US OPEN BUZZ: ‘I’ll Break That Over Your Head, You Imbecile’ and Other Pleasant Encounters

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Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

THE BOTTOM LINE (AT THE TOP): The US Open has some great icons – Roger, Rafa and Venus. Still, overall, it’s been wild, exciting and fresh. Way to go, tennis! Then again, the old game is pretty good at re-inventing itself.

SOON TO APPEAR AT A TENNIS OUTBACK NEAR YOU: Earlier this week Roger Federer delighted many a New Yorker when he showed up for practice at Central Park. All the courts emptied in order to see the Great One play. Then he practiced at John McEnroe’s New York academy. So what’s next for Roger – a hardscrabble public court in Yonkers?

READING VENUS: ESPN suggested that deep down, Venus may feel that she can’t beat Serena, but she can beat the field.

QUOTEBOOK:

“I’ll break that, you imbecile. I’ll break it over your head.” – Fabio Fognini on the cell phone of Italian writer Ubaldo Scanagatta

“Can you ask me something normal?” – Alexandr Dolgopolov, while dancing around questions about his possible involvement in match fixing

“Aga Radwanska knows how to get under your skin. She’s like a little mosquito.” Chris Evert

“I have no idea.” – Anstasija Sevastova, on why the best of her game comes out at the US Open

“Sometimes you wonder why you put in all the work, and this is absolutely why.” – Sharapova on her US Open run

“Oh my God, I’m old” – 19-year-old Naomi Osaka, when asked about young and upcoming WTA players

“Oh, my God, this is beautiful.” – a fan, while walking on the US Open Plaza

“From the waist up, Coco Vandeweghe was the picture of calm. She was sitting back in her sideline chair, with her eyes closed, in an attempt to meditate. But the lower half of her body gave her away. Her legs were bobbing up and down in constant, manic, nervous motion.” – Steve Tignor

GO FIGURE: Pablo Carreno Busta is the first player ever to face four straight qualifiers at a Grand Slam…Sharapova played all four of her matches on Arthur Ashe Stadium…Nine years ago Denis Shapovalov tossed the coin before a Nadal match at the Rogers Cup…The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) has banned three players, but they all had very low rankings: No.931, No. 1536 and No. 1997.

METEORIC RISE: Sloane Stephens has risen from No. 934 to No. 51 in the rankings in a little over a month.

THE BIGGEST VICTORY: According to the New York Times’ Juliet Macur, “One of the biggest victories at the US Open didn’t happen on a tennis court. It was even sweeter than a great sports performance, and more satisfying, too. It materialized when the Italian player Fabio Fognini was kicked out the door.” Spotlighting the brazen misogyny of Fognini’s recent abusive remarks toward umpire Louise Engzelle, Macur also takes time to quote from Fognini’s Twitter apology (“It was just a very bad day…I was wrong. But in the end it’s only a tennis game”), while noting that it’s a case of far too little, too late. Her piece on the Fognini furor closes with a striking fact: Women have been umpires for about one-third of the men’s singles matches at the US Open so far.

SEXISM IS ALIVE AND WELL: Earlier this year, Ilie Nastase went off on multifaceted sexist rants against Britain’s Fed Cup coach Anne Keothavong and star player Jo Konta. Then his pal Ion Tiriac said that equal prize money at tour events didn’t make any sense. Here at the Open, Fabio Fognini unleashed a torrent of gendered insults against a Swedish woman umpire.

JOY TO THE WORLD: Roger Federer said, “Joy is a key thing to me…Getting the right balance in life.” He added, “Having a chance for world No. 1, that would be a dream come true for me.”

KATRINA ON ALTHEA AND TENNIS IN AMERICA: On the 60th anniversary of Althea Gibson winning in New York, USTA CEO Katrina Adams noted that Gibson was the Jackie Robinson of our sport, but she didn’t get the credit she deserved because she was a woman. Adams, the widely celebrated President of the USTA, said she wouldn’t have gotten where she is today if it weren’t for Gibson.

She added that racial tension is still a big issue, but within the USTA there is an incredible opportunity. She said, “Tennis is a place to exert that negative energy. Just picture that person you have an issue with on a tennis ball and hit the heck out of it. We have to advance relationships and build bridges. If we don’t, who will? We have to mature and be are as inclusive as possible. So let’s go out there and be a model sport.

“We want tennis to look like America. It’s not about blacks, it’s about getting together. And we need to be a safe sport. For us, Net Gen is the future. It’s not a program, it’s a brand. It’s important for all of us to work together. Let’s embrace the ABC’s. A is for access – we have to be available or everyone. B is boldness, like the revamping of the Billie Jean King Tennis Center and the Net Generation initiative. C is collaboration – that’s reaching out and growing tennis together.”

NEW RULES: At the US Open qualifying there was a series of new rules. One of them was a 25-second service clock. Of the 30,000 points played during qualifying, there were a mere 19 time violations. In other words, players learned to play within the rules. Similarly, a limit of five minutes was put on bathroom breaks. There were no violations. There was also a rule permitting coaching from the seats. Ninety percent of the coaches did it, and umpires seemed to like it because they didn’t have to police the coaches. The coaches were positive too, because they didn’t have to hide their signals.

HEADLINES:

JUDGE SPOTTED AT OPEN WITH HOT BLONDE

NADAL, FEDERER STAY ON TRACK FOR EPIC SEMIFINAL

GAMBLING MAN?

HEAR THEM ROAR!

PLISKOVA IS LEARNING HOW TO BE NO. 1

OVER SHARAPOVA: TENNIS FANS SOUR ON DOPING STAR’S RETURN

COCO VANDEWEGHE FINALLY HEARD THE ROAR

WHO NEEDS SEEDS?

FOGNINI KICKED OUT OF US OPEN AFTER MISOGYNISTIC RANT

LEARNING TO LOVE: Two years ago Latvian Anastasija Sevastova was studying to get a degree in the hospitality industry. She says that she is only a C- or D- celebrity in her home country. She added that a lack of support is the reason she and her fellow Latvian Jelena Ostapenko are doing so well.

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