Serena Wins Fourth US Open

Serena Williams collapsed to the tennis court and then jumped for joy after she won her fourth US Open of her career yesterday. The 15th Grand Slam victory of her career wasn’t as easy as it seemed at the beginning, and Williams was actually two points away from losing her second-straight US Open final.

Serena dominated the first set of the matchup, winning 6-2, and breaking the serve of her opponent, 23-year old Victoria Azarenka, ranked #1 in the world, three times. It appeared that the 30-year old Williams would win the final easily, without losing a set to any opponent, something she also accomplished in 2002 on her way to the US Open title. But Azarenka stormed back to take the second set 6-2, to create the first US Open Women’s final to go to a third set in 17 years.

Williams and Azarenka traded breaks in the third and final set, and Azarenka was in control, up 5-3 and a break. At 30-30, Williams took over, holding serve, then breaking Azarenka to tie the set at five, then held serve again before converting a final break that crowned her the champion.

Serena talked about her opponent being two points away from handing her defeat after the match. “At 30-all I figured I could serve out and just make her serve for it…after that, I thought I could just force another game and obviously never give up. I never, never quit. I have come back so many times in so many matches.”

With her win, Williams becomes the first woman ever to win a Grand Slam title in three different decades. “That’s kinda cool” she responded, when asked about the accomplishment. Serena praised the play of her opponent. “You can tell by the score line that she really worked hard and she pushed me.”

Azarenka also had positive things to say about Williams. “She never gives up…she’s definitely the toughest player mentally there is. She continued, with an upbeat attitude. “I have to be positive, you know, because I feel like these kind of matches, every time I play Serena, it really pushes (me) to be better, to improve, to move forward. I have to be thankful to her for that.”

There were numerous entertainers in the star-studded crowd of 23,771, including tennis legends Billie Jean King and Boris Becker, New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Mets pitcher RA Dickey, actors Will Ferrell, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Judd Hirsch, and James Caviezel, actresses Jennifer Connelly, Minka Kelly,and Vivica Fox, musicians Redfoo of LMFAO and Mandy Moore, supermodel Tyra Banks, and Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

Andy Roddick Discusses His Retirement

Flushing Meadows, NY – Andy Roddick shocked tennis fans, players, and media alike with his announcement of his retirement after the 2012 US Open yesterday evening. Here are some comments he made last night at his press conference announcing his retirement.

When Roddick was asked, why now, he responded “I just feel like it’s time. I don’t know that I’m healthy enough or committed enough to go another year. I’ve always wanted to, in a perfect world, finish at this event. I have a lot of family and friends here. I’ve thought all year that I would know when I got to this tournament. When I was playing my first round, I knew.”

Roddick also talked about his ability and desire to compete. “I don’t know that I’ve ever been someone who’s interested in existing on tour. I have a lot of interests and a lot of other things that excite me. I’m looking forward to those.” He continued, “I’ve always, for whatever my faults have been, felt like I’ve never done anything halfway. Probably the first time in my career that I can sit here and say I’m not sure that I can put everything into it physically and emotionally. I don’t know that I want to disrespect the game by coasting home. I had plans to play a smaller schedule next year. But the more I thought about it, I think you either got to be all in or not.”

Some in the tennis world thought Roddick took extra time saying good bye at a Grand Slam tournament earlier this year. “On some big moments this year, I think I’ve known. You know, walking off at Wimbledon, I felt like I knew,” he said.

When asked if he made the decision on that day to give fans a chance to say good bye, Roddick responded “those are good reasons. I think I wanted an opportunity to say good bye to people, as well. I don’t know how tomorrow’s going to go. I hope it goes well and I hope I’m sticking around. I just imagine being off the court tomorrow in an empty locker room. I think I wanted a chance to say good bye.”

When asked what he is most proud of looking back on his career, Andy responded “you know, I was pretty good for a long time. The reason I gave earlier about not feeling like I could be committed to this thing a hundred percent, that’s one of the things I’m proud of. That for 13 or 14 years, I was invested fully, every day.”

