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Highlights from the 2011 US Open Tennis Championships.
Chris Evert is not somebody who bestows praise without reason and having won 18 major singles titles is qualified to make judgments of levels of achievement. So the six times US Open champion isnt just offering platitudes when she insists Serena Williams should now be viewed as one of the three greatest female tennis players of all time alongside Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf.
Evert is about to the her busiest US Open fortnight for some time as one of the lead commentators on the ESPN team after ten years away from the television commentary booths at Flushing Meadows. And she maintained: "I'd put Serena right up there] with Martina and Steffi.
Though Evert has not been at all the majors over the last decade, she has
watched the on-court action closely and monitored what has been going on away from the tournaments. The Serena Williams story, of course, reads like some movie script with pain, emotion and some episodes that are slightly incongruous to the life of a top flight tennis pro. Plus the 13 times major champion reportedly experienced a near death experience earlier this year.
But Evert maintained : Serena is the best comeback player we've ever seen. If you look at the last ten years, she's been out, she comes back. Even when she
hasn't been in shape, she can still win a Grand Slam.
She is an incredible athlete. She's got the power. She's got the speed. She's got the mental toughness. There isn't a chink in the armor there at all. Her health is her own worst enemy. Her health is her rival or competitor.
Evert made her commentating comeback at Wimbledon earlier this summer and watched Serena, with just two competitive matches in a year, proceed to the fourth round to lose to former finalist Marion Bartoli. Earlier, the four times champion had beaten Aravane Rezai, Simona Haleep and Maria Kirilenko.
Since Wimbledon Serena has won titles in Stanford and Toronto, beating players who will be seeded high in New York such as Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Sabine Lisicki and Sam Stosur. She withdrew from Cincinnati because of issues with her toe.
But Evert continued: We saw Serena at Wimbledon,
and I think even though she lost a close match to [Marion] Bartoli, the French
girl played out of her head,.
"I think that exceeded people's
expectations, that Serena would do that well at Wimbledon after being out for a
year and all her health issues. She committed herself. She practiced. She's won
two tournaments. That's unbelievable. Not to undermine the rest of the field,
but it just shows that she's head and shoulders above anybody else, again, when
Debate has continued for much of the year about what is the key factor that has pushed Novak Djokovic ahead of the seemingly unassailable dominance of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at the summit of mens tennis in 2011.
Is it increased fitness, greater resilience, a stronger serve or improved volley? Perhaps its all down to the gluten free diet or perhaps its all a continuation of the elation Djokovic felt winning the Davis Cup for Serbia last December.
No, says the man who knows the world no.1 and US Open top seed the best, coach Marian Vajda. The important thing for Novak has been his brain, insists the Serbs long time coach.
Maybe before he was impatient. He was saying to himself: I have Federer and Nadal in front of me. I cant make it. He was thinking negatively thinking. He needed to toughen up in his mind, which was the thing that made all the difference. Before he not mentally strong like now. Now it seems he is mentally the strongest of them all.
Vajda revealed there were long and deep conversations in the Djokovic camp around the time of last years US Open. A semi-final victory over Roger Federer was the first product of a new way of thinking but he still came up short against Nadal in the final.
In outdoor tennis there has been hardly any looking back ever since. With Rafa, Roger and also Andy Murray, its always a mind game, insisted Vajda. Its
like chess. They know what the other one is going to do but they have to stay
there, prove they can stand the other ones pressure and then come up with
In the last year, really since last years US Open, he has moved into being in his prime mentally. Courtesy of Novaks talent he was one of the best players in the world but not the best. Now he has picked up and with the maturity and the confidence that he has got that crucially bit better, he can win all these matches. He knows what to do, how to do it, which way to prepare. Its all locked in now and hes benefiting.
Djokovic himself is in agreement with the Vajda assessment on the superiority within the current elite. Against the top players at the top level, it always comes down to a very few points that decide the winner, said the top seed. That's why I think in the end this is a very mental sport. Its why you need to have a lot of self-belief on the court.
Surely its a first in the sport - a secret coach!
You would think that if you got the job of coaching the worlds number one player then youd like the world to know about it. Looks great on the CV. But Caroline Wozniacki is to be coached from afar by someone - rumored to be a top ex-player on the ATP Tour - because that is what he wants.
