Mondays with Bob Greene
US Open (First week)
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni beat second-seeded Simona Halep 7-6 (6) 6-2
Aleksandra Krunic beat third-seeded Petra Kvitova 6-4 6-4
Peng Shuai beat fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3 6-4
Gilles Simon beat fourth-seeded David Ferrer 6-3 3-6 6-1 6-3
Caroline Wozniacki beat fifth-seeded Maria Sharapova 6-4 2-6 6-2
Belinda Bencic beat sixth-seeded Angelique Kerber 6-1 7-5
Karolina Pliskova beat eighth-seeded Ana Ivanovic 7-5 6-4
“I wasn’t surprised by the way I played, but I was surprised that I won because I was not expecting this.” – Karolina Pliskova, after upsetting eighth-seeded Ana Ivanovic in a second-round match.
“Going to play against such a champion meant to stay on the court as long as possible. Of course, I didn’t expect to win. Of course I hoped to. I’m very happy.” – Aleksandra Krunic, after upsetting third-seeded Petra Kvitova, the reigning Wimbledon champion,
“I’m very disappointed. I think she played really unbelievable tennis and she put a lot of balls back. Almost all of them.” – Petra Kvitova, talking about Aleksandra Krunic.
“I’m afraid that I’m going to have so much emotion. So I’m trying to keep it all together. My coach is already screaming and jumping, and I’m trying to stay away from him so I don’t listen.” –145th-ranked Aleksandra Krunic, after upsetting third-seeded Petra Kvitova to advance to the fourth round.
“I’m a little bit emotional now. Sorry. It’s been really hard. After so many years to be here again, it’s incredible. I wanted this so bad.” – Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, after beating second-seeded Simona Halep.
“I think she’s playing unbelievable. I really don’t know how I won today.” – Sara Errani, after beating crowd favorite Venus Williams.
“When you step out on the court, I don’t think anybody thinks about age. Because if you’re out on this tour, it means you deserve to be here. You’ve got the skill. It must mean you know how to play.” – Venus Williams.
“I think you just have to have a real love for the sport. That’s the only reason I’m still here. I enjoy my job. It’s fabulous. I get to travel the world, get to do what I really love to do. I think that’s what everyone ultimately dreams of.” – Serena Williams, when asked what it takes to play for so long.
“It’s an amazing time for me.” – Peng Shuai, after upsetting fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska in a second-round match 6-3 6-4.
“We women keep it interesting.” – Caroline Wozniacki, explaining how her hair got tangled in her racquet while she was playing a point in a second-round match.
“I don’t really think about it (the prize money). I mean, I try to just focus on the tennis rather than anything else, especially thinking about something after the match, like what’s on the line for the match.” –CiCi Bellis, when told because of her amateur status she would be unable to claim the USD $60,420 prize money for reaching the second round.
“It’s not easy to go out on court and play the first round against somebody who has nothing to lose. I didn’t expect her to play so aggressive. I thought she was a player who just puts the ball back and runs around.” – Dominika Cibulkova, after losing to CiCi Bellis.
“I wanted to get my job done as quick as possible. I don’t feel like I need to play long matches to get into the groove.” – Novak Djokovic, who needed less than 90 minutes to beat Paul-Henri Mathieu and advance to the third round.
“It’s bigger and it’s more blue. There, it’s green, I think.” – Simona Halep, explaining the difference between the courts at the US Open and the French Open, which is played on red clay. Wimbledon is played on grass.
“It’s the biggest court, so it’s a little bit different because … wherever you look you see people, so it’s not easy.” –Simona Halep, on Arthur Ashe Stadium, with 23,771 seating capacity the largest tennis stadium in the world.
“Every day we have to work to reach the top and to stay there, because it’s more difficult to stay there than to reach it.” – Simona Halep, on being ranked number two in the world.
“I learned that if you start bad, still you can win the match. So I have to play till the end, till the last point, and to fight for every chance you have during the match.” – Simona Halep.
“It was my childhood dream to play in a Grand Slam and to play in the US Open. I got that off the bucket list.” – Danielle Rose Collins, whose US Open debut on opening day ended in a 6-7 (2) 6-1 6-2 loss to second-ranked Simona Halep.
“It was awesome. I have never played at that level and I have never played in a stadium like that. It was amazing. I mean, I could get used to that.” – Danielle Rose Collins, after playing – and losing –her US Open debut in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“It’s just full of energy. They’re loud and passionate. You just feel the sports lovers are there.” – Maria Sharapova, on US Open fans at the night sessions.
“I really enjoy it. I think you feel the Goosebumps when you go out on a night match on Arthur Ashe.” – Maria Sharapova.
