2015 US OPEN PREVIEW 1
“THIS IS SERENA WILLIAMS. THE GREATEST FEMALE— NO, THE GREATEST ATHLETE—OF HER GENERATION.”
2015 US OPEN PREVIEW
OPEN 6 US BY THE
GUNS 8 YOUNG SALUTE
NOT 12 CIRCUS SIDESHOW Commentary
By Erik Gudris
By Erik Gudris
By Chris Oddo
SPOT: 10 SHOT Madison Keys’
AMERICAN ANTHEM Feature
HOME COURT HEROES Feature
By Blair Henley
By Erik Gudris
8 14 TO SERENA’S 18 SECRET SLAMMIN’ SUMMER Feature
By Chris Oddo
22 OPEN ARTISTRY
View US Open 2015 TV Schedule
Photo Essay By Melchior DiGiacomo
OPEN 44 US WOMEN’S PREVIEW Feature
By Richard Pagliaro
US OPEN MEN’S PREVIEW Feature By Alberto Amalfi
OPEN AND SHUT Feature By Richard Pagliaro
52 CLOSING SHOTS
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2015 US OPEN PREVIEW
WRITERS Alberto Amalfi
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Times Square is called the crossroads of the world. The US Open sometimes sounds like the commuter capital of the world.
Blair Henley shines a spotlight on one of the biggest weapons in womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tennis, the Madison Keys forehand.
Cars buzz along the Grand Central Parkway in metallic bursts, the No. 7 train rumbles from its nearby tracks, airplanes roar overhead from LaGuardia and Kennedy Airports, bikers, runners and skateboarders race across pedestrian paths in the park.
Erik Gudris assesses the Americans in the field and their prospects to make a mark in Flushing Meadows.
Serena Williams aims to transform the blue hard court into a launching pad to history and claim her Open Era record seventh US Open crown to complete the first calendar Grand Slam since 1988 and equal Steffi Grafâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mark of 22 major titles. In this issue, Chris Oddo, who traveled to Cincinnati to interview Serena, explores the secret to her success.
Legendary photographer and tennis artist Melchior DiGiacomo, who is covering his 45th consecutive US Open, shares a series of stunning shots from his archives, starring Roger, Rafa, Venus, Serena, Jimmy, Johnny Mac and many more. Tennis is a game of motion yet Melchior captures the power of stillness in the midst of the mayhem that is New York City.
PHOTOGRAPHY Melchior DiGiacomo Christopher Levy Corleve/Mark Peterson Phillip Sutherland/Corleve CameraSport/Stephen White ESPN Western & Southern Open Citi Open Tennis Canada USTA US Open
DESIGN Kriss Zambrano Natalia Valenkova
Buckle up and enjoy the ride. CONTACT US
Richard Pagliaro Editor Tennis Now Magazine
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View US Open 2015 TV Schedule
Men ranked outside the Top 15 have beaten Roger Federer at the Open: No.16 Marin Cilic (2014), No. 22 Tommy Robredo (2013) and No. 34 Max Mirnyi (2002).
23 Years since the last lefthander, Monica Seles, won the women’s title.
Record for most men’s singles titles in the Open Era shared by Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer.
Years since the women’s final was decided in a third-set tie break when Hana Mandlikova defeated Martina Navratilova, 7-6, 1-6, 7-6.
Record for most women’s singles titles in the Open Era shared by Serena Williams and Chris Evert.
Check each singles champion will earn for capturing the 2015 title.
Years since Victoria Azarenka won the Girls’ title.
Price of parking at the 2015 US Open.
2015 US OPEN PREVIEW
Number of men who have won US Open titles on three different surfaces. Jimmy Connors won Open titles on grass, clay and hard court. Number of Open titles Novak Djokovic has won (2011).
6,000 Tons of steel floating on 24 support columns was used building the retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium, which will be completed for the 2016 US Open.
3,708 Number of fans in attendance when Rod Laver beat Tony Roche in the 1969 final at Forest Hills to complete his second career Grand Slam and fourth in history. Rain postponed the match until Monday.
Total attendance for the 2014 US Open.
Serena Williamsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; record in Flushing Meadows over the last four years.
22,547 Number of seats in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
47 Years CBS aired the US Open; ESPN takes full control of televising the tournament domestically this year.
124 MPH Fastest serve struck by a woman, Sabine Lisicki, at the 2014 Open.
147 MPH Fastest serve struck by a man, Sam Groth, at the 2014 Open.
Check the first US Open womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s champion, Virginia Wade, collected after beating Billie Jean King in the 1968 final at Forest Hills.
Average ticket price for the 2014 Open.
40 The 2015 Open celebrates its 40th anniversary of night tennis
Was the first year the tournament adopted its US Open Blue courts.
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YOUNG GUNS SALUTE
Four rising talents to watch in New York.
By Chris Oddo
Age: 18 Key Stat: Coric owns wins over Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.
