Venus Williams of the United States reacts in her first round match against Ekaterina Makarova of Russia during day one of the 2014 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 13, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia
*Venus Williams was let down by her serve and her concentration at crucial times on Day 1 of the Australian Open. She was eliminated from the tournament after losing 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 to no. 22-seeded Ekaterina Makarova.
Meanwhile, Serena appeared as polished as ever in beating Australian teenager Ashleigh Barty, reports ESPN. The top-ranked Williams won her 23rd consecutive match — including 18 at the end of last season and four last week in winning the Brisbane International — after beating Barty 6-2, 6-1 in 57 minutes.
*LeBron James and Serena Williams were announced as The Associated Press’ 2013 Male and Female Athletes of the Year.
James received 31 of 96 votes cast in a poll of news organizations, beatingPeyton Manning(20) and NASCAR driverJimmie Johnson(7). He becomes the third basketball player to capture the award that has been annually awarded since 1931.
“I’m chasing something and it’s bigger than me as a basketball player,” James told the AP. “I believe my calling is much higher than being a basketball player. I can inspire people. Youth is huge to me. If I can get kids to look at me as a role model, as a leader, a superhero … those things mean so much, and that’s what I think I was built for. I was put here for this lovely game of basketball, but I don’t think this is the biggest role that I’m going to have.”
*If you were looking forward to seeing former US Open champion, Samantha Stosur, fight her way to the final stages of this year’s tournament, I hope you didn’t blink, because you would’ve missed her.
In a stunning Day 2, first round upset, Stosur was taken out by virtual-Slam-virgin, Victoria Duval, in three surprisingly closely contested sets. Was it as huge Serena Wiliams’ first round upset at the 2012 French Open? No, but it still ranks pretty high, giving all the facts.
It was just this same time last year when Duval, with fresh milk behind her ears, was making her Grand Slam debut against crowd favorite and multiple US Open champion, Kim Clijsters, in a night match on Arthur Ashe stadium. Duval had made a name for herself on the juniors circuit, but the big leagues – and the biggest stage in the tennis world – was clearly out of her range at the time. In view of that, Clijsters showed no mercy in taking her out as swiftly as she exited the locker room. It was an expected drubbing, as it was just “an honor to be there” for the then baby-faced sixteen-year-old, and Clijsters was playing her maiden Us Open and would be retiring immediately afterwards. Duval was sent packing 6-3, 6-1 on opening night.
Now, fast forward a year and the story has some similarities, but a completely different outcome. In only her second Grand Slam match – ever, Duval found a way to upend the 2011 US Open champion and veteran, Stosur in the first round of the 2013 tournament. That was NOT expected.
Sure, Duval had put on a little muscle, maybe grew an inch and had time to go back to the drawing board to improve her game, but no one would’ve thought she had done enough behind-the-scenes work to oust the woman who was good enough to upset Serena Williams in a Slam championship match; but she did. Duval can barely speak in a tone above what you’d hear coming out of a 13 year old’s mouth (think Michele), let alone take down one of the fittest and notably accomplished women on the WTA tour. But she did … and she did it with surprising composure.
The match started with Stosur taking care of business, breaking Duval in the opening game and running off with then next two as well; but the script got a little screwy thereafter. Duval was able to level the match at 3 all due to Sam’s erratic play, then work her way to serving for the set against the Aussie. She understandably faltered under the pressure, however, and gave Stosur the opening to come back and win the set 7-5.
However, somewhere between the close of the 1st set in favor of Sam and late in the 2nd, Duval found her stride and made a run, ending up winning the 2nd set 6-4. Honestly, I predetermined the outcome, albeit the wrong one, and left toward the end of the 1st set, but the cheers heard ’round the grounds clued me in that something unusual was going on over on Armstrong where they were playing. The beauty of the US Open is the enormous support the fans have for fellow Americans, and with that, I knew the crowds couldn’t have been so passionate about Stosur beating a 17-year-old newbie and had to be cheering on Duval.
I made my way back to Armstrong – which is known to host upsets – and caught another American star being born. Duval, a Haiti native with a very colorful life story, was playing her young heart out with intriguing composure and though it took three separate match point opportunities to do so, she took out the former champion in style, instantly making a name for herself in women’s tennis.
