Tag Archives: Flushing Meadows

“Welcome Ryan Harrison”

The American dream of bringing home a title in Flushing looks all but finished as America’s top player, Andy Roddick, went down in a tough loss to Janko Tipsarevic last night. Though there is still a glimmer of hope with Mardy Fish, John Isner, and Sam Querrey all left in the draw.  And have no fear, Ryan Harrison is here. Harrison is an 18-year-old (American) stud out of New Braunfels, Texas.  Could he be the next big thing in American tennis? 

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=5520935&categoryid=2491545 (Harrison ESPN interview with McEnroe)

Harrison defeated the 15th seeded and 17th ranked player in the world, Ivan Ljubicic in his first round match.  This was Harrison’s first time winning a match in a Grand Slam and he accomplished the feat with great grace and ease.  He had the look of a savvy veteran.  In winning this match, Harrison became the first American teenager to defeat a top 20 player in a Grand Slam tournament in over 9 years.  The last American to do this was Andy Roddick.  At the age of 19, Roddick burst onto the scene with a big time victory over the 11th seeded Alex Corretja (at the US Open).  Could this kid be the second coming of ARod? 

Ryan Harrison quietly burst onto the scene a couple of years ago when he won an ATP level match against the world #130 at the time, Pablo Cuevas.  This was at the 2008 US Clay Court Championships.  He became the 3rd youngest player to win a match at this level since 1990 (Nadal, Gasquet were younger), and the 10th player in the history of the ATP to have won a match on tour before the age of 16.  This kid has been a long time coming.  He has just been vastly overlooked until now.  

 I personally saw Harrison play in 2004 when I attended John Newcombe’s Tennis Academy in New Braunfels, Texas (Harrison’s old training grounds).  While walking into the camp that first day, there was a kid out hitting with his father and his little brother (Christian, who is an internationally ranked junior player). The kids were absolutely amazing demonstrating a phenomenal consistency level, outstanding conditioning, and a drive like I had not seen on a tennis court.  Well I got a further taste of the Harrison brothers later in the week during drills and match play.  These kids hit the ball with pace, kept it deep, never missed, and refused to give up on a single point during the course of an 8 hour training day.  I have seen many very strong tennis players in my time, but I knew this kid was the real deal.  Could he finally be realizing his potential now? 

Currently Harrison is the 220th ranked player in the world and rising.  Could he win another match or two this year in Flushing?  I do not see why not.  His next opponent is the 36th ranked player on the tour, Sergi Stakhovsky.  Ryan Harrison is a name to remember now when discussing American tennis.  He brings some hope back to American tennis  connoisseur. 

I know I will be pulling for the youngster to go deep in Flushing. 

Say hello to the world, Ryan Harrison. 

Ryan Harrison provided American tennis with some excitement with a major first round victory yesterday. Could he be another big time American tennis player like the man he is pictured with above, the legendary Pete Sampras?

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze. 

-TheSportsKraze 

Advertisements

“Welcome to Flushing”

Roger Federer looks to prove the world wrong over the next two weeks, and show that he still has what it takes to capture a big time championship. Can he win the US Open for an amazing 6th time?

The tennis world will gather in Flushing today as the this year’s final Grand Slam gets under way.  There are many key storylines as play begins:

-1.  Andy Murray is looking to secure his first Grand Slam Championship.  The British phenom has been near the top of the tennis game for some time now, but has never been able to take home the big pay-day.  Will his luck change in Flushing?

-2.  Rafael Nadal looks to complete the career “Grand Slam” by capturing the one Grand Slam event that has eluded him in the past.  After two consecutive semifinal appearances in Flushing,  can Rafa demonstrate his all around toughness on the hard courts of New York?

-3.  Can Roger Federer prove to the world that his reign is not over yet and capture his first US Open title since 2008?  He was the runner-up in New York last year, losing in 5 sets to Juan Martin Del Potro (who will not be playing this year).