When asked about being the face of American Men’s tennis for so long, Roddick said “it’s been a pleasure. It’s not something that’s easy every day, for sure, especially when you get kind of anointed at a young age, 17, 18.”

Finally, Roddick talked about playing at Arthur Ashe Stadium for night matches. “I mean, it’s the most electric atmosphere in our sport,” he said, referencing the 23,000-seat arena that is the biggest in the sport. “There’s something about it. There’s a lot of eyeballs on TV sets from people who don’t even normally watch tennis during night matches of the US Open. I think I’ve played as many as anyone. Again, it’s just something I’ll look back on with really fond memories. Hopefully won’t be my last one,” he said. Many in the tennis world hope that tonight isn’t his final match on the court as well when he takes on Bernard Tomic.

Q & A with Richard Gasquet

Richard Gasquet, the 26 year old Frenchman reached a career high no. 7 and made it to the semis at Wimbledon in 2007:

TL- What do you think about the Andy Roddick retirement?
RG: For 8 or 9 years he was on top. He was no. 1 in the world. He is a great one.

TL:Do you know that because of your game you have been called a little Federer?
RG:Yes people have said that.

TL:What do you think of Federer?
RG:He is no. 1. He is never sick. He never retires.He talks to every player and is the President of the Tennis Council. Everyone respects him.

TL:How have you done against him?
RG:I have beaten him twice on clay. I have lost many other times (10).

TL:Roland Garros is a great site,especially court no.one.
RG:Yes it is but they are tearing that one down and I don’t know why.

TL:Are the top four really that much better?
RG:Yes they are. They are very strong mentally. They have a big advantage at Slams.

Harrison Shows He Belongs

FLUSHING MEADOWS – Is Ryan Harrison America’s Great Hope?

Well, he certainly hopes so.

“I mean, hearing the good stuff is always exciting,” he said. “But I think that those guys have obviously had such extraordinary careers.  They’ve done so well for U.S. tennis.  I’ve got such a long ways to go.  Hearing stuff like that doesn’t really come into play.  I mean, I’ve never made third round of a slam.  After that you got to get second week.  It only gets tougher from there.

“The closer you get to the top, the more difficult it gets.  I have a long ways to go.  I do believe I can get there ‑‑ and I’m going to do my best to get there ‑‑ but it’s not going to be easy.”

And it won’t be easy in the second round when he get Juan Martin Del Potro, after the young American beat Benjamin Becker 7‑5, 6‑4, 6‑2 to win a round this year.

 

“It’s going to start with my serve,” he said. “If I serve well, everything kind of becomes a lot less, I guess, pressure on the rest of my game because I can dictate and I can actually swing out on some return games and have a little bit of a crack because there’s not as much pressure.  It’s going to start with that.

“If things go my way, then I know I can return well enough to where I can put some pressure on him.  I play good defense, so with some of his shot‑making, I can make him hit a couple extra balls on some of his service games.

“Like I said, it’s not going to be easy, but I think I have the game to do it.”

That’s great confidence and he will need it to beat the No. 7 seed, but there is work to be done. Harrison has a goal to make the second week, but he knows the obstacles in front of him. Just 20, he has a long career ahead of him and can work on his game and make this Open a learning experience.

“Obviously you want to, but I’ve got a really tough opponent next round,” he said. “I know I can do well and I know I can win this match if I play well.  It’s going to be not easy, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

“It will be fun.”

Yes it will. Watching this American always is.

 

 

Forever Young

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – It’s been so long that the tennis world waited for the arrival of Donald Young, that it seems like he’s been at it for almost 15 years.

“15 years?” he laughed. “That would mean I would be like a lot older than I am now.”

Yes that would mean the American would have turned pro when he was seven years-old. So maybe not 15 years, but it still seems like forever.

