppawan Lertcheewakarn of Thailand.
In the wheelchair competition, Shingo Kunieda of Japan bested Maikel Scheffers of the Netherlands 6-0 6-0 for the men’s singles; and Esther Vergeer blanked fellow Dutch player Korie Homan 6-0 6-0 for the women’s singles.
NEW YORK – Welcome to Arthur Ashe Stadium, the world’s largest tennis facility, Juan Martin del Potro.
Ranked sixth in the world, the Argentine had to wait until the quarterfinals to make it to the 23,700-seat facility this year without having to buy a ticket. Del Potro made sure he will return to the big stage in the semifinals after beating Marin Cilic 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-1 Thursday.
“It’s like a dream,” del Potro said of the victory. “My dream is win this tournament. I’m so close to do it, but now I am focusing (on) the semis.”
Del Potro will play the winner of the late quarterfinal between Rafael Nadal and Fernando Gonzalez, which was twice delayed by rain, the first time this fortnight that weather has caused an interruption in play. The match was eventually suspended until Friday, although rain, heavy at times, was forecast for the New York City area throughout Friday.
The other semifinal was set Wednesday when top-seeded Roger Federer, seeking his sixth straight US Open title, and fourth-seeded Novak Djokovic both won their quarterfinals.
Thursday’s first quarterfinal was an old-fashioned heavyweight battle, a throwback to the New York City days of championship heavyweight bouts in either Madison Square Garden or Yankee Stadium. But this time the combatants stood 78 feet (23.77 m) apart, blasting tennis balls at each other.
Del Potro stood at one end of the court nestled at the bottom of Arthur Ashe Stadium, his Croatian opponent at the other.
Del Potro vs. Cilic. Two 6-foot-6 (1.98 m), 20-year-old right-handers who excel at the long-range gunnery that moves an opponent from side to side until an opening, ever so small, is created for a winning shot or one or the other commits an error.
Cilic pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament in the fourth round when he knocked off second-seeded Andy Murray. Del Potro ousted 24th-seeded Juan Carlos Ferrero in his fourth-round match.
Until Thursday, Cilic and del Potro had only met once before, del Potro winning in four sets at the Australian Open in January. Del Potro made it two straight, but it wasn’t nearly as easy as the score might indicate.
Cilic, seeded 16th and playing in his first Grand Slam tournament quarterfinal, was nearly perfect to begin the match. His powerful ground strokes found the far reaches of the court and every corner as he dominated play. He slammed 13 winners, six coming on forehands, controlling play.
“At the beginning of the match I was playing really good and moving him a lot around. I found after the first set that it got a lot cooler and the court was a little bit hard to play on. The ball wasn’t going through the court as much as it was in the beginning.”
Cilic’s sharp play in the opening set quickly disappeared along with the good weather that had graced this year’s US Open. He finished the match with 53 unforced errors against 29 winners, while del Potro balanced 24 unforced errors with 27 winners.
“Was a good comeback, you know, the crowd cheering for me at 1-3 in the second,” del Potro said. “I start to play better after that moment. … Of course I need to improve for the semis a lot, but I’m happy with my match and with the result.”
The match was played with temperatures in the mid-60s and winds gusting up to 30 mph.
“The weather was bad,” del Potro said, “but it was bad for both players. I just need to be in focus in the beginning of the match until the last point and play my game.”
The first title of the tournament was determined Thursday when Carly Gullickson and Todd Parrott, playing together for the first time, upset defending champions Cara Black and Leander Paes 6-2 6-4 to win the mixed doubles.
Serena and Venus Williams began the day by advancing to the women’s doubles final with a 7-6 (4) 3-6 6-2 win over Russians Alisa Kleybanova and Ekaterina Makarova.
Serena is scheduled to return to the court Friday for her women’s singles semifinal where she will take on another defending champion, Belgium’s Kim Clijsters. The second women’s semi pits ninth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark against unseeded Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium.
Serena Williams, who captured the crown last year, is going for her fourth US Open title. Clijsters won in 2005, the last time she played America’s premier event because of injuries, retirement, marriage and the birth of a daughter.
NEW YORK – Four straight unforced errors ended one dream and continued another.
Although the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd was loudly pulling for her, Melanie Oudin’s dream run at the US Open ended Wednesday night when she was overwhelmed 6-2 6-2 by ninth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki.
