August 19th, 2016

Friday Blog: Serena Can Only Watch If She Keeps No. 1 Ranking This Weekend

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serena mag coverIf you’ve followed the career of Serena Williams even casually, you know the great pride she takes in records, and being on top of the sport. But to her frustration, that No. 1 ranking is in jeopardy this weekend, and it’s out of her control. Last week at the Olympics she made a shocking exit attributed to a shoulder injury, in one game alone limply serving five double faults and staring at her support crew in her player’s box in anguish. This week, with her No. 1 ranking in jeopardy, she entered the WTA event in Cincinnati and hit the practice court before withdrawing from the event. Now German Angelique Kerber can take over the No. 1 ranking for the first time if she wins Cincinnati according to the WTA. On the line is Serena’s 183 consecutive weeks at No. 1, which is only three weeks shy of Steffi Graf’s record 186 straight weeks at No. 1 from 1987-91. Should Kerber fail to win the Cincy title, all eyes will be on Serena at the US Open to see if she can rally from injury to overtake Graf and enter yet another record into the books. Trivia: can you name the last player to rank No. 1 before Serena’s current run?


Do you know Steve Johnson? Then get to. Because the Rio Olympics doubles gold medal winner for the U.S., after upsetting No. 7 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Thursday at Cincinnati, is now the No. 1-ranked American male player…If you recognize Flo Rida, Zara Larsson, Troye Sivan, Jordan Fisher, Laura Marano, Forever In Your Mind, Joey Bragg or Ansel Elgort, then you’re probably not old — and that’s who’ll be rockin’ the 21st annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day Presented by Hess on Saturday, Aug. 27 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center prior to the kick-off of the US Open, along with stars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and more…Here’s the full slate of US Open wild card recipients…The New York Times reports that Phil Collins is still alive and will play during the dedication ceremony for the new roof at the US Open later this month.


Monica Puig_Zonal
Rio Olympics gold medal singles winner Monica Puig spent much of her formative junior tennis years living and training in Florida. Here’s Puig speaking to Telemundo, and above is an archive photo of Puig when she played on the USTA Florida Section’s intersectionals team against other USTA sections — can you pick out the Puerto Rican sensation among the group of juniors? (special thanks to Andy Gladstone for the archive photo).



Mercedes has put together the most clever/funniest Roger Federer “commercial” you’ll ever seeAndy Murray had to correct a reporter that women too have been successful in winning Olympic tennis medals…The Bryan brothers have split with their coach of 11 years, David MacPherson, who has taken a college coaching position…Madison Keys gets acupuncture almost every day from her chiropractor, who is also her traveling physical therapist. “I hate needles, but this doesn’t hurt.”…RIP Seena Hamilton, founder of the Easter Bowl (which was once held in Florida) junior tournament…Sportsmanship counts — Benoit Paire was reportedly kicked off the French men’s olympic tennis team and told to go home during the Rio Olympics for insisting their is a “i” in team…Former Top 5 player and Florida resident Jimmy Arias was named assistant coach at the University of South Florida in Tampa…Help “GoFundMe” a Florida USTA League team’s trip to USTA League Nationals…While the media seemingly enjoying ripping on athletes that expressed anything out of the norm this year in Rio, thank goodness for all the athletes (besides Ryan Lochte) who weren’t afraid to be themselves.


Johnson Stands Alone in Cincinnati

Unseeded American Steve Johnson is the last American man or woman standing at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Thursday moving into the quarterfinals after a 6-3, 7-6(6) upset over No. 7 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.

Johnson’s win will propel him ahead of John Isner as the No. 1-ranked American when the next ATP rankings are released on Monday.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Johnson, the first new American No. 1 since July 2013. “John has held that spot for a while, and I’m just glad that there are a bunch of Americans pushing towards the top.”

In the Friday quarterfinals he will meet another unseeded player, Grigor Dimitrov, who upset No. 2 seed Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-4.

“Stevie has got a lot of confidence,” Dimitrov said of the upcoming confrontation. “He’s pumped to play, but so am I. It all depends on how I’m going to play and really making it happen in the clutch moments.”

They Said It

kuzy“The younger players might be too shy but you know me — I won’t hold back. When we played doubles, [the] TV crew was just walking back and forth on the court as if they were in the village market.”
— Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova critiquing the tennis organization at the Rio Olympics

“It may make a lot of American fans upset that maybe he gets one — maybe he doesn’t — I have no idea. But then you have the question of what if he does get a wild card and he plays me first round? You know what I mean? What if he wins? Or he plays Sam [Querrey] — anybody — and he beats an American?”
— American Steve Johnson’s opinion on former champ Juan Martin del Potro receiving a wild card into the US Open

“I don’t even know if I’m getting paid for it. I don’t, seriously. If I am, I don’t know what it is. I think my manager put it to me that he’d been asked, assuming I’d say no, and I said, ‘Actually, why not?’ It’s not a big ask. It’s just a couple of songs at the opening of something that I would probably be watching anyway.”
— The coming-out-of-retirement 65-year-old Phil Collins on playing the US Open’s opening ceremony to dedicate the new roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium this year, speaking to the New York Times

Tennis on TV This Weekend

(EST, times subject to change)

11am-1pm — ATP/WTA Cincinnati (live), Tennis Channel
1-5pm — ATP/WTA Cincinnati (live), ESPN2
7-11pm — ATP/WTA Cincinnati (live), ESPN2

1-5pm — ATP/WTA Cincinnati (live), ESPN2
7-11pm — ATP/WTA Cincinnati (live), ESPN2

2-6pm — ATP/WTA Cincinnati (live), ESPN2