Still Fishing For Respect

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Poor Mardy Fish.

Even though he is playing the best tennis of his life and comes in to the US Open as the highest ranked American, some just don’t take him as a serious threat in this tournament.

Just take this question for example after the No. 8 seed cruised today against Malek Jazuri, 6-2 6-2 6-4. Fish answered the question about being thankful about his draw.

To that one reporter responded: But you have to put yourself in that mindset, too.  Sounds like you’re a new player in several respects.  You have to come in thinking, I’m going to beat whoever’s out there.

Fish then gave this answer: “Look, we don’t make the draw.  You can’t know who you’re going to come up with.  I got lucky in the first two rounds.  No doubt about it.

“Isner played Baghdatis in the first round.  That guy’s really good.  So his draw was tougher than mine, for sure.  There’s no doubt about it.  That’s the luck of the draw in that aspect.

“But, you know, you position yourself to get to a top 8 seed and you don’t have to play one of those guys until the quarters.  That’s where the hard work pays off, I guess.”

Fish just needs to keep winning and the naysayers will eventually subside. Just last year, the 30 year-old was an annual second round loss at all grand slam events. But then he went to the fourth round of the Open and the new Mardy Fish was introduced to the world.

The hard work to move from journeyman to contender wasn’t easy and frankly a long time coming.

Fish’s knock was that he didn’t take care of himself and wasn’t in the type of shape to be a world class player. But then he did a workout regimen that excelled him to the higher echelons of the tennis world.

And it’s the type of advice he wants to give younger players like Jack Sock if he comes to him for advice.

“Take care of my body better,” he said.  “I took that for granted, I think.  Just health.  It’s hard. I mean, look, you know, he’s a very talented player, a good player now.  You know, you just hope they realize that they’re still a long ways away from where he wants to be.  I’m sure of that.

“He’s a confident kid, for sure.  You have to be.  I certainly was at that age.  But, you know, you got to channel that the right way, as well. You know, you got to have some fire, like he does, for sure, but you got to channel it the right way, too.

“I think the most important thing is to keep working hard and to keep ‑ it sounds stupid ‑ but to try to stay on the court as much as you can because you can’t take health for granted, because I certainly did.”

And now he moves on the early rounds of the Open with ease. Fish has a good chance to go to the Quarterfinals but then he will have to face the Dark Knight himself, Roger Federer.

“Obviously Novak has done what he’s done,” he said.  “He’s head and shoulders the guy you really don’t want in your draw right now. I mean, those guys, they present so many problems, so many different problems, all four of them.  And so, yes, you have to get through one of them.  Maybe you don’t.  It’s very lucky if you get to the semis. Obviously to win a tournament, you have to play two of those guys absolutely.  You’re not going to win a tournament without playing two of those guys.”

But that will have to wait, as Fish will take on 34 ranked South African Kevin Anderson, who beat 29th seed Michael Llondra in straight sets today.

 

Wozniacki Ignores Love Advice And Advances

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – The Williams sisters are a great resource for any tennis player. After all, they have seen it all on the courts. Been there, done that.

When it comes to relationship advice…well take it with a grain of salt.

No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki learned that today before her second round win over Danish native Arantxa Rus, 6-2 6-1.

“Well, we were all in the locker room,” she said.  “I was going to get some treatment.  She was sitting there with Venus and talking.  And then, I don’t know, it just came out that we were talking a bit and we had a laugh.  We were just kidding around a little bit.

“I think I should not listen to her or Venus (laughter).  She was not better.”

The Great Dane has very open about her relationship with Irish golfer Rory McIlvoy. It’s been in all the papers and the US Golf Open Champion has been attending Wozniacki’s matches last week in New Haven. With her own US Open at hand can her love life become a distraction?

Not so, said the 21 year-old.

“Well, tennis is my first priority and I’m focused on the tennis when I’m on court, that’s for sure,” she said.   “You know, what I do off the court, I know that I’m a public person, so a lot of things will be seen by the public.

“But, you know, I don’t really think about it.  You know, I think we have our limits and we know where they are.  So as long as we both keep the feet on the ground and, you know, we both have our careers, which are important to us, I think it’s working well.”

With that out of the way, Wozniacki is focused on her third round match against American Vania King.

“She’s definitely getting a lot of balls back,” Wozniacki said if King. “It’s important to stay aggressive, but not too aggressive.  You know, I just need to dictate, but have control over the points.

“She’s definitely a player that is not easy to beat.  So I’m looking forward to the match, and hopefully it can be a good one.”

