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.

Tennis Reacts To Roddick’s Retirement

The news of Andy Roddick’s retirement sent some shockwaves through the tennis world and many of his contemporaries gave their thoughts on what the 2003 US Open Champion meant to them.

James Blake was getting ready to play when the press conference happened. He wasn’t told by Roddick but did see the presser before his second round win.

“I had an inclination from the beginning of the year,” he said. “But I really thought his success at Eastbourne, success at Atlanta, the fact he was playing well again could have possibly changed that.

“To be honest, I thought it would have changed his mind when he beat Federer in Miami. To me that showed he could still beat the top guys.”

Serena Williams, said she knew about the announcement, so it didn’t come as a surprise.

“He told me a while ago, last year, this would be it,” Williams said. “I was at his house at Austin and we were talking about it.

“He’s been great for American men’s tennis, great for the US Open, doing so much and playing so well, just being a great player. A great attitude, incredibly fun to watch. You know, I know a lot of people look up to Andy Roddick. That’s who I want to be like.”

Sam Querrey also described him as his idol and a great help.

“He’s been my biggest role model the last 10 years playing tennis,” Querrey said. “He’s been a great guy, great leader to us all. Nice and kind. Real generous to the up-and-comers.

“For me, for [Ryan] Harrison, for the 18 year-olds now, he’s just been an unbelievable champion, a Hall of Famer, just a great guy, great person for the sport of tennis.”

Then there is Roger Federer, the man he just never could beat.

“Look you are always going to have someone around,” he said. “I had many guys who denied me many things. That was the last thing that came to my mind when he told me he was going to retire.

“He was happy to go into retirement. He had an amazing career. Some expected better; some expected worse. But I am sure he is happy with what he achieved because he achieved everything he wanted.

“Maybe to lose that Wimbledon title potentially, but let’s forget about that. He was in those Wimbledon titles. He could have gotten that title. That’s what I said when I beat him in ’09. He deserves this title as well. In my mind, he is a Wimbledon Champion as well, a wonderful ambassador for the game.

“I’m thankful for everything he’s done for the game, especially here for tennis in America. It’s not been easy after Agassi and Sampras, Currier, Chang, Connors, McEnroe, you name it.”

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.

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.

 

Tennis Ledger Magazine Is Now Online

Sportsday Publishing is proud to introduce Tennis Ledger Magazine.

We have put a veteran staff together from inside the tennis world to bring you the new quarterly publication, which will augment the coverage from this website.

Issue No. 1 is 24 pages filled with stories from the US Open. With articles from Tennis Ledger Publisher Joe McDonald, Tennis Now’s Richard Pagliaro, USTWA member and author Richard Kent, and newcomer Jon Thompson, we have the grand tournament covered.

On the photo side, Tennis Ledger Magazine has a skilled staff of tennis veterans shooting from the pits in Flushing.

Now is the time to advertise your products with us. A FULL PAGE advertisement in the online version is only $250 and a HALF PAGE is $150 per issue. This is a one time, flat rate and every issue will be archived and able to be viewed forever.

For more information contact publisher Joe McDonald at Joe@tennisledger.com.

Click Here To Read Issue No. 1

What A Wonderful Two Weeks of the Year

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – These two weeks may be the most fun for a reporter and most work. It’s a virtual plethora of sports with so many things are going on at once, it’s extremely difficult to keep up with everything.

But that’s what makes the US Open so great. While Wimbledon may be the most prestigious, and Roland Garros embodies the European culture, the tournament in Flushing Meadows is definitely the personification of American Culture.

The Open is the slam of the future where stars are born and it uses an experimental atmosphere to introduce hard courts and instant replay to the game.

It’s the most raucous, as if rock-n-roll took over the tennis world. A giant Woodstock, or Rolling Stones concert paced about for the two weeks.

But really that’s what makes the US Open maybe the hardest championship to win.

Maybe that’s why Roger Federer is so tough on Arthur Ashe. And why many are picking Maria Sharapova, even though she hasn’t been the same since the shoulder injury.

“I think the lights are really good,” Federer said after winning his first match win over Bryan Dubal, 6-1 6-4 6-2.  “There are some stadiums around the world where the lights are not the same, but here it feels great.  Obviously I have the experience to play under pressure and with so many people, high expectations, so I guess I can use that to my advantage.

