I can’t believe that we are one day away from the US Open already! Since Wimbledon tennis has been off script in the most endearing ways. From Rio (Aug. 6-14) to Cincinnati (Aug. 13-21) and Connecticut /Winston Salem (Aug. 19-27), players have been on a roller coaster experiencing the ultimum in nationalism/patriotism and the worst in scheduling.
5. At the Olympics in Rio, Murray (GBR) and Puig (PR) made history with their gold medals, but we also had to watch Serena and Venus crash and burn in singles and doubles; Venus was able to rebound with Ram to win Mixed Doubles Silver with Maatek-Sands and Sock winning Gold. However, the most enjoyable tennis came from a long-time tennis favorite who has been sorely missed. Juan Martin Del Potro took Silver and triumphantly announced his return to the tour.
4. Mladenovic, Garcia and Paire were suspended by the French Federation after lambasting the Olympics and their federation’s competency in Rio.
3. At the Western and Southern, Karolina Pliskova broke through to win her biggest and first Premier Tournament over Kerber 6-3, 6-1. Though Murray made the final, he was defeated by an informed Cilic 6-4, 7-5. And in the doubles go round, Mirza and Hingis split, joining Strykova and Vandeweghe. Mirza and Vandeweghe won 7-5, 6-4.
2. Ninja Radwanska is one of the most enjoyable players to watch. Like Monfils or Kyriogios, she is a highlight reel but her poor scheduling continues to thwart her hopes at a slam. With her lack of power and stamina one would expect her to rest her tape required injuries this week but alas this is yet another fan frustration.
She dominated the Cincinnati Open serving at least one breadstick to Ostapenko, Flipkens, Kvitova and Svitolina. In the final against Svitolina, the first set she was in the zone with very few if any errors; but in the second set she faltered as Svitolina attacked her forehand but she prevailed 6-1, 7-6. This time Mirza teamed with Niculescu to defeat Bodarenko and Chuang 7-5, 6-4.
The ATP field at Winston Salem was a little lighter and Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP ) capitalized defeating countryman Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7, 7-6, 6-4.
1. Kerber came close to toppling Serena off the Number 1 mantle last week in Cincinnati, but she faltered giving Serena an opportunity to break Grafs’ record during the US Open. However, Muguruza is also in the running. Will Serena break Grafs record of 186 weeks at Number 1? The draw is most favorable to Kerber, but if Serena can get past her Us Open nerves, her shoulder injury and lefty Makarova in the first round, she has a good chance.
Since capturing the French Open, Djokovic has been largely MIA. Fabulous writer Louisa Thomas all but predicted this stumble and his vulnerability. Whether this is blip in “the machine’s” career is due to injury, motivation or just momentum, for many his performance at the US Open will define his year. Will he reclaim the throne and upset Murray who has been on a tear since winning Wimbledon? What about Cilic? Can he win this again? Will this be the slam that a new star emerges: Kyriogios, Milos? What about injury prone Nishikori, who ran out of steam two years ago handing the slam to Cilic? I am most looking forward to seeing Fritz and Tiafoe, America’s young hope and of course the much talked about Ashe and Grandstand renovations. Most predict Serena and Djokovic. The most comprehensive predictions are from fivethirtyeight.com and the customary though not often inaccurate expert pics from SI and ESPN.
The tv schedule will be familiar to ardent fans. Tennis Channel will air US Open previews daily from 9-11 AM, Watch ESPN will host matches from 11-1 PM and ESPN/2 will air from 1-11 PM. Tennis Channel will also re-air the day’s matches 12-9 AM daily.
BONUS—-Whose fashion will you love at the US Open? Having seen the previews, I must say that overall the looks are disappointing: color, design, fit… The only striking ensemble thus far is Serena’s.and Nadal short shorts. I can’t wait to see the outfits on the court in action so I can be more definitive, but so far Nike is the winner and Stella McCarthy Addidas and Evelven are tied for the biggest losers. Whose outfit do you like the best?