August 15th, 2014

Friday Blog: Serena Stands Alone; Tennis Stars Tip Robin Williams

Friday Blog

memphisATP MEMPHIS NOT GOING ANYWHERE — The USTA this week stepped up to make sure the ATP Memphis tournament stays in the U.S. and will not move overseas like other American pro events over the last few years. The USTA purchased the event in partnership with a local ownership group. “This is no small thing,” says tennis writer Stephanie Myles. “The century-old tournament — we refer to it as the ‘Memphis tournament’ because it is currently without a title sponsor — has been on shaky ground for some time…According to the Commercial Appeal, the USTA’s interest stems mainly from its desire to avoid losing yet another U.S. professional tournament. In the 1980s, the story says, there were 36 in the U.S. In 2014 only 10 others remain.” The event is now the third that the USTA is the majority owner of, joining the BB&T Open (Atlanta) and the Western & Southern Open (Cincinnati). Among the Memphis list of champions are Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier and Andy Roddick. “Those of us who have grown up with professional tennis had known of the tournament,” said the USTA’s Lew Brewer. “It’s got a storied history. It’s in a market that has supported tennis.”

us open court of championsFLORIDA’S TRABERT TO TAKE US OPEN COURT — You may recognize long-time Ponte Vedra Beach resident Tony Trabert’s voice from his tennis and golf coverage for CBS. Prior to this year’s men’s singles final at the US Open, fans will again hear the two-time US Open winner when he is inducted into the US Open Court of Champions. A winner in 1953 and ’55 prior to tennis’ Open Era when the tournament was known as the U.S. National Championships, Trabert also won the French Open and Wimbledon (he won three Slams in ’55), won the Davis Cup, and later became Davis Cup captain. Trabert, inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1970, was selected for the US Open Court of Champions by an international tennis media panel, picked from past US Open champions. The US Open Court of Champions is a 9,000-square foot outdoor pavilion bounded by the South Entry Gate and the Arthur Ashe Commemorative Garden and Sculpture at the US Open. The outspoken Trabert, interviewed earlier this year, gave his opinion that the U.S. pro tennis ranks have fallen off because American kids are not hungry enough and are too soft.


Robin Williams (right in blue shirt) among other celebrities at the US Open (photo: Art Seitz)

AROUND THE COURTS — Florida’s Wayne Odesnik won the USTA US Open Wild Card Challenge and will make his first appearance at the US Open in five years — Will Delray Beach host the upcoming Davis Cup match between Israel and Argentina? — Men’s and women’s tennis stars took to Twitter to note the passing of tennis fan Robin Williams — Match fixing is back in the spotlight after it was revealed that bets on a match between two unheralded players at the ATP Hamburg event jumped to over a million dollars, among other matches under investigation — Novak Djokovic’s effort to win the “Golden Masters,” and become the first player in ATP history to win ever Masters-level event came apart in Cincinnati on Thursday — If Wimbledon champs Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil win in Cincinnati today they will be 13-0 as a team, breaking the former record 12-0 start for any doubles pairing set by American Paul Annacone and Christo van Rensburg of South Africa in 1984-85 — Fashion magazine Elle-Quebec can’t tell it’s Canadian breakout star Eugenie Bouchard from Maria Sharapova.

Serena Last American Standing at Cincinnati

World No. 1 Serena Williams is the last American man or woman standing entering the Friday quarterfinals at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

On Thursday the younger Williams sister bulldozed No. 13 seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy 6-2, 6-2 to set up a Friday meeting at 1 p.m. with No. 8 seed Jelena Jankovic, who on Thursday defeated unseeded American Sloane Stephens 7-6(4), 6-4.

“I got an early break and just didn’t let go,” said Williams, who is 9-4 career against her Friday opponent Jankovic. “Playing Jelena is always a challenge. She plays really well and gets a lot of balls back. She’s an intense player. It will be interesting.”

Friday’s other quarterfinals will be Ana Ivanovic vs. Elina Svitolina, Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Caroline Wozniacki, and Maria Sharapova vs. Simona Halep.

The last American men exited on Thursday when No. 11 seed John Isner was unable to convert two match points in a thriller against No. 8 Andy Murray, falling 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-6(2), and wild card Steve Johnson likewise lost to No. 5 seed Milos Raonic 6-7(7), 6-3, 7-6(4).

“I thought I played those points the right way, so there’s really no regrets,” Isner said of the two match points. “I thought I played pretty well and I thought he played well. There are certainly some things I could have done better, as in any match you play, but he was better at the end. He kept his cool the whole match. It’s a tough one, but it happens, and I gotta move on.”

Friday’s men’s quarterfinals in Cincinnati will be Raonic vs. Fabio Fognini, Murray vs. Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka vs. Julien Benneteau, and Tommy Robredo, who on Thursday upset world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, vs. David Ferrer.

They Said It

Madison Keys (photo: Jose Medina)

Madison Keys (photo: Jose Medina)

“I always say Carrabas has great Italian food, to a couple of the Italians, and they look at me and laugh. (But) I still stand by that.”
John Isner, talking-up the dining options at the ATP event in Cincinnati

“There’s obviously still some days where I just kind of think, ‘What the heck am I doing? I should not be playing tennis right now.'”
Madison Keys this week in Cincinnati on her up-and-down results this summer

“This is the part of the season I really like. I love playing on grass. I love the US Open Series. It’s definitely a part of the season I play well in. It’s definitely a confidence boost. I won Istanbul and kind of went from there.”
Caroline Wozniacki after rebounding from a claycourt season that saw her sidelined with injury and breaking up with golfer boyfriend Rory McIlroy


Tennis on TV This Weekend

TV multi colorFriday
11am-5pm — ATP/WTA Cincinnati (live), ESPN2
7-9pm — 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