Hold The Retirement For Another Day

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – And he lives on. Andy Roddick delayed his retirement by at least another two days by beating Fabio Fognini of Italy in a hard fought 7-5, 7-6, 4-6 and 6-4 match before a very highly partisan Roddick crowd.

The match featured many entertaining rallies and a between the legs shot by Fognini which almost passed Roddick at net.

There is no doubt that Roddick is suffering from a hurt right shoulder, but he is deriving energy from the crowd. He noted that, “it was loud out there, about as loud as I remember.”

Roddick will have a much harder time Tuesday night as a decided underdog against Juan Martin Del Potro, like Roddick also a US Open winner and the only player besides Federer, Djokovic and Nadal to win a major in the last 30.

Roddick is 1-3 all-time against Del Potro, winning their last contest in Memphis in 2011. All of Roddick’s losses have been close.

Fognini called Del Potro a slight favorite but would not be surprised with a win by Roddick.

Roddick feels that he has an edge in serve but that Del Potro has an edge in his return game.

Djokovic On Track To Be Next Great

To some he’s the Djoker, the tennis player with a sense of humor. It doesn’t matter to him if his humor offends, as it’s his way of blowing off steam.

But for many years, Novak Djokovic was the best of the rest. The top player in the world not named Federer or Nadal. Now, though that has changed.

After his complete demolition of No. 5 seed Andy Murray, 6-4 6-2 6-3, to win the 2011 Australian Open, Djokovic vaulted himself up into the land of Federer and Nadal with his second OZ Open win and that makes it twice in four years.

“This was a great match,” Djokovic said. “From the start to the last point, I did what I intended of doing tactically, what I talked with my coach, what I prepared for. Physically I was very fit. I had two days between the semifinals and finals match, which was important at this stage of the tournament.

“Because I was aware of the fact that I am going to yeah, bring it to me. That will have long rallies and I will have a player who doesn’t miss a lot, a very talented player who is one of the best returners in the game.

“And, yeah, you know, I had to step in. That was the key. When I had the chance to step in and try to move him around the court, that’s what I did. Probably the turning point was the last game of the first set where we had some incredible exchange from the baseline, long rallies, and some passing shots that turned the match around.”

For all his talent, the knock on Djokovic was that he suffered from some mental mistakes, which would keep him for vaulting over players like Federer and Nadal. But something seemed to click late last year, which made him mentally tougher and kept his emotions in check.

“Something switched in my head, because I am very emotional on and off the court,” he said. “I show my emotions. This is the way I am. Everybody’s different.

“The things off court were not working for me, you know. It reflected on my game, on my professional tennis career. But then, you know, I settled some things in my head. It was all on me. You know, I had to try to find the best possible solution and try to get back on the right track.

“It’s been a big mental struggle, because I was trying to separate my, of course, professional life from my more private life.

“But, you know, if somebody’s emotional we’re all humans. It’s not possible. If something isn’t working off court, then it’s going to reflect on the court. I managed to solve that problems.

“This is all part of life. Of course, everybody’s facing difficult situations in their lives. To overcome the crisis and to stand up and try to still dedicate yourself to the sport was a big success for me as a person.”

With Roger Federer now on the downside of his career and Rafael Nadal taking up the mantle of the world’s best player, Djokovic is gaining ground in becoming the yin to Nadal’s yang. All great champions have one. Nadal was Federer’s Andre Agassi was Pete Sampras, and so forth. And after straight sets wins over Federer and Murray in the Semifinals and Finals, Djokovic is approaching that level.

Yet, according to the 23 year-old, there is still a gap.

“Still Rafa and Roger are the two best players in the world,” Djokovic said. “No question about that. You can’t compare my success and Murray’s success to their success. They’re the two most dominant players in the game for a while. All the credit to them.

“It’s nice to see that there are some new players in the later stages of Grand Slams fighting for a title. That’s all I can say.”

And it’s nice to see the Serbian win this one. Djokovic will be trying to improve his standing on other surfaces as he never got past the Semifinals at Roland Garros or Wimbledon. Yet, the he seems to be ready for the challenge.

“I don’t want to stop here,” he said. Definitely I want to keep my body healthy, fit, and ready for some more challenges to come. I feel that I have a good game for all the surfaces. I have proven that in the past.”

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.

