US OPEN: A RAFA EPIC, FRENCH FRIES, PSYCHO FANS AND A WHOLE LOTTA NOISE

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Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

DAVIS CUP FINAL TO INDIAN WELLS IN THREE OF THE NEXT FOUR YEARS? When Los Angeles’ Franklin Johnson was the President of the USTA, it seemed like virtually all of America’s Davis Cup ties were played in Southern California, including a tie against Chile in the Palm Springs area. Since then the Davis Cup has been played just once in California despite an abundance of facilities, including Indian Wells’ fantastic Tennis Garden.
Now there is a remote chance that the Davis Cup finals will be played there for three of the next four years. In part because of the enthusiasm of tennis lover Larry Ellison, the Davis Cup, with its new format, will probably be played there in 2020 and 2021.
Then there’s the matter of this year. The US travels to Croatia to play on clay shortly after the US Open, on September 14-16. But our best player John Isner probably won’t play – he’s about to become a first-time Dad. And Croatia does have Marin Cilic. So the US has a challenge ahead of it. But, if we win against Croatia, the finals in December could be at Indian Wells.

ANOTHER EARLY-ROUND RAFA EPIC: Does any player deliver more epic matches in the early rounds than Rafa Nadal? He may want to progress through Slams more smoothly, but the Spaniard has been involved in many first-week thrillers. Today his 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(7), 7-6 (3) victory over rising Russian Karen Khachanov was Rafa’s longest US Open match to date, coming in at 4 hours, 23 minutes.

FRENCH FRIED: It hasn’t been a fabulous US Open for the French. The head of the French Tennis Federation got smacked for saying that the most fabulous women’s player of our era shouldn’t play in a bold, beautiful catsuit. France’s Alize Cornet was issued a code violation warning when she changed her shirt during her first-round loss and, during his loss to Federer, ESPN said Benoit Paire had one of the worst forehands in the top 100. And only three French players made it to the third round: Caroline Garcia, Richard Gasquet and Lucas Pouille.

SPIT-SPAT, TAKE THAT: One of the ugliest spats of tennis was re-ignited Thursday. At the 2015 Canadian Open, Nick Kyrgios drew wrath when, during his match against Stan Wawrinka, he taunted his Swiss foe by speaking of the sexual activity of Stan’s girlfriend, WTA player Donna Vekic. Flash forward to Thursday. After Kyrgios’ on-court exchange with umpire Mohamed Lahyani, Vekic tweeted, “Didn’t know umpires were allowed to give pep talks.” Kyrgios hit back. He tweeted, then deleted, “Don’t be salty that you are out of the US Open.” He also tweeted, then deleted, “Haha IRONIC coming from someone who gets on court coaching every week of the year and also out of the US Open.” Then Kyrgios calmed down and responded to Vekic, “I shouldn’t have tweeted so quickly after the match. Everyone is entitled to an opinion – but I can assure you, it wasn’t coaching.”

HEADLINES:

‘Tennis Anyone? Tournament Has Sideshows’

‘No Djok: Tennys Takes One Set’

‘Kaia Kanepi Reminds Halep That No Player Can Outrun a Well-Struck Ball’

‘If Not a Grand Slam Champion, Maybe a Future ‘Jeopardy’ Clue’

‘Just Too Hot to Handle’

‘Djokovic Beats the Heat’

THAT’S WHAT COACHES ARE FOR: When asked about the key role of her Croatian coach Sascha Bajin, who once was Serena’s hitting partner, Naomi Osaka said, “I fight with myself, and he gets in between us. He tells me not to be so hard on myself.”

Photo by Getty Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PSYCHO FANS: A few years ago she had a moody diva rep, but Sloane Stephens spent a good ten minutes cheerfully signing autographs in Louis Armstrong Stadium after her first-round win. “I like to sign [for] all the kids,” she said, when asked about it afterward. “[For] some of them, it’s their first tennis match. The kids who were at the top dancing – I heard it was their first time…I don’t really sign for the crazy psycho fans that are adults pushing the kids over.” As for selfies, Stephens recommends that the kids take charge. “Most of the time it’s a parent who doesn’t now know how to work the phone,” she says. “But the younger kids, from ages eight to 15, they’re ready. They’re like, ‘Okay, selfie!”

QUOTEBOOK:
“The women’s game right now is super competitive…I don’t want to play [Kaia Kanepi] in the first round of a Grand Slam. She’s tough to play. So I understand.” – Sloane Stephens, on No. 1 seed Simona Halep’s first-round loss
“My biggest interest is to keep on exploring the possibilities of my existence on this planet…It’s not only about winning a tennis match. You can’t take trophies to your grave.” – Novak Djokovic
“That was fun.” – 39-year-old Patty Schnyder, the oldest player ever to make it through US Open qualifying, after her 6-2, 7-6(6) first-round loss to Maria Sharapova
“I could throw 2018 into the garbage can real fast.” – 2017 semifinalist Coco Vandeweghe, after her first-round loss at the Open. Last year the San Diegan made the semis of two Slams and reached No. 9. Last year’s Open semifinalist is now No. 25 and will soon fall much lower. “I’m just happy that the direct deposit hits on time.” – Sloane Stephens, on her chocolate milk and Mercedes endorsements

GO FIGURE: Steve Tignor noted, “The ATP’s two poster boys for slow play, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, won the first two Masters 1000 events with a serve clock in Toronto and Cincinnati.”…A reporter asked Naomi Osaka about the new movie, “Crazy Rich Asians,” but she feigned that it was a tennis question about crazy rotations.

NOISE ANNOYS: The new Louis Armstrong Stadium has a rep as noisy, but early in the tournament, a smaller court gave it a run for its money. A second-round match between Ash Barty and Lucie Safarova on Court 17 threatened to turn into an impromptu noise music concert. Deep into the first set, courtside speakers were overloaded with ear-splitting bursts of static for a good 10 minutes, halting play. The noise finally stopped just as the players were leaving the court. Barty eventually won the first set and the match, 7-5, 6-3.

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