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Adios Carlos Moya – The Friday Five

Carlos Moya

By Maud Watson

Baby Steps

Well, the bad news is that the USTA isn’t putting a roof on any of their courts…yet. The good news is that they have approved a more than $300 million budget to begin making a string of much-needed upgrades to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The first change to be made is the immediate construction of a mini-stadium that will be adjacent to the hospitality area. It is expected to be ready to go no later than the 2012 US Open and may even be given the green light for the 2011 championships. The bigger change, however, which isn’t slated to begin for another six to eight years, will be tearing down the beloved Louis Armstrong and Grandstand stadiums to create two new stadiums. When all is said and done, approximately 3,000 – 5,000 seats will be added between the two new Armstrong and Grandstand courts. And while neither stadium will have a roof, they will at least be “roof ready.” Of course the USTA has still not yet listed a solution to the no-roof over Ashe issue, but this latest bit of news is encouraging that they are moving in the right direction.

Adiós Amigo

It wasn’t a shocker, but it did become official. On Wednesday, Carlos Moya, the first Spaniard to reach the number one ranking since the Open Era rankings began in 1973, announced that he is retiring from the game. The 1998 Roland Garros champion stated he was forced to arrive at this decision due to a niggling foot injury that doctors have been unable to agree on how best to heal. It’s unfortunate that the retirement did not go as Moya had planned, which was to have the opportunity to say his good-byes at some of the grandest venues in the game, but with a Slam, the number one ranking, and a Davis Cup title to his name, he should have no regrets.

Plethora of Proposals

With so many other thrilling storylines as the season nears its close, the possibility that the French Open might be forced to leave its current Parisian venue was put on the backburner. It’s come back as one of the top stories this week, however, with the news that the city of Paris has presented the FFT with a plan to build a new (albeit small) stadium across the street from the current site. This new court would replace the current Court 1, affectionately known as the “Bullring,” which is slated to be torn down. The proposal will be competing with three additional proposals from other Paris suburbs. In the end, fans and players will want what’s ultimately best for the second Grand Slam event of the year, but it would be hard to see it move from its current historic venue.

Notes from Paris

The season may be nearing its conclusion, but there’s still plenty of good tennis left to be played in the final week if the Paris Masters was any indication. With Rafael Nadal the only name in the top five who didn’t play, the field in Paris was plenty strong. The semifinals were thrilling to the end, and included home crowd favorite Gael Monfils saving five match points against Roger Federer to reach the final where he eventually lost to the big-hitting Swede, Robin Soderling. It will be interesting to see if the win spills over as Soderling competes in London this coming week. No doubt the players could use a longer off season (and we may just hear about that next week), but hats off to the players for still delivering a quality product after a long year.

Now That’s Determination

The next time someone complains about ticket prices, just think of Gayus Tambunan. The Indonesian tax official not only shelled out over $40,000 in order to walk out of prison to watch the WTA’s Bali event, but he donned a wig when he did it. It was one of the quirkier stories of the week, and definitely one of the more amusing anecdotes. Tambunan stated his reasoning behind going to see the Bali event was due to stress at being detained and the need for a vacation to deal with that stress. Still, it would be nice to think he brought a new meaning to the phrase “for love of the game.”

Player Bounces Racquet Over Fence, Where It Gets Stuck!

Santiago Giraldo of Colombia was involved in a very unusual circumstance in his first-round US Open match Tuesday against Feliciano Lopez of Spain.

Playing on Court No. 7 at the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center, Giraldo was disgusted in his play, trailing two sets to love and a service break in the third set. After he committed an unforced error, Giraldo smashed his Babolat racquet to the hard court surface, where it bounced over the 10-foot fence landing in the shrubbery that lined the back of the court. The racquet was out of reach for the Colombian Davis Cupper and he had to go to his bag sitting courtside and pick up another stick to play with.

After receiving a code of conduct warning for the abuse of his racquet, Giraldo finished the game and then grabbed a lines person’s chair and stood on it to reach and grab the bounced racquet.