Tokyo (final): Wozniacki Wins Fifth Title of Season

TORAY PAN PACIFIC OPEN
Tokyo-JPN
September 26-October 2, 2010
$2,000,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Saturday, October 2, 2010
Singles – Final
(1) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. (7) Elena Dementieva (RUS) 16 62 63

Doubles – Final
Benesova/Zahlavova Strycova (CZE/CZE) d. Peer/Peng (ISR/CHN) 64 46 108 (Match TB)

Final Facts
- Wozniacki captures her fifth title of the season, from six finals played – the Tour-leading figures on both counts. The 20-year-old Dane has also recorded the most singles match wins in 2010: 54.
– Tokyo marks Wozniacki’s second Premier-level title; she won the first at Montréal in August. She now has 11 career titles to her name, for seven runner-up finishes.
– Dementieva, who turns 29 on October 15, was playing her fourth final of the year, having won at Sydney and Paris [Indoors] and finished runner-up at Kuala Lumpur. The Russian is now 16-16 lifetime in Tour singles finals and 3-4 against Wozniacki.
– Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova win their fifth Tour doubles title together. It is the Czech duo’s third trophy of the season, after Paris [Indoors] and Monterrey. Both now boast nine doubles titles.

Final Quotes
Caroline Wozniacki, 2010 Toray Pan Pacific Open singles champion:

“Elena started really strongly, she was playing very aggressively and I didn’t get enough depth in my groundstrokes. But in the beginning of the second set I pressed a little harder and came into the rallies a bit more. I’m very happy – I really enjoy winning and I’m feeling good. It’s always nice to hold the trophy in your hand, that’s what you are practicing for. I’m feeling very confident and I feel like I’m playing some good tennis, so hopefully next week will be just as good. I’ll take it one match at a time and we’ll see what happens.”

Elena Dementieva, 2010 Toray Pan Pacific Open singles runner-up:
“I feel I played very well in the first set; unfortunately I missed some opportunities in the beginning of the second set and lost a bit of momentum. That was the key… she was fighting and playing solid from the baseline. I’m disappointed with the way I finished the match but I love playing in Tokyo, and even though I lost today I think it was a great final. I’m a little tired heading to Beijing, but I will fly tonight or tomorrow and try to get ready for one of the biggest events of the season. Fingers crossed I can do well there.”

Iveta Benesova, 2010 Toray Pan Pacific Open doubles champion:
“We’re very happy. This is the biggest tournament we have won together and we’ve had some really tough matches along the way. We got quite tight in the second set so we are just so relieved to win.”

Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, 2010 Toray Pan Pacific Open doubles champion:
“It was so nerve wracking, especially in the super tie-break, but we tried to stay positive and not think negative. We made it somehow and are very glad about that!”

Mrs. Lynch Goes To The Semifinals

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – New York City may own Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and the deed to Arthur Ashe Stadium is in the name of the USTA, but for the last two years, Kim Clijsters owns the US Open.

No greater proof of that came than tonight as the defending Women’s Champion and current No. 2 seed fought off bad play and tough conditions to beat No. 6 seed Sam Stosur, 6-4 5-7 6-3, in their Quarterfinal matchup to improve to 19-0 over the past two years.

And how did Mrs. Lynch win it?

“I think by mentally just staying focused out there,” she said.  “You know, I felt that I was really reading her serve well in the return games.  I really felt that I was just ‑‑ even, you know, those heavy kick serves I felt I was getting into her backhand well, and, yeah, just made her go for some errors.

“Obviously she, you know, wasn’t serving great, either.  I just really felt that, you know, if I could just get that return deep, I felt that I was, you know, kind of in charge of a lot of rallies.”

It got so bad that Clijsters and Stocur could not hold serve on the first seven games of the third set. Part of it reason was the wind, as both players could not have that hard first serve land where they wanted it.

And part was because both players didn’t have their strong games out there, as both admitted after the match.

“Yeah, it was definitely tough conditions, windiest conditions I’ve played in all week, and probably the worst I’ve served all week, as well,” said Stocur, who had her highest finish at the Open of her career.  “Put those two things together, and you don’t hold serve for the third set and you lose.”

“I still didn’t play a good match, but I was obviously able to win it,” Clijsters said.  “That’s obviously, at the end of the day, what we try to do out here, is try to win the matches whether you play good or bad.

“Like I said, even after the match, I was like, How did I win this?  I didn’t feel like I was playing well.  Sam is a good player, you know, so I was just kind of ‑‑ yeah, talking to my coach and fitness coach and just, Wow, what just happened?  How did I win?”

Well it was just sheer guts and guile on Clijsters behalf. She was able to utilize her speed and eventually held serve in Game 8 of the third set. When that happened, it was all over. In fact, she then broke the Australian in the final game with the winner coming on an ace.

“Yeah, that’s probably all the frustration that comes out at the end,” Clijsters said.  “I’m like, I don’t like to hit one more rally.  I just want to finish it with a good shot.  Um, I don’t know.  It’s the rhythm.  It’s been frustrating.”