And you can be sure Rory will be watching.

Sloane Stars On The Grandstand

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Eighteen year-old Sloane Stephens has a plan for this year. It has nothing to do with tennis, but what to do after she returns to her native Los Angeles.

“Now I know for sure when I get home after the season’s over I’m getting a car,” she said after disposing of23rd seed Shahar Pe’er in the second round, 6-1 7-6(4).  “That’s the only thing I’m really looking forward to now.”

And what kind of car?

“I don’t know,” she answered.  “That’s a big question.  My mom wants me to get a truck.  I want to get a small car.  It’s very confusing.”

What’s not confusing is the run this young girl is having here in Flushing Meadows. Along with Christina McHale and Irina Falconi, Stephens is one of the young American girls making some noise during the first week and hoping it will continue as Labor Day Weekend heats up.

“I don’t even think about it,” she said.  Fun fact: Christina, Irina, and myself are all in the third round of the US Open and playing the PanAm Games together.”

That’s Stephens for you. This girl is smart, engaging with a mind going a million miles a minute. She likes to talk in a very plain speak to the 15 reporters in the interview room after her match. There’s no intimidation or at least she doesn’t think there should be.

“I think it’s pretty cool, just like talking to normal people,” she said.  “It’s not like you guys are a bunch of aliens sitting there and I should be like, Oh, my God, freaking out.

“It’s definitely fine for me.  Should I be scared or something?”

That’s not inexperience talking. This girl is fearless. She doesn’t care if she’s facing a ranked player on the court or a bunch of cynical reporters in an interview room.

And Pe’er learned that today. Stephens played aggressively and attacked the Israeli star. She said she definitely likes to hit the ball “I don’t know where that came from,” she said. “But it happens.  Comes off pretty hard, I think, sometimes.”

Outside of the courts, Stephens is an avid Tweeter on her Twitter account. She sends inspirational messages to her followers such as, “There’s no need to rush. If something is meant to be, it will happen. In the right time, with the right person, for the best reason.” And, “Happiness is not a goal, but a decision. Life is 1% what happens to you and 99% how you react to it.”

“I just see something, I’m like, Wow, everyone should read this,” she said.  “It’s not really like, Oh, I’m like trying to get people to like do certain stuff or anything.  It’s like, Oh, I saw that.  I thought it was cool.”

Other than that, Stephen’s also helps take care of her 13 year-old brother, someone she drives around and picks up from school.

And all of this came after moving back to Los Angeles after living in Florida for a few years.

“L.A. is an awesome place,” she said.  “I have a little brother, so I try to spend as much time with him as possible.  He’s been playing baseball.

“L.A. gets tricky for us because there’s a lot of traffic and I don’t like to drive.  It’s kind of hard.  But definitely L.A. and Florida are two different places.  It’s just what you like basically, what we’re in the mood for.”

And yes, she is buying a car even with a disdain for driving.

“See, the thing is, I don’t like traffic,” Stephens said.  “It’s very hard for me to drive in traffic.  And my brother is the most annoying person to have in the car when you’re driving.

“Seriously, he’ll be like, Why aren’t you honking?  What are you doing?  Get in that lane.  I’ll be like, Can you stop?  I need to focus.  He’ll be reaching over to honk the horn.  It’s crazy.  He’ll have to sit in the backseat when I get the car.”

Yet, that’s going to have to wait. Right now Stephens has a third round match against former World No. 1 Ana Ivanovic and she wants a bump up in venue after winning today on the Grandstand.

“Maybe we’ll be on a bigger court,” she said.  “Maybe we’ll be on Armstrong.  I’ve got to work my way up.  Today I almost got Ashe by default and I didn’t want it.”

One step at a time, and if she does win, Stephens said to expect some sort of special celebration by her like the American flag waving by Falconi yesterday.

“Everyone has to have their own special thing that they do,” she said.  “So she does the American flag.  Hopefully Christina will give us something tomorrow to work with.  Then the next day I’ll give you guys something.”

Something to look forward to.

 

 

Life Comes To Ferrero At The Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – With all the focus on the young players at this year’s US Open, it is almost easy to overlook Juan Carlos Ferrero, who went back to the future and partied like it was 2003 today in Queens.

Ferrero didn’t drive a DeLorean, nor did he take some sort of youth pills in his five set classic over the 7th seed Gael Monfils, winning, 7-6(5) 5-7 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4. Rather he did it the old fashioned way – he became healthy.