In the corresponding photos, note Giraldo’s racquet sitting in the shrubbery in the middle of the back of the court and him retrieving it with the linesperson’s chair. Lopez went on to win the match 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Terrorist Raids Near US Open

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.

It’s Del Potro In An Upset

Long Live The King!

NEW YORK – The reign is over. Long live the king.

Juan Martin del Potro, appearing in his first Grand Slam tournament final, overpowered five-time defending champion Roger Federer to capture the US Open on Monday 3-6 7-6 (5) 4-6 7-6 (4) 6-2.

Riding a fearsome forehand that rocketed winners from way behind the baseline, del Potro became the second Argentine to win America’s premier tennis tournament. Guillermo Vilas won in 1977 when the US Open was played on clay at Forest Hills. Now, it’s on hard court, del Potro’s favorite surface, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

“When I would have a dream, it was to win the US Open, and the other one is to be like Roger,” del Potro said during the on-court ceremony where he collected a check for USD $1.85 million. “One is done.”

Then, addressing Federer directly, del Potro said: “I need to improve a lot to be like you. I’d like to congratulate you for fighting ‘til the last point.”

Federer was seeking his record-tying sixth straight US Open championship and his third consecutive Grand Slam tournament title this year, having captured his first French Open and his sixth Wimbledon earlier this summer. But del Potro had other ideas.

“A dream came true,” del Potro said. “I don’t have words to explain how I feel.”

Words weren’t needed. The tears of joy streaming down his face spoke volumes.

Del Potro, who turns 21 next week, snapped Federer’s 41-match unbeaten streak at Flushing Meadows as he completely dominated his Swiss opponent who has been called the greatest tennis player of all time.

“It’s difficult to explain this moment,” said del Potro. “You know, since young I dream of this and now I take the trophy with me. I did my dream, and it’s unbelievable moment. It’s amazing match, amazing people. Everything is perfect.”

Federer admitted del Potro was the better player on the final day of this rain-delayed tournament. But he felt it was still a great year despite the loss.

“Five was great, four was great, too,” said Federer, who came into the US Open having won a men’s record 16 Grand Slam singles titles. “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. Had chances today to win, but couldn’t take them. It was unfortunate.

It wasn’t a typical Federer match. A lot of that was because of the play of del Potro, who controlled their baseline rallies with his monster forehand, which he ripped deep into the far reaches of the court or down the line, shots that Federer for the most part only could wave at or watch the ball clip off his racquet.

The Swiss superstar came within two points of taking a two-set lead. But del Potro recovered, then won the tiebreak to level the match. Federer won the third set and was up 5-4 in the fourth, again two points from winning the title while leading 15-30 on del Potro’s serve. It was the last time Federer came close as del Potro held, then went on to win yet another tiebreak.

It was only the third time since he began his championship run that Federer has had to play a fifth set at the US Open. It was the first time he has lost.

“Got to give him all the credit because it’s not an easy thing to do, especially coming out against someone like me with so much experience,” Federer said. “Towards the end, of course, up 5‑2 in the fifth. That was easy. But he had to live through some really tough moments earlier on in both breakers throughout those sets to come back. So his effort was fantastic.”

In the end, it was del Potro who dominated, the Argentine who rose to the occasion and won.

The reign is over. Long live the king.

Two days after she left the court amid a chorus of boos, Serena Williams returned to Arthur Ashe Stadium and with her sister Venus won the US Open women’s doubles title for the first time since 1999. It was the sister’s 10th Grand Slam tournament women’s doubles title, half as many as the record held by Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver.

The Williams sisters downed the top-seeded team of Cara Black and Liezel Huber 6-3 6-2.

Clijsters Wins US Open Yet Again

Kim Clijsters Wins The US Open

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.

Tracy Austin rallies Team Lendl to victory in US Open Champions Invitational

FLUSHING, N.Y., September 12, 2009 — Team Lendl rallied behind the dominating play of two-time US Open champion Tracy Austin to defeat Team Cash 21-17 in the final day of the US Open Champions Invitational at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. With the win, Team Lendl finished the competition as the only undefeated team, posting a 2-0 record.