But today Flushing Meadows got a taste of what they wanted to see all the way back to 2007 when Young was a junior champion. He won a five set classic against the 14th seeded Stanislas Wawrinka, 7-6 3-6 2-6 6-3 7-6, that lasted four hours and 20 minutes on Court 17 in one of the best matches of this US Open.

“It’s great for me, you know, to play 4 hours and 20 minutes,” he said.  “I saw the clock at the end.  Throughout the whole match I was looking at the clock, and like, Oh man, am I going to make it the whole time?

“But that’s what you put the work and the practice for.  To actually have it come through, yeah, it’s just great to win.”

And great for American tennis to see Young develop. This match showed why he was so hyped over the past few years. He battled his more experienced opponent even when he was down two sets to one and came back.

On fire in the fourth, he rattled off two breaks to beat the Swiss national and forced a fifth set.

It shows the fitness level of Chicago native, who in the past was criticized for not committing to the game. So, he recommitted himself and came to play in shape.

“Yeah, like I say, you know, to do things you’ve never done before you have to do things you’ve never done before,” he said.  “In the off‑season I did something different, and that was great. Definitely to see it like come and know I could play that long in a match definitely makes you feel great.”

Yes winning is much better than losing, something Young can really attest to. So far he has just five challenger wins for his career and two challenger doubles titles. His knock was that he was never committed entirely to the game, instead treating it more like a job than a calling.

“I don’t think I was getting any motivation when I was losing all the time,” he said.  “You know, you have people around you that you feel and trust in what they say and they tell you you can do it.  You go out there and keep practicing.  This is my job at the end of the day.  Most people don’t just quit a job unless they have something else to do.

“I could obviously go to school, which would be great.  Not to knock that.  But this is something I chose to do.  They always told me it would be a waste to waste the talent you have and not do anything with it.”

Even with his journeyman status Young was always a threat. The word potential has always been used when describing this hard hitting volleyer, but with every negative comes a lesson, and he has been schooled over the years.

“You know, don’t take things for granted,” he said.  “I feel like when I was 18 and I got to 73 in the world, the youngest in the top 100, I was top 75, it all seemed kind of easy, not realizing how much work I put into it to get to where I actually was.

“Life lessons?  Just keep working hard.  Don’t give up if it’s something you really want to do.  Listen to the people you trust and you can always learn.”

Yet that can wait as Young is now the talk of the tournament and the tennis world will continue to marvel at his arrival when he takes on No. 24 seed Juan Ignacio Chela in the third round.

Bryan Brothers Win Men’s Doubles Crown

Bob and Mike Bryan took the Men’s Doubles title at the 2011 Australian Open, 6-3 -6-4 over India’s Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupath for their fifth Australian Open Title.

“We have tons of respect for those guys, they are legends, they are marquee, they can only make our game better,” Bob Bryan said. “It was just great to have the ‘Indian Express’ back on the doubles court. It was an extra-special feeling out there.”

Paes was amazed at the Bryans ability to play perfectly on the court.

“If they had not served 83 percent first serves, but maybe 76 percent, it could have maybe been a different story,” Paes said. “Today we lost to the best team on the planet.”

The Bryans have held the No. 1 ranking in doubles for the past eight years. They have also won the U.S Open three times and the French Open and Wimbledon once.

Aussie Kim Going For The Aussie Win

When we last saw Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva in a Grand Slam, Clijsters had the upper hand with a 6-2, 6-1 demolition in route to her second Grand Slam title in a row.

Yet, now the two are playing in the Semifinals at the Australian Open, Aussie Kim isn’t taking any chances.

“Uhm, I think I was playing well at Wimbledon,” Clijsters said after her Quarterfinal win over Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-3 7-6. “I won the first set. I kind of just, you know, dropped my game a little bit. She’s a player who will be very consistent throughout a whole match, will not really mix her game up tremendously. She’ll always give you the same kind of thing. I think she did that really well.