“I still having little bit problems with my hip,” he said.  “I have some pain.  But I played two matches, five sets.  I’ve been testing too much right now.  But I think I’ll be okay to play in good conditions next round.”

After winning his first round match against the 45th ranked Pablo Andujar, Ferrero fought through against Monfils, the highly ranked Frenchman, who many had pegged to go to at least the quarterfinals.

The 2003 US Open runner-up had different plans.

“I mean, this match means a lot for me because, like I said, it was a long time that I didn’t enjoy inside the court,” said Ferrero, who is now ranked 105th in the world. “Today was very physically match all the time, but I think I played the whole match a very good level.

“Maybe the serve wasn’t work very well in the whole match.  But from the baseline I was trying to be very aggressive all the time and move him because, you know, his moves are very good.  So it’s always tough to play against such a good player.”

Ferrero fought through trainer’s visits early in the match for his foot and then later on to treat blisters on his hands, but nothing that will hinder him in the later rounds. Instead, he thought it was the humidity at Flushing Meadows Park which caused the problems.

“Yeah, it was only, you know, maybe because it was a long time that I didn’t play such a long match,” he thought. “Also because of the humid.  For skin, it’s tough to get normal all the time.  Is, you know, problems of the matches.  I think I’ll be okay.”

Today Ferrero reminded the packed Luis Armstrong Stadium of the player who beat Andre Agassi back in 2003 and then lost to that up and comer Andy Roddick.

“Of course the year that I get No. 1 here in semifinals against, you know, I beat Agassi,” he recalled. “I always like to watch him on the TV when I was young.  So was big opportunity for me that year. Was a pity to not win the tournament.  But, you know, was great.”

Yet, it was a career that was derailed by injuries recently and had surgery on his left wrist and right knee last October. After losing in the first round in Madrid, Ferrero was hinting at retirement at the tender age of 31, but held on for this Open run.

And today, the man nicknamed the Mosquito because of his fancy footwork around the baseline fought back the younger Monfils delivering back all the Frenchman could give him.

He only had two aces to Monfils 21 while keeping his unforced errors down to 52 compared to his opponent’s 81.

Ferrero will try to keep it going in the third round against 31st ranked Marcel Granollers.

New York’s Falconi Gets The Big Stage

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Venus Williams may have been Willy Pipped today.

After the elder Williams sister pulled out of the tournament with an autoimmune disease, Irena Falconi had her second round match moved from Court 11 to Arthur Ashe Stadium and the 21 year-old New Yorker seized the opportunity.

“When I walked in,” she said, “I was trying to distract everyone that I was drinking water, but I was looking at my environment and really just adapting to what was about to happen. Yeah, I definitely took a second to really look at my surroundings.”

But in the end the young American came through against 14th seed Dominika Cibilkova , 2-6 6-3 7-5.

It was the thrill of a lifetime for the 78th ranked Falconi, who started waving an American flag after her win.

“It was totally out of instinct,” she said.  “I have the flag in my bag.  It’s a good luck flag that was given to me by my trainer, Kim Wilson.  I really felt that it couldn’t have been a more perfect time.”

And maybe Falconi is coming along at the perfect time. So much has been said about the slump American tennis is suffering through that someone like Falconi could easily fill the void. Like Christina McHale this year and Melanie Oudin a few years ago, she can be an up and comer for the US circuit.

It’s something she knows and is sure to tell everyone who listens.

“I’ve heard so much about media talking about American tennis, and I really wanted to portray that there’s a huge wave of American players,” she said.  “I have an American coach and trainer, Jeff and Kim Wilson.

“I strongly believe in all that is USA, and I wanted to represent it and show the world that it’s coming.  It’s coming.  No need to wait any longer.”

If you look at Falconi, she doesn’t look like a typical tennis player. Actually she looks more like your little sister or the girl next door. At 5’4’’, she has thought to have been too short and not the right shape to compete at competitive tennis at a high level. And the braces on her teeth make her look like she’s 15 rather than the legal drinking age.

But all of this drives the Ecuadorian native.  She didn’t come from tremendous means with her parents immigrating to the Washington Heights, NY in 1993. And then she moved to Florida in 2004 to perfect her game.

Now just seven years later, the sky’s the limit for this young girl.

“I don’t really think there’s a limit,” Falconi said.  “I’ve been told that I’m 5’4″, in case you didn’t know.  One thing I did go in there today knowing was that I was taller than my opponent, which was huge.

“I know Justine Henin, she was 5’6″ and she was 1 in the world.  I know for a fact if she can do it, why not?”

