September 2nd, 2016

Friday Tennis Blog: US Open’s New Lid a Hit; 9 Americans Remain

Friday Blog


roof asheClosed! On Wednesday night the roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium at the US Open was closed for the first time during a live match due to rain. On Thursday it was among the top stories on Google News and many sports outlets, and while it was happening fans were applauding, cheering, and filming it with their phones as if they were witnessing a UFO landing. ESPN commentator John McEnroe, when raindrops started falling Wednesday night during Rafael Nadal’s match, started getting excited at the very thought. It took just over five minutes to close, and from crowd level it was difficult to tell if it was even moving, but once the like-watching-paint-dry process ended, a cheer erupted from fans in Arthur Ashe Stadium as history was made — it was raining in New York, and tennis was still being played at the US Open. “It’s an amazing event,” said Nadal after experiencing the $150 million lid being shut. “I’m very happy to be the first player in history to play with the roof closed.” As a commentator for ESPN, former No. 1 Chris Evert appreciated the opportunity for matches to go on in adverse conditions, as well as the technology. “It’s quite a contraption, isn’t it?” she said. “It’s like a spaceship.” And it landed just in time, as Monday it could be tested again when the remnants of Hurricane Hermine are projected to hit the NYC area.


Johnson Steve sliceLast year Roberta Vinci used it to confound world No. 1 Serena Williams at the US Open. This year former US Open champ Juan Martin del Potro has used it to revitalize his career after multiple wrist surgeries, winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympics. It has been a major weapon of Steve Johnson, whose coming-out party this year has included overtaking John Isner as the highest-ranked American. We’re talking about the slice. Not that slice, but THE slice, the slice backhand — rarely the “rock star shot” that brings fans to their feet, but a shot that has come back into vogue as a necessity for the complete player, and even a deadly strike. “I use it as a weapon,” said Johnson, who coming out of college tennis had naysayers claiming he could never reach the upper echelons of the pro tour relying on a slice backhand. “Some people think I’m crazy because I don’t come over (the ball) all the time, but I make guys adjust to what I do best.” Del Potro was forced to slice more often to protect his surgically-repaired wrist, practicing the shot and adding to an arsenal that help set up his monstrous forehand. Any practiced recreational player can tell you of the difficulties and pitfalls of a slice that lands too short, or floats too high to give an opponent a ball to tee-off on. In an era of frequent all-out ball bashing, players like Johnson, Del Potro, Vinci are putting a novel slice on this year’s US Open.


keys tattooBoundaries are always pushed in tennis, and sometimes boundaries push back — American Madison Keys tried to take the court at the US Open with a temporary tattoo of a new sponsor, but US Open officials said no go…Tour players are offering high praise of the game-changing technology that will be offered on 32 courts at the new USTA National Campus in Orlando…Serena Williams via a Vogue video soundtracked to Bey’s 7/11 showed she was pretty chill and having fun entering the US OpenVenus Williams revealed that when she lost in the first round of the singles and doubles at the Rio Olympics that she had a fever of 103 degrees the night before her singles match, enduring illness throughout but still winning silver in the mixed doubles with Rajeev RamChristian Harrison of Bradenton, Fla., and Ryan Harrison became the first brothers to ever qualify at the same time at the US Open in singles last weekend. Christian lost in the first round, while Ryan on Wednesday upset No. 5 seed Milos Raonic…Here’s Caroline Wozniacki on advice she would give herself as a junior (or any junior) that’s spot on.

9 Americans Remain in 3rd Rd. at US Open

Photo: Garrett Ellwood/USTA

Photo: Garrett Ellwood/USTA

Five American women and four American men, three of them qualifiers and one unseeded, enter the weekend as the US Open moves into third-round play on Friday.

Here are the opponents for U.S. players looking to make safe entry into week two at Flushing Meadows:


(1) Serena Williams (USA) vs. Johanna Larsson (SWE)
(6) Venus Williams (USA) vs. (26) Laura Siegemund (GER)
(8) Madison Keys (USA) vs. Naomi Osaka (JPN)
Varvara Lepchenko (USA) vs. Ana Kohjuh (CRO)
(Q) Catherine Bellis (USA) vs. (2) Angelique Kerber (GER)


(20) John Isner (USA) vs. Kyle Edmund (GBR)
(26) Jack Sock (USA) vs. (7) Marin Cilic (CRO)
(Q) Ryan Harrison (USA) vs. Marcos Baghdatis (CYP)
(Q) Jared Donaldson (USA) vs. (21) Ivo Karlovic (CRO)

They Said It

From right: Milos Raonic and John McEnroe

From right: Milos Raonic and John McEnroe

“‘Show me you have balls!’ John McEnroe screamed that at me in the little locker room behind No. 2 Court at Wimbledon. I had never heard anybody doubt my intensity before.”
Milos Raonic on being coached earlier this year by John McEnroe, writing for The Players’ Tribune website

“It’s working very well for helping with energy. I’m on day 58. I have a little app and it keeps track.”
Venus Williams this week on cutting sugar out of her diet, speaking to the New York Times

“He had one piece of advice. Don’t anoint one of these guys before they break out.”
— USTA General Manager of Player Development Martin Blackman, refusing to cite the U.S. junior he thinks has the most potential, referencing some advice he received from Andy Roddick

Tennis on TV This Weekend

(EST, times subject to change)

Featured_TV graphicFriday
1-6pm — US Open (live), ESPN
7-11pm — US Open (live), ESPN2

11am-6pm — US Open (live), ESPN2
7-11pm — US Open (live), ESPN2

11am-6pm — US Open (live), ESPN2
7-11pm — US Open (live), ESPN2