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Did you miss Serena Williams vs
Bojana Jovanovski last night?  Catch up with these highlights:
 VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Serena Williams vs Bojana
Jovanovski
www.usopen.org
Serena Williams vs Bojana Jovanovski -
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 isn’t 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
she's  healthy.”
 
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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 men’s tennis in  2011.

Is it increased fitness, greater resilience, a stronger serve or  improved volley? Perhaps it’s all down to the gluten free diet or perhaps it’s  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 Serb’s long time coach.

“Maybe before he was  impatient. He was saying to himself: ‘I have Federer and Nadal in front of me. I  can’t 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 year’s 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, it’s  always a mind game,” insisted Vajda. “It’s
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
something different.

“In the last  year, really since last year’s US Open, he has moved into being in his prime  mentally. Courtesy of Novak’s 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. It’s all locked in now and  he’s 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. It’s why you need to have a lot of self-belief on the court.”
 
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Surely it’s a  first in the sport - a secret coach!

You would think that if you got the  job of coaching the world’s number one player then you’d 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 Denmark’s 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, Caroline’s 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
 
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It’s going to be a good one. Arthur Ashe Kid’s 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 Nickelodeon’s 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.
 
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 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).
 
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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 Spain’s 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 March’s  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 Ferrier’s fitness with the world no.6 struggling to be fit after suffering a hairline fracture in the left hand. “I’ll 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 week’s 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.
 
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Andy Roddick’s 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 week’s 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 Canada’s 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 Roddick’s schedule. Writing on Twitter he said: “Hopefully  I'll be ready for Cincy in 10 days or so. . . Fingers crossed.”

The  precise description of Roddick’s 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  week’s 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  Wimbledon’s 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.”
 
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 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
 
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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
Michael Joyce.

"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."