With her team trailing by four games after the first three events, Austin teamed with Guillermo Vilas to roll over Hana Mandlikova and Ilie Nastase, 5-2 in mixed doubles. Austin and World TeamTennis CEO/Commissioner Ilana Kloss routed Mandlikova and Iva Majoli 5-0 in women’s doubles to give Team Lendl the match win.

Team Cash, coached by Pat Cash, started the day with an early lead when Majoli edged Conchita Martinez 5-4 in the opening set of women’s singles. The set was evenly matched with every game going to 3-points all, forcing a 9-point tiebreak at 4-4. Majoli won the tiebreak for the 5-4 victory.

Cash and Todd Martin topped Vilas and Jimmy Arias in men’s doubles 5-4 to add to Team Cash’s lead. Cash subbed in the men’s doubles event when Ilie Nastase had not arrived by the start of the set. Nastase showed up a few minutes later and when interviewed by the announcer about the reason for his late arrival, the irrepressible Nastase replied, “I cannot say – there are kids around.”

Nastase continued in classic form on the court as well, partially mooning Austin during mixed doubles and trying to unnerve her with a bit of trash-talking. “This one is for you, Tracy”. Austin was unaffected as she and her Team Lendl doubles partners outgunned her opponents 10-2 over the final two sets.

Team Cash and Team Lendl, along with Team King coached by Billie Jean King, each played two matches over three days of team competition. The event used the World TeamTennis format for the first time in US Open history and featured a lineup of Grand Slam champions and finalists competing on co-ed teams. Team Lendl finished with a 2-0 record, while Team King was 1-1 and Team Cash was 0-2.

Each match consisted of one set each of men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles. Other WTT features included cumulative scoring, sets to five games, no-ad scoring, playing let serves, Overtime and Supertiebreakers.

Final Score: Team Lendl def. Team Cash 21-17

Women’s Singles: Iva Majoli (Team Cash) def. Conchita Martinez (Team Lendl) 5-4 (4)

Men’s Doubles: Todd Martin/Pat Cash (Team Cash) def. Jimmy Arias/Guillermo Vilas (Team Lendl) 5-4 (1)

Men’s Singles: Todd Martin (Team Cash) def. Jimmy Arias (Team Lendl) 5-3

Mixed Doubles: Tracy Austin/Guillermo Vilas (Team Lendl) def. Hana Mandlikova/Ilie Nastase (Team Cash) 5-2

Women’s Doubles: Ilana Kloss/Tracy Austin (Team Lendl) def. Hana Mandlikova/Iva Majoli (Team Cash) 5-0

Check www.USOpen.org for more details on the US Open Champions Invitational.

Mary Joe Fernandez leads Team King to 21-17 win over Team Cash at US Open Champions Invitational

FLUSHING, N.Y., September 10, 2009 — Mary Joe Fernandez is used to juggling a number of tasks at once. Mom. TV announcer. U.S. Fed Cup captain. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in between her television commitments on Thursday, she was able to squeeze in leading Team King to a 21-17 victory over Team Cash at the US Open Champions Invitational at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Fernandez won her singles and doubles matches to help Team King outduel Team Cash and even their team record to 1-1 after losing their opening match to Team Lendl on Wednesday. Fernandez is one of the former Grand Slam champions and finalists who are competing in the event which uses the co-ed team World TeamTennis format.

In the opening set of mixed doubles, it was Gigi Fernandez and Stan Smith who raced to a 5-3 mixed doubles victory over a pair of former US Open champions, Hana Mandlikova and Ilie Nastase.

Fernandez put Team King solidly in the lead after the second event, topping 1997 French Open singles champion Iva Majoli, 5-2. Fernandez said the win wasn’t as easy as the score might indicate. “This is harder than being in the booth with John and Patrick”, she quipped, referring to her full-time television work on ESPN with the brothers McEnroe at the US Open.