That’s a question every woman is asking in this Open. Why not? With seeded players getting knocked out all over the place today this may be a year when an up and comer just happens to win the Open.

“Tournament’s not over yet.” she said, “There’s still five other matches to be won.  There’s still doubles and mixed.  So this is definitely a fortnight.  It’s not over yet.  I’m just so excited.  My team and I are just so excited for what’s to come.”

With an attitude like that, Venus may not be the only player she replaces this week.

 

 

 

 

 

McHale’s Navy Attacks In Full Force

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Two years ago, people started to “Believe” in Melanie Oudin and her Cinderella run.

This year the New York crowd may be ready to board McHale’s Navy.

Nineteen year-old Christina McHale, stormed to the third round with a straight set win over No. 8 seed 7-6 (2) 6-2 to become the darling of this year’s open.

“I knew that like I had to try,” the New Jersey resident said.  “I couldn’t play like any sloppy games.  I had to try and compete really hard in the second set because I knew she was going to try even harder, too, to get the second set because she lost the first.

“When I went from 3‑Love to 3‑2, I was like, C’mon, Christina, don’t let it get back to 3‑All.  That game was a big game to get it to 4‑2.”

McHale isn’t any stranger to upsets. She slayed World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in Cincinnati last month in the first round and then proceeded to beat Aleksandra Wozniak in the first round.

This win may have topped it off for the young American.

“I think they’re different wins.  I had never really, at the Grand Slams, made it past the second round,” she said.  “Yeah, that was a good win for me, too, but I think to have it happen here at the Grand Slam is exciting for me.”

Two years ago, during Oudin-mania McHale quietly win her first round match against Polona Hercog but lost to Maria Sharapova. Now, though, she seems poised to take on the bigger names in the sport on her rise to the top.

Yet, she is trying to not to get too tied up in the hype and become a long term disappointment like Oudin.

“I try not to think about that too much,” she said.  “I mean, when I go out there every time on the court, I’m going to try my best, try to compete really hard.”

Being from New Jersey means this is her hometown match. For years as a teenager she came to Flushing as a fan to watch the greats competed for the title.

Now she is getting the same treatment she gave to her heroes.

“Someone asked me this the other day,” she said.  “I don’t remember a particular match.  I just remember we’d all get here when the gates opened and we’d literally spend the whole day here, all of our friends, running from court to court, trying to get an autograph, a picture.

“It was so much fun for us.”

Almost as fun as winning the second round of the Open and if she beats the 25th seed Maria Kirilenko in the third round, then McHale’s Navy may be in full force.

All Aboard!

Serena’s Antics Will Get Her In Trouble

Flushing Meadows, NY – When we last saw Serena Williams step foot in the Borough of Queens, she threatened a line judge with her racket after committing a foot fault, ultimately forfeiting her Semifinal Match against Kim Clijsters in 2009.

The incident cost her around $95,000 in fines and also put her on probation for the 2010 and 2011 US Opens.

She didn’t play last year due to a foot injury, so that made her first round matchup last night against Bojana Jovanowski her first appearance in the 718 area code since the foot fault heard around the world.

Even though she is a low seed (28th due to injuries), this is still Serena Williams so of course she cruised to a 6-1 6-1 victory.

But it’s not a Serena match without some controversy. Last night the Open set her match as the late start, so she had to wait three hours for Rafael Nadal to win his round. And of course Williams couldn’t hold her tongue about it.

“No, I think the guys should play second,” she said. “They’re guys. We’re ladies. We’re ladies. They should totally play second all the time. Ladies, you open the door for ladies. They should go second. It’s ridiculous.”

Before last year’s Open, the ladies always went first, but then in 2010 the Open decided to mix up the matches with some nights having the men in the leadoff spot.

It’s pretty obvious why this is done – money. With the Open taking ESPN’s money, they have become slaves to what the networks want to see in primetime. ESPN’s ratings are dictated by the Eastern Time Zone, which is the most populous part of the United States. Prime time is 8 pm to 10 pm, so you can understand why the network will want the biggest ratings grabber for its first match.

So when it came down to the defending US Open Men’s champion and international star, or Serena, whose first round matchup was a mockery then you can understand what would go first.

Frankly, Serena will be more than glad to take all the prize money from the Open – equal prize money with the men for that matter – so she should sometimes bite the bullet for the bigger and better matches.

With the spotlight on her this year and the zero tolerance policy she has with the Open after two years ago, Serena should just keep her head down and play the game.