“Then court speed, surroundings, the event and everything helps my cause to really do well and play well here.  I always loved coming here.  Never had a bad US Open.  Never had a first‑round upset somehow.  Just shows again, you know, I was playing well tonight.  I’m happy I got to play a night session again.”

Here’s the thing New York is made for stars and thus the stars shine for these two weeks. As you know, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

And if you happen to be one that does succeed in New York, then a star is born. Last year Melanie Oudin was able to get to the Quarterfinals. Her follow-ups during the year were less than stellar, but then back on Ashe she shined.

“It felt so good to be out there again and hearing the crowd, and just being on Ashe again and playing.  No matter who I was playing, it feels good to be back again,” Oudin said after defeating Olga Savchuk, 6-3, 6-0. “But I was ‑‑ yes, I was definitely nervous.  My stomach felt a little bit funny in the beginning of the match.  I loosened up, and I think it got a lot better in the second set.”

And maybe she will make another run. As we have seen it just gets easier the second time around and with an open women’s field, who knows what will happen. Maybe in Oudin can salvage 2010 with a strong Open and make 2011 her year.

But that’s what makes the Open so special. Stars are born and then they shine. And maybe this year names like Mardy Fish or Coco Vanderweghe get the call.

One thing’s for certain though, it’s going to be a great two weeks.

SECOND YEAR OF US OPEN ON TENNIS CHANNEL STARTS WITH FIRST DAY OF PLAY MONDAY, AUGUST 30

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 23, 2010 – Tennis Channel’s second year of US Open coverage will provide viewers with 73 hours of live matches as the tennis world descends upon New York, and will also introduce a new team member who knows a thing (or two) about on-court glory in the Big Apple.  This year two-time US Open singles titlist Tracy Austin joins the network’s returning on-air roster of tennis champions, with a lineup that includes lead analysts Jimmy Connors and Martina Navratilova and US Open Tonight / Breakfast at the Open host Lindsay Davenport.  In all the network will offer 234 hours of US Open telecasts, with nearly 24-hour, “Grounds Pass” level of coverage during the two-week competition.

When live matches are not taking place in Flushing Meadow, Tennis Channel’s signature US Open Tonight and Breakfast at the Open will recap all the excitement of that day’s play, and lead into the following morning’s contests.  Again hosted by 1998 US Open champion Lindsay Davenport and Kevin Frazier of Entertainment Tonight fame, the news, interview and highlight shows will air alongside encore matches throughout the night during the tournament, giving viewers a close to 24-hour daily US Open experience.

Beginning with its opening-match coverage on Arthur Ashe Stadium or Louis Armstrong Stadium the first day of play Monday, Aug. 30, Tennis Channel’s typical US Open schedule features live matches daily from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. (all times ET).  US Open Tonight immediately follows the conclusion of the final US Open match of the evening, and airs with encore matches until Breakfast at the Open premieres at 6 a.m. and runs next to encore matches until the start of that day’s play at 11 a.m.  During Labor Day weekend Tennis Channel’s live-match window moves to prime time, from 7 p.m.-11 p.m.  As with the other three Grand Slams, Tennis Channel will combine with ESPN2 to bring fans virtually round-the-clock coverage during the US Open, each network utilizing its own commentators.

On-Air Talent

Though new to the network’s Grand Slam team, Austin has been a Tennis Channel regular via Tennis Channel Academy, the coaches-and-clinics series she has hosted since 2008.  She has also done commentary and analysis work for the channel’s coverage of top events like the women’s year-end championships.  During the US Open she will serve as Tennis Channel’s afternoon and late-match analyst, appear in short features and interact with fans on the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center grounds.

A tennis prodigy, Austin is best known for dethroning four-time US Open champion Chris Evert in 1979 at the mere age of 16, making her the youngest US Open champion in history.  She was the No. 1 women’s singles player in 1980 and boasts an impressive collection of 30 singles titles, including two US Open championships along with a Wimbledon mixed doubles title.  She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1992.

“Tennis Channel tries to put as much of the US Open on fans’ television screens as is humanly possible, and I’m thrilled to join them this year,” said Austin.  “This is an exciting time of the tennis season and this tournament has such special memories for me.”