I suppose you never know when your time is gonna come or your card is gonna be pulled, but her behind the scenes work, fueled by a failed 1st time out and desire “to do better the next time,” now finds her in the limelight as a giant slayer:
“I think I was expecting that from myself,” she said. “I just wanted to do better than I did last year. I played amazing tennis, and didn’t necessarily expect to do THAT well. I don’t even remember the match point …”
I just hope she handles the press well and doesn’t fold under the increased notoriety as did Melanie Oudin (google her) after her incredible 2009 US Open run, to which she responded, “I’m taking the torch. Let’s go!”
Duval wasn’t the only American to represent for the home team on Day 2.
In fact, as it is when kids start showing out after their parents arrive at the day care to pick them up, several Americans showed their natural behinds today keeping our homegrown hopes alive.
Noteworthy in the bunch that got the job done was Donald Young. In shockingly convincing fashion and after having struggled to log even a challenger circuit win or the last year or so, Young found devastating form and took his capable opponent, Martin Klizan, to the woodshed, sending him back to Czechoslovakia to ponder a 6-1, 6-0, 6-1 loss. Klizan never found his way in the match and all parts of Young’s game were working. It was a performance he won’t soon forget and one that will hopefully be the start of a campaign of him silencing his naysayers.
Here are other American results from Day 2: Sam Querrey, Christina Mchale, John Isner, Alison Riske, Sachia Vickery, Denis Kudla, Jack Sock all made it through to round 2. So, a good showing was made for American tennis despite the scalps that were taken on the day such as Nicole Gibbs, Grace Min, Maria Sanchez, Collin Altamirano, Steve Johnson, Varvara Lepchenko, and Mallory Burdette.
*Retirement was in the air Monday, as two veterans in their respective sports announce the end of their playing careers.
Leaving open the door to play overseas, seven-time All-Star Tracy McGrady says he is retiring from the NBA.
“It’s been 16 years playing the game I love. I’ve had a great run, but it’s time for it to come to an end,” McGrady said on ESPN’s “First Take.”
McGrady averaged 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in a career that started in 1997, when he was drafted out of high school. He signed with the San Antonio Spurs in April after working his way back from injuries but never got on the floor for a team that made a run to the Finals.
McGrady told “First Take” that he still thinks he can play and was disappointed not to get a chance to help San Antonio.
“When we were in the Finals and Manu [Ginobili] was struggling, I felt I could contribute, absolutely,” McGrady said.
He acknowledged, however, that Spurs management told him that he was an insurance policy and likely wouldn’t play.
Asked to clarify whether he is considering playing in China, McGrady said: “Officially retired from the NBA. Door’s still open.” [Watch below.]
Meanwhile, a tearful James Blake announced Monday that he will retire from tennis following the US Open, ending a 14-year professional run.
“No real surprise here. This is my last tournament,” Blake, 33, said at a news conference during the opening day of action at Flushing Meadows.
“I always wanted to end my career at the US Open,” the American added.
Blake, who attended Harvard before turning pro in 1999, reached a career-high ranking of No. 4 in 2006. He is currently 100th and carries a 9-13 season record into his first-round match against Ivo Karlovic.
James Blake announces his retirement from tennis, Aug 26, 2013
Blake reached three Grand Slam quarterfinals, including two in New York, losing at that stage to Andre Agassi in 2005 and to Roger Federer in 2006. He mentioned that five-set defeat against Agassi as a match that stands out as a highlight and lowlight of his time on tour.
Blake’s announcement comes a year after friend and former U.S. Davis Cup teammate Andy Roddick retired after the US Open.
“Despite the tears, I’m actually really happy about this,” said Blake, noting that he looks forward to spending more time with his wife and their 1-year-old daughter.
Asked about what he would like to do in the future, Blake mentioned two possibilities: serving as captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team and working as a television commentator.
*The US Open draw is out and competition for the last major men’s and women’s trophies of the 2013 tennis season begins on Monday, August 26.