The bottom line is this Serena got off easy two years ago, but if anything happens this year then she will probably face harsher sanctions from tennis’s governing bodies.

The New Blake

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – James Blake seemed very pleased when asked about his bloved New York Mets. Last year he was blunt about his feelings about the management, saying general manager Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel “must go.”

And now that Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins took their places he seemed like a very happy fan.

“That is good,” he said with a smile. “I wish we could have kept Beltran and will keep Reyes. This year was a tough one as the last few have been. We are a little more optimistic than we were last year.”

Yet, even though he wears his trademark Mets cap after every match, baseball is his hobby and tennis is his job and after a tough 2010 where he was injured, Blake seems very content with his 2011 performance.

So much so that he wants to continue playing even after this season.

“I want to play this year and I want to play next year and the year after that. My body was worse off last year. I have ice on now, but that’s just preventative,” he said after he won his first round match against Jesse Huta Galung, 6-4 6-2 4-6 6-4. “I feel good. My legs are back under me and I am feeling great. I am happy to be playing here at 60 in the world and hopefully I am on the path moving upward. I am having fun and I love playing here with as much fun as I am having.”

With a bad shoulder and bad knee, tennis became a chore for the 31 year-old New Yorker. He struggled through matches last year and ultimately looked for different answers. He found that less is more and let his body heal itself.

“I think it was just general healing. My trainer and I have been on the path to get this healthy. At one point we were at a little bit of pain and we just accepted it. We tried to get it to perfect. At 31 years-old there will be nagging things and it will be hard to be this old and not have things after beating up my body for 12 years.

“Once that happened and once I relaxed and didn’t stress about it, there was less pain. I didn’t think about it as much and it’s really been incredible. All the treatment have been the same, but we did change a little bit on how we did with the ibuprofen and message and stuff, but no huge changes. We just worked smarter.”

And it worked against Huta Galung with a four set win. He was in total control during the first two sets, but has a bit of a hiccup in the third, ultimately finishing off the Dutchman in four sets.

Blake was very pleased with the results.

“It’s never easy when you are playing guys who are hungry to win, are talented and have the confidence to win,” Blake said. “I played the first two sets. In the third set he stepped his game up. I played one bad game and broke myself but he played hard to get back into that set. That was on him. He played great.

“The fourth set, I was in control getting more looks than his looks and I just played a good game to break me. I just broke back and the crowd helped me there. He looked uncomfortable at that time when I was up. I don’t know how many matches he played here, but nerves can get to you. That can definitely be a factor.

“When I got that break I was real confident.”

He hopes to continue that confidence in the second round against fifth ranked David Ferrer, a buzz saw of a second round matchup, although Blake had success against the Spaniard in the past with a 2-0 record.

“I have a ton of respect for him,” Blake said. “He played in incredible match in the Davis Cup to beat Mardy [Fish]. I have a tremendous respect for him. I am 2-0 against him and I hope to continue that pattern. He’s a tremendous player and I have been seeded up there and not seeded and if you want to go deep you have to beat some seeded players. It’s what I have to deal with it from where I am.”

Last year you had to wonder if Blake could win, but this is a new James Blake or rather the old James Blake.

“I hope it’s more like the old James Blake before the knee injury and before the shoulder was back,” he said. “Either way I am having a lot of fun and I am trying to get back to getting better and having fun doing that.”

Now if only the Mets could have the same success.

Djokovic Determined After First Round Win

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – In his postgame interview after his first round drubbing of Conor Niland, 6-0 5-1 (Withdrew), Novak Djokovic was posed this question:

Speaking of entertainment, for years you were trying to pass Roger and Rafa.  In terms of entertainment, Rafa is almost like a rock star.  He’s so appealing.  And Roger is beautiful and perfect and graceful.  How do you think you’re taken and received here in North America?

To that the No. 1 seed responded: “What about me?”

Well some people call him the space cowboy and some the gangster of love.

To the rest of us he’s The Djoker and he very well can be on his first US Open title.

Actually, Djokovic is having a very good year, winning both the Australian Open and Wimbledon, while getting to the Semifinals of the French Open. If he continues on his torrid pace and takes the crown in Flushing Meadows, it may go down as the best year for a player in history.

 

Sounds big,” he laughed when asked the question. “No, this year has been tremendous, best so far in my career, and there has been a lot of talks about history making and this incredible run.

“No doubt I’m extremely honored and privileged to be part of the elite of the players that have made, you know, the history of the sport in some ways.