Tennis icons Jimmy Connors and Martina Navratilova are back as Tennis Channel’s lead US Open analysts, again putting the all-time men’s and women’s singles titlists in the same booth.  They will be joined once more by veteran sportscaster Bill Macatee, a mainstay of the network’s Grand Slam coverage since its first effort in Paris in 2007.  Lead commentators Ted Robinson and Ian Eagle are also back on Tennis Channel’s on-air roster, as are former players Leif Shiras, Katrina Adams, Jimmy Arias, Justin Gimelstob and Corina Morariu.  Year-round Court Report anchor Cari Champion will also be on the tournament grounds for special news and feature segments.  US Open Tonight and Breakfast at the Open are hosted by Davenport and Frazier from Tennis Channel’s Los Angeles studio, with nightly Court Report segments from reporters Arlene Santana and Angela Sun.

“Grounds Pass”

After bringing its “Grounds Pass” Grand Slam coverage approach to the US Open last year for the first time, Tennis Channel is doing even more to give audiences the feel of spending a late-summer afternoon at the tournament.  New in 2010 is the “Tennis Channel Plaza,” a fixed interview and fan-interaction site centered just outside Arthur Ashe Stadium.  Throughout each day’s coverage Gimelstob, Champion and others will conduct interviews while surrounded by tournament ticket holders, routinely carrying on public address conversations with the crowd in the interim.  The network’s main set has been moved from the top of Louis Armstrong Stadium and brought outside to the second level of Arthur Ashe Stadium, in full view of the public.  Usually featuring Robinson and Eagle, this set will be the center point of Tennis Channel’s coverage, from here taking viewers to center court with Macatee, Connors and Navratilova; off to the outer grounds with roving reporters; and on-air analysts or anywhere between.

Broadband and Digital Coverage

What the network cannot squeeze into viewers’ television sets over the Flushing Meadow fortnight is likely to be found on Tennis Channel’s Web site, www.tennischannel.com.  Beyond real-time scoring, schedules, draws and order of play, the site will include on-court video highlights, behind-the-scenes features, interviews and Court Report news segments.  Exclusive US Open photo gallery scenes capture the raucous energy of the event, while reporter Steve Flink and humorist James LaRosa have become Tennis Channel digital favorites who will again offer their online opinions as the competition unfolds.  At the same time, Web visitors can sign up for network sweepstakes and play its “Racquet Bracket” prediction game.  Tennis Channel’s YouTube (www.youtube.com/tennischannel), Twitter (www.twitter.com/tennischannel) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/tennischannel) pages offer additional opportunities for fans to stay digitally engaged.

Tennis Channel’s Live 2010 US Open Match Schedule

Date                                        Time (ET)                   Event

Monday, Aug. 30                     11 a.m.-7 p.m.             First-Round Action

Tuesday, Aug. 31                     11 a.m.-7 p.m.             First-Round Action

Wednesday, Sept. 1                 11 a.m.-7 p.m.             First-Round, Second-Round Action

Thursday, Sept. 2                     11 a.m.-7 p.m.             Second-Round Action

Friday, Sept. 3                         11 a.m.-7 p.m.             Second-Round, Third-Round Action

Saturday, Sept. 4                      7 p.m.-11 p.m.             Third-Round Action

Sunday, Sept. 5                        7 p.m.-11 p.m.             Third-Round, Round-of-16 Action

Tuesday, Sept. 7                      11 a.m.-7 p.m.             Round-of-16 Action, Doubles

Wednesday, Sept. 8                 11 a.m.-7 p.m.             Doubles Quarterfinals, Mixed Semifinals

Thursday, Sept. 9                     11 a.m.-8 p.m.             Doubles, Juniors, Wheelchair

Tennis Channel’s US Open Tonight, Breakfast at the Open Schedule

US Open Tonight runs evenings and mornings Monday, Aug. 30-Sunday, Sept. 12, while Breakfast at the Open will air Monday, Aug. 30-Friday, Sept. 10.  Both are interspersed with same-day, encore matches.  This year US Open Tonight will start at the conclusion of play each evening which, especially the first week, could mean well into the early morning hours.  Because of the uncertain start time for US Open Tonight, Tennis Channel’s 11 p.m.-3 a.m. schedule will vary in terms of the number of times US Open Tonight airs, as will the length of the encore match.  The schedule is generally as follows (all times ET):