"It is entirely his own choice," Wozniacki said. "It was a joint decision that my dad and I took, although it was probably a little more from my father's side. But I agree with it. He's still my dad and a really good friend. In this way, it has not changed. I just get some input from the other side, too."
The idea, according to a report in Denmarks Ekstra Bladet, is that the mysterious new coach will act as a technical advisor and work through video tapes, although he might also more conventionally work with her in person now and then. Meanwhile, Carolines father will continue to work with his daughter as he has in the past - just with help from a figure in the shadows.
"I will be the daily coach who tries to implement his ideas on the practice court and in Caroline's matches," Piotr said. "And I must also say that I believe in his ideas and fully agree with his observation. He also believes that we must go out from Caroline's current base. She should just get better at some things, but it must be built on in a calm and sensible pace
Its going to be a good one. Arthur Ashe Kids Day, held on Saturday August 27 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center immediately before the US Open, will feature reigning US Open Champions Rafael Nadal and Kim Clijsters, world number one ranked Novak Djokovic, former US Open Champion Andy Roddick and the 2010 US Open Wheelchair Champion David Wagner, teaming up with actor Bradley Cooper, New York Knicks All-Star Carmelo Anthony,and pop star Cody Simpson.
Hosted by TV personalities/actors La La Anthony and Quddus, the show will feature more musical guests and tennis stars set to be announced in coming weeks. The popular full-day tennis and music festival for children and adults alike will include interactive games, musical entertainment and tennis activities and also feature performances from up-and-coming stars including Girls Nite Out, Action Item, Jacob Latimore and Nickelodeons The Fresh Beat Band.
It kicks off early, as usual, from 9:30 until 12:30 kids and their families can experience an exciting schedule of free tennis games, live music and attractions taking place throughout the grounds. Then, inside Arthur Ashe Stadium from 1- 3, the live tennis and music show will feature fun exhibition matches and skills competitions with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Kim Clijsters, Andy Roddick, David Wagner and other top players and celebrities with musical performances by Cody Simpson and more.
Many had expected former world n0.1 Dinara Safina to announce her enforced retirement from top-flight tennis by now but instead there is clearly still hope from the unfortunate Russian who nevertheless has revealed that she will not play again this year because of persistent back pain.
Safina, who topped the WTA world rankings for 25 weeks between April 20 and October 11, 2009 and then returned to top spot for just a week on October 26 before Serena Williams monopolized the position for nearly a year, has not played since early May.
The 25-year-old Muscovite will therefore will miss her third successive grand slam tournament at the U.S. Open, after also pulling out of the French Open and Wimbledon. In 2010 she also missed Wimbledon while losing in the first rounds at Roland Garros and New York.
Safina currently stands in 65th position on the WTA rankings and using her official website www.dinarasafina.com," she said: I'm sorry to report that my back is still acting up and I will not be able to play until at least the end of the year.
After missing much of last year, she made a comeback at the Australian Open in January but suffered an embarrassing 6-0 6-0 defeat by Kim Clijsters in the opening round and soon after contemplated quitting the sport.
Earlier this year, Russian media quoted Safina as saying: I don't know how long my time out is going to last because I don't want to torture myself and my body anymore.
Despite previously holding the top ranking spot, she had failed to win a grand slam title, losing all three of her major finals (French Open in 2008 and 2009 and 2009 Australian Open).
Spanish Davis Cup captain Albert Costa received the best possible news as he concentrated on the bid to win the historic trophy for the fifth time since the turn of the century. Regardless of the rigors of defending his US Open title at Flushing Meadows, Rafael Nadal insists he wants to be part of the team to face France in the World Group semi-final in Cordoba a week later.
Nadal missed out on Spains successful quarter final trip to Austin, Texas for the 3-1 win over the United States as he recovered from a habitually successful clay court season but the disappointment of losing the Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic and also being deposed as world no.1 by the Serb.
The 25 year-old has only played one Davis Cup tie in nearly two years, this Marchs first round win over Belgium in Charleroi when he won both his singles rubbers. However Nadal has not been on a losing Spanish team since March 2005 when the Slovak Republic registered a 4-1 win in Bratislava.
Nadal sent a simple three-worded message to Costa yesterday as the captain tried to ascertain the state of David Ferriers fitness with the world no.6 struggling to be fit after suffering a hairline fracture in the left hand. Ill be there, said the man from Majorca with regard to the French tie to be staged September 16 thru 18.