Tennis is a man’s game now, and recent results bear that out. At age 34, Roger Federer says he’s better now than he was ten years ago. That’s debatable, but there’s no doubt advances in fitness, diet and training enable players to thrive longer. Thirty something players are stronger than ever and they’re gobbling up a large share of titles—see Federer, Tommy Robredo, Stan Wawrinka, David Ferrer, John Isner and more—but that doesn’t mean we should discount the growing crop of teenagers rising in the rankings. The days of 17-year-old phenoms capturing Grand Slam titles are gone. But talented teenagers are making inroads on tour. Here are four young guns we think you should watch at this year’s US Open: 8
2015 US OPEN PREVIEW
Tennis has its baby Federer in Grigor Dimitrov, so why not a baby Djokovic? Problem is, Coric, a lean, mean fighting machine from Croatia, is already a man. With 20 Tour-level wins, the 2013 US Open Boys’ champion is quickly becoming a threat to the elite. Though he possesses a well-balanced baseline game and packs power on serve, Coric’s biggest assets are his maturity and determination. He’s an intelligent, driven youngster that is focused on doing everything he can to be successful. Coric claims Rafael Nadal as his idol, but his sinewy body resembles Novak Djokovic and so does his game. Coached by former Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson, Coric seems to be the most professional of all the young talents. Yet he still has plenty of room to grow, and that is a scary proposition.
“I’m believing that I can do it. I’m training as hard as I can. I’m always giving 100 percent on the training and on the court.” — Borna Coric
Photo Credit: Corleve /Mark Peterson, Christopher Levy
ALEXANDER ZVEREV Age: 18 Key Stat: The former top-ranked junior has already reached two ATP semifinals.
Key Stat: Kokkinakis has posted a 15-1 record in qualifying play in 2015.
Key Stat: Chung produced a 14-match Challenger win streak during the spring.
Kokkinakis hasn’t had the breakout success of his older, brasher compatriot Nick Kyrgios. But the Adelaide native, who climbed more than 450 ranking spots in 2014, could one day be Australia’s top player.
Could the gifted baseliner from Suwon, South Korea be Asia’s next great player? He certainly has shown great potential. The 2013 Wimbledon junior finalist is very quick, very intelligent, and owns a backhand that is versatile, powerful and draws raves from fellow pros. This backhand is poised to make many ATP highlight reels in the future, trust us.
The 6’5” Aussie moves exceptionally well and sports an expansive reach. He’s a deft baseliner that plays a grinding game well-suited for hard courts. He departed Cincinnati ranked No. 79 with 11 main-draw Tour-level wins, but Kokkinakis has impressed the most in the clutch. He’s gone 3-1 in five-setters this year, and has managed two comebacks from two sets to love down.
Chung played through qualifying to reach the Houston round of 16, but he’s been most impressive on the Challenger tour this season, where his five finals and three titles have enabled him to rise 100 spots in the rankings to his perch of No. 73 earlier this month.
Picture a lazy lion lying on the jungle floor, swinging his tail playfully to and fro on a hot, sunny day—and then, SNAP, he rises and erupts into a sprint, reaching an explosive speed in a matter of seconds. That’s Alexander Zverev on a tennis court. Tall, long-limbed and rangy, he possesses a rare explosiveness and a surprisingly graceful manner of movement for his size. The former junior world No. 1 is flat-out electric. Zverev is comfortable on all surfaces, owns a tremendous two-handed backhand and likes to knock off volleys at net. The German can also hang back and match strokes from the baseline. Tennis is embedded in Zverev’s DNA — his father, Alexander, was a Russian pro and older brother Mischa is also a pro. Last year in Hamburg Zverev became the youngest ATP player to reach the quarterfinals of an ATP event since 2003. He was the first 17-year-old to finish inside the Top 150 since Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet did it in 2003. 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW 9
By Blair Henley
Serena Williams isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, but that doesn’t mean American fans aren’t on the lookout for the next big thing. Madison Keys seems to be the frontrunner for the job, thanks to booming groundstrokes, a cannon-like serve and exceptional athleticism. Her simple, solid technique is on display in this frame-by-frame breakdown of her forehand approach. Let’s take a closer look at how Keys uses her body and contact point to her advantage.
Immediately after identifying the short ball, Keys begins her backswing and turns her entire body instead of running straight into the shot.
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She keeps her core tightly coiled as she sidesteps into the court. Her goal is to catch the ball at its peak, taking time away from her opponent and maximizing her margin for error.
Keys’ forward motion continues with the beginning of a crossover step. The racquet head begins to drop slightly in preparation for contact and follow through.
She maximizes her turn to the point where she’s peering over her left shoulder. While her crossover step is propelling her forward, she makes sure to keep her upper body rotated.
Only as she begins her swing does she begin to unwrap her shoulders and core, exploding off her back foot. She starts her racquet at an elevated position, reflecting the height of the approaching ball.
Keysâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; contact is a thing of beauty: square racquet face, steady head, relaxed wrist and transfer of energy toward the target. Most importantly, she catches the ball at or near the top of the bounce.
Photo Credit: CameraSport / Stephen White
Keys is showing the complete release of her stored energy. Note that she does not hit down on the ball despite her shoulder-level contact point. She maintains a slight upward brush.