11 p.m.-3 a.m. – US Open Tonight / Encore Match

3 a.m.-4 a.m. – US Open Tonight

4 a.m.-6 a.m. – Encore Match

6 a.m.-7 a.m. – Breakfast at the Open

7 a.m.-10 a.m. – Encore Match

10 a.m.-11 a.m. – Breakfast at the Open

On Friday, Sept. 10, Tennis Channel will air a four-hour special, US Open Tonight: Best of the US Open, from 7 p.m.-11 p.m.  Three consecutive encore editions of this will run through 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 11.  From 12 a.m.-12 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12, the network will air four US Open encore matches.  During the week of Sunday, Sept. 12, Tennis Channel will run encore replays of the men’s and women’s singles and doubles finals and mixed doubles final, TBD.

Tennis Channel (www.tennischannel.com) is the only 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to both the professional sport and tennis lifestyle.  A hybrid of comprehensive sports, health, fitness, pop culture, entertainment, lifestyle and travel programming, the network is home to every aspect of the wide-ranging, worldwide tennis community.  It also has the most concentrated single-sport coverage in television, with telecast rights to the US Open, Wimbledon, Roland Garros (French Open), Australian Open, Olympus US Open Series, ATP Masters Series, top-tier Sony Ericsson WTA Tour championship competitions, Davis Cup and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, and Hyundai Hopman Cup.  Tennis Channel is carried by nine of the top 10 MSOs, Verizon FiOS TV, and has a national footprint via DIRECTV and DISH Network.

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly of the Open

That was some Open.

Not only did we have some great matches, upsets, and surprises, we also saw the downside with Serena’s meltdown and that darn, pesky rain.

And that may be the story of this Open. We had the good and the bad as well. For all the good Kim Clijsters, Melanie Oudin, and Caroline Wozniacki brought the sport, everyone was still talking about Serena Williams threatening the lineswoman in the Semifinals.

Yet, all of that is needed. The only way tennis can grow is to go through the bad and learn from its mistakes. Do they put on a roof? Do they make the rules harsher for outburst at on court officials? These are questions the governing agencies will have to answer.

At the same time, we have met Oudin, Wozniacki, Juan Martin Del Potro, and Yanina Wickmayer, all of whom look like future stars on tour and could move up to elite status. Tennis rich countries like Belgium and the United States have their newest torchbearers, while Argentina and Denmark can begin their histories.

All in all, this was a great Open. Anytime you have a 5-set final – and the first one in 10 years – you have a memorable tournament.

But let’s take a closer look at the good, bad, and ugly from Flushing Meadows.

The Good

The New Stars – New York was introduced to Melanie Oudin and fell in love. The normal kid attitude and fighting spirit gave the American tennis its newest hope. She’s only 17 and seems to have a very bright future ahead.

Then we had Wozniacki and Wickmayer, 19 year-olds who played each other in the semis. Wozniacki looks to be a star with an aggressive, but defensive game, while possessing a very pleasant demeanor and stunning good looks. Wickmayer lost her mother when she was 9 years old, and convinced her father to move to the US to learn tennis. Ten years later, it’s paying off.

Finally, 20 year-old Del Potro stunned the tennis world by beating Rafael Nadal in the Semifinals and Roger Federer in the finals. His on the mark serve and laser like forehand will make him an elite for a long time.

Welcome Back Kimmy – Kim Clijsters fully came back, winning the woman’s title in her only third tournament, proving there’s life after motherhood.

The Unlikely Pair – The team of Travis Parrott and Carly Gullickson won mixed doubles after getting together two days before the tournament. The unseeded team made themselves known in the tennis world.

That First Saturday – Let’s see, Oudin beat Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick went out in a five set classic to John Isner, and No. 1 seed Dinara Safina goes out. There may not have been a more exciting day at the Open in years.

The First Week Weather – Sure the rain marred the last weekend, but that first week was beautiful, and the weather made Flushing Meadows a very pleasant experience.