“The most exciting Grand Slam,” called so due to the energy from its uniquely raucous environment, is held every year at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, NY and is the most attended annual sporting event in the world.
To kick off the two-week – book ending the Labor Day holiday – tournament of “bring it or go home” professional tennis, a special address was made byFirst Lady Michelle Obamaon Saturday during Arthur Ashe Kids Day, reinforcing her appreciation for the inclusion of the sport in her Let’s Move campaign. Also contributing to the excitement of the start of the prestigious event, popular rocker and actor (“The Butler”) Lenny Kravitz will entertain the crowds during the opening night ceremony at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
This year’s tournament (including the qualifying rounds) will feature a loaded field of hungry men and women battling it out to be the last ones standing, including a host of Americans charged with the extra task of also representing for their home country.
The Americans in this year’s field, including 6 women (S. Williams, V. Williams, S. Stephens, M. Keys, V. Duval, T. Townsend) and 2 men (D. Young, J. Blake) of color, are as follows:
Though the US is well-represented this year in both the men’s and women’s fields, there are a handful who are ones to watch due to their notable performances leading up to the tournament.
On the women’s side, current world no. 1 and defending champion, Serena Williams, is the clear favorite to win based on her unmatched 2013 season results (8 titles, 1 final), but players Sloane Stephens, Jamie Hampton and Madison Keys should be kept on the radar due to their rapid growth this season. Stephens has earned a reputation for going deep in Slams, having taken out Serena Williams to make the semis of the ’13 Australian Open earlier this year. Also, Venus Williams hasn’t been seeing the results she’s been wishing for since her return from injury and illness, but she can never be counted out due to her dangerous arsenal of weaponry when clicking on all cylinders.
On the men’s side, top American, John Isner, has built incredible momentum leading up to this critical point, having recently beaten world no. 1 Novak Djokovic and severely tested Spanish front runner Rafael Nadal in Cincinnati. The 6′ 10″ American’s big serve and improved groundstrokes and footwork could pay dividends on the Flushing hard courts. Eyes are especially on Isner because he appears to be the only viable hope in American tennis at the present time, while his fellow countrymen struggle to find their footing. In fact, until Isner recently re-entered, for the first time since tennis rankings were established, there was no American male in the top 20; It remains to be seen how he’ll deal with the pressure at the Open.
This year’s draw has produced plenty of tantalizing 1st round and potential later rounds matchups, including Serena playing former Slam champion, Francesca Schiavone, in round 1 and with the potential to avenge her AO loss to Sloane Stephens in the 4th; Venus Williams with a chance to avenge her recent stinging loss to Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) also in the 1st round and possibly go on to battle Serena in the qtrs; an on fire Madison Keys meeting up with a returning-to-form former world no. 1, Jelena Jankovic (SRB); Roger Federer, seeded 7, having to get through Rafael Nadal and one of the other top contenders, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray, to earn another Slam title, etc.
Play begins at 11 a.m. on Monday and continuing coverage and results can found here at eurweb.com.
*Yikes, Sloane Stephens and Serena Williams have beef.
After the rising tennis star totally upset her ‘mentor’ in the Australian Open quarterfinals, it turns out Serena hasn’t spoken to the young athlete.
“She’s not said one word to me, not spoken to me, not said hi, not looked my way, not been in the same room with me since I played her in Australia,” Stephens said in an interview with ESPN the Magazine that was conducted prior to the U.S. Fed Cup win over Sweden last month, when both were on the team. “And that should tell everyone something, how she went from saying all these nice things about me to unfollowing me on Twitter.”
Yeah it was a bit animated.
Not only did Serena unfollow her, but she also tweeted “I made you.”
“Like, seriously! People should know,” Stephens told the magazine. “They think she’s so friendly and she’s so this and she’s so that — no, that’s not reality! You don’t unfollow someone on Twitter, delete them off of BlackBerry Messenger. I mean, what for? Why?”
First of all, where does she get off saying she made someone? She wasn’t Sloane’s coach. Besides that, the young player admires both the girls for what they do.
Serena’s a hater and can’t deal with the fact that someone could be better than her.
Check out Sloane Stephens full story at Tennis.com.