August 24th, 2018
Friday Tennis Blog: All the US Open Info You Need; Tough U.S. Draws in Flushing; More
50 YEARS OF US OPEN, AND MORE
Monday will mark a celebration in U.S. tennis — 50 years since the United States National Championships became the US Open at the birth of the Open Era in 1968, when professionals and amateurs were allowed to compete side-by-side at the Grand Slams and other tournaments.
But 50 years is only the US “Open” age — it began in 1881 at the Newport (R.I.) Casino on grass, and in 1915 moved to the West Side Tennis Club in NYC where it was played on clay in 1975-77, then in 1978 found its permanent home at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in the Queens neighborhood of NYC.
Perhaps it describes the sparkling era of tennis we’re inhabiting in that current players hold most of the US Open records. Since 1968, Open Era singles records for titles are six for the women (Serena Williams and Chris Evert tied) and five for the men (Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors tied). Federer holds the record for most in a row, winning his five from 2004-08. The Bryan brothers hold the men’s doubles record with five titles, and on the women’s side Martina Navratilova won an amazing nine doubles titles with five different partners (she also has the most total US Open titles at 16). Beginning on Monday Rafael Nadal and Sloane Stephens defend their titles from last year as the US Open. Debuting a new Louis Armstrong Stadium and a completed $600 million upgrade, the US Open will show 50 is the new fabulous. See below for the just-released draws of U.S. men’s and women’s first-round match-ups.
MIAMI EMBRACING INDOOR TENNIS, FITNESS AT PASSION4TENNIS
Tennis and general fitness training are a natural partnership. So thought Fernando Salazar who, after researching the tennis and fitness industries, last year opened Passion4Tennis, the only indoor tennis and fitness training center in the Miami area.
“I realized there is an opportunity to increase tennis participation,” says Salazar, who emigrated from Colombia in 2003. “I played USTA League, ALTA league, flex leagues, local area tournaments, etc…I got information from studies done by TIA (Tennis Industry Association) and USTA where they discussed the trends not only in the tennis industry but also in fitness.”
Innovations at the club include half-court training lanes with ball machines (“Hitting against the wall is not fun if you don’t know how to play,” Salazar says), special birthday party packages for kids, adult boot camps, and court rentals where local coaches can work out with their players. Celebrity visitors to the center have included former French Open winner Francesca Schiavone, WTA player Sofia Kenin of nearby Pembroke Pines, top-ranked local juniors, and Univision broadcaster and tennis enthusiast Jorge Ramos.
In this its first full year, Salazar is now building a stable of USTA League and Junior Team Tennis squads that compete out of the center. “People say they don’t play as much as they want to because of lack of partner, lack of time, weather conditions and high prices for private classes,” Salazar says. Passion4Tennis’ mission is to break down all those barriers to getting Miami locals playing indoor tennis and getting fit. To learn more go to www.p4tennis.com.
The new Louis Armstrong Stadium, the final piece in the five-year $600 million transformation of the US Open, was dedicated on Wednesday. Pictured are John McEnroe, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, USTA Chairman of the Board and President Katrina Adams, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and USTA Executive Director and CEO Gordon Smith who did the ribbon cutting…Novak Djokovic‘s win at Cincinnati last Sunday made him the first player in ATP history to win all nine Masters-level events in a career since the tournament level was instituted in 1990…Minutes before Serena Williams took the court in a 6-1, 6-0 loss to Johanna Konta weeks ago, she had just learned that the man who killed her sister Yetunde Price had been paroled…For the first time tennis fans can vote for the incoming International Tennis Hall of Fame class. Fans can cast their votes for nominees from Aug. 27-Oct. 7 at vote.tennisfame.com…The MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation in Jacksonville received a $11K donation from Florida Track & Field Gatorade State Player of the Year Caitlin Collier via the Gatorade Play It Forward initiative…On Tuesday American astronaut Andrew Feustel played the first tennis match in space aboard the International Space Station in a match powered by Net Generation…The US Open elevated No. 26-ranked Serena Williams to the No. 17 seed…The USTA National Campus continues to model for large tennis complexes across the U.S. — Clermont, Fla. (west of Orlando) just announced Olympus, a 250-acre sports complex near the western gateway of Walt Disney World that will include tennis training facilities among other sports. And a 35+ court tennis facility is going up in Mount Pleasant, S.C…The ITF has launched a campaign to promote gender equality, “Advantage All,” based around the “themes of empowerment, balance, culture, value and voice”…U.S. players in the final round of qualifying today at the US Open are J.C. Aragone, Colin Altamarino, Mitchell Krueger, Donald Young, Francesca Di Lorenzo, Nicole Gibbs, Danielle Lao, Jessica Pegula, and Jamie Loeb…French Tennis Federation officials say the catsuit that Serena Williams wore this year at Roland Garros will no longer be allowed because “You have to respect the game and the place.”…Alexander Zverev added Ivan Lendl to his coaching team…The ITF is doubling prize money for Fed Cup in 2019 and looking at a Davis Cup-like restructure.
Johnson Lone American Heading Into Pre-US Open Weekend
No. 8 seed Steve Johnson is into the quarterfinals of the Winston-Salem Open after Thursday upsetting No. 3 Kyle Edmund 6-1, 6-2.