The Bad

The Lack of a Villain – Too bad Federer is a nice guy. If he was a jerk, his loss to Del Potro would have been just so much sweeter to watch. Imagine the ‘Roog—Ahh” chants coming down from the rafters, which are usually reserved for Roger Clemens on the baseball diamond. But Federer is a classy individual and a great champion. Tennis needs some sort of villain for everyone to hate.

Or maybe it needs a people’s champ like Phil Mickelson is in golf of Andre Agassi was in Flushing just a few years ago. Unfortunately there’s just no one out there to fill the role.

Bad Andys – Both Roddick and Andy Murray went out before the playoff rounds, which is disappointing. Both were somewhat favorites (Federer is the only true favorite), but neither could get through. Roddick lost a five set third round match to John Isner, while Marin Cilic took out Murray in straight sets, and the Scotsman didn’t really show up.

The Rain – The last Friday was a washout and the next day had an eight hour delay. The press screamed for a roof on Arthur Ashe, which is more of a pipe dream, since the place may not physically be able to hold a roof. Yet something has to be done.

The Ugly

Serena’s Meltdown – Serena losing her Semifinal match with Clijsters made for a very ugly story which showed the dark side of tennis. Something may have to be done, even though Serena did apologize and was fined. Yet new rules may go into place to protect the officials.

Oudin’s Family Affair – Just hours after losing to Wozniacki, Si reported that Oudin’s parents are getting a divorce because her mother was sleeping with coach Brian de Villiers. This only proves that no matter how normal the kid, the family can still be dysfunctional.

Maria Dominates The First Round Proving She’s Back

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Maria Sharapova has sent a message to the tennis world: She’s back.

After missing almost a year due to a shoulder injury, the tall lanky Russian took the court again in Flushing Meadows. The result was a straight-set win against Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova, 6-3, 6-0.

“I was pretty happy because I kind of came from a slow court in Toronto to a pretty fast court here,” said Sharapova, who is playing in just eighth match of the season. “So it was all about adjustment.

“I played a tricky opponent who doesn’t give you much rhythm. It was real important to stay on top of her and do the right things from the beginning. I thought I had a little bit of a slow start, but once I got going, I did a a good job maintaining.”

It’s been a strange year for Sharapova, who is also making a comeback. She was out for almost all of 2008 with a shoulder injury, including last year’s Open. Although, she came back in time for this year’s French and Wimbledon, Queens is the place where she is at full strength, even though they said on ESPN she was looking towards 2010.

“I have been fortunate this summer to play as many matches as I have,” she said. “I think in Toronto, I played in six matches in seven days. I don’t remember the last time I did that. I feel like I’ve learned a lot and stepped it up. I certainly feel like I’m cutting down on the errors and getting confidence back certainly.”

Of course, much like any injury, Sharapova still has to worry about the shoulder. She said it now takes her longer to recover after each tournament, which is something she is not used to.

“It’s a little bit of a new stage for me, kind of dealing with that, and really being smart on the practice court,” said Sharapova, who is now 23-7 this year.  “Obviously you have a week to train before a grand slam but you want to do the right thing. I still have to work on my strength and do my program every single day of the last week, but also I want to go on the court and hit the tennis ball.”

“It’s a compromise. It’s something new in my career but that’s OK.”

That also means a new serve motion, which is easier on her arm.

“I’m pretty mobile,” she said. “My joints are pretty loose. I had a pretty loose motion but by the tie I would get to the hitting position my rotator cuff would be out of place because I am so mobile. With a shorter motion, it doesn’t have so much room to move around. It’s much more stable in the socket.”

And that will help her shoulder not get injured again.

In other words: She’s back.

An Excerpt From “American Doubles”

“The Bryans Rule”

An excerpt, printed with permission, from AMERICAN DOUBLES …the Trials …the Triumphs …the Domination by Marcia Frost. The book, published by Mansion Grove House, is available on Amazon.com, BN.com, and AmericanDoublesBook.net.

Kathy Bryan was playing a doubles match on her due date so her boys were literally born to play tennis when they made their appearance on April 29, 1978. Bob and Mike Bryan grew up in Camarillo, California, a small farm town that is known more for raising lemons and strawberries than tennis players. But Kathy and Wayne Bryan changed all that and instead reared the most famous twins in the tennis world.