-4.  Can an American end the 7 year drought of Grand Slam Championships?  The last time an American male captured a prestigious Grand Slam Championship was in 2003, when Roddick took home a title at this site (the US Open).

So these are the 4 key questions to the tournament in my eyes.  Lets delve into some answers.

1.  Andy Murray is more than capable of  bringing home the first Grand Slam title of his career here.  Murray possesses an outstanding all around game that fits perfectly for the hard courts of Flushing.  He has proven that he can beat the big dogs lately, by knocking off both Federer and Nadal in straight sets in Toronto.  So definitely do not overlook Murray, who is ranked 4th heading into this event.  I will state though, both Nadal and Federer’s hunger to prove the naysayers wrong will not help Murray’s chances though.  Look for Andy to go deep as usual, but to come up short, in either the Semifinals or the Finals.  I would expect a Semifinal exit though.

2.  Nadal is more than ready to take home the one Grand Slam that has eluded him during the course of his stellar career.  He currently holds the number 1 ranking.  He has won 5 titles this year.  Has a combined 52 and 7 match record.  Plus he is hungry.  Expect this guy to roll into the Finals for a date with his old nemesis Mr. Federer.  Rafa plays every point like it is his last and will cruise his ways into the Finals.  Counterpunchers can be quite dangerous on the hard courts of New York.  Sure he will have challenges such as a possible date with Andy Murray, but it is very hard to stop this guy when he is motivated.  I expect Rafa to come up just short though and lose in the Finals due to the fact that another man is even more motivated, Roger Federer.

3.  Roger Federer will shock the world over the next two weeks and take home an astounding 17th Grand Slam title.  I am not sure what it is about this guy.  All directions are pointing against him capturing a 6th US Open title.  But I for some reason feel like this guy has one more big time tourney left in him.  And this is the one.  Sure Wimbledon has always been his playground, but he has not exactly been a slouch in Flushing over the years.  Look for Roger to upset his old nemesis, Rafa, and prove to the world that even at the age of 29, he is still capable of playing like the best player in the world.

4.  This will not be the tournament that an American will end the 7 year drought.  Guys like Nadal, Federer, and Murray are just too good to all go down here.  But I will state, guys like Roddick and Fish could both go deep.  They have both played outstanding this summer and have each enjoyed success in the past in Flushing.  All 4 of the top Americans, have had their best Grand Slam finishes in Flushing during their careers. Coincidence, I think not.  Roddick captured his only Grand Slam title here in 03.  Fish, made the quarterfinals in 2008. John Isner made the 4th round in 2009.  And Sam “the man” Querrey made the 4th round in 08.  I definitely would not be surprised to see at least one of these four guys, maybe two of them if we are lucky, sneak into the Quarterfinals.  But do not expect one of them to take home the hardware.  It would be one of the most improbable runs in history.

So there you have it.  The biggest tennis tournament that America has to offer gets under way today.  As the pro tour loves to say, “We will be seeing you in New York.”

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“The Roddick of Old”

Many had hoped to see a Roddick vs Federal Finals matchup in Cincinnati today. Instead, fans got a Mardy Fish vs Roger Federer 3 set battle.

Yesterday, at the Cincinnati ATP Tennis Master Series event, fans were thrilled to see an All American Semifinals matchup between childhood buddies Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish.  This was a big time match that featured three sets of solid tennis, high tension and emotions, and two rain delays.  The man who sports the last name of “Fish” swam his way into a finals date with Roger Federer that occurred earlier this afternoon.  Federer came out victorious in an exciting three set rumble, but Mardy had a great tournament and looks very solid heading into the US Open.

Yesterday’s match was quite disappointing on many fronts though for not only Andy Roddick, but for American tennis in general.  Sure many were shocked to see the struggling American men’s game put two players into the Semifinals.  But the “it” guy in American men’s tennis for the past 8 years has been none other than Andy Roddick.  Roddick fell out of the top ten a couple of weeks ago and could have really used a finals appearance or possibly even a title in Cincinnati heading into the final Grand Slam of the year.