“At the US Open I don’t think she played her best tennis in the final, and I was able to just really take advantage of that. I played really well in the beginning of the points, moved her around. Yeah, so, I mean, there were obviously two different matches, also I think from her side and also from my side.

“It will be tough. There will be a lot of rallies, long rallies I think. But I’ve always enjoyed playing my matches against her. They’ve always been a lot of fun. They’ve been, like I said, like physical and just kind of what you expect coming up for a semifinal.”

Clijsters is playing very well at Melbourne, not dropping a set and trying to get a Major outside of the US Open. Back in Flushing, she pinpointed Melbourne as her best chance, because the surface is similar to the one in Queens and he play this past week and a half has proved it.

But she face opponents below her ranking and if everything goes according to plan, the world’s most famous mother will have to face the No. 2 seed in Zvonareva and the No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the final.

But number’s don’t bother her.

“I don’t feel like I’m No. 3 in the world. I don’t think about a number,” she said. “I mean, it’s a number. I just try to be the best Kim out there whenever I play, and it’s not about numbers. I mean, obviously we want to do well. We all want to win.

“But, you know, I remember when I first became No. 1. It was something when I was young. It was like, Wow, to be No. 1 in the world. When you actually get to it, It’s like, Oh, that’s it?

“So it’s a number, and it’s something that you obviously don’t get given for free. You have to work very hard to get to that. But, uhm, yeah, like I said, it’s just a number.”

And if everything goes by the numbers, Clijsters will be on track for her first non-US Open Grand Slam No. 1 in the next few days.

Championship Sunday Postponed Until Monday

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Rain, rain go away was the theme of the US Open on Sunday as the steady drizzle came down and pre-empted play.

The Women’s Doubles Finals will now take place tomorrow at 3 p.m. It was suspended in the third set with set still on serve. The team of Liezel Huber and Nadia Petrova took the first set, 6-2 then the team of Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova rebounded during the second set to win 6-4. Play was suspended when the third set was 5-4 Huber/Petrova hold a 0-15 lead in the 10th game.

Then after that match – and not before 4 p.m. – the Men’s Finals will pit No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal against No. 3 seed Novak Djokovic. Nadal won his match over Mikhail Youzhny yesterday, 6-2 6-3 6-4. But Djokovic had to endure a 5-set classic over Roger Federer, 5-7 6-1 5-7 6-2 7-5.

With an extra day off, the rain may help Djokovic as he will be able to recover from the Federer showdown. Both Nadal and Djokovic are looking for their first US Open Championship.

Venus Worth The Wait Against Schiavove

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Venus Williams is a grizzled veteran. It doesn’t matter if the match before hers whisks along in an hour or plods along for 4 hours and 28 minutes, like Stanislas Wawrinka’s marathon win over Sam Querrey today. Venus is prepared.

“I’m a pro at waiting for my match,” she said. “Singles, doubles, you name it, I’ve waited.  I’ve waited for rain delays.  That’s a part of tennis.  You know, there is no certain time that the match before you will end, especially like a match like that.

“So you have to expect that maybe it will go long.  I’m a pretty laid‑back person, so I don’t get too tight waiting.”

It showed today, as the No. 3 seed moved onto the Semifinals with a 7-6 6-4 win over No. 6 seed and French Open Champion Francesca Schiavone.

Actually, waiting was just part of the story, when the match started, both players had to deal with the strong swirling winds that have been affecting play during this open. Williams thought it affected her serve a little, but at the same time, it also affected Schiavone.

“I thought, Oh, my god, what are we in for today?” Williams said.  “I’m a strong player and I hit hard, but I felt like I had nothing.  I felt like I was just hitting against…

“So it was challenging.  I don’t think either of us were able to play our exact normal game because it was just hard to make a choice in the wind.  I think you end up playing a little safer, more toward the center of the court.

“But I feel like when the stakes were higher I was able to raise my game.  She did, too.  She played some great points.  She’s just so feisty that you have to kind of keep her at bay.”