Clijsters now faces Venus Williams in the Semifinals on Friday. This will be a rubber match of their career head-to-head with both players winning six apiece. But Clijsters has won the last four matches, including the Round of 16 at last year’s US Open, 6-0 0-6 6-4.

But Mrs. Lynch is not taking anything for granted.

“I think obviously the way that she’s been playing and the way that she has mentally looked,” Clijsters said. “I think it’s maybe been even been good for her to have been away for that long, because she looks more hungry than ever.”

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – New York City may own Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and the deed to Arthur Ashe Stadium is in the name of the USTA, but for the last two years, Kim Clijsters owns the US Open.

No greater proof of that came than tonight as the defending Women’s Champion and current No. 2 seed fought off bad play and tough conditions to beat No. 6 seed Sam Stosur, 6-4 5-7 6-3, in their Quarterfinal matchup to improve to 19-0 over the past two years.

And how did Mrs. Lynch win it?

“I think by mentally just staying focused out there,” she said.  “You know, I felt that I was really reading her serve well in the return games.  I really felt that I was just ‑‑ even, you know, those heavy kick serves I felt I was getting into her backhand well, and, yeah, just made her go for some errors.

“Obviously she, you know, wasn’t serving great, either.  I just really felt that, you know, if I could just get that return deep, I felt that I was, you know, kind of in charge of a lot of rallies.”

It got so bad that Clijsters and Stocur could not hold serve on the first seven games of the third set. Part of it reason was the wind, as both players could not have that hard first serve land where they wanted it.

And part was because both players didn’t have their strong games out there, as both admitted after the match.

“Yeah, it was definitely tough conditions, windiest conditions I’ve played in all week, and probably the worst I’ve served all week, as well,” said Stocur, who had her highest finish at the Open of her career.  “Put those two things together, and you don’t hold serve for the third set and you lose.”

“I still didn’t play a good match, but I was obviously able to win it,” Clijsters said.  “That’s obviously, at the end of the day, what we try to do out here, is try to win the matches whether you play good or bad.

“Like I said, even after the match, I was like, How did I win this?  I didn’t feel like I was playing well.  Sam is a good player, you know, so I was just kind of ‑‑ yeah, talking to my coach and fitness coach and just, Wow, what just happened?  How did I win?”

Well it was just sheer guts and guile on Clijsters behalf. She was able to utilize her speed and eventually held serve in Game 8 of the third set. When that happened, it was all over. In fact, she then broke the Australian in the final game with the winner coming on an ace.

“Yeah, that’s probably all the frustration that comes out at the end,” Clijsters said.  “I’m like, I don’t like to hit one more rally.  I just want to finish it with a good shot.  Um, I don’t know.  It’s the rhythm.  It’s been frustrating.”

Clijsters now faces Venus Williams in the Semifinals on Friday. This will be a rubber match of their career head-to-head with both players winning six apiece. But Clijsters has won the last four matches, including the Round of 16 at last year’s US Open, 6-0 0-6 6-4.

But Mrs. Lynch is not taking anything for granted.

“I think obviously the way that she’s been playing and the way that she has mentally looked,” Clijsters said. “I think it’s maybe been even been good for her to have been away for that long, because she looks more hungry than ever.”

The Djoker Is Not Foiled by the Great Fish Caper

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Mardy Fish reshaped his body and resculpted his game but couldn’t revise his past history with Novak Djokovic. Fish’s inspired run through this US Open Series came to a halt at the hands of Djokovic, who fried Fish, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 to advance to his sixth straight major quarterfinal at the US Open.

Worn out from a long summer in which he won back-to-back championships in Newport and Atlanta, producing a career-best 11-match winning streak in the process, and went on to reach the Cincinnati final, a flat Fish lacked both the energy and execution to pose problems for Djokovic.

“I tried to, you know, get to the net, tried to stay more, you know, be a little more aggressive towards the middle part of the match,” Fish said. “I had some chances.  I just didn’t execute, generally.  He played great.  He kicked my butt.  He played great.”

It was a match that was never much in doubt as Djokovic, who took the court with a 5-0 lifetime record against Fish, asserted his authority at the outset.

The third-seeded Serbian swept American wild card James Blake, 6-1, 7-6, 6-3, and wisely took the pro-Fish American crowd completely out of the match in surging out to a 4-1 lead.

Djokovic’s superior speed around the court and his ability to extend Fish in baseline exchanges were key components to the win. The 2007 US Open runner-up remains one of the best hard-court returners in the game and picked Fish apart in longer rallies.

