| By New York Tennis Magazine Staff

The sport’s top stars are set to make New York their home away from home from Aug. 29-Sept. 13, and this article will serve as your guide in and around the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center as the Open takes place. From trendy places to eat, to where to go to possibly meet and greet the stars of today and the stars of tomorrow, this article looks to provide you with those little extra tidbits of information on this year’s U.S. Open.

See the stars of tomorrow today

The 2011 U.S. Open qualifying rounds will take place Tuesday-Friday, Aug. 23-26 beginning at each day (gates open at ). Admission to these qualifying rounds is free, so why not stop by and see the stars of tomorrow leaving it all on the line for a spot in the 2011 Open.

 

2011 Arthur Ashe Kids Day

U.S. Open Champions Rafael Nadal and Kim Clijsters, world number one ranked Novak Djokovic, former U.S. Open Champion Andy Roddick and the 2010 U.S. Open Wheelchair Champion David Wagner will team up with actor Bradley Cooper, New York Knicks All-Star Carmelo Anthony, and pop star Cody Simpson at the 16th Annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess Saturday, August 27 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., from 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Hosted by TV personalities La La Anthony and Quddus, the show will feature more musical guests and tennis stars set to be announced in coming weeks. The popular full-day tennis and music festival for children and adults alike includes interactive games, musical entertainment and tennis activities. It will also feature performances from up-and-coming stars including Girls Nite Out, Action Item, Jacob Latimore and Nickelodeon's The Fresh Beat Band. Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day Presented by Hess will kick off the 2011 U.S. Open, which runs from Aug. 29-Sept. 11.

From , kids and their families can experience an exciting schedule of free tennis games, live music and attractions taking place throughout the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Inside Arthur Ashe Stadium from , the live tennis and music show will feature fun exhibition matches and skills competitions with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Kim Clijsters, Andy Roddick, David Wagner and other top players and celebrities with musical performances by Cody Simpson and more.

General admission promenade tickets cost $10 and loge tickets are $20. Arthur Ashe Kids Day will be broadcast nationally by CBS on Sunday, Aug. 28, from noon-1:30 p.m. (ET). Kids 12-and-under with stadium show tickets will receive a free Arthur Ashe Kids Day hat from the USTA and Hess on a first-come, first-served basis.

Open practice day
On Sun, Aug. 28, take advantage of this rare opportunity to see the stars of the sport of tennis take to the practice courts for their final tune-up prior to the 2011 U.S. Open. Get a rare glimpse into the habits and drills the stars use in their warm-up routine, and who knows, maybe you could pick up some pointers from the pros in the process.

Where the stars sign

Want to get photos and autographs of your favorite tennis pros? The best spot for both is what has been dubbed “Autograph Alley,” which runs alongside Courts P1-P5. Be sure to come prepared with a Sharpie marker, photos or balls for the players to sign. There are no guarantees that you’ll be able to meet the stars, but if you do, you can file it away as a memory forever!

U.S. Open Wheelchair Competition

The 2011 U.S. Open Wheelchair Competition, now in its sixth year, will be held Sept. 8-11, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The competition will feature 20 of the top wheelchair tennis athletes from around the globe. The will feature a Men’s, Women’s and Quad Division, and will include six events: Men’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, Women’s Singles, Women’s Doubles, Quad Singles and Quad Doubles. Wheelchair tennis follows the same rules as able-bodied tennis, except that the ball can bounce twice.

This is the first time that the world’s top seven ranked men’s and women’s wheelchair players (according to the July 18 ITF Rankings) will all enter the tournament. The top three ranked quad players also will all compete (world number three Johan Andersson recently retired). Additionally, one wild card was selected on both the men’s, women’s, and quad sides. The total purse for the event will be $120,000, a $20,000 increase in prize money over last year.

The U.S. will be represented in singles and doubles by the two-time Paralympic Quad doubles gold medalists David Wagner of Hillsboro, Ore. and Nick Taylor of Wichita, Kan. Wagner is the defending U.S. Open Quad singles champion and looking to win his third consecutive Grand Slam Quad singles title. Other Americans include 21-year-old Emmy Kaiser of Fort Mitchell, Ky., the top-ranked American woman player, who will compete in the women’s singles and doubles events, and 39-year-old former world number one Stephen Welch of Southlake, Texas, is a four-time Paralympian and 1996 doubles gold medalist, who will compete in the men’s singles and doubles. Welch, Kaiser, and Taylor all received wild cards into the tournament.

