August 18th, 2017
Friday Tennis Blog: US Open a Week Away; WTA No. 1 Juggling; More
FLORIDA’S KENIN, SHARAPOVA AMONG US OPEN WILD CARDS
The USTA this week named which up-and-coming players and former champions received wild cards for the US Open.
Women’s wild cards were awarded to former US Open champion Maria Sharapova (Russia), Floridian Sofia Kenin (Pembroke Pines), former world No. 1 junior Taylor Townsend (Atlanta), reigning US Open girls’ champion Kayla Day (Santa Barbara, Calif.), 2017 USTA Girls’ 18s national champion Ashley Kratzer (Newport Beach, Calif.), Frenchwoman Amandine Hesse, and 2017 NCAA singles champion Brienne Minor (Mundelein, Ill.) of the University of Michigan. “Additionally, Sharapova has volunteered to speak to young tennis players at the USTA National Campus about the importance of the tennis anti-doping program and the personal responsibility each player has to comply with the program’s requirements,” the USTA said in a statement.
Men’s wild cards are former world No. 1 junior Taylor Fritz (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.), Bjorn Fratangelo (Pittsburg/Naples, Fla.), Georgia Tech senior Christopher Eubanks (Atlanta), 2017 NCAA singles champion Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (Charlotte, N.C.), 2017 USTA Boys’ 18s National Champion Patrick Kypson (Raleigh, N.C.), Frenchman Geoffrey Blancaneaux, Australian Alex De Minaur, and US Open Wild Card Challenge winner Tommy Paul (Greenville, N.C.).
NEWBIES RACE FOR THE NO. 1 WTA RANKING
The No. 1 seed heading into the US Open is anyone’s guess, and Flushing Meadows may crown a new first-time No. 1 in women’s tennis.
How close is it at the top of the WTA rankings? While Karolina Pliskova is No. 1 this week on the standard 52-week WTA rankings, she is fourth if you count 2017 points only. Leading the pack is breakout player and five-time 2017 title winner Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine, followed in second by Simona Halep who has missed opportunities to take No. 1 for the first time this summer, then Wimbledon winner Garbine Muguruza at No. 3.
Pliskova has a boatload of points to defend in Flushing Meadows, so watch Svitolina, Halep and Muguruza, any of who could find themselves atop the WTA rankings for the first time with a deep run at the US Open.
Just a few days after announcing I was pregnant, we did this shoot for the @voguemagazine iconic September issue. I was so energetic that day but then I remember being totally exhausted and needed to take a break for an hour. I was still trying to understand this whole pregnancy process. Nowadays I have no ankles or toes and my fingers resemble sausages but it’s moments like this that are captured by @mariotestino that makes everything worthwhile. Dress by my love @donatella_versace
Serena Williams tells Vogue magazine that fans better brace themselves for her plan to have her first child then defend her title at the 2018 Australian Open: “It’s the most outrageous plan. I just want to put that out there. That’s, like, three months after I give birth. I’m not walking anything back, but I’m just saying it’s pretty intense.”…Maria Sharapova has written a memoir, to come out after the US Open, with some interesting insight into her not-friendly relationship with Serena Williams….The USTA National Campus in Orlando will be the site of intense league competition starting today when it hosts the 2017 USTA Florida 18 & Over 2.5/3.5/4.5 League Sectionals…Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova both withdrew from Cincinnati this week in an effort to be fit for the US Open. Federer’s withdrawal guarantees Rafael Nadal will take over the No. 1 ranking on Monday from the injured Andy Murray…Kei Nishikori has shut down his 2017 after an MRI revealed he has a tendon tear in his wrist…Serena Williams, who has had issues with blood clots, now has to daily inject herself with anticoagulants as her pregnancy raises the risk of blood clots…Former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka took to Twitter to detail the child custody battle that may force her to miss the US Open…Simona Halep revealed she bailed on her flight to Cincinnati and drove from New York as she is afraid of flying in small planes…Life is wacky on the low-level Futures tour, where sometimes you have to strip naked on court, and you don’t realize tournaments are cancelled until you arrive at them.
Donaldson, Isner, Stephens Into Cincinnati Weekend Play
Wild card Sloane Stephens will have to do double duty on Friday at the Western & Southern Open to make the quarterfinals after rain washed out numerous matches on Thursday in Cincinnati.
Stephens will first face Russian Ekaterina Makarova, and if she wins will later in the day meet the winner of No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina and Julia Goerges. Stephens is the last American woman in the field after No. 16 Madison Keys lost on Thursday, failing to convert on three match points against No. 4 Garbine Muguruza 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(3).
On the men’s side the two remaining Americans in the draw will meet in the quarterfinals after No. 14 seed John Isner defeated fellow American and wild card Frances Tiafoe 7-6(4), 7-5, and wild card Jared Donaldson beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 7-6(6).
Donaldson is into his first quarterfinal at a Masters 1000-level event.
“I played Jared once,” Isner said. “It was on grass a couple years ago, so it’s been a while since we played…He’s playing some very good tennis. It’s very impressive to see. He works really hard…I don’t know if you guys agree, maybe he doesn’t quite get the credit that some of the other young guys that he’s with, and he’s the highest-ranked one right now. He’s certainly doing all the right things…It’s going to be a good match.”
They Said It
“He has nothing to lose…If he lose in straight sets, already he played a good tournament. If he wins, he’s amazing. He won. Is amazing for him. Just well done for him. Is a great story, (but) I am not happy to be part of this story.”
— Rafael Nadal after losing to Canadian teen Denis Shapovalov last week in Montreal
“Cincinnati has some of the best fans in the world and I am sorry I will miss them. Unfortunately, I tweaked my back in Montreal and I need to rest this week.”
— Roger Federer
“I told [her fiance] Alexis it has to be a girl because there I was playing [at the Australian Open] in 100-degree weather, and that baby never gave me any trouble. Ride or die. Women are tough that way.”
— Serena Williams speaking to Vogue magazine
Tennis on TV This Weekend
(EST, times subject to change)
11am — ATP/WTA Cincinnati (live), Tennis Channel
1pm — ATP/WTA Cincinnati (live), ESPN2
7pm — ATP/WTA Cincinnati (live), ESPN2
Noon — ATP/WTA Cincinnati (live), ESPN2
1pm — ATP/WTA Cincinnati Men’s Doubles (live), Tennis Channel
7pm — ATP/WTA Cincinnati (live), ESPN2
Noon — ATP/WTA Cincinnati Men’s Doubles (live), Tennis Channel
2pm — ATP/WTA Cincinnati (live), ESPN2
10pm — ATP/WTA Cincinnati Men’s/Women’s Doubles (delay), Tennis Channel