And after a month long break from competition; Nadal is in Montreal and more than prepared to contest next weeks Rogers Cup in the latest leg of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 series. I am fit and ready, said Nadal after being one of the first leading players to arrive at the Uniprix Stadium.
Andy Roddicks miserable summer is getting worse and the former world no.1 and last American male to win the US Open looks like arriving at Flushing Meadows this year with minimal match practice after being forced to withdraw from next weeks Rogers Cup in Montreal because the abdominal muscle he injured nearly a month ago is insufficiently healed for him to compete.
Roddick, currently world no.12, was not alone in sending bad news to Eugene Lapierre, tournament director of Canadas leg in the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 series. World no.5 Robin Soderling is still troubled by a wrist, 18th ranked Jurgen Melzer also has a stomach muscle injury and Guillermo Garcia Lopez, 39th placed this week, is suffering from appendicitis. In addition Xavier Malisse has withdrawn because of personal issues.
The upcoming Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, starting August 14, remains on Roddicks schedule. Writing on Twitter he said: Hopefully I'll be ready for Cincy in 10 days or so. . . Fingers crossed.
The precise description of Roddicks injury is a partial tear of the oblique right sided abdominal muscle, which of course is key to hitting any tennis stroke and particularly the serve. The 28 year-old was also forced to pull out of this weeks Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington DC, owned by his own management company Leader Unlimited, and he has only played one match since losing in Wimbledons third round.
I haven't played well this year for sure," Roddick said at Wimbledon. "I don't think I've played my best since probably April of last year. I've been up against some stuff. But it has to get better.
In May the 28 year-old pulled out of the French Open in May with a right shoulder injury and he was further disappointed with a losing Davis Cup effort against Spain in his home town of Austin, Texas when he lost in straight sets to David Ferrer.
Roddick is clearly fretting about match practice and has signed up to contest the newly instigated Winston Salem Open, beginning on August 20 just a week before the US Open.
We are extremely pleased that Andy has decided to come back to Winston-Salem, where he has had so much success in the past playing for the United States in the Davis Cup, said tournament director Bill Oakes. His addition gives the tournament all the top American players and makes an already-strong field even stronger.
The highest-profile match in the Toronto Masters first-round has evaporated after Venus Williams withdrew from the tournament citing a viral illness.
The 31-year-old who last played at Wimbledon six weeks ago, was to have started against former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic. Williams stands 34th on the WTA after months of injury absence.
The senior Williams had been intent on playing, arriving in the Canadian city with her sister Serena. "I was really excited to play Toronto," said Williams. "I came here ready to go and was practicing.
"I wasn't feeling very well and had to see the doctor today. I was diagnosed with a viral illness and unfortunately am unable to play. I am extremely disappointed. I'm very sorry to the fans and tournament."
Williams is replaced in the draw by Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai, who will now meet Ivanovic, a semi-finalist at the San Diego WTA event
Vladimir Voltchkov had a brief flirtation with fame back in 2000 when, having previously won the junior title there in 1996 and ranked 237, he qualified for Wimbledon and went all the way to the semi-finals before losing to Pete Sampras. He was the first qualifier to get that far since John McEnroe in 1977. He didn’t really kick on after that, with his only tournament victories coming at the ITF Challenger and Futures level.
His grasscourt expertise, though, encouraged Maria Sharapova to engage him as a hitting partner for her 2011 Wimbledon campaign to work in tandem with her coach, Thomas Hogstedt, and that obviously worked well as she went all the way to the final - her most successful run at a major since she won the Australian Open in 2008 - before losing to Petra Kvitova. Now she has extended his contract.
"At Fed Cup earlier in the year I hit with Voltchkov a few times and I asked him if there was a time during the year we could work together and it worked during the grass season. I like his ball and the way he hits shots and he can actually make me better," she told Tennis.com.
And she doesn’t anticipate any problems similar to those that existed when she
earlier tried using two coaches, Hogstedt with her former long-time coach
"It’s pretty tough to have two cooks in the kitchen," Sharapova said. "He’s (Voltchkov) great ‘cause he’s willing to travel full time. There are also some weeks when Thomas can’t come because he has to be with his family and then I can have Voltchkov for a few weeks. I’m excited about it."
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