August 21st, 2015

Friday Tennis Blog: Vote Serena No. 1 Athlete; Stop the Sledging

Friday Blog


serena willaims smilePalm Beach Gardens’ Serena Williams has reigned much of her career at No. 1 in the world, yet has somehow never received the Women’s Sports Foundation’s “Sportswoman Of The Year” Award. You can change that this year by voting for Serena as she embarks on her quest for a calendar-year Grand Slam at the US Open. “I am pleased to share with you that Serena Williams has been selected as a finalist for the 2015 Sportswoman of the Year Award,” says USTA National President Katrina Adams. “Athletes were considered for this year’s award based on their athletic achievements between Aug. 1, 2014 and July 31, 2015.” For those keeping count, that time period includes Serena titles at Cincinnati, the US Open and the WTA Finals in 2014, and in 2015 the Australian Open, Miami, the French Open and Wimbledon. No tennis player has ever won the individual category since the annual awards began in 1993, and only once has tennis won in the team category — the Williams sisters in 2000. Vote now as voting ends later this month.


sharapova CGI

Maria Sharapova takes on the green screen

A lot. Whether experiencing it in-person, on television or on your mobile device, the US Open is all new for 2015. This year look for four big screens (up from two) in Arthur Ashe Stadium, free grounds admission on the second Thursday of play, new features at the US Open American Express Fan Experience including the “You vs. Sharapova” play simulator, an all-star line-up for the 20th anniversary of Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, Josh Groban and Vanessa Williams performing on opening night accompanied by honor guards representing the NYPD and FDNY, new lighting trusses in each of the upper concourse entryways featuring nightly light shows highlighting the new steel truss and catwalk system now surrounding Arthur Ashe Stadium, a celebration of the “Original Nine” women responsible for helping form the original professional women’s tennis tour, and on TV, ESPN featuring play from 11 courts (up from seven last year). Tune in or see you in Flushing Meadows.


murray ice cream

Do you want sprinkles with that?

Forbes magazine points out that it is difficult to develop future American pros or Slam winners when “American kids receive fewer than 50 percent of the full-ride Division I tennis scholarships.”…Andy Murray won the ATP Montreal event just hours after his coach gave birth…American Ryan Harrison got into it with Nick Kyrgios’ Aussie pal Thanasi Kokkanakis in the qualifying at the ATP Cincinnati event this week, just part of a nasty chain reaction from the Kyrgios “sledge”…The Masters Tennis short-court format is spreading through the USTA Southern Section as well as Florida. “You don’t have to be as good of a mover with the Masters Tennis as you do with (yellow) tennis,” said player MaryAnn Bromley, who’s had six back surgeries and shoulder problems. “But you can cover a lot more of the court.”…Boca Raton’s Jamie Hampton has had six surgeries since playing her last WTA match in January 2014…Serena Williams is the first player to pass 5 million followers on Twitter…Why you shouldn’t celebrate winning a point too soon, by Angelique KerberAndy Murray put on a wig and glasses to sell ice cream to unsuspecting customers in Cincinnati…This week’s Cincinnati event is the only Masters-level ATP tournament that Novak Djokovic hasn’t won, going 0-4 in career finals.

Serena Stands Alone in Cincinnati Quarterfinals

serena williams us openIn a not-unfamiliar position, world No. 1 Serena Williams remains the last American woman or man standing going into the weekend at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati after rolling over unseeded Italian Karin Knapp 6-0, 6-2 on Thursday.

Serena in the Friday quarterfinals will meet former No. 1 and No. 6 seed Ana Ivanovic, who came from a set down to beat unseeded American Sloane Stephens 2-6, 6-4, 6-1. American Varvara Lepchenko also lost in three sets on Thursday to Slovak qualifier Anna Schmiedlova 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.

“More than anything I was just trying to stay positive and trying to have fun,” said Williams, who improved to 45-2 on the year in wins-losses. “I did so well here last year, so I just really want to stay in the tournament. When you’ve done well somewhere it gives you confidence and also takes pressure off. Playing at home in America is great!”

The quarterfinal meeting between Serena and Ivanovic will be a re-match of last year’s Cincinnati final. Ivanovic’s lone win over the world No. 1 in nine meetings came at last year’s Australian Open.

“There aren’t many secrets there,” Ivanovic said of playing Serena. “It will be very important to put pressure on her and try to challenge myself and see where I’m at.”


They Said It


From left: Ryan Harrison and his brother Christian

If he wants to get into it, I will bury him. [Stan] Wawrinka should’ve decked [Nick] Kyrgios, and I should deck that kid.”
— American Ryan Harrison after getting into a verbal battle with Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis in the Cincinnati qualifying tournament

“I think when you are young and you have so much pressure on you and you are making a lot of money at this young age, it’s difficult for your parents to be a parent to you and restrict you from a lot of things. So it’s very easy to get out of control and lose the sight of reality. And I think that’s what happens to a lot of athletes in a lot of sports…But my personal opinion that it comes a little bit from how you are raised as well.”
— WTA player Victoria Azarenka on Nick Kyrgios’ outburst against Stan Wawrinka at the ATP event in Montreal

“The strongest players and the most diligent players are the people that don’t lose that self-belief. That takes incredible talent, but also incredible intestinal fortitude. While everyone else is panicking, they are just going about their business.”
— Tennis Channel commentator and former coach Paul Annacone speaking to TENNIS magazine


Tennis on TV This Weekend

(times subject to change)

11am-1pm — ATP/WTA Cincinnati (live), Tennis Channel
1-5pm — ATP Cincinnati (live), ESPN2
9-11pm — WTA Cincinnati (live), ESPN2

1-5pm — ATP Cincinnati (live), ESPN2
7-11pm — WTA Cincinnati (live), ESPN2

11am-1pm — ATP Cincinnati (live), Tennis Channel
1-5pm — ATP/WTA Cincinnati (live), ESPN2