- Danielle Elliot at Busted Racquet7 hrs ago
Roger Federer launched his Instagram account today with the help of another all-time great.
"It was an honor meeting one of my childhood idols today #MJ. Also, this is my first @instagram. How’d I do?"
I’d say he did pretty well: The photo earned more than 29,000 likes and 21,500 comments. More than 125,000 people are already following the account.
The photo of Federer and M.J. was snapped shortly after the two announced that they’d collaborated on a Nike tennis shoe that Federer is wearing during the U.S. Open.
The shoes are far from the only thing they have in common. Jordan was 33 when he first retired. He had six titles to his name. Federer is currently 33, and has won more Grand Slams than any other male tennis star, and is seeking his sixth U.S. Open title this year.
- Danielle Elliot at Busted Racquet8 hrs ago
NEW YORK – A 22-year-old man stood up and wiggled his hips like a child. Blue cap turned backwards on his head, jean shorts hanging low, he held his smartphone up with both hands. As Catherine "CiCi" Bellis' forehand landed just inside the line, the man stood, continuing to record. This was a moment he'd always remember. There was no time to clap. He needed to keep the camera steady.
"Oh my god, that's definitely an ESPN top 10! Send it!" the boy's friend yelled. "She turned 15 this year."
"She was 14 not long ago," another woman marveled out loud.
The time was 5:19 p.m. ET. Serena Williams was just about to take the practice court, a mere 200 feet away, where she'd warm up alongside Taylor Townsend, preparing for their match later Tuesday. Williams herself has dubbed Townsend the "future of American tennis."
- Danielle Elliot at Busted Racquet15 hrs ago
NEW YORK — All eyes will be on Serena Williams on Tuesday night as she takes on 18-year-old Taylor Townsend. Williams was ousted in the third round last month at Wimbledon and she and sister Venus retired from their doubles match there because Serena was barely able to lift her racket. She later said she was battling a viral illness. She came back to win in smaller tournaments at Stanford and Mason, Ohio, but this will be her first test at the U.S. Open.
Williams held the No. 1 ranking for 76 weeks and she is looking to start her bid for a third straight U.S. Open title. If she wins here, she’ll tie Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert with 18 Grand Slam titles. She tends to dominate in Flushing Meadows, often knocking off American prospects in the process. This year, she’ll have to start by defeating the woman she’s called the “future of American tennis.”
- Stephanie Myles at Busted Racquet16 hrs ago
NEW YORK – A chorus of screams suddenly erupted just west of the main practice courts on Sunday.
It's a particular sound, reserved for only a few of the game's true greats. And with the absence of Rafael Nadal at this year's event, it could only be one player: Roger Federer, on his way to a practice session.
Federer, the No. 2 seed and the on-form player coming into the last Grand Slam of the season, kicks off his 2014 campaign during the night session on Arthur Ashe Stadium against the Bosnian-born Australian Marinko Matosevic. It is the best part of the Tuesday schedule at the U.S. Open.
Federer will be greeted and supported as if he were a native New Yorker, which pretty much happens to him everywhere he goes – even in London, against true Brit/Scot Andy Murray.
That match will be followed by the entrance of No. 1 woman Serena Williams, who drew herself an intriguing matchup in the first round. She plays 18-year-old Taylor Townsend, a wild-card entry who probably won't be needing too many more of those, a fellow African-American with a completely different style. And a left-hander.
- Danielle Elliot at Busted Racquet1 day ago
No one seems to know what to do while a tennis match is halted. On Monday night, two sets into a tight match between 10th-seed Caroline Wozniacki and Magdalena Rybarikova, two teen girls in fluorescent pink tank tops wandered around, popcorn buckets in hand, trying to find better seats. A middle-aged woman stood, craning her neck to see if anything was happening. “Can we still buy beer?” a 20-something guy asked.
It was 8:52 p.m. ET, Rybarikova had left the court, reportedly battling back pain. Earlier in the day, Andy Murray battled full body cramps. Players are struggling to deal with the heat. Though it is nowhere near the 100-degree days of past U.S. Opens, Monday’s temperatures hit the high 80s, much higher than they’ve been in recent weeks.
Tenth-seed Wozniacki had dominated the first set, winning 6-1, but Rybarikova battled to take the second set 6-3. The players returned to the court at 8:55, and within five minutes Wozniacki had taken the first two games of the set. Just after 9 p.m., Rybarikova approached the chair umpire. It was the end of the night, and the tournament, for the 25-year-old from Bratislava, Slovakia.