“The first round is always difficult just because you come from another tournament, from different condition, and that’s it. Every tournament is different. Every time when you have to change it takes time, you know, to play your best tennis on the surface.” – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, after winning his first-round match 6-3 4-6 7-6 (2) 6-1 over Juan Monaco.
“There’s nothing that I need. Right now it’s just numbers … because right now I don’t need to win another Grand Slam, I don’t need to win another tournament. I could go home and go to bed for as long as I want. But at the end of the day, I’m just playing for pure fun, just for me.” – Serena Williams.
“Every day I’m going to wear a different New York shirt just because I’m cool like that.” – Sloane Stephens, who on the tournament’s first day wore a T-shirt that said “Bronx.”
“I work hard for each match, and I do that because I love it. I don’t want to take anything for granted. I really enjoy being here.” – Ana Ivanovic.
“It’s completely different sports. The pros, they are doing it for a living. The experience is different level. Fitness is at a different level.” – Noah Rubin, explaining the difference between playing in the US Open juniors and the main draw.
“I watched (Roger) Federer and (Lleyton) Hewitt this morning. That’s probably the only one I can remember right now.” – Nick Kyrgios, when asked to share a moment when he first had a rooting interest in a match at the US Open when he was younger.
“I was trying not to get caught up in the whole ‘Roger act’ out there. You walk out, you get a few cheers. He walks out and the crowd goes ballistic. So from the word ‘Go,’ you know he’s there.” – Sam Groth, after losing to Roger Federer 6-4 6-4 6-4 in a second-round match.
It’s been a long time since Mirjana Lucic-Baroni was a teenage phenom. But at age 32, she showed that long-anticipated game when she stunned second-seeded Simona Halep 7-6 () 6-2, winning 11 of the final 15 games of the third-round match. “I feel like I’m 15 now,” Lucic-Baroni said. “I’m 32, but I don’t feel like that. My body is really great. I feel fit. I feel strong in my mind. I feel very excited, even after so many years on tour. I still have so much desire, so much to play.” Lucic-Baroni won her first professional tournament, then reached the final of the second, where she lost to Steffi Graf. She teamed with Martina Hingis to win her first doubles tournament, the Australian Open. At the age of 17, she upset Monica Seles to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon. Then, beset by personal issues and injury, she tumbled to 454th in the world. Now she’s back, using her flat ground strokes to dictate play and push the 5-foot-6 Halep from corner to corner. “I worked so hard for this,” Lucic-Baroni said. “I knew what I had to do, and I was able to do that on the tennis court, which is, yeah, amazing.”
Little-known Aleksandra Krunic is known now. The 21-year-old Serbian qualifier eliminated Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova 6-4 6-4. “It was an honor for me to be on the same court as Petro, who is a great champion,” Krunic told the crowd in her post-match interview. “I watched boy of her finals matches at Wimbledon.” The diminutive Krunic must have learned a lot just by watching. Racing from corner to corner, Krunic kept the ball in play until the third-seeded Kvitova made a multitude of errors. While Kvitova had 33 winners, she also made 34 errors. Krunic, on the other hand, finished with 17 winners and only 14 errors.
It was a battle of two former world number ones, so it wasn’t a huge upset when Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki defeated fourth-seeded Maria Sharapova 6-4 2-6 6-2 to move into the quarterfinals. Playing in the heat and humidity of summertime New York City, Wozniacki proved to be the steadier of the two. She repeatedly pounded her ground strokes deep in the court, winning most of the long rallies as her Russian opponent found the net or was long with her ground strokes. “It means so much to me,” Wozniacki said. “It’s been a bit up and down year for me. To win against a champion like Maria is an unbelievable feeling.” The victory put Wozniacki into her first Grand Slam tournament quarterfinal since the 2012 Australian Open. “I thought she played really well,” Sharapova said. “She made me hit a lot of balls. That’s always been her strength. But she did extremely well today. She’s a great retriever.” The critical service break in the third set came when Wozniacki raced three times across the baseline, running down Sharapova shots and returning them until Sharapova netted a backhand volley to fall behind 3-1. After that it was only a matter of what the final score would be.
Angelique Kerber led 5-2 and appeared ready to knot up her third-round match at one set apiece. Instead, her opponent, young Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, ripped off the next five games to knock off the sixth-seeded German 6-1 7-5. Last year, the 17-year-old Bencic won the junior girls’ singles titles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. This year, her win over Kerber put her into the fourth round of the main draw. In the second set, Kerber had five set points, including three at 40-0 on her serve. But Bencic won the last five games of the match, saving five set points on the way, for the best victory of her career.