“But my main focus is really on the court.  I need to take one match at a time.  That’s the only way I can really perform well.”

For any athlete, especially one like Djokovic, staying healthy is the most important aspect to winning. After Wimbledon, the 24 year had shoulder problems, which caused him to sit out the rest of the summer after the Cincinnati Open.

“Well, the shoulder in Cincinnati didn’t feel good obviously, and throughout the whole week I was carrying the, you know, kind of pain and discomfort in my shoulder,” Djokovic said. “But after Cincinnati I took some time off, and I did everything in order to recover the shoulder.  Today I didn’t feel any pain.  I served well and I played well, so I have no concern.”

Yet the rest of the field may have some concerns, especially with this champion stepping up his game. Although an American audience will root for Mardy Fish or Andy Roddick to advance, the tennis watching world probably is pulling for a Djokovic to take on Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer.

Yet, that’s still pretty far off in the future, as it’s a long two weeks. The Dark Knight will wait for the Djoker. Up until then Flushing Meadows will enjoy this young attacker, who is enjoying a resurgence after ticking off the crowd with some on the court comments a few years ago, making him an arch villain.

“Well, you know, it’s equally important, of course, to play well on the court and to do your job to win, you know,” he said. “As much as you’re successful and as much as you win, you get more attention from the media and from the people, and you get more respect, obviously, from your colleagues.

“But I think it’s really important as well to carry yourself off the court in a good way.  I have been learning that throughout my whole career, and last couple of years I have experienced some good and bad situations on and off the court.

“But I accepted that all as a big lesson in my life and, you know, something that can serve me well for my future.  You know, I’m aware of the responsibility that I have as a present No. 1 to, you know, represent the sport as well in some ways off the court.

“So I need to do that in a best possible way.  You know, I’m trying.  You tell me, how am I doing?”

Pretty well, Novak. Pretty well.

 

 

 

Wozniacki Determined At This Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Caroline Wozniacki now has a real challenge. Not only does she have the tough task of winning her first major and not only is expectations sky high for her at this US Open, the Great Dane also has to keep up with her boyfriend US Golf Open Champion Rory McIlroy.

“Definitely trying to keep up,” she said with that sunshine smile. “I’ll definitely do my best, but I still have six tough matches to go, so it will not be easy.

“You know, he has something I’m looking for and I have something he’s looking for.  He wants to be No. 1.  So it’s good to have something on each other.”

With the field wide open this year with Kim Clijsters out of the tournament, this may be the 21 year-old’s year to win the Open. Of course when you have played at a high level over the past few years and not captured a major crown, questions do arise about the ability to take it all even a player has been ranked No. 1 for the past 46 weeks.

But Wozniacki doesn’t seem to be phased by the questions. In fact see seems amused.

“I won six tournaments this year already,” she said. “You know, I should definitely not be complaining.  I’m in a good position.  I’m in a good spot.  I’m happy, healthy, and I can go out there and compete.  That’s what’s most important.

“I’m winning a lot of matches, which is why we practice.  We practice to win.  Yeah, I’ve won a lot of matches, and that’s what satisfies me.”

But a US Open win would be the ultimate for the Danish Princess. And to accomplish that she considered hiring Martina Navratilova as her coach, but took on a male mystery coach for these two weeks.

She’s not revealing who that person could be.

“Yeah, well, I have to respect him as well,” she said.  “So if he wants to be in the background and not have his name out, I have to respect that. He’s been watching me play and telling me a few things.  It’s good.  It’s working well.”

It’s seems to be working for Wozniacki as she comes off her fourth straight title in New Haven. It’s an event she particularly enjoys because of the similar age bracket of the students moving in to Yale.

“It felt very good being there,” she said.  “I think that’s why I play well there.  There are a lot of young people around, a lot going on.  It’s nice to see them move into their dorms with their mattresses.  It’s definitely a cool feeling.  It feels like you’re part of it actually the week that you’re there.  Definitely.”

Today when she disposed unseeded Llagostera Vives in straight sets, 6-3 6-1, she had the same confidence she exuded in Connecticut last week. Something she hopes holds throughout the Open.

“They can say what they want,” she said.  “I’m the type of player I am.  I’ve won a lot of tournaments.  I’m No. 1 in the world, and of course I can still improve.  There are a lot of things to my game I can still improve, but everyone can.

“You know, I’m on the right track.  I just go out there and I play the way I do, and, you know, hopefully that’s good enough.”

Well, she has to keep Rory happy.