“I was making him play an extra shot and I was using the court very well,” Djokovic said. “This (win) gives me a lot of confidence, definitely. It’s great to raise the level of my performance toward the end of the tournament. It’s been a great couple of years for me in New York so hopefully I can go on.”

Seeking his fourth consecutive trip to the US Open semifinals, Djokovic is a decided favorite against quarterfinal opponent Gael Monfils.

In an all-French fourth round meeting, the 17th-seeded Monfils broke Richard Gasquet mentally in scoring an entertaining 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 victory. Monfils saved a set point in the second set and roared back from a 3-5 deficit in the third set to send the fragile fellow Frenchman packing and become the first French quarterfinalist since Arnaud Clement in 2000.

“I tried to be very tough and hard with him, showing him that I’m the man and I’m the leader,” Monfils said of Gasquet. “So I think I try also to get him a bit in the head, to show him like I will be strong and he might hit a good shot, but it’s okay. For me it’s nothing. I will try to reach every ball and show him…if he come in I will be everywhere.”

The Djokovic-Monfils match pits two of the fastest, most charismatic, flamboyant and sometimes flakiest players in men’s tennis. They are two men who play as if empowered by the belief that no ball is beyond their reach which should create a highly entertaining match.

“Gael is very charismatic and very athletic,” Djokovic said. “He slides a lot and so do I so I guess there’s going to he a lot of sliding between him and me.”

Djokovic is 4-0 lifetime vs. Monfils, including a controversial 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(5), 0-6, 7-5 triumph in the 2005 US Open first round in which some spectators believed Djokovic resorted to gamesmanship in pulling a lengthy injury time out to rest and recover.

Their most recent encounter saw Djokovic outduel Monfils and silence the Parisian crowd in an explosively entertaining, 6-2, 5-7, 7-6(3), victory in the Paris Indoor final last November.

Master showman Monfils, who has entertained the New York City crowd with his electrifying shotmaking skills on the run, his expressiveness and even his impromptu post-match dance moves, is hoping he can work the crowd into a festive frenzy.

“I can get the crowd behind me,” Monfils said. “I know him perfectly. We had like always a tough match. And then, damn I had revenge to take it because he won against me at home in Bercy (Paris). So this time I hope to win.”

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

Davydenko Dumped by Gasquet

Sixth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko became the highest-seeded man to fall from the US Open field in suffering a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 second-round setback to Richard Gasquet on the Grandstand court. The two-time US Open semifinalist had a visceral response to his loss —  Davydenko is prepared to get trashed.

Actually, the 29-year-old Russian is ready to toss his racquets in the trash. Davydenko, who endorses Dunlop and wears Dunlop apparel has been playing with his old, unmarked Prince frame, but vowed to throw those in the garbage and actually begin playing with Dunlop in his next tournament.

“I talked to my brother and I will change all my racquets,” Davydenko said after the match. “I will completely change to Dunlop and throw all of my (old) racquets in the garbage.”

While the frames will take the fall for the lose, Davydenko, who missed 11 weeks after breaking his left wrist in Indian Wells and has won back-to-back matches just once since launching his comeback in June in Halle, concedes his issues may be more mental than physical or technical.

“I don’t know if it’s a wrist problem or a head problem,” Davydenko said, stretching his legs out before him and staring down at his shoelaces for a moment. “After my injury, I play everything bad. I change from 18-string Prince to play 16-string during hard courts to try to get more control and top spin, but I have no confidence, no baseline game.”

In addition to an equipment change, he’s contemplating a head change.

“Maybe I need to go somewhere to change my brain,” Davydenko deadpanned.

It was the first meeting between the pair in five years and while Davydenko hugs the baseline, takes the ball earlier and theoretically should be able to take the first strike in rallies it was Gasquet who took control in the baseline rallies in registering his second top 10 win of the season and first since he claimed his sixth career title beating Fernando Verdasco in Nice.

The 38th-ranked Frenchman has top 10 talent, who reached the US Open round of 16 in both 2005 and 2006, will play either No. 26 seed Thomaz Bellucci or big-serving Kevin Anderson for a place in the fourth round.

Asked to assess Gasquet’s level of play, Davydenko sounded stumped.

“It’s tough  for me to say because I cannot return first serve. He was just pushing me back in the middle with high balls and I was destroying myself.”

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

Honor Thy Mother

There she was winning on the big stage once again. Sometimes, Mom really does know best.

That proved true in Kim Clijsters’ amazing comeback story as she ran all the way to her second U.S. Open title with cute 18-month old daughter Jada looking on before a great Ashe Stadium environment in Flushing.