With Li Na missing the US Open because a knee injury, Peng Shuai says she feels the burden of Chinese expectation. The 28-year-old Peng, ranked 39th in the world, raised those expectations when she stunned fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round. It was Peng’s fourth career victory over a Top 5 player, but the first in a Grand Slam tournament. “I prefer to have Li Na here,” Peng said. “They (Chinese fans) didn’t watch me … now there is more pressure. It’s not easy to handle that. I just want to focus and enjoy my tennis.” Even without Li, China had a six-player contingent in the women’s singles. “This year is one of the best with six Chinese girls in the main draw,” Peng said. The highest-ranked member of the delegation, 32nd-ranked Zhang Shuai, fell in the first round to Germany’s Mona Barthel 6-1 6-2. Peng eliminated Zheng Jie in the opening round 6-3 6-3, while Duan Ying-Ying also lost her first match, 2-6 6-2 6-4 to Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia.
CiCi Bellis became the youngest player to win a US Open match since 1996 – almost three years before she was born – when she knocked off Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova in a first-round upset. The 15-year-old American rallied from down a break in the third set to oust the 12th-seeded Cibulkova 6-1 4-6 6-4. “I never thought I’d come out like this,” the teen-ager said in an on-court interview. Bellis earned a wild card into her first Grand Slam tournament by winning the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championship, the youngest to do that since Lindsay Davenport won that event in 1991, also at the age of 15. Anna Kournikova was also 15 when she won a US Open match in 1996. Bellis the youngest American to win a US Open match since Mary Joe Fernandez did it in 1986, when she was 15.
When Kimiko Date-Krumm and Venus Williams met in the US Open first round, it matched the oldest player in the women’s singles draw against the second oldest. The youngster, 34-year-old Venus, won 2-6 6-3 6-3. Date-Krumm, who turns 44 in September, is the oldest player in the Top 100. Ranked as high as fourth in the world in 1995, the Japanese right-hander has four wins over players ranked in the Top 40 this year. There are 72 players in the US Open man draw who were not born when Date-Krumm played in her first Grand Slam tournament – Roland Garros in 1989. And there are three players in the main draw – Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, Francoise Abanda of Canada and American Catherine Bellis – who were born after Date-Krumm retired from the sport in December 1996. Twelve years later she returned to the women’s tour and in 2013 became the oldest woman to reach the third round at Wimbledon. Date-Krumm came into the US Open ranked 88th in the world.
Fifty-eight nations are represented by the 258 players in the men’s and women’s singles fields at this year’s US Open. The largest contingents in the men’s singles are from France and Spain, with 13 players each, and the United States, with 12. In the women’s singles, the United States had 12 entries, with Russia and the Czech Republic second with eight each. Countries with only one representative in both singles fields were Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Moldova, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Tunisia, Uruguay and Uzbekistan.
Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka got fed up with a rowdy fan during his second-round match that lasted after midnight. A fan kept up a steady commentary as Wawrinka and Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci battled. At one point, Wawrinka turned to the fan and said, “Shut up, man!. Seriously, shut up.” After winning the four-setter, Wawrinka was able to laugh about it. “At the end of the day they start to get a little bit drunk,” he said. “It was OK. I had to talk to a few of them. At the end, it’s normal … Everybody was into the match. That’s OK. It can happen.”
International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin will play in the inaugural WTA Legends Event at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore in October. Austin joined Martina Navratilova in the four-player field, which will be held in conjunction with the year-ending WTA Finals. Each Legend player will contest three best-of-three-set doubles matches in the round robin, rotating partners, with the player who accumulates the most points to be crowned Legends Champion. Joining Austin and Navratilova in Singapore will be fellow greats Billie Jean King and Chris Evert, who have been announced as Official Ambassadors for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
He hasn’t won a Grand Slam title in two years, but Roger Federer leads all tennis players in making money. Forbes magazine, in its annual list, said the Swiss star earned USD $56.2 million from July 2013 through this past June. That includes on-court winnings as well as endorsement deals Federer has with such firms as Rolex and Nike. Spain’s Rafael Nadal was second on the tennis money-making top 10, which was evenly divided between men and women. According to Forbes, Nadal earned USD $44.5 million, including USD $30 million in sponsorships. Serbia’s Novak Djokovic was third with USD $33.1 million. Fourth overall was Russia’s Maria Sharapova with USD $24.4 million, of which USD $22 million comes from endorsements. China’s Li Na was fifth with USD $23.6 million, followed by Serena Williams with USD $22 million, of which half came from prize money. Others in the top 10, in order were Andy Murray, Victoria Azarenka, Kei Nishikori and Caroline Wozniacki.