- Danielle Elliot at Busted Racquet1 day ago
After a summer of the best tennis Venus Williams has played in ages, fans expected her to come out fighting on Monday at the 2014 U.S. Open. Instead, for a while, it looked like the veteran would make an early exit, possibly falling at the hands of the only player older than her in this year’s tournament.
Williams, 34, faced 43-year-old journeywoman Kimiko Date-Krumm in the second match of the day in a half-filled Arthur Ashe Stadium. In the first set, Williams looked lethargic at best. Even as she battled back to take the match, she never seemed to play with much energy.
The most exciting moments of the match came midway through the second set after a bumblebee started buzzing around Date-Krumm’s face as she tried to serve. With two ball girls and a ball boy enlisted to help, play stopped for a full minute as the group tried swatting the bee with the racquet and towels. The bee finally flew away, only to land on Williams a few minutes later. As Date-Krumm danced away from it, the small crowd roared, reaching its highest volume of the day.
- Stephanie Myles at Busted Racquet1 day ago
NEW YORK – The first round of men's singles at the U.S. Open is divided up over three days and, with the absence of Rafael Nadal, the tournament can't showcase one of the men's "big three" each day.
On Monday, No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic gets the night session, following Maria Sharapova onto the court in Arthur Ashe Stadium after the usual opening ceremonies.
On Tuesday, No. 2 seed Roger Federer is scheduled.
That leaves No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych and No. 7 Grigor Dimitrov as the highest seeds remaining for the conclusion of the first round on Wednesday. With Dimitrov playing American Ryan Harrison, that likely will be the most glamorous matchup. The entertaining No. 11 seed Ernests Gulbis who, on the basis of his brilliant play in practice the last few days would have won the tournament – if practice counted for anything - also will play on Wednesday.
- Stephanie Myles at Busted Racquet2 days ago
NEW YORK – There was plenty of entertainment inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, with national television exposure on CBS.
But the real and best story of Arthur Ashe Kids' Day, the traditional Saturday celebration that kicks off the U.S. Open, is on all the outside courts.
Even the players who take part don't even seem to mind that practice courts are at a premium that day – and that's saying something.
There were hundreds of future little Rafael Nadals and Rogers Federers of all shapes, sizes and colors walking around the grounds, as Nike handed out what looked to be half a warehouse full of bandanas. They all had rackets in their hands, and smiles on their faces. There's no better mass promotion for the sport of tennis than something like that.
One little future Rafa made it his mission to scavenge as many lost tennis balls as he could.
As you can see, he made out pretty well.
- Stephanie Myles at Busted Racquet5 days ago
It's not as though Rafael Nadal is a slam-dunk to win in New York. Far from it, even if the last three times he has played it he has reached the final once and won it twice, including a year ago.
So his not-surprising decision to miss it leaves a hole and none of the top contenders, from a tennis point of view, would be too upset to see his name missing from the draw.
On summer form, this is a wide-open event. Top seed Novak Djokovic was sort of a newlywed ghost during his two rather brief appearances in tuneup events in Toronto and Cincinnati. No. 3 seed Stan Wawrinka still seems to be suffering some late Australian Open reverb, because he's not anywhere close to the player he was in January when he became the first outside the "top group" to pull off a major.
In form? No. 2 seed Roger Federer. And Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the No. 9 seed, who won the Canadian event in Toronto and defeated four top-10 players to do it.
- Stephanie Myles at Busted Racquet5 days ago
As with the men, the absence of the No. 2 seed, in this case Li Na of China, throws everything a little out of whack.
But there still is a nice balance among the top four seeds, split between the heavy hitters – Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova – and the great movers with more finesse in Simona Halep and Agnieszka Radwanska.
The heavy hitters are in the top half; the "finessers" are in the bottom half.
Arguably the two most dangerous players outside the top 10, health permitting, could prove to be big obstacles at the beginning of the second week as No. 16 Victoria Azarenka (last year's runner-up to Serena Williams) stands in Kvitova's way, and No. 19 seed Venus Williams in Halep's way as early as the fourth round.
Of course, they all have to get there.
Here's how the draws could shake out for the top contenders. We grade the difficulty of their respective draws from A to D (A being the relatively easiest, D the biggest challenge with possible early roadblocks).