It was sweet revenge for Johnson, who last year lost to Edmund at Winston-Salem, then the next week at the US Open.
“I think it was my best serving day in a long time so that’s always helpful, and when you get early breaks in both sets that definitely helps your case,” the 28-year-old Johnson said. “Your confidence builds and maybe the doubt in their game maybe creeps up a bit more.”
The two-time ATP winner this year (Houston, Newport) will attempt to advance to his third final of the year when he takes on Spaniard and No. 2 seed Pablo Carreno Busta, who in his semifinal defeated South Korea’s Hyeon Chung 6-3, 6-4. The other semifinal will pit Russian Daniil Medvedev against Japan’s Taro Daniel.
The Friday Winston-Salem semifinals will be shown live on ESPN (see schedule below).
Tough US Open Draw for Williams Sisters
World No. 1 Simona Halep and the Williams sisters were handed early testers when the 2018 US Open draw was revealed on Thursday in NYC.
Venus starts against former world No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetova, with Serena looming in round 3, and Halep facing the winner of that in round 4. No. 3 Sloane Stephens is looking at former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the third round, while Madison Keys and CoCo Vandeweghe are drawn for a third-round meeting.
On the men’s side the highest-seeded American, John Isner, begins his title quest against fellow American Bradley Klahn, while Americans Michael Mmoh, Jared Donaldson and Frances Tiafoe start against seeded players.
Here’s the American opening-round meetings (seeds in parenthesis):
(3) Sloane Stephens (USA) vs. Evgeniya Rodina (RUS)
(14) Madison Keys (USA) vs. Pauline Parmentier (FRA)
(16) Venus Williams (USA) vs. (WC) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
(17) Serena Williams (USA) vs. Magda Linette (POL)
(24) CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) vs. Kirsten Flipkens (BEL)
Sachia Vickery (USA) vs. (7) Elina Svitolina (UKR)
Danielle Collins (USA) vs. (26) Aryna Sabalenka (BLR)
Caroline Dolehide (USA) vs. Carina Witthoeft (GER)
Vania King (USA) vs. Natalia Vikhlyantseva (RUS)
Alison Riske (USA) vs. Sorana Cirstea (ROU)
Bernarda Pera (USA) vs. Yulia Putintseva (KAZ)
Sofia Kenin (USA) vs. Luksika Kumkhum (THA)
Jennifer Brady (USA) vs. Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU)
Christina McHale (USA) vs. qualifier
(WC) Claire Liu (USA) vs. Polona Hercog (POL)
(WC) Whitney Osuigwe (USA) vs. Camila Giorgi (ITA)
(WC) Asia Muhammad (USA) vs. (32) Maria Sakkari (GRE)
(WC) Amanda Anisimova (USA) vs. Taylor Townsend (USA)
(11) John Isner (USA) vs. (WC) Bradley Klahn (USA)
(18) Jack Sock (USA) vs. Guido Andreozzi (ARG)
Ryan Harrison (USA) vs. (5) Kevin Anderson (RSA)
(WC) Michael Mmoh (USA) vs. (14) Fabio Fognini (ITA)
Jared Donaldson (USA) vs. (25) Milos Raonic (CAN)
Frances Tiafoe (USA) vs. (29) Adrian Mannarino (FRA)
Denis Kudla (USA) vs. Matteo Berrettini (ITA)
Steve Johnson (USA) vs. Denis Istomin (UZB)
Taylor Fritz (USA) vs. Mischa Zverev (GER)
Sam Querrey (USA) vs. Andreas Seppi (ITA)
Mackenzie McDonald (USA) vs. Robin Haase (NED)
Tennys Sandgren (USA) vs. Viktor Troicki (SRB)
(WC) Noah Rubin (USA) vs. Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ)
(WC) Tim Smyczek (USA) vs. Jan-Lennard Struff (GER)
(WC) Jenson Brooksby (USA) vs. John Millman (AUS)
They Said It
“He’s the greatest out there. I hope he keeps playing…but not too long.”
— Grigor Dimitrov on Roger Federer, who he is 0-7 against, speaking to ESPN the Magazine
“I’m not there yet. I would like to practice what I preach, and teach [daughter] Olympia that as well. I want to forgive. I have to get there. I’ll be there.”
— Serena Williams speaking to TIME magazine about the man who killed her sister Yetunde
“I’m spending more time giving free clinics at the 500 inner-city tennis programs the USTA is helping to establish across America. My legacy is helping people…and the players who have the most potential can come to IMG Tennis Academy on scholarships provided by the USTA.”
— 87-year-old Nick Bollettieri this week at the WTA’s Connecticut Open, speaking to the New Haven Register
Tennis on TV This Weekend
(EST, times subject to change)
11am — US Open Qualifying (live), Tennis Channel
11am — US Open Press Conference Feed (live), ESPN3 streaming
3pm — WTA Connecticut (live), ESPN2
7pm — WTA Connecticut (live), ESPN2
7pm — ATP Winston-Salem (live), ESPN3 streaming
9pm — ATP Winston-Salem (live), ESPN2
3pm — WTA Connecticut Final (live), ESPN2
5pm — ATP Winston-Salem Final (live), ESPN2
1pm — SportsCenter at the US Open Preview (live), ESPN2
2pm — Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day powered by Net Generation, ABC