Because of her methodical setup, Keys is able to land and continue moving toward the net while maintaining perfect balance. She finishes with a flawless, relaxed follow through. 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW 11
In the traveling circus that is the pro circuit, boorish behavior and angry clowns won’t steal the show. By Erik Gudris
Read Tennis Now Magazine’s profile of Nick Kyrgios.
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Photo Credit: Christopher Levy
The “sledge” heard around the world keeps tennis fans enthralled (but more likely appalled) as fallout from Nick Kyrgios’ lewd on-court comments in Montreal continues generating headlines.
test of the tour’s possible future, then the results don’t justify going down this path for several reasons, most of which have nothing to do with Kyrgios.
Kyrgios’ behavior in Montreal was completely unacceptable for tennis, and frankly, for any other sport. As far as the dustup between Kokkinakis and Harrison spawned from Kyrgios’ foul-mouthed mutterings, while it might have added some extra Kokkinakis endured verbal jabs intrigue for those watching the from American Ryan Harrison match, the majority of fans are (also known for being a hothead), neither interested in nor ready for about being part of Kyrgios’ “crew” tennis to devolve into some odd that boiled over into a near phys- form of pro wrestling, complete ical confrontation. Later, Kokwith pre-match smack down talk kinakis expressed disappointment from opponents. Some fans may in Kyrgios’ comment about him, crave that, but the reality is the adding, “It’s been interesting. sport, and the business, of tennis It’s been a circus.” is in a very different place than it was 40 years ago. While the tennis tour is like a circus, in that players travel from town to town each week, the kind of circus Kokkinakis referred to is one of name-calling, gossip, and bad publicity. Some say Kyrgios’ongoing Remember when Connors and bad behavior is actually Nastase engaged in on-court good for the sport. altercations, many times those spats were overblown between In this age of decorum between two great competitors to generate the ATP’s biggest names, some more interest in the nascent tour. pine for the “glory days” of enter- When McEnroe rose to fame, the taining animosity between John tennis culture had became more McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Ilie tolerant of bad behavior. Even Nastase, and other renegades. the great Arthur Ashe in an opThe argument goes that bad ed piece written in 1979 had to boys spice things up with trash admit those brash antics, which talk and perceived hatred of the 20 years ago would have been other player that can attract larger rejected, were part of the norm. audiences. These days, the professional tour The Kyrgios comment certainly is more corporate with sponsors brought more attention to the and television calling most of the sport. But, if we are viewing this shots behind the scenes. With as some sort of alternate reality players seeking to cash in on Kyrgios’ scandalous remark during his Montreal match with Stan Wawrinka about fellow Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis and WTA player Donna Vekic spilled over into Cincinnati.
lucrative sponsorship deals, they are less likely to want to ruffle any feathers on-court or off for fear of seeming unlikable. And tennis fans, as a whole, have routinely lashed out against perceived bad behavior and poor sportsmanship. Sure, there are some pros with prickly personalities who’ve earned cult-like status and fines. But none of them are ever going to emerge from their sideshow status as most fans choose to ignore their exploits completely. Even if a “villain” emerged that could contend for the sport’s biggest titles week-in, week-out, it might generate interest in the larger media, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if most tennis fans chose to tune out the antagonist instead. Roger Federer likely hinted at Kyrgios’ fate in the next few weeks, saying, “I think we all agree that he definitely crossed the line by a long shot. We’re not used to that kind of talk in tennis. I know in other sports it’s quite common, maybe normal. Not in our sport, really. I think it’s normal that the tour comes down hard on him and explains to him that it’s not the way forward.” The ATP has imposed a further fine of $25,000 on Kyrgios as well as a suspension for a period of 28 days. However both fine and suspension will be withdrawn if he stays out of trouble for six months. But even if Kyrgios doesn’t suffer any more punishment, his bad behavior is not setting the stage for some rough and tumble tennis future, only because the tennis fans of today will never allow it to happen.
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Serena is the story, but plenty of American women can make their mark at the US Open. By Erik Gudris
Photo Credit: Corleve/Mark Peterson, Christopher Levy
Serena Williams, playing to complete a rare calendar Grand Slam, stars in the primary US Open story line. Compatriots Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys and big sister Venus Williams, all in Serena’s quarter, could try to write her out of the plot.
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Best Result Second round (2011,2014)
Best Result Fourth round (2013)
2014 Result Second round
2014 Result Second round
Key Stat Keys is 11-3 in Grand Slam play in 2015, but owns just two wins in three US Open appearances.
Key Stat Stephens has posted a 9-1 tie break record in 2015. It’s been a tumultuous few years for Stephens since reaching the Australian Open semifinals back in 2013. But the former Top 20 player is back on track after having won her maiden WTA title in Washington D.C. Now back inside the Top 30, Stephens will be seeded for the US Open. Stephens’ speed, serve, forehand and ability to close at net are all strengths, though she can grow passive under pressure.
