LOVE COUPLES: In 1999, Andre Agassi and his soon to be lover Steffi Graf both won the French Open. Now lovers Elina Svitolina and Gael Monfils are respectively into the Open semis and quarters. No wonder broadcaster Cindy Shmerler observed, “There are plenty of happy couples in our little sport.” Here’s a list:
Andre Agassi and Stefi Graf* – With 30 Slams they are the top-ranked couple of all time.
Chris Evert and Jimmy Connors – They were called “the love couple” and they both won Wimbledon in 1974.
Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss* – The foremost gay couple in sports may be the longest-lasting elite duo in tennis.
Roger and Mirka Federer* – Mirka used to be Roger’s manager and is a key to his career. A former player, she enabled him to gain a certain professionalism and always provided a knowing perspective. Roger often has said if Mirka ever is not okay with his going on playing, he’ll pack it in.
Fabio Fognini and Flavia Panetta* – The first couple of Italian tennis are expecting their second child.
Chris Evert and John Lloyd – In the first of her three marriages to athletes, Chrissie married into one of the more royal tennis families in Britain.
Lleyton Hewitt and Kim Clijsters – During their brief engagement Kim suffered a wrist injury and Mark Woodforde suggested it was due to the Belgian “carrying her [huge engagement] ring around.”
Donna Vekic and Stan Wawrinka – An on-court taunt from Nick Kyrgios was one of the more ugly moments in recent tennis history.
Madison Keys and Bjorn Frantangelo* – Like any good millennials, the couple took to social media to formally announce their relationship in 2017.
Dominic Thiem and Kristina Mladenovic* – Both Thiem and Mladenovic have been top 10 singles players, but bragging rights go to Kiki, as she has been No. 1 in doubles.
Marcos Baghdatis and Karolina Sprem* – Marcos took his emotional farewell tour this year, retiring at Wimbledon, where his wife made the quarters.
Petr Korda and Regina Rajchrtova* – Their son Sebastian is now a considerable prospect.
*These couples are still together
“YOU HAVE TO LISTEN:” None other than Venus gave us one of the more entertaining quotes on love and marriage. She observed, “I heard being married is tough. [You] have to stick around, be supportive, listen. It seems really hard.”
NO DOUBT ABOUT IT: Daniil Medvedev is the real deal. The Russian, who is now No. 4 and has had a fabulous few months, might be the game’s next great champ. He reached two finals this summer and won Cincy. Despite being pegged as this Open’s newfound villain, the 6’6” 23-year-old is hardly a perfect bad guy: he’s got a sweet smile and a good sense of humor.
BOO BIRDS: What was more shocking: fans booing Russian Daniil Medvedev, Indianapolis Colts backers booing their star quarterback Andrew Luck or Ashe Stadium fans letting Djokovic have it when he retired against Wawrinka? When asked about being booed, Novak simply said, “What can I tell you?”
“We’re going to be goat grazing tonight.” – Chris McKendry on Serena and Federer again playing back to back
“I’m not trying to lose fans.” – Serena when asked to sing on court
“I love playing a game like this on a court like this in a city like this.” – Federer
“If I was Svitolina I would go to dinner with Monfils right now. Don’t watch this.” – Mary Jo-Fernandez on the dominant performance by Serena, who will be Svitolina’s next foe
“It’s nice to whisper during these interviews.” – Adam Silver, the commissioner of the always raucous NBA, on his US Open interviews
BAD NICKNAMES: Nicknames evolve over time, and play different roles in different cultures. Decades ago the late Chicago White Sox Orestes Minoso bristled at his name “Minnie.” These days you wouldn’t ever dare mention the nickname of the vastly popular golfer Lee Trevino, who was referred to as “Super Mex.” Some countries aren’t that much into nicknames. Federer said the other day that he doesn’t have a nickname, and Switzerland doesn’t have many of them.
The appearance of Grigor Dimitrov on Ashe Stadium tonight brings to mind a slew of unwanted nicknames. Dimitrov was compared to Roger and was called “Baby Fed.” But the best player in Bulgarian history hates the nickname. Early in his career German Boris Becker was called ‘Boom-Boom Becker,’ but since his country and Britain both bombed each other relentlessly in WWII, he despised that nickname. When Bud Collins called the Dutch star Betty Stove “Big Bad Betty,’ she was irate. Collins also called Ronald Holmberg “Dallas Fats.” Mary Pierce was not happy with a certain generic nickname for the large women of her era. Mary Carillo dubbed the women’s game of that generation “Big Babe Tennis.”
A TENNIS ‘VILLAIN’ WITH A NEW YORK ATTITUDE
US MEN FLOUNDER AGAIN
FOR OSAKA AND GAUFF, BLACK GIRL MAGIC BECAME BLACK GIRL SOLIDARITY
MONFILS’ MAGIC: Elina Svitolana noted that she and her boyfriend Gael Monfils met at a Paris party late last year. She said he not only has a lot of trick shots on the court, but off court he does magic card tricks. She joked, “I sold my soul to him.” Monfils then confided, “I had to bring out the card tricks because the tennis tricks weren’t enough.”
Svitolina, who regularly hits with Gael, then quipped, “He has more tricks under his sleeve.” Gael said that Elina “is a hard worker, sometimes too professional…She brings joy. I’m a happy man but I am not crazy.”
GO FIGURE: Daniil Medvedev is the youngest semifinalist since Djokovic in 2007 and he is the first Russian Open semifinalist since Mikhail Youzhny in 2010.
CENTURY CITY: Serena claimed her 100th US Open win with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over 18th seed Qiang Wang. Serena said, “When I started at 16 I never thought I’d get to 100 but I love what I do…I never want to let it go.” Since returning from childbirth, Serena hasn’t won a tourney. She is 32-5 at the Slams, but only 10-6 at other events.
A DEATH IN THE FAMILY: The death of a coach is always painful. Just ask Sampras or Federer. Not surprisingly, China’s quarterfinalist Wang Qiang spoke poignantly of her coach, the former Aussie star Peter McNamara, who passed away earlier this year. She recalled, “When he passed I was really sad. I miss him a lot. [he was] like a second father. I think he will always be here on court. I miss him. [If he were here I would tell him] ‘I love you.’”
ISNER ON GIMELSTOB: When asked whether he was aware of Justin Gimelstob’s recent court filing, Justin’s long-time friend John Isner said, “I’m somewhat aware of that…[but] not too in-depth. Maybe there is some part of the truth that didn’t come out and will maybe vindicate him. I’m staying out of that whole situation. Certainly, It’s a tough situation that he’s in right now. He’s always been a good friend of mine and someone I care to rely on, a loyal guy. Even though he’s maybe had his transgressions, he doesn’t lose my friendship at all. He’s fighting this tooth and nail for sure. He believes there is a lot of this story that hasn’t been told and that’s his prerogative and we’ll see what comes of it…I was just sorry for the whole situation, for his side, the other side, I guess just tempers got the best of two people that night.”
EVERY WRITER’S BEST FRIEND: Control Z.