US OPEN BUZZ: Big Mechanical Wonders and Small Human Ones

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A COSMIC WONDER AND A MECHANICAL WONDER: There’s never been a summer like this before, in which there was a full solar eclipse in America and the US Open roof closed.

AMERICAN WOMEN: No one’s saying that America now rules, but this is the first time there are four non-Europeans in the US Open women’s quarterfinals since 2005.

SPEAKING OF METEORIC RISES: On August 7th, Sloane Stephens was No. 934 in the world. She will now reach around No. 35 at the end of the Open. If she wins she could be as high as No. 15.

GO FIGURE: In 2012 Venus dropped out of the top 100. Now she could get back into the top five. She reached her first Grand Slam final at the 1997 US Open and made two Slam finals this year…All eight of the matches Venus and Petra Kvitova have played have gone to three sets…Sloane Stephens is just the seventh woman outside the top 50 to reach the US Open semis, and Venus is the seventh oldest to reach the semis…Kvitova has won two Wimbledons, but her best previous result at the US Open was reaching the 2015 quarters.

JUST SAY FRESNO: Is Sloane Stephens the best woman athlete to emerge out of Fresno, California?

SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL: Diego Schwartzman – who is listed as 5’7” but is closer to 5’5″ – is the shortest player in 23 years to reach the US Open quarterfinals. Brad Gilbert said, “Schwartzman knows he’s small and that doesn’t bother him – and that’s why he’s so good.” The last man under six feet to win a Grand Slam was 5’9” Gaston Gaudio at the 2004 French Open.

When it comes to short players, Olivier Rochus and Harold Solomon, both 5’6”, come to mind, as well as 5’7” Eddie Dibbs. And as part of the celebration of Rosie Casals winning the USTA President’s Award, Billie Jean King said the California pioneer was the best pound-for-pound player of her era. Casals is only 5’2”.

Sloane Stephens is only 5’7”, and at 5’6”’ Justine Henin may have been, inch for inch, the best player of her era.

EASY BAKING: Brad Gilbert reflected on the incredibly easy draw of Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, noting that he was the first man in history to face four qualifiers in a Slam, whose average ranking was No. 178. Then in the quarterfinals he downed the Argentine Diego Schwartzman, who is ranked No. 33. Carreno Busta is seeded No. 12. Gilbert said, “Every once in a while you get the Betty Crocker draw. Why is it Betty Crocker? Because it’s easy baking.” Speaking of small, Anastasija Sevastova said she developed her fantastic drop shot because she was so small.

ARTHUR WHO? Anastasija Sevastova played on Ashe Stadium and was asked what Ashe meant to her. She replied, “To me, no, sorry.” BTW: Sevastova showed up to her press conference wearing a New York Giants cap and a Montauk [Long Island] sweatshirt.

YEAR OF THE COMEBACK: In China it’s the year of the rooster. But, writes Stanley Kay, “the 2017 tennis season has been the year of the comeback. The unexpected late-career revivals of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who have won all three of this year’s majors, have them on a collision course in Flushing Meadows. Less celebrated, but maybe more impressive, have been the inspiring stories of Venus Williams and Petra Kvitova.”

MADISON’S EMOTIONS: After crafting a stunning comeback from being down 2-4 in the decider against Elina Svitolina, Madison Keys ran over to her support box and gave everyone high-fives. She explained she did it, “mostly because I was about to start crying, so it was better not to have a camera on my face. I mean, this whole year has been really tough. They’ve stuck beside me and helped me through some really low moments. I felt like it was more than just a round-of-16 win.”

HEADLINES:

THE GRINDER AND THE GAZELLE MAY FINALLY MEET IN NEW YORK

FOUR-IN AFFAIR

BRADY NOT PART OF US QUARTERFINAL BUNCH

QUOTEBOOK:

“It’s a dragon. That was disgusting.” – a freaked out Sloane Stephens when a fly startled her at her press conference

“Adversity is never welcomed, but sometimes what comes next when you come through the other side can be viewed with a gratefulness hard to imagine.” – Sandra Harwitt on Petra Kvitova’s road to the US Open quarters

“Sometimes [in a match] when you are injured it’s good. It takes the pressure off the match and makes you swing more freely.” – Mary Jo Fernandez

“I’m not really surprised that anyone got this far.” – Madison Keys on the great run of American women at the US Open

“Every time Juan Martin del Potro was down, they lifted him. Each time he was up, they drove him on. Their passionate exhortations shook the Grandstand at the US Open, drifted across the grounds, resonated in the strangest of all places, inside Arthur Ashe Stadium…Fans shake the rafters with love. It all begins with del Potro’s bearing. He’s imposing, but there’s not a whiff of aggression about him – if you discount his shots. He seems a gentle giant who mumbles in a barely audible monotone and goes about his business on the court in a way that seems almost introspective. That’s a little different in a sport chock-full of ‘who’s the man?’ fist-pumpers. Instead, del Potro often looks like he needs a hug.” – Peter Bodo

“Bam! Here we are, semifinals.” – Sloane Stephens

“At her [6′ 2″] height, she’s the best athlete I’ve ever seen.” – Rennae Stubbs on Venus

THE ORIGINAL EIGHT: The WTA’s historic founders are known as the Original Nine. This year the US Open had its Original Eight – eight players who could have been ranked No. 1 when the Open closes. Now it’s down to just two. If Karolina Pliskova reaches the final she’s No. 1. If she doesn’t, it’s Garbine Muguruza, who lost to Petra Kvitova.

THE JIMMY FUND: The USTA donated an initial contribution of $500,000 to Hurricane Harvey relief. Jimmy Connors is on site at the US Open, raising funds by signing autographs and posing for photos with fans, and the USTA will match all funds raised by Connors.

BEST DROPSHOT IN MEMORY: Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova.

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