Roddick, as I have said many times before, has thoroughly impressed me for years now.  He has truly worked his tail off to develop a backhand and a more patient game.  He used to just blast big first serves and rely on his very strong forehand.  For years now, he has demonstrated an all around game.  And though he hit number 1 in the summer of 2003, his game was not nearly at the level in which it is at now.  Many of you are probably asking how that could be possible.  I mean he was ranked number 1 then and is not even in the top 10 now.  Well it comes from watching the guy play.

ARod still demonstrates a very strong forehand and first serve.  But he has really cut down on his unforced errors and now has a somewhat effective backhand.  Plus he has developed a reliable net game and his fitness level is light-years better than it ever was.  Lastly, he typically has demonstrates a cool, workmanlike demeanor on the court.  Andy’s amazing work ethic shows in his abilities to play all around tennis these days.

All of this went out the door though against his good buddy Mardy Fish. The match was all knotted up late in the first before a rain delay.  Roddick took advantage of the delay though and immediately closed out the first set in the first game following the delay.  Then in the 2nd, he seemed to be cruising until a second rain delay hit.  This time, Fish took advantage coming back from a 5 to 2 deficit, and captured the 2nd set in a tiebreaker.  Fish cruised to finishing things off in the 3rd.

The  end of the 2nd and the entire 3rd set reminded me of the “old” Roddick days.  Andy appeared out of shape and looked to close out points as quickly as possible.  His patience went out the window and it showed with the amount of unnecessary unforced errors he committed.  Plus his backhand was lapsing.  Lastly, his temper came out.  Roddick has generally been good at keeping his emotions in check for years now.  Yesterday was a major exception though.

In the end, the Roddick of “old” came out and cost him a finals showdown with his old rival Roger Federer.  Roger captured a much-needed title today though and looks very sharp heading into the US Open.

Roddick still had a great week and knocked off 2 top five players in Djokovic and Soderling.  But his recent bout with mononucleosis seemed to hurt his stamina yesterday.  Lets hope that this does not hurt him in Flushing as he is probably the only American hope to bring home the title.

Which Roddick will show up in Flushing Meadows? The new and improved Andy, or the “old” Andy?

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“I Will See You In Cincinnati”

Andy Murray is coming off his first title of the season in Toronto and looks to continue his hard court dominance in Cincinnati.

 Every summer, come August, tennis mania hits Cincinnati.  It is the time where both the ATP and WTA make pit stops in Mason and visit their old friend “Cincinnati.”  This is one of the final tune-ups on the road to Flushing Meadows.  And this is always a tournament that really excites the city and players alike.  There is one major difference this year from past years.  Cincinnati is in the midst of both Red’s and Bengal’s fever.  The Red’s are atop the NL Central and the Bengals are a favorite in the AFC North.  Either way though, Mason is still the happening spot to be over this 2 week period.  It is the “It” thing to do in Cincinnati. 

The women’s tournament did lose much of its typical luster due to the lack of “Williams” in the main draw.  Both Serena and Venus pulled out due to “injury.”  So instead fans got a memorable final that seemed to be a flashback to 5 years ago, as two former number 1s, Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova dueled it out on Center Court.  This was a very high quality final and Clijsters grinded it out like the days of old.  Starting today though, the real deal begins as the main draw for the men’s draw gets under way.  And in this draw, all the big dogs are here.  There are no “injuries.” 

Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Federer, Roddick, etc are ready to roll.  Fans will be getting their money’s worth this week.  The big story is the sudden emergence of Andy Murray as possibly the best hard court player in the world.  Murray beat both Nadal and Federer in Toronto. He also took down Nadal on the hard courts at the Australian Open in January. Murray looks poised to possibly bring home the first Grand Slam of his career in Flushing Meadows.  This guy has an outstanding all around game and really could bring home the US Open.  Federer has thrived on Grass (other than this year) and Nadal on the Clay.  Maybe the hard court will become Murray’s domain? 

