US OPEN BUZZ: Historic Moments, Curious Connections & Serena's Mexican Connection

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JUST WONDERING: There have been two moments of tennis history so far at this year’s US Open. The opening of the new Grandstand Court and the first match – Nadal vs. Seppi – played under the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof. With that in mind, if you could have been there for any historical moment in history, what would it have been? Let us know at … In light of the lewd comment Bernie Tomic made to a fan, one asks whether athletes have a responsibility to act in a basically decent and respectful manner.

CURIOUS CONSEQUENCES: With the construction of the Arthur Ashe roof, we presumed, barring something truly bizarre, that there would actually be a men’s final on the final Sunday of the Open. Rains today turned a ho-hum, second-round afternoon match between Andy Murray and Marcel Granollers into a contest that was watched by about 20,000 fans, who nearly filled the dry and comfy Ashe as rains doused the outer courts. The ordinary match was probably played before more fans then any other second-round match in history.

Then there is the sound issue. When the roof’s closed and and the stadium’s empty, there is an incredible echo inside. More important, when it rains there is a deafening sound which Andy Murray said prevents you from hearing anything but the linesman making their calls. The Scot added, “[I couldn’t hear] when he was hitting the ball or even when [I was] hitting the ball, really, which is tough purely because we’re not used to it…We use our ears when we play. It’s not just the eyes. You know, it helps us pick up the speed of the ball, the spin that’s on the ball, how hard someone’s hitting it.”

On the subject of noise, the USTA’s Gordon Smith chimed in. “This is New York,” he said. “And yes, there’s crowd noise. And yes, we want the crowds to come, we want them to be excited. We want them to cheer. And we think that over time the fans will adjust and the players will adjust. It’s obvious there’s going to be more noise in a trapped environment than in an open environment.”

TOUGH AS TENNIS: Tennis players used to have the image of wimpy country club types in dorky all-white outfits living the good life in leafy suburbs. But Olympic decathlon champ Ashton Eaton has other thoughts. “I personally believe tennis is the most athletic sport next to the decathlon,” Eaton told Business Insider, “just because of certain things required. Those matches are three or four hours long. There’s the technical aspect, the agility, the mind-body awareness. Not to mention the game itself is a little bit like a chess match.”

POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL WITH NOWHERE TO GO: To retain her eligibility, CiCi Bellis won’t be accepting her prize money at this year’s Open. But she can apply it to her expenses. So after her first-round match she upgraded at the Marriott from a regular room to a suite. After her second-round win over Shelby Rogers she joked that maybe she would now upgrade to the Presidential Suite.

THE RHODE ISLAND–CALIFORNIA CONNECTION: Jared Donaldson has gone from Newport to Newport Beach. Translation: The Rhode Island native would often would often play on the venerable grass courts at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport in his home state of Rhode Island. But then he went to Newport Beach, California to work with his coach Taylor Dent. (BTW: Team CiCi is a group of rabid CiCi Bellis fans who travel to big tournaments to offer her raucous support. They’re from Rhode Island.)

THE SERENA-MEXICO CONNECTION: In an article under the headline “Serena Passionate About Tacos,” Williams explained to USA Today that she “grew up next to all of these Mexican families, and we were close with them when I was little, we were friends. I think that’s where my love of tacos came from.”

THE RAGS-RICHES CONNECTION: Venus Williams‘ bright multi-colored dress is drawing raves. It’s stunning and quite a contrast from the drab, simplistic gear she first appeared in as a 14-year old kid just emerging on the tour.

THE ANDRE CONNECTION: It’s the 10-year anniversary of Andre Agassi‘s final US Open and last professional match. Agassi recently proudly recalled the standing ovation he received after his emotional farewell speech at Arthur Ashe Stadium. “When all of the sudden it was over, and there was that raw emotion – both on my end and 20,000 other people who were in the stadium – it made me realize how connected we’ve all been over the years,” he told AP. “And I’ve got to say, I look back on that moment as possibly the best moment I’ve ever had on a tennis court.”

MANY-SPLENDORED VENUS: When Inside Tennis asked Rajeev Ram to name the greatest quality of his Olympic medal-winning mixed doubles partner Venus Williams, he was quick to give an answer: her fierceness. So IT followed up by asking Serena for her opinion, and she responded, “I would say she also never quits, no matter what. As for the lady herself, she told IT, “Well, I told him (Ram), it looks like I’m really nice but I’m not (laughter). I think he learned that. Of course, I’m nice, but…I’m an inward person but I’m extremely competitive. I think when you’re a doubles partner with me that’s when you really get to know that side because of the way we’re strategizing and the way we go into the match. I think he got to know that I don’t take a loss for an answer.”

RAFA’S OLYMPIC SPIRIT: When IT asked Rafael Nadal why he was beaming when he carried the flag for Spain at the Olympics, Rafa likened it to “an award after a lot of years of hard work, a lot of years of passion for the sport, a lot of years having represented well, I think, my country around the world, no?…That moment was unique, unforgettable, and was just very, very high emotions.” As for the value of the Olympics, Rafa is clear. “Olympics is the closest thing to a Grand Slam,” he says, adding, “Some young players that chose to not go there, it’s difficult to understand, no? Olympics are once every four years and is something that is an experience you can’t miss…You need to have the right people around you to advise you that [you] have to go there…When you are older you appreciate a lot these events and these experiences that are completely special and unique.”


“It worked flawlessly.” – USTA Executive Director Gordon Smith on the new US Open roof

BROTHERLY LOVE: Ryan Harrison and his brother Christian both made it through qualifying into the main draw, at which point Ryan said he would rather play Djokovic than his younger brother.