Todd Martin, the 1999 US Open runner-up, wasted no time putting Team Cash back into contention with a dominating 5-1 win over Luke Jensen in men’s singles. Jensen opened the set confidently, serving both left-handed and right-handed to win the first game. Martin then took control, running the former French Open doubles champ all over the court with precise shot-making – highlighted by a drop shot winner from the baseline — before closing out the 5-1 win to bring Team Cash within one game, 11-10.

Fernandez and Fernandez (no relation) added to their team’s tally with a 5-3 win over Majoli and Mandlikova in women’s doubles. The duo, who paired up to win gold medals in doubles at the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games, gave Team King a three-game lead heading into men’s doubles.

Coach Pat Cash tried to mix it up a bit in the final event, substituting himself for Nastase at 1-1 in men’s doubles. WTT CEO/Commissioner Ilana Kloss, filling in for team coach Billie Jean King, matched Cash’s move by sending in doubles great Rick Leach to replace Smith. Martin entertained the crowd by serving at his opponent Luke Jensen who was at the net and not in the receivers’ position. Jensen played along and dramatically dropped to the court, a nod to the well-documented World TeamTennis dustup this summer involving Robert Kendrick and John McEnroe of the New York Sportimes and Leander Paes of the Washington Kastles. Unlike the WTT Pro League incident, no fines were handed out and play resumed. Team King looked to be rolling to an easy win until Team Cash held off a match point at 4-2 and then tied the set at 4-4. Jensen and Leach held on for the 5-4 win, giving Team King an overall 21-17 victory.

Team King finishes the tournament with a 1-1 record. The 2009 US Open Champions Invitational concludes on Saturday, Sept. 12, with the final round of competition. Team Cash (0-1) takes on Team Lendl (1-0) at 11 a.m. on Court No. 4.

US OPEN CHAMPIONS INVITATIONAL RESULTS –

Team King def. Team Cash 21-17

TEAM KING: Mary Joe Fernandez, Gigi Fernandez, Stan Smith, Rick Leach and Luke Jensen.

Coach: Ilana Kloss (filling in for Billie Jean King)

TEAM CASH: Iva Majoli, Hana Mandlikova, Ilie Nastase and Todd Martin.

Coach: Pat Cash

RESULTS:

Mixed Doubles: Gigi Fernandez/Stan Smith (Team King) def. Hana Mandlikova/Ilie Nastase (Team Cash) 5-3

Women’s Singles: Mary Joe Fernandez (Team King) def. Iva Majoli (Team Cash) 5-2

Men’s Singles: Todd Martin (Team Cash) def. Luke Jensen (Team King) 5-1

Women’s Doubles: Gigi Fernandez/Mary Joe Fernandez (Team King) def. Iva Majoli/Hana Mandlikova (Team Cash) 5-3

Men’s Doubles: Luke Jensen/Rick Leach (Team King) def. Todd Martin/Pat Cash (Team Cash) 5-4

SCHEDULE FOR SATURDAY, SEPT. 12

11 am – Court 4 (subject to change)

Team Cash (0-1) vs. Team Lendl (1-0)

TEAM LENDL: Tracy Austin, Conchita Martinez, Guillermo Vilas and Jimmy Arias.

Coach: Ivan Lendl

TEAM CASH: Iva Majoli, Hana Mandlikova, Ilie Nastase and Todd Martin.

Coach: Pat Cash

Check www.USOpen.org for more details on the US Open Champions Invitational.

Wozniacki Ends Melanie’s Dream

Caroline Wozniacki

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.

Team Lendl Tops Team King 24-16 In First Day Of US Open Champions Invitational

FLUSHING, N.Y., September 9, 2009 – Team Lendl defeated Team King 24-16 in Overtime to win the first match of the US Open Champions Invitational today at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.  The event, which uses the World TeamTennis format for the first time in US Open history, features a lineup of Grand Slam champions and finalists competing on co-ed teams.

