US OPEN BUZZ: The Fog, the Dog and Shapovalov

Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

ISN’T SHE BACK IN DENMARK ALREADY? Following her third-round win, Maria Sharapova addressed Caroline Wozniacki’s almost bitter complaints about the US Open scheduling, which put the Russian on Ashe Stadium while world No. 5 Caro played on outside courts before getting knocked out in the second round. “If you put me out in the parking lot of Queens in New York City, I’m happy to play there,” said Maria, closing with a variation of her infamous 2012 “Isn’t she back in Poland already?” comment about Aga Radwanska. “All that matters to me is I’m in the fourth round. Yeah, I’m not sure where she [Wozniacki] is.”


“Baby girl? Well, I hope she doesn’t play tennis!” – Garbine Muguruza on Serena’s daughter

“On Friday, reporters peppered [Venus] with questions related to the baby, and one questioner from Inside Tennis even asked if Serena had told her if the baby had a two-handed backhand or if she had enough depth on her forehand. “Oh, my gosh,” Williams said, smiling. “That’s hilarious.”

“[Zhang Shuai] scuttled about the court like a racket-wielding crab.” – Kevin Mitchell

NO FOG IN FLUSHING MEADOWS: The tempestuous Fabio “The Fog” Fognini was essentially booted from the US Open on Saturday and forced to forfeit his third round men’s doubles match because of obscenities he hurled at chair umpire Louise Engzelle during his first round singles loss to compatriot Stefano Tavaglia on Wednesday. According to reports, Fognini called the ump a “whore,” a “—-sucker” and an “ugly squirrel” in Italian. The ITF hit him with three fines totaling $24,000 for his remarks, prompting Fognini to tell an Italian tennis site, “Today they’re all moralists.” He lost ranking points and about $72,000 in prize money. Because Fognini’s outbursts occurred at a Slam, he could be facing further hefty fines, to the tune of $250,000, for code of conduct violations.

LIKE HUSBAND, LIKE WIFE: In 2009, former US Open champ Flavia Pennetta, who is married to Fognini, gave the same umpire the middle finger during a contentious Fed Cup match.

THE DOG STILL BARKS: The troubling saga of Alexandr “The Dog” Dolgopolov continues at this year’s Open, with the Ukrainian trouncing Viktor Troicki in three quick sets to reach the fourth round. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he’s still dogged by a recent loss in Winston-Salem to Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro that has triggered match-fixing suspicions.

Because of wild betting patterns, gambling houses suspended betting on the match before it even began, and afterward Dolgopolov was contacted by the TIU (Tennis Integrity Unit), not for the first time (he was also contacted by them in 2010). After Dolgopolov’s first-round win at the Open, when the media asked him if he’d ever been contacted by match fixers, he said, “Uh, no, not really.” That was a red flag to observers, who wondered what “Uh, no, not really” meant. Dolgopolov dodged questions adeptly and turned on the press, saying it was their fault and he didn’t want to answer “stupid questions.”

Today, in his post-match presser, Dolgopolov shifted from facetious to stubbornly silent. When the subject changed to the Winston-Salem match, he said, “I arrived here to talk about tennis, not gambling,” and then stuck to that theme for the remainder of the interview. His final words? “I’m not talking about gambling anymore.”

GO FIGURE: Going into the fourth round, 10 of the top 16 women’s seeds are already out of the tournament. Plus No. 1 seed Karolina Pliskova had to save match points in her third-round match with Shuai Zhang.







MARIA IS PERFECT FOR OUR ERA: Okay, we concede this is way too political, but a reader wrote saying, “It struck me that Sharapova is the perfect player for the Trump era – outsize image; tone deaf; changes the facts to fit the occasion; never admits she was wrong in any way and instead casts herself as the VICTIM. And yet – still plays to rabidly adoring crowds!”

THE SECOND LIFE OF DENIS SHAPOVALOV: At 18 years old, is Denis Shapovalov too young to have a second life? Maybe. But according to him, he’s had one, and it all began with fighting off match points against Rogerio Dutra Silva in the first round of the Rogers Cup. Since that day, less than a month ago, Shapovalov’s rise has been meteoric, with wins over Juan Martin del Potro and Rafa Nadal in that tournament and a straight-set win here over Jo-Willie Tsonga and a run to the fourth round.

Shapovalov’s loose-and-free teen appeal extends to his on-court attire and his outlook. When asked why he wears his hats to the side, he gave an endearingly direct answer: “I have a small head.” Then a reporter asked him to describe his arrival in big-time tennis – is it joyous and fun and filled with wow moments, or just a little daunting? “I don’t think there is ever really time to have that wow moment,” Shapovalov said. “The month of August, it’s been life-changing. Everything kind of moves fast. I mean, like – what was the main question again?”

‘I DO THIS FOR FUN,’ SAYS A MORE APPRECIATIVE SLOANE STEPHENS: After a sluggish start on her return to the tour from major foot surgery, Sloane Stephens has been setting courts on fire, reaching the semis in Montreal and Cincy and now – for the first time since 2013 – the fourth round here in New York. When IT asked what she’s learned from her injury struggles, Stephens said, “Just enjoy the game more…I needed to appreciate all the things I had in my life.” As for a change in attitude, she explains, “Before, I was so emotional. Everything always got to me…[Now] my life is good, everything’s good. I play a sport for a living. I don’t operate on people – this is not life or death…I do this for fun. I love tennis…I think I have it pretty good.”




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