In just her third tournament back after taking two and a half years off to marry former Villanova hoops star Brian Lynch and start a family, the delightful 26 year-old Belgian’s experience proved too much for first-time slam finalist Caroline Wozniacki- besting the sweet ninth seed from Denmark 7-5, 6-3 in a match which took over an hour and a half.

“It was not really our plan,” an exhilerated Clijsters said after becoming the first Mom to win a grand slam title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley back in 1980 (Wimbledon). “I just wanted to start these three tournaments and get back into the rhythm of playing tennis and get used to the surroundings again.”

“You know, little nervous today and probably didn’t play as well as I did against Serena [Williams], but I still won. That’s all that counts for me now.”

Though it was the 19 year-old Dane’s first time playing for a major, she acquitted herself well proving that her run was no fluke. Following a shaky beginning in which she fell behind an early break 0-2, Wozniacki played some serious defense to reel off four consecutive games against a nervous Clijsters who began spraying shots.

“No, actually I wasn’t too nervous. I mean, you’re always excited when you’re going out to a match. But, you know, I just thought, I’m playing a Grand Slam final. I have nothing to lose. I just need to go out there and try to do my best, and that’s what I did,” Wozniacki said after becoming the first ever Dane to ever make it this far in a slam.

During that run, the New York crowd got to see some excellent rallies between the two in which Wozniacki mixed up her shots well including a solid two handed backhand and topspin forehand to gain an edge. After breaking back to get on the board, she settled down playing the conservative hustling style that had suited her well during the two weeks that included a straight set quarter ouster of American Melanie Oudin.

While Wozniacki’s ground attack was working, Clijsters’ went off going for too much which put the 2005 Open champ in a hole. Her opponent also showed strong will fighting off three break points by drawing errors before holding in the sixth game for 4-2.

The set nearly slipped away from the fan favorite who gave Wozniacki two more break opportunities in the next game. But that’s when her true mettle showed saving both including one with an inside out forehand crosscourt winner before gaining a critical hold for 3-4.

“She [Wozniacki] hits the ball very heavy, but she doesn’t miss. Against the Williams sisters, you always have the feeling that if you can just hang in there, they might give you more easy points,” assessed Clijsters on the style adjustment..

“She didn’t do that today. I think I really had to be patient, as well, but also try not to play along with her game. So I didn’t have that feeling until, you know, when I had match point. I was like, Okay, maybe I can do this.”

With momentum, Clijsters broke back in the eighth game to draw even. Following a nifty backhand defensive lob by a grinning Wozniacki to win a highly entertaining point for 15-30, a focused Kim locked in earning the break when her younger opponent double faulted.

However, she couldn’t keep it going blowing a 40-Love lead as a determined Wozniacki used some sheer hustle to get back in a point before a couple of nice half volleys forced a Clijsters’ miss for her third break of the opening set.

“But actually I was surprised myself that I wasn’t more nervous,” mentioned Wozniacki who still took plenty of positives from the tough defeat.

“And I just think that the thing that I was just thinking about one point at a time, one ball at a time, and I was really focused on what I really wanted to do out there. I think that really helped me. I think that helped me through the whole tournament.”

A game away from closing out the set, Wozniacki ran into trouble getting broken back by an equally focused Clijsters who began the game with a great backhand crosscourt. Wozy rebounded to grab the next pair moving two points from the set after a backhand winner. But Kim didn’t give in taking the next three including a return forehand winner to setup the break chance which she converted on a wide Wozniacki forehand making it five all.

Finally looking settled, she took the first three points. But again, Wozniacki came back getting it to Deuce before some big serving which included one of Clijsters’ three aces allowed her to escape for 6-5 swinging the momentum.

Finally more under control, she applied pressure to the teenager by continuing to dictate points with more pace forcing errors off Wozniacki’s racket to break at love, claiming the set.

“She’s playing because she thinks it’s fun and because she likes it,” said Wozniacki, who faced someone she admired for the first time. “I really think she might be a better player now than she was before.”

Perhaps the situation got to the Great Dane with Clijsters’ experience pushing her through a seesaw set that had seven combined breaks of serve. Not surprisingly, Kim had double the winners (16-8) and five more unforced errors (20-15) but most importantly, pulled the tight set out.

“Actually, I didn’t think too much about the score. I was just focused a lot about just playing one point at a time,” explained Wozniacki.

“But, you know, the thing was I couldn’t keep my serve in the end of the first set, and that just caused me trouble. She was right there. She started serving well, and, yeah, that’s why I lost the first set.”

During her run to the final, Wozniacki had only dropped one set with it coming against former Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova in a come from behind three set Round of 16 win.

