US OPEN BUZZ: Of Teen Sensations and Rafa’s Peter Pan Syndrome

Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

COURT NAME CHANGE: According to multiple sources, there are plans underway to change the name of Margaret Court Arena.

OF TENNIS’ TEEN SENSATIONS AND RAFA’S PETER PAN SYNDROME: “The world loves a teenage sensation,” Nina Pantic writes, “It’s in our DNA to be envious of the youth, to desire to change places with them and feel that carefree naiveté once again…This week it was Denis Shapovalov’s turn to play that role.”

Shapovalov and Andrei Rublev may currently embody the teen phenom, but Rafa Nadal was one, once upon a time – and he wouldn’t mind being one again. Asked to recall the best part of being 19 on the eve of his fourth-round match with the 19-year-old Rublev, Rafa said, “Of course if I can come back to [being] 19, I take it.”

Why? “[At 19] you have – I’m 31 – a lot more years to enjoy the tour, a lot more years to enjoy the life,” answered Rafa. “Of course, better [to] be 19 than 31.

“I always wanted to be young. Even when I was eight years old, I was not very happy, [on] my birthday, to be 9. Still the same. I am 31 and I am not happy when [on] my birthday [I’m] going to be 32. I am happy being young, no? I don’t want to get older.

“For the moment,” Rafa concluded with a smile, “I [haven’t found] the way to stop that watch.” [Editor’s note: Is Rafa the most genuine superstar around, or what?]









BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS – THE PLATINUM BLONDE IN DESIGNER OVERALLS: Has anyone in tennis given us more looks than Bethanie Mattek-Sands? As an ESPN broadcaster, she’s a platinum blonde with a high-end Dutch Boy haircut, designer overalls and a white short sleeve shirt that allows her to showcase the tattoos that dominate her right arm.

CELEBRATIONS CAN BE DANGEROUS: Coco Vandeweghe and Bethanie Mattek-Sands both have injured their hands giving each other high-fives.

IN THE ZONE: Reflecting on his blowout of Mischa Zverev, Sam Querrey said, “From point one, everything clicked…From the first point I knew was going to hit a lot of passing shots.” Querrey is now the No. 1 American man.

DRIVE, SHE SAID: Tennis pros are no strangers to maladies, burnout and creative training methods, but nonetheless Kaia Kanepi’s comeback story is unique. As reported by Cindy Shmerler, plantar fasciitis and Epstein-Barr virus took the Estonian Kanepi to the brink of quitting the sport. The road back was a literal one, covered by ice. Kanepi traveled to a Finnish pro driving school where, along with 33 male students, she learned how to drive a spinning car on icy roads. “You really need to be careful on the icy roads,” she told Schmerler. “It’s the same as in tennis. You need to concentrate.” Kanepi’s concentration has brought her, the current world No. 418, to the US Open quarters, where she’ll face Madison Keys.

THE ROGER AND RAFA REVIVAL TOUR: Darren Cahill asked what the odds were at the beginning of the year that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal would win all four of the year’s Slams.

FOR YOUR FOUR EYES ONLY: When commenting on what Carlos Moya has brought to Rafa Nadal’s game, Darren Cahill said, “A different set of eyes and ears is always good, on and off the court sometimes.”

SLOANE IS NOT ALONE: The New York Post reports that Sloane Stephens is romantically involved with longtime friend and US soccer team striker Jozy Altidore.

TIME FLIES WHEN YOU’RE HAVING FUN: Karolina Pliskova said her 6-1, 6-0 fourth-round win over Jennifer Brady felt even faster than its 46-minute length.

THE NAME OF THE GAME: Word hasn’t emerged on what Serena will name her daughter. Some in tennis are hoping it might be Althea or Billie Jean. Few think she will name her kid Margaret, after Margaret Court.

T-SHIRT OF THE DAY: “Keep Calm, Tennis On.”


“When I go out there and someone’s across the net from me…They’re not going to give you any matches. In case they do, I will accept it…I’m accepting all major credit cards and unforced errors.” – Venus Williams

“Most guys don’t have their best year 11 years into a career.” — Sam Querrey

“Exit the Russian intrigue.” – the New York Daily News’ Kevin Armstrong on Maria Sharapova’s loss

“More than a coach, he’s one of the best friends I’ve ever had on the tour.” – Rafa Nadal on Carlos Moya

“It’d be fun to have some random people in [the players box], like R. Kelly and Celine Dion sitting together.” — Sam Querrey

“You could hear the strings moving.” – Darren Cahill after Alexandr Dolgopolov hit a sharply-angled backhand volley

“What she’s gone through is unimaginable, unreasonable. The world we live in is just shocking.” — Venus Williams on Petra Kvitova, who returned to the tour after being attacked in her home by an intruder.

“Our sport’s been dominated by such a select group of people for so long. It feels a little bit different.” — Kevin Anderson

“There’s no secret. It’s just another match, another ball.” – French Open junior champion Whitney Osuigwe on her ability to step up during Grand Slams

THAT’LL NEVER WORK: When Boris Becker first came on board as Novak Djokovic’s coach, people dismissed the partnership, saying it’ll never work. But Becker went on to lead Djokovic to six Grand Slams and the Serb hasn’t won a major since Becker stopped coaching him. Months ago, some people thought that Pat Cash coming on as Coco Vandeweghe’s coach wouldn’t work either, but she’s having a fabulous summer and is now into the quarterfinals.

GO FIGURE: One guy in a wacky hat can get the entire Grandstand going…Roger Federer’s record against three of his opponents – Mikhail Youzhny, Feli Lopez and Philip Kohlschreiber – is 41-0…Maria Sharapova played all four of her US Open matches on Arthur Ashe Stadium…Karolina Pliskova was down a match point before she prevailed in her third-round match. Today she beat Jennifer Brady 6-1, 6-0 in 46 minutes.

THOSE BRYAN BOYS: Bob and Mike Bryan are into the quarterfinals and hoping to gain their first Grand Slam since they won the US Open in 2014. It would be their 18th major. After their win today, they said, “We’re pretty pumped now.” They then looked at some fans in the fourth row in all black and said, “I want to thank those three studs back there. I don’t know who they are, but they’re pretty mean. We’re still psyched, and we’re gonna give it up.”

JUST WONDERING: Is the Bryans’ chest bump the coolest celebration in ennis?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here