Team Lendl, coached by three-time US Open champion Ivan Lendl, jumped to an early lead as Jimmy Arias downed Luke Jensen in singles, 5-3.  Arias then paired up with Guillermo Vilas to boost their overall advantage to 10-5 with a 5-2 doubles win over Jensen and Stan Smith.

Team King’s tandem of Mary Joe Fernandez and Gigi Fernandez may have won two Olympic gold medals in doubles together, but they were outgunned this afternoon by two-time US Open champion Tracy Austin and Conchita Martinez, 5-2, in women’s doubles.

Martinez, the 1994 Wimbledon singles champion, held on for 5-4 win over Mary Joe Fernandez in women’s singles to give Team Lendl a 9-point advantage heading into the final event.

Team King, coached by WTT co-founder Billie Jean King, rallied in mixed doubles when Smith and Gigi Fernandez topped Austin and Vilas 5-3 to send the match into Overtime.  The match was highlighted by back-to-back aces from Tracy Austin against Stan Smith.  Austin and Vilas held on to win the first game of Overtime and end the match with a 24-16 team victory.

The Champions Invitational continues on Thursday on Court 4 at 4 p.m. with Team King taking on Team Cash, coached by Pat Cash.  Team Lendl returns on Saturday, Sept. 12, at 11 a.m. to face Team Cash in the final match of the Champions Invitational.

The three teams, which have a combined total of 33 seasons of World TeamTennis experience, play two matches each between Sept. 9-12.  Each match consists of one set each of men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles.  The event will use the traditional WTT format, which includes cumulative scoring, sets to five games, no-ad scoring, playing let serves, Overtime and Supertiebreakers.

TEAM KING: Mary Joe Fernandez, Gigi Fernandez, Stan Smith and Luke Jensen.

Coach:  Billie Jean King

TEAM LENDL: Tracy Austin, Conchita Martinez, Guillermo Vilas and Jimmy Arias.

Coach:  Ivan Lendl

US OPEN CHAMPIONS INVITATIONAL RESULTS – Sept. 9, 2009

Team Lendl def. Team King  24-16 (OT)

Men’s Singles: Jimmy Arias (Team Lendl) def. Luke Jensen (Team King) 5-3

Men’s Doubles: Jimmy Arias/Guillermo Vilas (Team Lendl) def. Luke Jensen/Stan Smith (Team King) 5-2

Women’s Doubles: Tracy Austin/Conchita Martinez (Team Lendl) def. Gigi Fernandez/Mary Joe Fernandez (Team King) 5-2

Women’s Singles: Conchita Martinez (Team Lendl) def. Mary Joe Fernandez (Team King) 5-4

Mixed Doubles: Stan Smith/Gigi Fernandez (Team King) def. Guillermo Vilas/Tracy Austin 5-3

OVERTIME: Guillermo Vilas/Tracy Austin (Team Lendl) def. Stan Smith/Gigi Fernandez (Team King) 1-0

SCHEDULE FOR THURSDAY, SEPT. 10

4 pm – Court  4 (subject to change)

Team Cash vs. Team King

TEAM KING: Mary Joe Fernandez, Gigi Fernandez, Stan Smith and Luke Jensen.

Coach:  Billie Jean King

TEAM CASH: Iva Majoli, Hana Mandlikova, Ilie Nastase and Todd Martin.

Coach: Pat Cash

Check www.USOpen.org for more details on the US Open Champions Invitational.

Match Times (time/court subject to change – refer to official US Open schedule):

Thursday, Sept. 10 –       4 pm:  Court 4 – Team Cash vs. Team King

Saturday, Sept. 12 –        11 am:  Court 4 – Team Cash vs. Team Lendl

Clijsters Crashing Party at US Open

Clijsters Crashing Party at US Open

NEW YORK – Kim Clijsters may be like a bull in a china shop, crashing through the US Open party, but she no longer feels like an elephant.

Three months after giving birth to her daughter, Clijsters, then retired, went onto a tennis court to hit with a friend and former player, Caroline Maze.