Could she mount a comeback? There certainly was no quit from her side as she continued to stick to the strategy of staying in rallies by making Clijsters hit another ball. The contrasting styles made for more intriguing points with the New Haven champ not afraid to come to net where she fared well taking 11 of 17 (65 percent) while Kim countered with a solid 10 of 15 (67 percent).

Indeed, the Ashe crowd enjoyed the variety as opposed to what the women’s game has become lately. With big girls swinging for the fences point after point without any alternative plan.

“I think Wozniacki is a great player. I think she’s someone who is going to have a really great future ahead of her. She’s a smart girl. I think she played some smart tennis today. That’s something I think we want to see. It’s not just the hard hitters,” praised Clijsters while adding:

“She’s really someone who thinks out there, and that is fun to see, as well.”

No wonder most games were so competitive. Despite that, each player did a better job protecting their serve with no breaks the first five games following another Clijsters ace for 3-2.

That’s when she sensed the finish line using powerful strokes and splendid angles to break Wozniacki at love highlighted by a forehand pass for Love-30 beating Caroline at the net along with a nice rally which finally drew an error for 4-2.

If she was going to make history becoming the first ever women’s wildcard to win the Open (Venus Williams made ‘97 Final-lost to Martina Hingis), it was gonna be tough.

Wozniacki didn’t go away getting a couple of tight long backhands from Clijsters to pull within two points of getting back on serve. But Kim wouldn’t allow it taking the next four including an ace and forehand winner for 5-2. Suddenly, she was a game away.

With the fans encouraging Wozniacki because they wanted more tennis, she held her nerve to hold for 3-5 putting it on Clijsters’ racket.

“You know, Kim just played a great match. She really showed that she’s playing great tennis, and I’m happy to have her back. But of course I’d like to have taken the next step and have won this match. I mean, she played better to me today, and that’s why she won,” credited the runner-up.

Here she was needing four more points to complete one of the greatest storylines ever. It wasn’t long ago that she retired because the game wasn’t fun anymore and she wanted to start a family. And now, here she was having already knocked off both Williams sisters along with Marion Bartoli back in the second round to reach this point.

“Well, the motivation was missing then. It was something that, yeah, I came to an age where I really felt like, you know, combined with the injuries, I think, I wasn’t really 100% focused on my tennis anymore.”

“But I’m just very lucky that I’m able to combine both and that my family supports me in doing this.”

With that family behind her including Jada who made the funniest gestures all night, Clijsters seized the moment. Following two shaky points giving Wozniacki hope, she recovered well with a service winner pulling her even and then struck a forehand winner to setup championship point.

Of course, Wozniacki wouldn’t give it to her getting into one more fun rally before an aggressive Clijsters nailed a forehand which drew a short reply giving her an easy putaway into the open court for the win.

“I’m still, whenever I see my group, every time I say, like, I can’t believe this happened. Because it still seems so surreal that, yeah, in my third tournament back won my second Grand Slam,” the emotional winner pointed out.

“It’s a great feeling to have, but it’s confusing in a lot of ways, as well. It went so quickly, everything, so I didn’t really- especially after yesterday’s match. And then with the rain delays and everything, it just felt like especially these last couple of days everything went so quickly.”

The emotional champion dropped to her knees and then received a nice hug from Wozniacki before turning emotional with tears of joy as Jada held up 1 finger for Mom and her box cheered on. She then made it up there to celebrate with them embracing everyone and receiving a kiss from her proud husband.

“It’s the greatest feeling in the world being a mother,” the two-time Open champ said while reminding fans that she finally got to defend her 2005 title to chuckles. “I just can’t wait to spend next the few weeks with her and have her routine schedule at home again.”

A special moment for a wonderful player who handles herself so well. This was the kind of champion the Open deserved and the crowd let her know it just by their reaction.

If one great Belgian can do it this way after playing only two tournaments, might we get the other one back in Justine Henin? For another day.

Wozniacki also got plenty of love from the crowd who enjoyed Sunshine’s easy demeanor and smile which was still there when she received the runner-up crown even speaking three languages including her native Danish and Polish thanking all her supporters. Why not? This was a major breakthrough for the WTA Tour wins leader who entered with 62. It just wasn’t her time which should come soon enough.

“I think it’s important to thank all my fans in Poland, as well, because I know that there are a lot of fans out there that are rooting for me. I think it’s important just to give something back,” she wisely noted.

This was Kim’s moment. Her tournament writing a perfect script which you only get in movies.

“Well, I mean, if I inspired them, great. But, you know, this is something that I, yeah, in my wildest dreams could never imagine happening.”

Twenty nine years later, Mom won and she got to celebrate with family including Jada who came onto the court taking cute pictures with Brian and Kim along with the trophy.