“She had a great run, beaten so many great players,” said Wozniacki, the first Danish player to reach the semifinals in a Grand Slam tournament Wozniacki made sure Oudin’s “great run” didn’t continue, instead controlling the points with her consistent baseline game, moving her 17-year-old opponent all around the court and finding answers to every problem the Marietta, Georgia, right-hander posed. In the final game, Oudin won the first point, then netted a forehand, attempted a backhand drop shot that didn’t even make it to the net, sailed a forehand long and was wide with a backhand on match point.
With a spot in the championship match awaiting the winner, Wozniacki will next take on Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, who won her quarterfinal earlier in the day, 7-5 6-4 over Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine.
Oudin became the darling of America’s premier tennis tournament when she unexpectedly mowed down a series of Russians in her march to the quarterfinals. Although she had upset Jelena Jankovic en route to the fourth round at Wimbledon, she was a pleasant surprise here on the hard courts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
The youngster started off by beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, then followed that up with victories over fourth-seeded Elena Dementieva, 29th-seeded Maria Sharapova and 13th-seeded Nadia Petrova. With each successive upset, Oudin’s dream grew more vivid along with the expectations from growing legend of fans.
Only two years older than Oudin, Wozniacki never was in trouble against the American, repeatedly hitting with heavy topspin, making the ball jump up high to Oudin’s ground strokes. It was Wozniacki who was dictating the pace and the points.
“She’s such a strong player. She doesn’t give you anything for free,” Oudin said of Wozniacki. “She plays incredible defense. Makes me hit a thousand balls and really is a really great player.”
Unlike Oudin, Wozniacki wasn’t an unknown entity when she began the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. She was seeded ninth after entering the US Open having won the 56 matches, the most of any player on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour this year. And she has captured three titles this year, including the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Connecticut, the day before the US Open began its two-week run.
Wozniacki said she wasn’t bothered by the crowd’s overwhelming support of Oudin.
“It’s always tough to play against a home favorite,” Wozniacki said. “I had this experience in Australia this year where I played (Australian) Jelena Dokic.
“I knew how I was going to feel to be out there and the crowd, but I just used the energy and tried to convert it into some good tennis.”
Oudin’s never-say-die attitude, her big forehand and her constant pressure caused her Russian opponents to eventually collapse. Not so with Wozniacki.
“She beat some great players,” Wozniacki said of Oudin. “I knew that it was going to be tough and I knew that she was going to fight to the last point. I just thought about one point at a time, one ball at a time and tried not to think too much about the score.
“I’m a fighter, so I don’t give up. I fought to the last point.”
Like Wozniacki, Wickmayer is playing in a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time. Her lone WTA Tour singles title came on clay in Estoril, Portugal.
Wickmayer started the US Open by upsetting 16th-seeded Virginie Razzano. Since then she has not had to face another seeded player.
“Before this my best result was second round (in a Grand Slam tournament),” Wickmayer said. “So of course when you get to the third, fourth round, you start surprising yourself. But actually I’ve been staying pretty calm. I’ve worked really hard for this.”
Top-seeded Roger Federer advanced one step closer to a sixth consecutive US Open men’s singles title when he ended the night by dodging an inspired Robin Soderling of Sweden 6-0 6-3 6-7 (6) 7-6 (6).
It appeared as if Federer would sail through the quarterfinal against the man he beat in the French Open final. But Soderling stepped up his game in the third set, and after Federer swept out to a 4-0 lead in the tiebreak, Soderling roared back to win it 8-6.
The two battled evenly through the fourth set, Federer using his huge serve and Soderling his big ground strokes.
Then, suddenly, Soderling ripped a forehand crosscourt that sailed wide, the only mini-break in the tiebreak, but one that gave Federer the match at 8-6.
“It was so close towards the end, a great relief to come through,” Federer said. “The beginning was a bit too easy. But he showed what a great player he is.”
The Swiss superstar is in his record 22nd straight major semifinal – Ivan Lendl had the old mark at 10 – and is seeking to become the first man to win three consecutive majors in one season since Rod Laver completed the Grand Slam in 1969.
Federer also is bidding to become the first man since Bill Tilden in 1925 to win six consecutive US titles. He is the only man to win five or more successive titles at two Grand Slam tournaments, having won Wimbledon from 2003 through 2007.
In the semifinals, Federer will face fourth-seeded Novak Djokovic, a 7-6 (2) 1-6 7-5 6-2 winner over Fernando Verdasco.