Clijsters Crashing Party at US Open
Clijsters Crashing Party at US Open

“That was a big mistake because I was so frustrated after that,” Clijsters remembered. “Because in my mind I still knew how to step forward, step back, move to the side. But the connection from the brain to the body wasn’t really – there was nothing there.

“So I had a good feeling when the ball was coming towards me, but just moving was absolutely terrible. I felt like an elephant sometimes just trying to move.”

Playing in her third tournament since ending a two-year retirement, Clijsters is moving just perfectly, thank you. With an easy 6-2 6-4 victory Tuesday over China’s Li Na, Clijsters grabbed a spot in the women’s semifinals with her 12th consecutive victory on the hard courts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Her next hurdle will be defending champion Serena Williams, who advanced with a 6-4 6-3 victory over 10th-seeded Flavia Pennetta of Italy.

“She’s a really good player,” Williams said of Clijsters. “She plays tough. She plays hard. Now it’s like a totally different level because shed has absolutely nothing to lose. … I think that’s when you can play your ultimate best tennis.”

In men’s fourth-round play Tuesday, 16th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia shocked No. 2 Andy Murray of Great Britain 7-5 6-2 6-2; No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina brushed aside No. 24 Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain 6-3 6-3 6-3; No. 11 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile knocked off No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 3-6 6-3 7-6 (3) 6-4; and third-seeded Rafael Nadal of Spain stopped No. 13 Gael Monfils of France 6-7 (3) 6-3 6-1 6-3.

The last time Clijsters played in the US Open, in 2005, she won the women’s singles, beating Mary Pierce of France. Injuries and then retirement, marriage and motherhood kept her away from New York until this year.

She also didn’t play here in 2004 because of injuries. The last time she lost at Flushing Meadows was to fellow Belgian Justine Henin in the 2003 championship match.

Not even Clijsters could imagine her implausible run to the US Open semifinals when she decided to return to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. But she surprised even herself by her success in tournaments at Cincinnati and Toronto leading up to the year’s final Grand Slam event.

“I definitely didn’t have that idea, you know, or that thought in my head now,” she said. “But like I said before, something switched with me after Toronto where I felt like, OK, I can, you know, compete with these girls. Because that was obviously a big question in my mind.

“So I am surprised that I’m sitting here talking to you right now, but I’m very happy and, you know, flattered that I get to do that.”
Because of her time away from the tour, Clijsters will have no computer ranking until after her third tournament back – the US Open. She was given a wild card into the tournament and has become the first unseeded player to reach the semifinals at Flushing Meadows since Elena Dementieva in 2000.

Li, China’s top player, wasn’t surprised by the play of the Belgian right-hander.

“I saw her when she came back in her first tournament,” Li said. “I knew she was at a high level. She’s much stronger than other girls, so I knew if she was going to come back it must be a strong comeback.”

It was much too strong for Li, who did break Clijsters’s serve to knot the score 4-4 in the second set. But Li then made four unforced errors and Clijsters quickly wrapped up the victory and a spot in the semifinals.

She is attempting to become the third mother to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open Era, behind Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong. At the age of 26, Clijsters was the youngest of the four quarterfinalists in the bottom half of the draw: Li, Williams and Flavia Pennetta are all 27.

In the top half, Kateryna Bondarenko, at 23, is joined by two 19-year-olds, Caroline Wozniacki and Yanina Wickmayer, and 17-year-old Melanie Oudin. They play their quarterfinal matches on Wednesday.

“You don’t really think about the age or anything,” said Clijsters, the mother of 18-month-old Jada. “Unless like now that I’m older I look back and I’m like, ‘Wow, they’re young.’ … They look at things in a different way when they get to a Grand Slam because it’s so new.

“That’s something I think in the beginning is really good for them. But I think as they progress and they make a name on tour, I think that that will change. The pressure will gradually start to build in a little bit.

“But, you know, it’s great what they’re doing here. It’s fun to watch for me, as well.”

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