SMILING IN DEFEAT
It wasn’t a sad day when Victor Estrella Burgos ended his first trip to the US Open. After all, at the age of 34 Estrella Burgos was the oldest player to make his debut at the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. And he was the first player from the Dominican Republic to play in a major event. “For me it’s something very special,” Estrella Burgos said following his first practice before the tournament began. “I have been coming here for many years, but falling short in qualifiers. It will be equally special to play in New York because there are a lot of Dominicans here that will be watching me.” They watched him beat Igor Sijsling 6-2 4-6 6-3 6-2 in an opening round match. Then he stopped Borna Coric of Croatia 7-6 (2) 6-4 4-6 6-2 before losing to fifth-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada 7-6 (5) 7-6 (5) 7-6 (3). “It’s been a tough road, but I have worked hard – breaking down barriers and opening doors for Dominicans playing tennis,” Estrella Burgos said. “I have gotten a lot letters from fans back home, but it is still a complicated subject because we are a country that follows baseball more.”
Nick Imison, a member of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Communications Department, is the 2014 winner of the Bud Collins Award, which is presented by the International Tennis Writers’ Association (ITWA). The award is given annually to an individual within the sport who has been of particular help to the media. Bud Collins is one of the sport’s best-known journalists. The Australian Open was voted Media-Friendly Grand Slam Tournament of the Year, while the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, USA, won the award for all other tournaments. It was the third year in a row that the two tournaments have won the awards.
Switzerland’s Davis Cup team will be bringing out the big guns when it takes on Italy in next month’s semifinals. Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka and 17-time Grand Slam tournament winner Roger Federer were named by captain Severin Luethi. Although both Federer and Wawrinka had announced they would play, Luethi’s official announcement was required to make it formal. Also named to the squad were Marco Chiudinelli and Michal Lammer. The September 12-14 matches will be held in Geneva, Switzerland. “This isn’t going to be a walk in the park, and it’s going to be all the more important to be buoyed up by our fans,” Luethi said. Italy is expected to field a team composed of Fabio Fognini, Andreas Seppi, Paolo Lorenzi and Simone Bolelli.
Upsets haven’t just decimated the women’s singles draw. A day after she knocked Venus Williams out of the singles, Sara Errani and her partner, Roberta Vinci, lost in the second round of the doubles. The Italians were the top-seeded team after winning Wimbledon to complete a career Grand Slam in doubles. The 2012 US Open champions were eliminated by the Australian duo of Jarmila Gajdosova and Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4 1-6 6-4.
Roger Federer and basketball great Michael Jordan have a thing in common: shoes. Federer is appearing in the US Open wearing a new tennis show that looks similar to one Jordan wore when he was playing. “About a year ago, I heard that Roger wanted to design and wear a Jordan shoe on the court,” Jordan is quoted as saying. “I have followed Roger’s career and have been a big fan for some time now. I definitely thought this could be a really unique and special collaboration, and when I heard that Roger wanted the shoe to be modeled after the Air Jordan 3, I was in.” During the first week of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament, Federer wore white sneakers with a red Air Jordan logo. Jordan has been at this year’s tournament, sitting in Federer’s box.
New York: www.usopen.org/
International Tennis Federation: www.itftennis.com/home.aspx
ATP World Tour: www.atpworldtour.com/
United States Tennis Association: www.usta.com/
Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
US Open, New York, New York, USA, hard (second week)
$112,537 AON Open Challenger Genova, Genova, Italy, clay
US Open, New York, New York, USA, hard (second week)
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$250,000 Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open, Hong Kong, China, hard
$250,000 Coupe Banque Nationale présentée par Bell, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, hard
$250,000 Tashkent Open, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, hard
World Group Semifinals
France vs. Czech Republic at Paris, France, clay
Switzerland vs. Italy at Geneva, Switzerland, hard
World Group Playoffs
(Winners will be in World Group in 2014)
India vs. Serbia at Bangalore, India, hard
Brazil vs. Spain at Sao Paulo, Brazil, clay
Israel vs. Argentina at Sunrise, Florida, USA, hard
Canada vs. Colombia at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, hard
United States vs. Slovakia at Chicago, Illinois, USA, hard
Australia vs. Uzbekistan at Perth, Australia, grass
Netherlands vs. Croatia at Amsterdam, Netherlands, clay
Ukraine vs. Belgium at Tallinn, Estonia, hard
Group 1 Playoffs
Americas Zone, 2nd Round: Venezuela vs. Uruguay at Caracas, Venezuela, hard; Asia/Oceania Zone, 1st Round: Chinese Taipei vs. South Korea at Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, hard; Europe/Africa Zone, 1st Round: Romania vs. Sweden at Bucharest, Romania, clay; Latvia vs. Austria at Valmiera, Latvia, hard
Group 2 Playoffs
Americas Zone, 3rd Round: Barbados vs. Mexico at St. Michael, Barbados, hard; Asia-Oceania Zone, 3rd Round: Pakistan vs. Thailand at Nonthaburi, Thailand, hard; Europe/Asia Zone, 3rd Round: Bosnia/Herzegovina vs. Lithuania at Sarajevo,Boznia/Herzegovina, hard; Denmark vs. Moldova at Kolding, Denmark, carpet