August 28th, 2015

Friday Tennis Blog: US Open Draws; All Serena All the Time

Friday Blog


serena singingSerena Williams is seven matches away from winning the calendar Grand Slam. The draw released on Thursday revealed her first-round opponent, No. 86-ranked Russian Vitalia Diatchenko. Her path after that will likely include Sloane Stephens, Aggie Radwanska or Madison Keys, possibly sister Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, and if the seedings hold, No. 2 Simona Halep in the final. Serena meanwhile is everywhere, from the annual Delta Open Mic celebrity karaoke event to The Today Show to the Nike get-together (see below) to reportedly out and about with the rapper Drake to the covers of both Sports Illustrated and the New York Times Magazine. Even celebrities want to #BeSerena. “Can we just declare it Serena Week at this point?” said writer D’Arcy Maine of ESPNW. “Better yet, maybe September should just preemptively be declared Serena Month.


niketvThe seven days before the US Open delve more into Wacky Week each year as the power sponsors use it as an attention-grabbing showcase for their stars. This week has thus far included Rafael Nadal playing “strip tennis” in a Manhattan park, You vs. Maria Sharapova virtual tennis arrived, and Nike flexed its promotional muscle by recreating the famous Pete Sampras-Andre Agassi street tennis campaign from the 90s, but adding Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, John McEnroe, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Eugenie Bouchard, Madison Keys, Grigor Dimitrov and bad boy Nick Kyrgios. Bouchard tweeted that the highlight of the night was Sampras telling Kyrgios to “behave, young man.” How many feuds/ex-relationships can you point out from this get-together pic? As Sharapova tweeted, “Let’s be honest, only Nike can make this happen…”


bush tennisJohn McEnroe says he can beat Serena Williams. Who wouldn’t pay-per-view for that?…Who would win a tennis tournament featuring the current Republican presidential candidates?…Is Jimmy Connors Genie Bouchard’s new coach?…76 years after his grandfather Bobby Riggs won the triple crown at the 1939 Wimbledon Championships, Florida’s Danny Riggs pulled off the same feat last week at the USTA Men’s Grass Court National Open Championships in Newport, R.I…The ATP announced Australia’s Nick Kyrgios has been put on the equivalent of Animal House’s “double-secret probation” — no extra penalty now, but if he screws up again he’s really in trouble…14 of the 16 Western & Southern Open sessions in Cincinnati sold out last week, and a record 199,217 fans attended the event.

Johnson Last Man Standing

Steve Johnson is the last American standing this week at the ATP event in Winston-Salem, on Thursday receiving a walkover into the semifinals when opponent Yen-Hsun Lu withdrew from the tournament citing a back injury.

Johnson is now faced with an opportunity to reach his first ATP final on Friday.

“It’s unfortunate, but I’ll just take today off and get ready for tomorrow,” Johnson said Thursday. “I’ve already hit for 45 minutes, and it’s always nice to have a day off, especially ahead of the US Open. I’ve played a lot of good matches, it’s good to be in another semi. Hopefully I’ll come out a winner this time. I was one point away from a final in Washington [losing to John Isner], so I’m right there.”

On Friday he will face French qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who on Thursday beat Spaniard Pablo Carreno-Busta 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2. It will be Hebert’s first career ATP semifinal and first meeting with Johnson.

The last American woman exited the WTA Connecticut Open on Wednesday when unseeded Madison Keys took the first set off No. 2 seed Petra Kvitova in second-round play but in the end fell 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

American Men’s, Women’s US Open 1st Rd. Matches

The men’s and women’s singles draws have been released for the 2015 US Open. Here are the first round match-ups for the American men and women, with six of the 12 unseeded American men drawing seeds in the opening round:


serena_williams2012-us-open-trophy-med-wide(1) Serena Williams vs. Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS)
(19) Madison Keys vs. Klara Koukalova (CZE)
(23) Venus Williams vs. Monica Puig (PUR)
(29) Sloane Stephens vs. Coco Vandeweghe (USA)
(WC) Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. Qualifier
(WC) Sofia Kenin vs. Mariana Duque-Marino (COL)
(WC) Nicole Gibbs vs. Lourdes Dominguez Lino (ESP)
(WC) Louisa Chirico vs. Qualifier
(WC) Jamie Loeb vs. (4) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)
(WC) Sachia Vickery vs. Qualifier
Varvara Lepchenko vs. Kirsten Flipkens (BEL)
Christina McHale vs. Petra Cetkovska (CZE)
Irina Falconi vs. Samantha Crawford (USA)
Madison Brengle vs. Saisai Zheng (CHN)
Lauren Davis vs. Heather Watson (GBR)
Vania King vs. Roberta Vinci (ITA)
Alison Riske vs. (25) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN)


(13) John Isner vs. Malek Jaziri (TUN)
(28) Jack Sock vs. Victor Estrella Burgos (DOM)
(WC) Ryan Shane vs. (27) Jeremy Chardy (FRA)
(WC) Frances Tiafoe vs. (22) Viktor Troicki (SRB)
(WC) Ryan Harrison vs. Rajeev Ram (USA)
(WC) Austin Krajicek vs. Santiago Giraldo (COL)
(WC) Bjorn Fratangelo vs. (6) Tomas Berdych (CZE)
(WC) Jared Donaldson vs. Lukas Rosol (CZE)
Denis Kudla vs. Qualifier
Sam Querrey vs. Nicolas Mahut (FRA)
Donald Young vs. (11) Gilles Simon (FRA)
Mardy Fish vs. Marco Cecchinato (ITA)
Tim Smyczek vs. (10) Milos Raonic (CAN)
Steve Johnson vs. (32) Fabio Fognini (ITA)

They Said It

mcenroe john“Parents are guilty of pushing too hard too soon; that’s so unhealthy. Practicing tennis doesn’t have to be miserable…I wouldn’t have enjoyed [tennis] had [my parents] pushed.”
John McEnroe speaking to Hamptons magazine on the parents he sees today in sports

“It’s ridiculous. It’s all up to me. If I decide to play right, it’ll be great. If I decide to be Baby Rena, then? I saw someone write that on Instagram. I kind of liked that though. They were calling me out.”
Serena Williams on winning the US Open and becoming the first American in the Open Era to achieve a calendar Grand Slam

“The message is enjoy them while we’ve got them. You’ll never see something like this again.”
David Witt of Jacksonville, Venus Williams’s longtime hitting partner and coach, speaking to the New York Times

Tennis on TV

(times subject to change)

1-3pm — WTA New Haven (live), ESPN2
3-5pm — ATP Winston-Salem (live), ESPN2
7-9pm — WTA New Haven (live), ESPN2

1-3pm — ATP Winston-Salem Final (live), ESPN2
3-5pm — WTA New Haven Final (live), ESPN2