After a breakthrough semifinal run at the Australian Open, Keys has produced an up and down season. Though she barely lost in the Charleston final to Angelique Kerber, the 20-year-old American endured another early loss at the French Open. Keys then lost a close quarterfinal contest to Agnieszka Radwanska at Wimbledon. With her huge serve and flat, powerful groundstrokes, Keys certainly has the game to go deep in New York if she can manage her shot selection.
MADISON BRENGLE Best Result Second round (2014) 2014 Result Second round Key Stat Following her run to the Stuttgart semifinals in April, Brengle lost in the opening round in eight of her next nine tournaments. After overcoming a bout with skin cancer, the 25-year-old Brengle enjoyed a breakthrough run at the Australian Open where she reached the fourth round. She backed that result up by reaching the Stuttgart semifinals and is currently ranked inside the Top 50. Brengle has a solid backcourt game, a jolting two-handed backhand and can be tough to beat if she’s landing her first serve. VENUS WILLIAMS
Best Result Champion (2000, 2001)
Best Result Second round (2011, 2013, 2014)
2014 Result Third round
2014 Result Second round
Key Stat The former No. 1 arrived in Cincinnati with 16 hard-court wins this year, second only to sister Serena among Americans.
Key Stat Prior to her run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals, Vandeweghe failed to survive the second round in 17 of 18 Grand Slam appearances.
The two-time US Open champion lost a close battle to Italy’s Sara Errani last year in New York. Williams, a winner in Auckland at the start of the year, now returns seeking to at least reach the second week again for the first time since 2010. With no plans of winding down her career, the 35-yearold Williams has the explosive serve and speed that play well in New York, though her health—Venus is battling the energy-sapping Sjögren’s syndrome—and forehand can be issues.
If one anyone is due for a breakout moment in New York, it could be the big-serving, 2008 US Open Girls’ champion. Vandeweghe, who has been ranked as high as No. 32, took a major step forward reaching her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon where she lost a three-set battle to Maria Sharapova. Born in New York, Vandeweghe enjoys huge support in the city where her uncle Kiki once played for the New York Knicks. Now more fit and focused, Vandeweghe must minimize her streakiness to make noise in New York.
The Next Breakthrough? In recent years, several American women—Melanie Oudin, Irina Falconi and Victoria Duval— have pulled off US Open upsets. Last year, 15-year-old CiCi Bellis upset then Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova in the opening round. Left-hander Taylor Townsend, who lost to Serena Williams in her 2014 US Open opener, possesses the serve, forehand and attacking style that can cause pose problems to seeds on the Flushing Meadows hard court.
“KEYS CERTAINLY HAS THE GAME TO GO DEEP IN NEW YORK.” 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW 15
HOME COURT HEROES Seven American men aim to script winning stories at the US Open. By Erik Gudris
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Best Result Quarterfinals (2011)
Best Result Third round (2012, 2013)
2014 Result Third round
2014 Result First round
Key Stat Isner is second in service games won (94 percent) this season.
Key Stat Sock’s loss to No.1 Novak Djokovic in Montreal dropped his record to 1-9 vs. Top 10 opponents.
The towering server remains the nation’s best hope to make a deep run in New York. Isner is enjoying success during the summer hard-court swing where he typically plays his best tennis. The American No. 1 won the Atlanta title for a third straight time, advanced to the Washington D.C. final, and the Montreal quarterfinals.
In a breakout season, Sock won his first ATP title in Houston and reached the Roland Garros fourth round. The 22-year-old Nebraska native’s heavy topspin forehand, twisting serve and speed around the court are all assets. Though Sock is fitter and competing with more vigor, his backhand and return game are still works in progress.
Working with coach Justin Gimelstob, Isner is trying to add aggression to his return game. If Isner can conserve energy in the early rounds, he could well be a factor in the second week.
The 2014 Wimbledon doubles champion possesses the explosiveness that should play well in New York and make him a second-week threat.
Best Result Quarterfinals (2008)
Best Result Third round (2012)
Best Result Fourth round (2011)
2014 Result Did not play
2014 Result First round
2014 Result First round
Key Stat Fish beat No. 20 Viktor Troicki in Cincinnati in his third singles match in the last two seasons.
Key Stat All four of Johnson’s quarterfinal appearances this season have come on hard court.
The former world No. 7 and Olympic silver medalist announced he will retire after the US Open. At the 2012 US Open, Fish started experiencing the anxiety issues that not only would force him to withdraw from a fourth round match with Roger Federer, but later the entire 2014 season. “I’d love to go back to the US. Open, where sort of it all came crashing down for me in 2012, and sort of conquer that place,’’ Fish said. “And by conquer, I mean just get back out on the court there. I have a lot of demons from that place.”
The former all-American at USC continues his self-assured ascent up the rankings. Johnson enjoyed a stellar week in Washington, D.C. where he beat Bernard Tomic, Grigor Dimitrov and Sock then held match points before losing a tough third-set tie break to Isner in the semifinals. Managing his slice backhand to set up his booming forehand, Johnson should definitely improve on his opening-round exit last year and just might be the last American man standing in New York.