“That’s why it’s good all the photographers were there. Maybe I can get some pictures.”

Somehow, we don’t think that will be a problem. A night she’ll never forget.

Nadal Shows Only Love for Gonzo

It was the tennis equivalent of No Mas. A day and a half following the rain, Rafael Nadal finished off Fernando Gonzalez in the continuation of their men’s quarterfinal.

The charismatic 23 year-old from Mallorca took back his No.2 ranking, barely breaking a sweat in a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2), 6-0 win advancing to a second consecutive U.S. Open semifinal where he’ll meet a well rested Juan Martin Del Potro tomorrow for a place in the final versus either Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic.

A competitive quarter which had Nadal in front 7-6, 3-2 in a second set tiebreaker Thursday night suddenly became a tuneup for Nadal, who allowed his wild opponent to wilt under the pressure. In fact, Gonzalez didn’t get another point in the tiebreak dropping both points on his serve with dreadful forehands before Rafa closed the set out.

“When you come back in one situation like today, anything can happen, because it’s a little bit of a lottery depending on the first two points,” Nadal accurately assessed. “The important thing is to be ready to accept everything, and try to arrive there knowing what to do.”

Unfortunately, Gonzalez’ biggest weapon let him down to the tune of more than half his 59 unforced errors. It only got worse as he unraveled in the third set disappointing the Session 23 Ashe spectators who returned hoping for a much better conclusion. After a double fault handed Nadal a break in the opening game, the flustered 29 year-old slammed his racket in disgust.

“I can’t tell you, because I don’t have the answer,” a dejected Gonzalez said.

It wouldn’t get any better as he committed 20 miscues in a set that saw him get bageled with even an injury timeout to remove tape from his ankles unable to stop the bleeding. By comparison, the much more consistent Nadal made only 13 errors all match. The problem for Gonzalez was that he kept going for too much with the ball flying on him in different conditions. So, Rafa was content to keep rallies going allowing his struggling opponent to come undone in an ugly set that had fans feeling sorry for Gonzo.

The lowlights included a sloppy forehand half volley way wide for another break and fittingly ended with another forehand into the net as Nadal got off the court in just 33 minutes.

“Fernando had a few more mistakes than the last day,” Nadal said after pulling within a win of a possible date against Federer with plenty of work still to be done for both. “That helped me a little more.”

That such a promising match turned into a worst nightmare for the poor 11th seeded Chilean who will still move up in the rankings was too bad. He just couldn’t deal with the elements breaking down in front of his Dad who by the end looked down, feeling for what his son experienced.

For Nadal who admitted to CBS’ Mary Joe Fernandez that the extra rest was the best thing for his abdominal strain, it was a best case scenario.

“It was important to have one day off to recover a little better,” he pointed out. “Today, I feel well.”

“I’m OK,” Nadal added. “I have only a little bit of a problem in the abdominal. That’s it.”

Though he’s nursing the injury and faces a tough opponent who beat him last month in Montreal 7-6 (1), 6-1, the feisty Spaniard who’s trying to complete a career grand slam might even be fresh for the rematch on the big stage. However, it should be a much harder test than how today finished.

“He’s [Del Potro] good. I think he’s a complete player, and it’s always the same thing,” Nadal said. “Try to be ready to put one more ball (back) than the rest.”

At the very least, the Open will have a first time finalist in the battle between Spain’s best and Argentina’s which may as well be a Davis Cup match.

Expect a fun atmosphere along with an entertaining brand of tennis.

Rafa Bulls Past Monfils

Rafael Nadal is from Spain. So, he knows a thing or two about bulls. That was evident in the No.3 seed’s come from behind four set win over frenetic Frenchman Gael Monfils, advancing to a U.S. Open quarterfinal against No.11 Chilean Fernando Gonzalez, who earlier on Day Nine ousted No.7 Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-4.

The 13th seed certainly put on a great show using his athleticism to stay in long rallies entertaining a packed Ashe Stadium but ultimately it was Nadal’s bulllike mentality that allowed him to come away with a 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 win in what was a fun match that lasted two hours and  45 minutes.

Early on, Monfils proved why he was so dangerous breaking Nadal early to jump out to a 5-2 lead. However, that didn’t discourage the six-time grand slam winner who after holding broke back and then held suddenly squaring the first set at five all. Fittingly, an ultracompetitive set that saw plenty of action packed rallies with each player pushing the other all over the court needed a tiebreaker.

In it, it was the flying Frenchman who made all the right shots plays pulling out the breaker when he forced an errant Nadal shot, letting out an emphatic scream while pointing to his heart after taking it.