In 2007, the Bryan Brothers earned the No. 1 place in the world for three consecutive years and for the fourth time in the past five years. The ITF, which bases the honor on a combination of performance and international competition (i.e. Davis Cup), named them their ITF World Doubles Champions for the fifth straight year. They earned 11 ATP titles in 2007 and, with a total of 44, they are getting close to breaking the all-time record by Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde (“the Woodies”) of 61 titles.

From January of 2005 to July of 2007, the “Boys,” as they are often known, made seven consecutive Grand Slam finals, the first team in the Open era to accomplish that. They completed the Career Grand Slam, becoming only the third doubles team — and first American team — to have won all four major titles in the Open Era (Jacco Eltingh & Paul Haarhuis and the Woodies are the other two).

While Wayne Bryan may have been coach to his boys when they were growing up, he is clear on who had the dreams, “It was not about my goals, it was really just about their goals. Kathy (their mother) and I did everything we could to help them along the path to their goals.” The boys did not watch television and they were not allowed to play against each other in a junior tournament. It was typical to see a “default” as the score when it was a Bryan-Bryan final. The junior tennis world just accepted that was the way it was.

Bob and Mike knew early on what it was they wanted to do. They wrote down their goals and they kept going back to them:

To be No. 1 in the U.S. in Doubles every year in the Juniors
They were No. 1 in the 12s, 14s and 18s (twice);

To get a full ride to Stanford and win the NCAA Team, Doubles and Singles Championship;
They played for Stanford from 1996-98. They led Stanford to the team championship both seasons and won the NCAA Doubles Championship in 1998. Bob also won the singles that year.

To be No. 1 in the World in Doubles;
They accomplished this for the first time in 2003.

To win all the Grand Slam Doubles titles;
They have won two Australian Opens, two French Opens, two Wimbledons and one U.S. Open Championship.

To be the Davis Cup Doubles Team for the U.S. and win the Davis Cup for the U.S.
They clinched the United State’s first Davis Cup final in 12 years on December 1, 2007.

Writing down the goals was an important part of the process, says Wayne, “We (their mother and I) feel you must see it before you can dream it and you must be passionate about it before you can achieve it. We felt it was very important that they knew the ‘real deal’ and all the thousands of steps it took to get up to the top of the mountain, and at the same time we always wanted them to have a smile on their face and learn the great lessons of life along the way and help other people on their journey…And we wanted to leave the tennis campsite cleaner than we found it.”

It is the bond between the two brothers that led them to both choose a doubles career even after Bob, who won the 1998 NCAA Singles Championship, had a good shot at a career in that event.

James Blake spoke a bit about the talent of the Twins at that [the 2007 Davis Cup final in Portland, Ore.], “We have so much fun watching them because we’re constantly in awe of how good their hands are, how well they move together, how great Mike’s returning, how close Bob gets to the net, how well they’re doing everything.”

It was a long road to Portland from when Mike and Bob went to the Davis Cup match in La Costa, California, when they were just 11 years old. As juniors they won 10 national junior doubles titles, including an unmatched five USTA National Clay Court Championships. They were also the first team to win backto- back USTA National Boys’ 18 titles at Kalamazoo in 50 years. Along the way, Bob managed to pick up six national junior singles trophies, while Mike got five. They were the last brothers (in 1996) to be ranked in the Top 10 of the Boys’ 18 division of the USTA National Junior Rankings at the same time.

To those watching The Twins off the court, there are still other subtle ways to tell the guys apart. Bob has always worn a shell beaded necklace. He is also taller — 6’4” to Mike’s 6’31/2”.

The final goal on Bob and Mike’s list was achieved in when they clinched that Davis Cup for the United States, but that doesn’t mean the twins are done playing. “Doubles is a game that you develop into your early, mid 30s,” says Bob. “See guys in their 30s getting better. I think we’ll still improve.”

April 29, 2008 marked the 30th birthday of Bob and Mike Bryan. As they head into their 30s they decided to just add to the list the goal of chasing some records. The “Woodies” currently hold the record for the most year end number one finishes (5), however, it looks like that record will not last for much longer if Bob and Mike have their way.