August 8th, 2014

Friday Tennis Blog: Serena v Venus in Montreal?; US Open Mania

Friday Blog
You can pour the money right in here

You can pour the prize money right in here

US OPEN MANIA – Only a little over two weeks away, the US Open is generating excitement for the final Grand Slam of the year and a raucous two weeks in New York. Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, which has helped launch the careers of Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Rihanna and the Jonas Brothers (and last year featured Nickelodeon’s Ariana Grande of Sam and Cat) will headline with Fitz & the Tantrums. The US Open Gourmet Food Truck is making the rounds in New York on Aug. 11-13, offering samplings (free lobster rolls or steak tacos, anyone?) of US Open fare, while a new collegiate tennis tournament, the American Collegiate Invitational, held during the US Open will offer 2015 US Open main draw and qualifying wild cards. Recovering from a wrist injury, Rafael Nadal will either miss the US Open or recover in time, depending on who your source is. And will you see Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish in action next year?

Eugenie Bouchard and the back of Milos Raonic's head

Eugenie Bouchard and the back of Milos Raonic’s head (photo:

CANADA, TENNIS POWERHOUSE? — The rise of Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard, and last week’s all-Canadian men’s final at the ATP Citi Open in Washington, D.C. has tennis fans asking ‘What are they putting in the water in Canada? And how can our country get some?’ Canada’s national federation, Tennis Canada, is fast becoming a template for other tennis nations regarding professional development. It all began when Tennis Canada hired away a top exec from the French Tennis Federation. Britain since then has tried to capture some of the magic by hiring Tennis Canada’s former president. Raonic, Bouchard and recent Wimbledon doubles winner Vasek Pospisil all have their own full-time coaches, but Canadian officials say more juniors are in the pipeline as a result of a national grassroots programs that promotes mini-tennis for small kids similar to the USTA Youth Tennis format. When players prove their worth in the mini-tennis programs, they earn a chance to advance to the national tennis centers in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Nice one, ay? “There’s some gaps in the development, but we have a couple of 14-year-old boys who are very strong and some good girls,” said Eugene Lapierre, Tennis Canada’s vice-president. “The key is to keep working to get better.”

Bjorn Fratangelo (left)

On left: Bjorn Fratangelo (photo: ITF)

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO FLORIDA’S…? – Barron Collier High School (Naples) graduate Bjorn Fratangelo has threatened to fall into the “Where Are They Now?” category since his injury-riddled years after winning the 2011 French Open junior boys’ title. But last week the player named after Bjorn Borg resurfaced with the USTA Pro Circuit title in Decatur, Ill. The win was distinctive after a string of poor results this summer overseas, and because it was his first hard court event this year after 15 straight tournaments to start the year on clay. “I was very aware of that coming in, maybe things wouldn’t fall into place,” the 21-year-old told the Herald & Review about playing on hard court. “My forehand is stronger than my backhand, I think everyone knows that,” he said of his play in the final. “I hit outright winners with it, which is something I don’t do too often.” The former world No. 2 junior is hoping to join the chorus of U.S. “next” players, after three years ago joining John McEnroe (1977) as the only Americans to win the French Open junior boys’ title in the Open Era.

Serena, Venus, Vandeweghe in Friday Montreal Quarterfinals

Serena and Venus Williams moved one match closer to a semifinal meeting on Thursday at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, with both sisters navigating difficult matches to move into the Friday quarterfinals.

The world No. 1 Serena defeated No. 15-seeded Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-4, while the unseeded Venus won a three-set thriller over No. 6 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.

Also into the quarters was American qualifier CoCo Vandeweghe, a 7-6(8), 2-6, 7-5 winner over No. 7 seed Jelena Jankovic, while American qualifier Shelby Rogers‘ run was ended 6-1, 6-0 at the hands of former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, the No. 11 seed.

CoCo Vandeweghe

At noon on Friday Serena will meet Wozniacki, while Venus at 2 p.m. is scheduled to face No. 14 seed Carla Suarez Navarro, who on Thursday upset Maria Sharapova. If both sisters prevail, they will meet in the Saturday semifinals for a 25th career head-to-head encounter. Serena leads the career head-to-head with her sister 14-10, winning their most recent meeting 6-1, 6-2 last year on clay at Charleston.

“I’m not surprised. This is Serena,” said Wozniacki, who in June frolicked on the beaches of Miami with her friend after both suffered early-round exits at the French Open. “Everyone has ups and downs in their careers, but Serena is obviously a great champion…She’s ruling the court.” Serena leads the head-to-head with Wozniacki 6-1.

Vandeweghe on Friday will face unseeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova, while the fourth quarterfinal will be No. 3 Aggie Radwanska vs. No. 8 Victoria Azarenka.

“I’ve been making progress in each and every tournament this year,” said Vandeweghe, who is 2-0 career against Makarova. “I won my first title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. I’m really happy with how my season is going. All the obstacles I’ve come across, I’ve been able to meet, challenge and beat most of them.”

No Americans remain on the men’s side at the Rogers Cup, which yesterday saw the upsets of world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and No. 4 Tomas Berdych.

The men’s quarterfinals on Friday will see No. 2 Roger Federer vs. No. 5 David Ferrer, No. 8 Andy Murray vs. No. 13 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 6 and homecountry favorite Milos Raonic vs. Feliciano Lopez, and No. 7 Grigor Dimitrov vs. Kevin Anderson.

They Said It

venus sitting“If I get slow and I am terrible, then I’ll stop. I am not having kids right now, it seems. I don’t have any husbands telling me what to do. I don’t have to argue every day. For me, it’s easy to keep playing tennis.”
Venus Williams on how long she will keep playing on the WTA tour

“[Grass is] still my least favorite surface. Indoor hard, outdoor red clay — those are my top surfaces. Grass would still be my least. I’d probably put soil before that. But I’ll take Wimbledon.”
— U.S. junior Noah Rubin who won the Wimbledon junior boys’ title last month

“I didn’t crack any rackets in the match. One soldier went down in practice but that was OK.”
Serena Williams after beating Angelique Kerber for the WTA Stanford title


Tennis on TV This Weekend

TV multi colorFriday
1-5pm – ATP/WTA Canadian Open (live), ESPN2
7-9pm — ATP/WTA Canadian Open (live), Tennis Channel

1-5pm – ATP/WTA Canadian Open (live), ESPN2
8-10pm — ATP/WTA Canadian Open (live), Tennis Channel

1-5pm – ATP/WTA Canadian Open (live), ESPN2

* broadcast times subject to change