US Open Buzz: Success and the Keys to Happiness

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It was a tough day for Sloane Stephens, who was on the brink of being ousted in the first round of the US Open, but she pulled through to defeat Mandy Minella in a third-set tiebreak. Photo: Elsa/Getty Images.

ANOTHER REASON TO GET YOUR KIDS INTO TENNIS?: When kids are out playing tennis, they have less time to veg out out in front of the television. And recent studies have shown a correlation between exposure to TV and movie carnage and the likelihood of committing violent acts. So can we say, “More tennis, less violence?”

MOTIVATION TAKES MANY FORMS: After her first-round cliffhanger victory, IT asked Sloane Stephens for the best piece of advice she’s gotten on court during a match. “Um, I’m not sure,” she said. “But today someone yelled to me, ‘If you don’t get it together, this lady is going to take your second-round prize money.’ I was like, ‘Oh, my god.’ I think that was a pretty good one today.”

MAYBE THE GUY JUST BELIEVES IT’S CRITICAL TO KNOW THY ENEMY: Blogger Ben Rothenberg noted, “Since the draw came out, [Rafael] Nadal has oddly practiced with both [Ryan] Harrison and [Fernando] Verdasco, both of whom are set to be first-week opponents.”

NEVER SAY NEVER: Less than two weeks after her surprise retirement announcement, Marion Bartoli admitted, “It’s pretty hard to say I would never come back.”

LONG QUEUE: In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, security check lines at the US Open on opening day were nearly a quarter-mile long.

DJOKOVIC’S MIDLIFE MUDDLE?: The Tennis Channel asked, “Can it be said that the world No. 1 is treading water?”

GENDER DIPLOMACY 101: The WTA’s Sofia Arvidsson suggested, “A foolish man tells a woman to stop talking, but a wise man tells her that her mouth is extremely beautiful when her lips are closed.”

IS RAFA THE MOST HUMBLE SPORTSMAN ON THIS PLANET?: Reflecting on his impressive back-to-back hard court wins in Montreal and Cincinnati, Rafael Nadal said, “I won, and at the same time I can lose. [It was] a very tough match against Novak in Montreal, anyone [could] win the match. Then I have a very tough one against Roger in Cincinnati … It was lucky that I won both … Here [the US Open] is a different event. I’m going to keep trying my best.”

GO FIGURE: It’s very likely that the surging Rafa—who is already No. 2, with no points to defend for the rest of the year—will end the year at No. 1, despite earning almost no ranking points in three critical tournaments: the Aussie Open, Wimbledon, and Miami.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES: Tournament fave Rafa noted, “Last year I watched this event [the US Open] on the TV. This year I have the chance to be here … All of that is fantastic for me … Nobody in my family, nobody on my team, nobody who is close to me seven months ago thought about [a] comeback like this … [This is] probably one of the more emotional seasons in my career without any doubt.”

RAFA AND THE KEY TO HAPPINESS: After saying that he’s “happy” about the way he’s playing, Rafa elaborated on the relationship between his game and his life. “I always had the theory that [the] most important thing is to be happy, enjoy what you are doing, and be fresh mentally … Everything very normal. Nothing strange in my life. I practice. I practice physical performance, practice tennis. I go fishing. I play golf. I go party when I have the chance to go party. That’s all. Really normal guy, normal life. For me, that produces the real feeling. Doing these kind of things, I feel ready [to compete]. That [doesn’t] mean that’s the correct thing for everybody. It’s [the] correct thing for me.”

LIVING THE TENNIS LIFE: Discussing her commitment to the sport, Venus Williams told ESPN, “I have no kids, I have no husband, I have no responsibilities, so I’ll be playing tennis.”

THE PLAYER THAT MISTOOK HER FAME FOR A HAT: Asked about the specific pressures of fame in China, Na Li came up with a metaphor. “When people say that I represent the nation, that is too big a hat for me to wear,” she said. “In the past, I used to be really bothered by [bad stories]. Now I just think that perhaps [the Chinese media] think that I’m not famous enough, so they want to help me out.”

GOOD QUESTION, GOOD ANSWER: While previewing the US Open, Bud Collins posed the question, “What does tennis have to do with New York?” He responded, “Well, everything.”

CHRISSIE GETS CRUNK: During Sloane Stephens’ first-round match, Chris Evert began talking about the MTV Video Music Awards the night before, saying, “I was looking for [rapper-producer] Pitbull, but he never showed up.” A nonplussed Pam Shriver replied, “There’s no pit bulls in my living room.”

WHO’S ZOOMIN’ WHO?: When Jon Wertheim asked Sloane Stephens if she was going to head Lenny Kravitz‘s way (a reference to the opening-night performer’s hit “Are You Gonna Go My Way?), Sloane quipped, “No, he’s following me.”


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