People do not realize, but we are very fortunate in Cincinnati.  The main tour these days is referred to as the ATP Master Series.  This consists of the 4 Grand Slams and 9 other major tournaments.  Well Cincinnati is one of these 9 major pitstops.  Why Cincinnati?  Well the event began in Cincinnati in 1899.  And is the oldest tournament in the United States played in its original city.  I bet you were not aware of that.  Many do not realize, this summer tennis swoon is more than just a happening of the moment.  It is a very historic tradition for this city and something that does not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.  People really need to continue to grasp the significance of this major event for Cincinnati and embrace it. 

This week, look for some big time tennis.  Expect to see Murray, Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic roll deep into this tourney, as I do not believe any of them are playing in New Haven next week.  This is their final tune-up for the year’s final major.  You better believe that they want to show their readiness for Flushing Meadows.  Also expect Roddick to play deep into the draw.  An American typically surprises fans here every year and really excites the crowd with a deep run.  Well I am expecting that American to be Mr. Andy Roddick. 

I got Nadal taking care of Murray this week in the Finals and bringing home his 1st title in Cincinnati.  The extra couple of days of rest from the semifinal exit in Toronto will help Rafa this week in Cincy.  Also realize that no player has won the Canadian tournament (Toronto and Montreal rotate hosting each year) and then Cincinnati in consecutive weeks since Roddick accomplished this feat while hitting number 1, in the summer of 2003.  Speaking of Andy Roddick, do not be surprised if he is still hanging around come the semifinals. 

As the commercials on the tube say.  All of the best men’s tennis players, “Will be seeing you in Cincinnati.”  

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze. 

-TheSportsKraze

“A Whole New World”

7 years ago Andy Roddick, pictured above, brought home the US Open title and was ranked number 1 in the world. Since then, no Americans have won a Grand Slam Title and there are currently no Americans ranked in the top 10.

The ATP is heating up at this time and currently in the middle of it’s annual summer tour of the United States.  This all leads up to the final Grand Slam of the year, the US Open, in Flushing Meadows, New York.  Generally at this time, Americans celebrate the grandiose achievement of their phenomenal players.  This is the time of year where the tour gains the interest of the American public in the sport.

In the past, Americans have been spoiled by legends of the game such as John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, and Andre Agassi.  Since the retirements of Agassi and Sampras, the men have not really lived up to their normal expectations of being at the top of the ATP tour.  Americans the past 5 years have predominantly “Lived on a Prayer” (Bon Jovi) that is Andy Roddick.  But when the new rankings come out on Monday, there will be no American’s in the top ten.  Ever since the computer rankings began in 1973, the US has always had at least one representative in the top 10, and generally multiple reps.

Well as the summer tour heats up in places like Washington D.C., LA, and Cincinnati, there is not a whole lot to celebrate.  There currently are no American’s in the top 10 on the men’s tour.  No American has brought home a Grand Slam since Andy Roddick won in Flushing Meadows 7 years ago.  That is a gap of 27 Grand Slam tournaments.  To add to no American men bringing home a Grand Slam Championship in 7 years, only 2 current Americans have ever even advanced to the semifinals of one of the prestigious majors (Roddick and Ginepri).  It is a sad time.

Tennis has become more global than ever.  Everything in the world is becoming more global than ever.  It sort of even makes you think about the economy and how the rest of the world has been gaining ground on the United States, and some, have even passed us in many ways.  It is truly amazing how the global nature of society seems to even spill over into the simple game of tennis.

Can American tennis save face this summer during their traditional tour of the United States?  This is the time of year that makes or breaks the popularity of American tennis?  Can America continue to “Live on the Prayer” that is Andy Roddick.  Or will they have to look elsewhere?

I do know that many Cincinnatians only watch the US Open and when the players come to Cincy.  Their whole perspective on the game is determined from these 2 tournaments.  There is an awful lot of pressure on Roddick, Isner, and others to save American tennis for at least another year.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze