September 14th, 2018

Friday Tennis Blog: Osaka Cashes In, Post-US Open Shake-Ups, More

General News


How about that US Open, eh? Still going through no-tennis-on-TV-tonight withdrawals?

Overshadowed by the eventful women’s final was the rankings movement on both the ATP and WTA tours. On the women’s side Naomi Osaka shot into the Top 10 at No. 7, and Serena Williams rose 10 spots to No. 16. Simona Halep kept the top spot despite losing first round, and Caroline Wozniacki stayed at No. 2 after losing second round. Last year’s champion Sloane Stephens, who this year lost in the quarters, fell from 3 to No. 9.

The men’s side saw the “Big 3” reunite after Novak Djokovic rose to No. 3 after the title, now behind No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Roger Federer. It’s been roughly 3-1/2 years since the trio occupied the Top 3 spots on the ATP rankings. Even the golf world is taking notice. It was Djokovic’s 14th Slam title behind Nadal’s 17 and Federer’s 20. “Now we can expect him to really challenge to be No. 1 by end of the year,” said Djokovic’s coach, Marian Vajda, of his charge who has now won the last two Slams. “But it’s still far away.”


Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad featuring the former NFL quarterback is dividing the nation, and makes you wonder how history will treat the activist who originally took a knee during the national anthem to shine a light on the shootings of unarmed black youth and racial injustice.

Activism, coupled with ostracism, is a brutal road to travel. Arthur Ashe eventually had a stadium named after him, but endured intense racism and scorn in the 1960s and ’70s at the height of the civil rights movement as he fought for equality inside professional tennis and around the world. As a junior he could only play tennis on a blacks-only playground, and in the early 1960s as a blossoming junior wasn’t allowed to compete against white players. He wasn’t allowed to use the city’s indoor courts in Richmond, Va. Eventually helping break the color barrier, he was the first black player elected to the U.S. Davis Cup team in 1963, and he won the first “open” US Open 50 years ago. He wanted other children of modest means to have access to the game, and co-founded the after-school NJTL network.

Like Kaepernick now, Ashe in the ’60s was a hero to many, but was reviled by the aged majority in a culture barely removed from separate black and white drinking fountains. William C. Rhoden writes about “the direct line from Arthur’s activism, which included protests of apartheid, to Colin Kaepernick…At a time when so many young people find themselves trapped in a dreadful maze of poverty and prison, they need to know about a principled man who found a way out of the maze.” Or as the History Channel noted, “While Arthur Ashe did not live long enough to “take a knee” for social justice, there can be little doubt that he would applaud the courage of Colin Kaepernick and the other brave dissenters perpetuating his legacy of activism and political engagement.”


The Times reports that adidas is looking to sign Naomi Osaka for $8.5 million a year, the biggest deal adidas has ever agreed to with a female athlete, while Thursday she became the brand ambassador for Nissan…Tennis writer Peter Bodo says chair umpires and other officials are shaken by what they perceive as a lack of official support for chair umpire Carlos Ramos. “The umpiring fraternity is thoroughly disturbed at being abandoned by the WTA,” Richard Ings, a retired elite Gold Badge umpire told on Tuesday. “They are all fearful that they could be the next Ramos. They feel that no one has their back when they have to make unpopular calls.” Ramos is this weekend chairing the Davis Cup semifinal between the U.S. and Croatia…For the first time in the Open Era, back-to-back seasons produced eight different women’s Grand Slam champions…Eaton High School’s top three girls’ tennis players are all sisters…Former British star Tim Henman says slowing down the courts and making the different surfaces homogeneous is making the game dull…Got cash? Then you should bid to play golf with Rafael Nadal and Jose Maria Olazabal in Mallorca, Spain…Frances Tiafoe is making his Davis Cup debut this morning for the U.S. in Croatia.

2 Florida Teens Among 4 U.S. Women in WTA Quarterfinals; U.S. Men in Davis Cup Semifinals

Americans are putting on a post-US Open surge in Canada this week as three of the eight quarterfinalists at the Coupe Banque Nationale presentee par IGA in Quebec City, Canada are American.

On Thursday No. 5-seeded Floridian teen Sofia Kenin defeated Canadian wild card Francoise Abanda 6-4, 6-4, and qualifier and former Floridian Jessica Pegula beat Ons Jabeur 7-6(3), 6-4.

They joined American Varvara Lepchenko, who in the first round upset No. 1 seed Aryna Sabalenka. Friday’s quarterfinal matches will see Lepchenko vs. No. 8 seed Pauline Parmentier, Kenin vs. No. 3 Monica Puig, and Pegula vs. No. 2 Petra Martic.

Unseeded 17-year-old qualifier Amanda Anisimova is into the quarterfinals of the WTA event in Hiroshima, Japan, at the Hana-Cupid Japan Women’s Open Championships.

Anisimova, the 2017 US Open girls’ champion from Aventura, Fla., on Wednesday upset No. 7 seed SaiSai Zheng 6-1, 6-1.

“I thought I played really well,” the teen said after reaching her first WTA quarterfinal. “I was playing a really good player, so I was just preparing myself well mentally — I was just going out there without pressure and trying to have fun.”

In the Friday quarters she will face unseeded Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of the Slovak Republic.

On the men’s tour it’s Davis Cup weekend for the World Group semifinals. The U.S., challenged without their top two players John Isner and Jack Sock, travel to Croatia, and Spain attempts to win on hostile ground in France.

World Group Playoffs matches this weekend will see Colombia at Argentina, Uzbekistan at Great Britain, Australia at Austria, Sweden at Switzerland, India at Serbia, Netherlands at Canada, Czech Republic at Hungary, and Bosnia/Herzegovina at Japan.

They Said It

“What happens in locker room stays in locker room.”
Novak Djokovic replying with a smile when asked if the locker rooms were smellier with all the heat and humidity at the US Open

“Because I know [Serena Williams] really wanted to have the 24th Grand Slam, right? Everyone knows this, it’s on the commercials, it’s everywhere.”
Naomi Osaka, through tears, speaking to the press on why she apologized during the trophy ceremony at the US Open

“The view of the All England Club is that tennis should be a gladiatorial contest. When players receive coaching during matches, whether through visits at changeovers or conversations from the stands, we believe that it detracts from the essence of the sport.”
Richard Lewis, Wimbledon chief executive



Tennis on TV This Weekend

(EST, times subject to change)

5am — Davis Cup: USA at CRO (live), Tennis Channel
8am — WTA Japan Open (live), beIN Sports
6:30pm — David Cup: ESP at FRA (delay), Tennis Channel

8am — Davis Cup: USA at CRO, ESP at FRA (live), Tennis Channel
11:15pm — WTA Quebec City (delay), beIN Sports

5am — Davis Cup: USA at CRO, ESP at FRA (live), Tennis Channel
11:15pm — WTA Quebec City (delay), beIN Sports