“No, no, I think I came back well in the 5 4 playing very good game to break back. And in the tiebreak he didn’t had any mistake with his serve. He play all first serves, so he beat me the first set, was tough,” Nadal said.

“But I still there, and physically it was tough for both. But I think for him a little bit more.”

Up a set, before Monfils could blink, a determined Nadal broke early in the second set and seemed on his way to leveling things. But just when it looked that way, here came Monfils right back with a magnificent game to break back for 3-4. So pumped was he after winning some wild exchanges with one going 31 strokes, it looked like he had a shot at an upset and his first Open quarterfinal.

As often happens though with Nadal, you just can’t count him out. Fittingly with ESPN’s John McEnroe noting that the 23 year-old from Mallorca would ‘come even harder’, that’s exactly what happened making for one of the most memorable games of the tournament. With Monfils trying to draw even at four, the two played some unbelievable points that seemed to take forever mesmerizing the crowd.

Following two successful exchanges, a pumped up Monfils pointed to his chest. Two points from drawing even, the point of the match came with Monfils and Nadal going toe to toe. About half a dozen times, it looked like the Frenchman had the point won but a desperate Rafa randown a shot just stabbing back a slice backhand to stay in it. Eventually, he drew a miss to get to 30-All, then pumping his fists. Possibly tired, Monfils lost the next two points to drop serve falling behind 3-5.

“I think I get a little fatigue. Also, Rafa playing good. It’s credit to him. He played more deep, more, heavy, more flight on his shot,” Monfils admitted.

Serving to square it wasn’t easy for Nadal who got plenty of resistance from a focused Monfils, who fought off three set points with great backhand winners. Instead of falling apart, the 2009 Australian Open champ got even stingier winning a tough point setting up a fourth set point to which he gave a double pump. After finally closing it out, he pounded his chest as if to say, ‘Bring it on!’

“I think it was a bit tough to keep going like that, to take the ball. I think I stepped back a little bit and just give him I think more time and more time to set up,” assessed Monfils. “And also, I think today he played very good, very good. His defense was very, very strong today. So I mean, this where I think the change for me.”

“Yeah, first two sets was really tough, really hard physically and I think the tennis was very good level,” said Nadal in agreement.

Perhaps the quality of the play took something out of Monfils. Either that or the moment got to him because he put up token resistance in a 28-minute third set that saw Nadal stick to the strategy of working his opponent over to the point of exhaustion. After some rallies, he was bent over trying to catch his breath.

Nadal took full advantage breaking three times in the set with the second for 4-1 resulting in the trainer coming out to retape Monfils’ wrist. With little left in the tank, he lost the next two games firing a wild forehand way long to hand Nadal a two sets to one lead.

Was there anything left for a comeback which an enthusiastic Ashe wanted to see even chanting, “Mon—fils, Mon—fils, Mon—fils” after he dropped serve to fall down an early break.

At first, it worked as he bounced back breaking Nadal while frequently talking to himself as if to say, ‘You can do it.’

But following a feisty Nadal hold for 4-3, Monfils finally cracked getting broken at love donating the eighth game with four errors including a pair of doubles that gave him an eighth service break in 14 attempts. By comparison, his opponent also did good going three for six but was silenced when it really mattered.

“I mean, I had like a lot practice behind me, and just come out with few match and a little bit practice,” pointed out Monfils who missed Wimbledon with an injury and had played only three matches entering the Open.

“So didn’t have that confidence also to keep going, didn’t have the miles in my legs. If I played maybe six tournaments before the US Open even, I think it will be more than an hour, 30 minutes. It can be two hours and maybe push him when I’m back in second set at 4 3.”

A cool Nadal then served out the match drawing one last of Monfils’ 63 unforced errors, advancing to a third Open quarter. Last year, he improved by making the semis before departing at the hands of upset victim Andy Murray, who oddly enough he just passed again to regain the No.2 ranking.

Afterwards, a very pleased Nadal thanked the crowd for their support even getting some unexpected love from a fan who ran onto the court to take a pic before Open Security took the grinning stranger away.

“No, for me it wasn’t the problem. The guy was really nice,” Nadal chuckled, then adding:

Yes. He was a great fan. He said, I love you, and he kiss me.”

Even the unexpected doesn’t faze him. He’ll try to keep it going against Gonzalez, who figures to be a good challenge.

“Right now, the rest of the tournament I know gonna be very difficult. I have to enjoy it. I must enjoy that, and I must to play very aggressive and the best tactically if I gonna have chances to continuing win any match.”

Might another Rafa vs Roger grand slam final finally happen in the city that never sleeps?

It remained possible after tonight.