Despite a now an 0-8 record against Williams, Schiavone said she liked playing Venus, because “I play different ball,” she said. “I push her in defense; I don’t give her the chance to play how she want, so every time I think we have a big fight.”

After getting the first set to a tiebreak, Schiavone was also able to fight back reeling off four straight points after being down 0-4. Ultimately, though Williams prevailed in the set and then was able to easily win the second for the match.

“I think I just started finding a little bit better rhythm in the second set,” Williams said.  “It’s not easy to find a rhythm in that kind of weather, but I was trying.  Just trying to get on top of it.

“And, you know, at the end it still was a break to win the match.  But, you know, sometimes she was like shanking, too, and it would just go in.  It was like, Will one of these please go out?

“It just shows the quality.  Like she could still not hit in the middle of the racquet and still make a play.  So it was good.”

And also worth the wait.

Caroline Big Under the Sunshine (With A Great Dress Too)

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – The only thing brighter than Caroline Wozniacki’s game today may have been her dress. The exclusive adidas design features a florescent yellow inseam to go with it more earth tone appeal.

“Well, I’m so lucky that I am the face of adidas and Stella McCartney and I have my own special line that no one else is wearing,” Wozniacki said.  “I think that’s really nice. For me it’s important to feel good on court and of course to look good.  Then I can focus on my tennis at 100%.”

Of course, the size of the dress is something that has turned a few heads, which is a big tight compared to other outfits.

“I think it’s nice.  I definitely am sure I’ll get a lot of male fans now,” she laughed.

Actually Wozniacki could have worn a burqa out there and still turned won over fans after beating Maria Sharapova, 6-3 6-4, to advance to the quarterfinals. The 20 year old showed tremendous confidence on the court and fought back her toughest challenge to date.

“I was going out there and I knew I could win,” said Wozniacki, who now improves to 19-1 since Wimbledon.  “But I knew it was going to be tough.  I knew that I had to fight for every point.  I knew that she wasn’t going to go away.  I knew she was going to hang in there and keep fighting till the end.”

The No. 14 seed may have fought, but she made just too many mistakes today. With 36 unforced errors, 9 double faults and a putrid 1-8 on breakpoints, Sharapova essentially made it easy for Wozniacki.

“Against someone that’s playing really well, playing with a lot of confidence, it’s really important to take those chances that you have, the very few that come your way,” she said. “I felt like I played a couple of good points and then, you know, make an easy error, hit a return long or miss a first serve, give her many looks at second‑serve returns.  You know, didn’t feel like I put much pressure on her.

The biggest fight in the match came in the first set after Wozniacki went up 4-1. Sharapova raged back to bring the set back on serve with the Russian serving to tie it up, but the Dane was able to the break the 2006 Champion back and went on cruise control from there.

No matter what Sharapova tried to do, Wozniacki had an answer. When she won a few points with the light lob to bring her opponent in from the baseline, the winner of the Pilot Pen Championship was able to have an answer.

And even when she fell down, Sharapova wouldn’t capitalize, by shooting the ball over the line.

“Well, you know, at first I was like, Okay, I should have hit that first shot better,” Wozniacki said.  “But then I was, Okay, I’m at the net.  Then I see her lobbing me.  Okay, I have to go back.  Then I fall on my butt.  I’m like, Okay, well, tough luck, I lost this point.  Then I look back, and I couldn’t see whether it was in and out.  Then I look at the linesman, I see it’s out.  I’m like, Okay, I was pretty lucky.

“You know, I thought it was quite funny, too.”

But to Sharapova this was no laughing matter, as the former champion apparently still have a ways to go before she can get back to the top.

Today was just another step.

“Obviously, losing a match, 30 minutes later, you’re not the happiest person in the world,” said Sharapova who now falls to 12-15 since Wimbledon. “But at the end of the day, I’m sure you’ve heard it many times, but it’s a tennis match.  You’ve just got to look back at the match and what you should have done differently, what you need to work on.”