Key Stat The former junior world No.1 has failed to survive the first round in seven of his 10 appearances in Flushing Meadows.
Photo Credit: Christopher Levy
The left-hander may well possess the best all-court skills of any American man—Young owns hard-court wins over Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych—but his second serve and backhand can both lose depth under pressure. Though Young reached the Delray Beach final in February, he can get negative and become his own worst enemy when things go wrong.
Best Result Fourth round (2008, 2010)
Best Result Second round (2013)
2014 Result Third round
2014 Result Did not play
Key Stat Since falling to Stan Wawrinka in the 2010 US Open fourth round, Querrey has failed to surpass the third round in 17 Grand Slam appearances.
Key Stat Since losing in the opening round of Roland Garros qualifying, Kudla is on a 17- 4 tear.
Querrey may have fallen from the radar, but remains an explosive hard-court presence. Like many Americans, Querrey’s crackling first serve and crunching forehand are his main weapons. The nation’s No. 3 has reached finals in Houston and Nottingham in 2015. He’s a player with power and potential, the question is can he finally put it all together in a major?
After years of toiling in Challenger events, Kudla caught fire at Wimbledon this season as he went all the way into the fourth round, his first such result at a major. In Atlanta, Kudla came out of qualifying to reach the semifinals before losing to eventual-champion Isner. Kudla’s backhand, court coverage and return game are strengths though he lacks an imposing weapon. 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW 17
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Photo Credit: CameraSport/Stephen White
SECRET TO SERENA’S SLAMMIN’ SUMMER World No. 1 employs ultimate Jedi mind trick to master the pressures of Grand Slam pursuit. By Chris Oddo
She plops down in a chair in front of a group of reporters in Cincinnati, looking calm in a tight-fitting tracksuit. No frills, just chills (from the media, if they’re anything like me). The tennis world is going nuts as the Summer of Serena steams toward a historic climax. But the 21time Grand Slam champion is blocking out the noise. This is a woman with a rare gift for volume control: The louder the noise gets, the less she hears it. There are no Beats by Dre headphones on her head but damn if she isn’t tuning the world out and vibing to the beat of her own energy source. This is Serena Williams. The greatest female—no, the greatest athlete—of her generation. Tape recorders switch on. Cameras click. The round table swells with wideeyed journalists three rows deep but Williams doesn’t seem to notice. They say that alligators in the everglades reduce their heart rate to one beat per minute resting to conserve energy. I can’t help but think that Williams is doing the same. She’s so calm, almost too calm. 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW 19
Sure, no pressure. None whatsoev- But how can it can be possible that er. Just show everybody you are the the hungriest, fiercest competitor greatest tennis player to ever live. that women’s tennis has ever seen can operate from this perspective? All you need to do is win your fourth straight US Open to complete the “I think one of those factors is me calendar Grand Slam, equal Steffi just being free and really enjoying Graf’s mark of 22 career Grand the game and enjoying every time Slam crowns, solidify your status I’m out there,” she says. “I have as the most iconic female athlete in a different outlook on life, even the world...and then go on a selfthough I’m super intense on the ie-binge for all the world to see. court every time. I also realize that life is very short and tomorrow is “There’s still a lot that I want to not promised, so I have fun now.” work on,” Williams tells us. “I don’t think I was playing well the whole There are times when Williams time in Toronto. I just wasn’t feeltakes off the mask and lets the ing it. So hopefully I can just keep world know that she’s as pumped growing and playing better as this up as everybody else about the season continues.” Summer of Serena. Is she feeling the pressure, starting “This one is really unbelievable for to sweat? me,” she says. “The feeling is like I didn’t really think I could do another Because as great as a win in New Serena Slam… I would have never York would be for Serena — she expected at this time last year that I would be the first player to sweep would have won four Grand Slams a Grand Slam since Graf won the in a row. I think that for me that was Golden Slam in 1988 — a loss really captivating and really awewould be equally devastating, right? some and just crazy.” To get so close to a monumental achievement, then fall short, it Williams isn’t just creating history, would be a travesty, right? she’s tearing it down and rebuilding it from the foundation up. She’s Nah. already won five more majors past 30 than any other player in history. “Even though I want to win the That’s remarkable, but what is about Open it’s not going to make or to happen will be even more so. break my career or my history or anything,” Serena says. Don’t tell Serena because she’s got her headphones on. She Serena Williams’ game is electrify- doesn’t want to hear it lest it ining, but it’s her mind that enables terrupt her. But one of the most her ability to demagnetize pressure remarkable tennis achievements is and avoid stress by actuating her on the cusp of happening in New powers of self-psychology. The York City this summer. And if it pressure is immense for Williams does we’ll be talking about it for to perform. In New York it will decades, maybe longer. reach a fever-pitch. Serena gets that, and yet she Williams knows this and yet doesn’t knows it’s not in her best interest to know it. Watching and hearing her fully comprehend the miracle of her talk, it’s clear she’s created the men- athleticism and achievements. tal illusion that none of this really matters. It’s an ephemeral quest for a woman with staying power.
