September 8th, 2017

Friday Tennis Blog: All-American US Open Final; Help a Jr. in Need; More

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Returning from foot surgery this year at Wimbledon, Sloane Stephens lost her first match. Then she lost first round at her next tournament. Her ranking after 10-11 months off tour was in the 900s.

Now a month later, the Florida-born former USTA Florida diversity camp participant is in the US Open final.

She reached the semifinals back-to-back at Toronto and Cincinnati, entering the US Open at No. 83 on the WTA rankings. “My head is a little clearer, if that makes any sense,” Stephens said of her comeback. “Before, obviously, I was playing well. I had won a couple tournaments and was playing well, obviously. But being injured gave me a whole new perspective on tennis, on life and just in general.” On Saturday it could be the perspective of a US Open champion.




Former US Open girls’ runner-up Tornado Alicia Black of Deerfield Beach has set up a GoFundMe account for a costly hip surgery to continue her tennis career, and is currently making the “bare amount” teaching tennis lessons. The 19-year-old has since suffered two sports-related hernias (lower ab muscle tears) which make it too painful to even train.

Two years ago at age 17 she was the No. 3 player in the world. “I am overwhelmed with all the love and support I have been getting,” she says. “Thank you to everyone for all the kind messages!”

Black turned pro at 13 to support her family, including her mother and a younger sister, Hurricane Tyra Black, who is also experiencing success on the international junior circuit. To see her GoFundMe campaign or to contribute click here.


USTA Florida asks all players, parents and organizers to think safety-first during the life-threatening weather impacting Florida. Player selection for next weekend’s “Bobby Curtis” state doubles championship will be delayed due to the impact of Hurricane Irma. For updated info click here…The USTA National Campus in Orlando will be closed Sept. 9-11 due to Hurricane Irma…Palm Beach Gardens’ 37-year-old Venus Williams is the oldest player to reach the US Open semifinals in the Open Era…Pembroke Pines 18-year-old Sofia Kenin, who reached the 3rd round at the US Open before losing to Maria Sharapova, decided to turn pro and claim her $140K in prize moneyAndy Murray, who entered the US Open as the world No. 1, confirmed this week he will likely miss the rest of the season due to a hip injury…GQ magazine breaks down Roger Federer pulling off the style look that the average man should not try…With Karolina Pliskova’s quarterfinal loss at the US Open, Spain’s Garbine Muguruza will become No. 1 for the first time on Monday…Fabio Fognini, still awaiting the ITF’s verdict on a possible suspension after getting kicked out of the US Open, says he would accept an Australian Open ban…Can these three upcoming tennis movies break the run of tennis movie flops?

Keys, Stephens Advance to All-American US Open Final

Sloane Stephens shares selfies with kids at the 2016 USTA Florida Kids Day at the Miami Open

No. 15 seed Madison Keys flexed her muscles, while unseeded Sloane Stephens showed a self-described “lot of grit” to win in three sets, setting up an all-American US Open final in Flushing Meadows on Thursday night.

Stephens was two points from losing to Venus Williams, serving at 4-5, 30-all in the final set before prevailing 6-1, 0-6, 7-5. Keys improved to 3-0 against CoCo Vandeweghe this summer, overpowering the No. 20 seed 6-1, 6-2.

“It was kind of one of those days where I came out and I was kind of in a zone,” said Keys, who struck 25 winners to nine unforced errors, “and I just kind of forced myself to stay there.”

Stephens is the fourth unseeded finalist at the US Open in the Open Era (since 1968). and beat Keys in their only meeting at Miami two years ago. “She’s one of my closest friends on tour,” Stephens said. “It’s obviously going to be tough. It’s not easy playing a friend.”


They Said It

“I don’t accept limitations, so it took a while to accept some limitations. But it doesn’t mean that the glass is half empty. I saw it as half full. Whatever I had, I had to do the best I could with that and to be the strongest that I could.”
Venus Williams this week on her auto-immune disorder Sjogren’s Syndrome and withdrawing from the 2011 US Open after being diagnosed

“I apologize to everyone, not only the chair umpire, to whom I already apologized in New York, but to everyone who felt offended — women above all. Being described as sexist hurt me, because it’s not true.”
— Italian Fabio Fognini who was booted out of the US Open after verbally abused a woman chair umpire, speaking to Italy’s Sky TV

“I can’t tell you how many times I have sat in this chair and had to hear how horrible tennis is in America. So this feels really good.”
Madison Keys after completing the all-American semifinals at the US Open


Tennis on TV This Weekend

(EST, times subject to change)

noon — US Open Men’s Doubles Final (live), ESPN2
4pm — US Open Men’s Singles Semifinals (live), ESPN

noon — US Open Mixed Doubles Final (live), ESPN3 streaming
4pm — US Open Women’s Singles Final (live), ESPN

1pm — US Open Women’s Doubles Final (live), ESPN2
4pm — US Open Men’s Singles Final (live), ESPN