US OPEN BUZZ: All Hail the American Fearsome Foursome

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Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

THE ROGER AND RAFA ROCK ‘N’ ROLL TOUR: As Ben Rothenberg reports in the New York Times, “Federer and Nadal have played 37 times around the world, in 14 cities, but never in New York.”

JUST WONDERING: Has Serena’s absence freed up the rest of the top American contingent – sister Venus, Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens and Coco Vandeweghe – to strut their stuff on the Grand Slam stage?

FEARSOME FOURSOME: With Madison Keys’ win tonight, the US has four players in a Grand Slam semifinals for the first time since Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Zina Garrison and Kathy Rinaldi prevailed at the 1985 Wimbledon. There haven’t been four Americans in the US Open semis since 1981, when Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin and Barbara Potter made it through.

AMERICAN TENNIS – THE FORECAST IS SUNNY: Madison Keys was the last American woman to claim a place in the women’s semifinals, and once she overcame that particular pressure, her press conference offered a chance to defend the state of American tennis from a positive position. “Oh my God, it feels so good,” she said. “We have so many Americans to talk about in the last days of the US Open. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat in this chair and had to hear, you know, how horrible tennis is in America…I think there is a lot of good American tennis to come.”

THE LONELINESS OF A LONG-DISTANCE TENNIS PLAYER: “There’s no doubt that Venus misses Serena as much as she says at these major events,” writes Peter Bodo. “It’s a lonely sport and the Williamses are a very close family. But it also appears obvious that Venus has been liberated in a way she can’t really be when Serena is taking up so much of the oxygen.

“Venus isn’t a different person when Serena isn’t here. She is just more like every other tennis player in the draw – an independent lone operator, trying to fulfill a personal dream. She will try to win for the Williams family, sure. But it’s her name – not those of her siblings or parents  – that will go on that plaque and in the history books.”

NO TEARS HERE: After booking a spot in the semifinals with a straight-set dismissal of world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, Coco Vandeweghe said she had no exciting comeback stories and wasn’t part of the narrative that has played such a big role in women’s tennis over the years.

GO FIGURE: Coco Vandeweghe said she likes Federer over Nadal because of the way he plays, and Sampras over Agassi – and that she modeled her serve after Pete’s.

THE FORCE IS WITH COCO? Asked what coach Pat Cash has brought to her game, Coco Vandeweghe replied that he’s been “channeling my intensity and tenacity out onto the court and putting it into a singular focus…Maybe it’s like some Jedi mind trick. I don’t know how he’s doing it.”

YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’VE GOT ’TIL IT’S GONE: Sloane Stephens has spoken about her renewed love for tennis after injury took her away from the sport, and Madison Keys has overcome her own injury struggles – including two wrist surgeries – of late. “I think the game being taken away from you really makes you realize how much you love it,” Keys explained after her quarterfinal win over Kaia Kanepi. “And it takes a lot of the pressure off just because you remember why you do it. And it’s not to win matches and make people happy. It’s just because you truly love being out there.”

HEADLINES:

U.S.A. U.S.A.

AMERICAN IDOLS – STEPHENS PROVIDES NEEDED OPEN DRAMA

FEDERER VS. DEL POTRO: BATTLE OF FAN FAVORITES

KEYS IS ALIVE – AND AWAKE

VENUS GETTING BETTER WITH AGE

VENUS WILLIAMS DISCOVERED AGAIN WHY SHE NEVER WANTS TO GIVE UP

THE SUMMER OF SLOANE

QUOTEBOOK:

“Resilience has been a staple throughout Venus Williams’ career, and on Tuesday night it was on full display once again.” –  Justin Tasch, New York Daily News

“The US Open has become ‘The Late Show with Madison Keys.’” – Jeff Williams, Newsday

“Wrist surgery is all the rage right now. I feel like everyone is getting it done.” – Madison Keys

“Like, this is a little insane. Going to bed at 4 a.m. every morning and waking up at 11, it’s not totally natural and normal.” – Madison Keys

“Forget the future. Forget who, among the many young and talented American women, will fill the void when the Williams sisters exit the sport. Coco Vandeweghe’s time can be now. Madison Keys is equally capable.” – Howie Kussoy, New York Post

THE REIGN IN SPAIN: Karolina Pliskova’s loss to Coco Vandeweghe means that Garbine Muguruza, who lost in the fourth round, will become No. 1 in the world on Monday. If Rafa in fact plays Roger Federer on Friday and beats him, the male and female No. 1s will both be Spanish for the first time in history.

FROM ASHE TO ANDERSON: Kevin Anderson, 6’8”, downed America’s last hope in the men’s tournament when he beat 6’6” Sam Querrey in four sets of big boy tennis that went late into the night on Tuesday. Anderson, who went to the University of Illinois, is from South Africa, and his triumph came at the stadium named after a man, Arthur Ashe, who played  a key role in bringing down South Africa’s wretched apartheid system.

NOT YET READY FOR PRIMETIME: Russian phenom Andrey Rublev is just 19, and he had a fabulous run to the US Open quarters, shocking No. 7 seed Grigor Dimitrov in the second round and ninth seed David Goffin in the fourth round.. But today, according to Chris Fowler, “He was given a painful public lesson from his idol,” Rafael Nadal. As a kid, Rublev would dress up in Nadal gear, and he had a poster of the Spaniard in his room.

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