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Photo Credit: CameraSport /Stephen White
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By Melchior DiGiacomo
In celebration of his 45th US Open, legendary photographer Melchior DiGiacomo shares some of his favorite shots with Tennis Now.
The ball is the object of focus at the US Open, but the eyes reveal the real action. The eyes are the windows to the soul, Shakespeare wrote. In the tempest that is the US Open, legendary photographer Melchior DiGiacomo engages in visual soul searching. The Harrington Park, N.J. resident was honored for his near half-century of captivating images with his induction into the Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame earlier this year.
York Times. The job is much more than capturing forehands and backhands. DiGiacomo aims to fill the frame with passion. “Every photographer looks for one thing: Powerful emotion,” says DiGiacomo, whose image of Chris Evert was embedded on her iconic Wilson racquet for many years. “The biggest change in tennis photography from when I began in the old days is everyone is taking pictures now.
“When match point comes or when Roger Federer walks off A true tennis artist, DiGiacomo the practice court you see cell is shooting his 45th US Open phones raised. The world is this week . He may be the only becoming visually more litertennis photographer whose ate, and for me that’s important work has been displayed in because images can teach you the Museum of Modern Art in and they can touch you.” New York City as well as Time, Newsweek, Tennis Week, Melchior shares some of his faSports Illustrated, and the New vorite images with Tennis Now. 22 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW
Marin Cilic, Novak Djokovic
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Jimmy Connors 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW 25
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Bjorn Borg, Vitas Gerulaitis
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Rafael Nadal 28 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW
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Novak Djokovic 32 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW
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Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro
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Serena Williams, Venus Williams
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John McEnroe Band
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Benoit Paire, Roger Federer
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Melchior DiGiacomo, Martina Navratilova
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Photo Credit: USTA/US Open
US OPEN WOMEN’S PREVIEW By Richard Pagliaro
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A swarm of photographers snapped away at the star of this US Open. Serena Williams was too busy pushing buttons to notice all the attention.
analyst Brad Gilbert told Tennis Now. “But I’ll say what I said at Wimbledon: As long as Serena’s in the draw, they’re all playing for second place.”
Tapping away on her cell phone after the US Open draw ceremony, the world No. 1 looked a world apart from the frenzy. The threetime defending US Open champion knows she’s the center of attention —and a target for opponents —as she launches her quest to complete the first calendar Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988.
The top seed could face a series of top American challengers in succession, with Sloane Stephens in the third round, Madison Keys in the fourth round and possibly twotime US Open champion and big sister Venus Williams in the quarterfinals.
“I love playing here. I love winning here. That’s all I want to do,” Color Serena’s potential first-week Serena said. path to history red, white and brutal. Keys could play former Wimbledon A loaded top quarter of the draw finalist Agnieszka Radwanska in is an all-American affair and also the third round to get to Serena in features the last woman to beat the fourth. Venus Williams, who Williams, No.12 seeded Swiss opens against Puerto Rico’s MonBelinda Bencic, who stands as a ica Puig, faces a daunting task of potential quarterfinal opponent. beating Bencic in the third round and big-serving No. 8 seeded Karo“Serena’s got a brutal quarter, lina Pliskova next to set-up a sisterthere’s no doubt about,” ESPN ly showdown in the quarterfinals.
FIRST QUARTER PREDICTION
(1) Serena Williams (12) Belinda Bencic
“AS LONG AS SERENA’S IN THE DRAW, THEY’RE ALL PLAYING FOR SECOND PLACE.”
Maria Sharapova returns for her first tournament since falling to Serena in the Wimbledon semifinals. Sharapova could get a rude returning welcome. Fast and feisty Daria Gavrilova, who bounced Sharapova out of Miami in March, is the welcoming committee. Former US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who opens against Kristina Mladenovic, former US Open finalist Jelena Jankovic and former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic are all experienced contenders in this quarter. If Ivanovic, who faces 2014 Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova in the first round (they’ve split four meetings), can tame her sometime wayward serve and skittish nerve, she has the weapons to reach at least the fourth round for the fifth time in her last six appearances in New York.
— BRAD GILBERT
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur, 2014 finalist Caroline Wozniacki, Wimbledon runner-up Garbine Muguruza and former French Open finalist Sara Errani are all contenders to emerge here, but all carry question marks, including Wozniacki, who owns a home in New York City, but has battled a leg injury much of the summer. The No. 4 seeded Dane opens against local favorite Jamie Loeb, from Ossining, N.Y. Harrison, N.Y. native Louisa Chirico, who reached the DC quarterfinals, is also in this section.
FOURTH QUARTER Second-seeded Simona Halep concedes she didn’t respond well to her second-seeded status at the Open last year. Working with coach Darren Cahill, Halep is trying to assert her forehand and take charge of the court. She did that effectively advancing to successive finals in Toronto and Cincinnati, the question is will she have the legs to go deep in the heat of New York?
The 2014 French Open finalist could face Alize Cornet in the third round. That is a danger Muguruza has never won a US match as Cornet conquered Reigning US Open doubles Open main draw match and Halep in Madrid and has won champion Ekaterina Makarova has struggled a bit since her three of their four meetings. has not enjoyed a standout Wimbledon run, so why pick her French Open finalist Lucie Safasummer and faces pressure of as a contender in this quarter? rova, 2011 US Open semifinalist defending her 2014 semifinal Angelique Kerber, 14th-seeded points here, but if she’s landing She can do damage off both her lefty serve and plays all-court wings, is a dangerous returner and Swiss Timea Bacsinszky and Sabine Lisicki are all threats in tennis with conviction, both the has been to at least the round of the final quarter. Still, watch for 13th-seeded Russian and 17th- 16 at every Grand Slam this seaseeded Elina Svitolina could son, including her second straight two-time finalist Victoria Azarenka to make a move here. threaten in this section. Roland Garros quarterfinal.
SECOND QUARTER PREDICTION
(7) Ana Ivanovic (13) Ekaterina Makarova
THIRD QUARTER PREDICTION
(4) Caroline Wozniacki (9) Garbine Muguruza
FOURTH QUARTER PREDICTION
(2) Simona Halep (20) Victoria Azarenka 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW 45
46 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW
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US OPEN MEN’S PREVIEW By Alberto Amalfi
48 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW
In the 41st meeting of a rousing rivalry, Roger Federer defeated Novak Djokovic to collect his record-extending seventh Cincinnati crown and 87th career championship earlier this month.
elicited the lowest recorded US Open men’s final TV rating.
This year, look for the world’s top two players to face off in the Flushing Meadows final for the first time since 2007 when Federer defeated They squared off in the Queen City Djokovic, who had both Robert and the world’s top two could likely DeNiro and Maria Sharapova in his meet again on the Queens center box that day. stage in the US Open final. Here’s why it will happen: Construction on a new retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium • World No. 1 Djokovic has played gives the Open a new futuristic a level above the pack for most of look this year, but the final figures this season. to be a reunion of a couple of US Open champions. • World No. 2 Federer played dynamic, attacking tennis defeating A year ago, a Djokovic-Federer the world’s top two in succession— final appeared inevitable, but Marin beating Andy Muray and Djokovic Cilic and Kei Nishikori crashed the back-to-back in Cincinnati—for the party with resounding upsets that first time en route to a title.
• The blue US Open hard court rewards Federer’s attacking style.
“The final figures to be a reunion of a couple of former US Open champions.”
fun. I like being at net. I like keeping it athletic.”
• Arthur Ashe Stadium is an imOf course, there are several reamense Grand Slam stage giving sons why a Djokovic-Federer final Djokovic plenty of space to practice won’t happen: his counter-strike wizardry. • Djokovic faces a possible quar• Both former champions are terfinal against Nadal, always a fan hungry for Flushing Meadows suc- favorite in New York, though Rafa cess: Federer has not reached a must first face tough first-round US Open final since falling to Juan opponent Borna Coric, who beat Martin del Potro in the 2009 title Nadal in Basel last year. match; Djokovic has lost four of the five finals US Open finals • Federer is in excellent shape, but he’s contested with his lone win his 34-year-old legs could be tested coming against Rafael Nadal in amid the sometime oppressive heat the 2011 final. and humidity of New York City with forecasts calling for temperatures in • Two of the last four US Open the low 90s during opening week. men’s finals have featured No. 1 vs. No. 2. • Federer would likely have to navigate a couple of big servers • They are both playing the best in his quarter, including either Ivo tennis in the world right now. Karlovic or John Isner and possibly Tomas Berdych, who owns a • They remain two of the best pure US Open win over Federer. In the athletes in the sport. semifinals, Federer could face No. 3 seed Andy Murray (the Swiss has “I think this is more fun for me rath- won five in a row vs. the Scot) or er than playing defense,” Federer fifth-seeded compatriot Stan Wawsaid of his attacking style in Cincin- rinka, who knocked Federer out of nati. “I’ve done the transition game the French Open. from defense to offense so much over the years that maybe just play- • While Djokovic has consistently ing full-out offense sometimes is been the world’s best hard-court player, he has struggled getting over the finish line in New York. • Djokovic was bothered by elbow pain during the North American summer hard-court season, he lost to his two top rivals and twice had to rally for comeback wins over David Goffin and Alexandr Dolgopolov in Cincinnati. Despite these factors, the best players rise to the challenge in best-of-five set matches. Djokovic and Federer are the world’s best players as the Open begins. I believe one will be the US Open champion when the Open ends.
2015 US OPEN PREVIEW 49
OPEN AND SHUT
Game-changing US Open TV coverage shuts out some viewers. By Richard Pagliaro
50 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW
The new retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium isn’t the only significant sight line shift at the 2015 US Open.
• Beginning with the quarterfinals Tuesday, September 8, all TV coverage will be on ESPN (except Wednesday evening)
American television viewers will see dramatically different coverage of the Flushing Meadows major this month.
• US Open women’s semifinals will be televised on ESPN in primetime on Thursday, September 10 starting at 7 p.m.
For the first time in tournament history, ESPN owns exclusive US Open television rights. CBS’ 47- year US Open coverage ended in 2014.
• Advanced camera technology — including “freeD” replay, “RailCam” at one end of the court, and “SpiderCam” — should make this the most visually stunning Grand Slam tournament you’ve ever seen with views you might think came from a CGI lab rather than the largest Grand Slam stage in the world.
The first all-ESPN US Open is a game-changer for viewers.
• ESPN touts “130+” hours of live TV coverage and 1,100 hours of action from up to 11 courts simultaneously, on ESPN3 over the web, including the mixed doubles, women’s doubles and men’s doubles championships.
• The USTA will reap a reported $825 million through its 11-year rights deal with ESPN. The USTA has reportedly more than doubled its annual TV revenue compared to the last year of is contract with CBS —a cash infusion it can reinvest in the major renovation of the National Tennis Center as well as building the 100+-court state-ofthe-art tennis facility in Orlando.
“How can less tennis on free TV inspire more people to play?” • No live match coverage for Tennis Channel, which has collaborated with ESPN on both US Open and Roland Garros coverage in the past. While the USTA cashes in with its reported $70 to $75 million annual pact with ESPN for both US Open Series and US Open rights, it comes at a cost to some viewers. There will be less live US Open TV coverage this year than last year.
• For the first time in history, the US Open will not be available of free TV via CBS. This excludes about 15 million households that do not have ESPN or ESPN2.
The Open is officially closed for fans who don’t have cable or internet access. Is the US Open risking tuning out the very American fan base it turned on for generations?
Proponents of the new deal say the USTA is playing proactive tennis here by realizing ratings for the US Open finals have been • Diminished live TV coverage of outer-court matches. Tennis Chan- declining (the 1.4 rating CBS’ 2014 nel televised live outer-court action coverage generated is the lowest on record), envisioning the global from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on eight game’s continuing migration to the days during the 2014 US Open. internet as inevitable and knowing • A potential decrease of about 64 $70 million a year pays a lot of bills and provides resources to pour hours of live television coverage back into its projects and the game. compared to 2014 —lost live TV coverage hours that cannot be “We expect the audience for replaced by web streaming via the US Open to increase, not to ESPN3 or USOpen.org. decrease, with all the platforms that we have digitally,” ESPN • No live TV coverage of US President John Skipper said Open qualifying. • No first-week live TV coverage of the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. matches.
during a conference call. “This sort of old canard that there’s something to be lost by going from broadcast to cable, I would submit, has it wrong. It is just the opposite.” Opponents say combining digital and broadcast platform stats is simply spinning the numbers and does not address the reality of a diminished television presence nor resolve key questions. The National Tennis Center is named in honor of Billie Jean King, whose mantra is “you have to see it, to be it.” How can you grow the American game when some Americans can’t see their own Slam? How can less tennis on free TV inspire more people to play? If you’re holding out hope for ESPN and TC collaborating on more live TV coverage this year, that’s probably not in the picture. “I would say that the look that you will see this year, the way that’s set up, I think that is certainly a long-term vision for us, Scott Guglielmino, ESPN senior vice president, programming and Global X told Tennis Now. A vision that will offer a morning black-out for some viewers.
2015 US OPEN PREVIEW 51
52 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW
By Christopher Levy
2015 US OPEN PREVIEW 53
#smash #putyourbodyntoit #nobabolat #whymyracquet #ilovebabolat #itsalwaystheracquetfault Garbine Muguruza knows how to smash a racquet! She uses her full body to destroy her equipment. 54 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW
#noflexzone #saschanotrussian #feelingit #gotem #vamos #nextgeneration Alexander Zverev shows us his “muscle.”
2015 US OPEN PREVIEW 55
#nowyouseemenowyoudont #icanfly #nike9.5 #blindwinner #wowwoweewa #winnerinthedark Eugenie Bouchard closes her eyes and uses magic to hit the ball. 56 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova Alla Kudryavtseva
#seenoevil #russiansarehere #whodidit #canthearorsmellya #whatda #dontheardonttell Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Alla Kudryavtseva hear no evil, speak no evil... 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW 57
#2fly2care #whatdidyousay #nike #wilson1 #doilookgood Petra Kvitova fixes her outfit as she is looking at the umpire. 58 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW
#flexzone #kazakhrockstar #hollymolly #imadeit #noooo #ripped #winornothing Yulia Putintseva shows us what REAL muscle looks like.
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#goldenset #newcoach #thatsright #igotit #myguns #goldenkei #japanproud #inarow Kei Nishikori shows us how it feels when you finally win a point after 30 minutes. 60 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW
#flawless #defeatingserena #didmakeit #what?! #noideawhatimdoing Sloane Stephens makes it look easy...TOO EASY! She’s relaxed like she’s playing golf with her friends, not playing tennis for a title. 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW 61
Photo Credit: Melchior DiGiacomo 62 2015 US OPEN PREVIEW