 

U.S. Open Base Prize Money Reaches the $23.7 Million Mark


The 2011 U.S. Open purse has increased by more than $1 million to reach a record $23.7 million. In addition to the base purse of $23.7 million, the top three men’s and top three women’s finishers in the Olympus U.S. Open Series may earn up to an additional $2.6 million in bonus prize money at the U.S. Open, providing a potential total payout of $26.3 million. Both the men’s and women’s U.S. Open singles champions will earn a record $1.8 million with the ability to earn an additional $1 million in bonus prize money (for a total $2.8 million potential payout) based on their performances in the Olympus U.S. Open Series.

The Olympus U.S. Open Series Bonus Challenge rewards the top three men’s and top three women’s finishers each year with bonus prize money at the U.S. Open and has resulted in the largest paychecks in tennis history for men (2007–Roger Federer, $2.4 million) and women (2005–Kim Clijsters, $2.2 million).

 

Places to eat at the Open

Aces: 

Vaulted ceilings, vibrant colors and a casual but elegant wine and sushi bar combine with superlative seafood offerings, making Aces the ultimate dining experience. You can also enjoy Aces' flavorful and sumptuous cuisine in your suite with the Aces Platinum Package Series. For lunch, dinner or after the matches.

Champions Bar & Grill: 

A contemporary setting with classic leather and wood accents, Champions Bar & Grill is a modern take on the traditional clubhouse atmosphere. The Grill offers premium steaks, fresh seafood, salads and a wide variety of wines. This year, delicious new items highlight the menu, featuring the finest cuts of meat and more. Bring your friends and come for lunch, dinner or after the matches … you won't miss a minute of the action, with live matches and other sporting events on Champions’ many TVs.

U.S. Open Club: 

The U.S. Open Club is located on the ground floor of Arthur Ashe Stadium. The Club is available to all Subscription Series ticket holders for the duration of the tournament for a nominal entrance fee, and is included for Silver Loge Box seat holders. The U.S. Open Club is famous for the Chef's Table and seasonal selections of eclectic American cuisine.

Mojito Restaurant & Bar: Mojito, is a Cuban-inspired restaurant that transports visitors to a dramatic setting in a tropical oasis reminiscent of 1950s Havana. Experience Mojito's luscious flavors with Latin specialties and cool cocktails, either inside or outdoors in Mojito’s whimsical garden. Mojito is available to all ticket holders. Mojito is located on the ground floor of Arthur Ashe Stadium next to the Patio Café. 

Patio Café & Bar: Soak up the beautiful surroundings of the U.S. Open grounds at this expanded charming outdoor café and bar located outside the U.S. Open Club. Enjoy fresh selections of seasonal sandwiches and salads, paired with summer specialty cocktails. The Patio Café & Bar is available for all ticket holders.

Heineken Red Star Café: 

Located in the South Plaza near Court 7, the Heineken Red Star Café has a sports bar atmosphere complete with TVs covering the action on all of the featured courts, light snacks, specialty beers featuring Heineken and Heineken Light, frozen cocktails and a full bar … all set outdoors in the middle of the action. The Heineken Red Star Café is available to all ticket holders throughout the day and evening.

Rejuvenate by the Fountains!

Visit our refreshing food destinations by the fountains including the South Plaza Café, Carnegie Deli, Cuppa Spotta and Ben & Jerry's.

Baseline Cocktails

Come quench your thirst with a full service bar that includes premium wine upgrades.

Wine Bar Food

Serving Mediterranean flavors with wines to match located in the South Plaza by Fountains.

U.S. Open Food Village

Enjoy regional cuisine and specialty items at the U.S. Open Food Village including a Honey Deuce Cocktail at the Grey Goose Bar! Featured vendors include: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Shop, Carnegie Deli, Classic Burger, Cuppa Spotta, Franks and Fries, Fresca Mexicana, Fulton Seafood, Glatt Kosher Cart, Grey Goose Bar, New Delhi Spice, Pizza/Pasta, Southern Barbeque, Stonyfield Café, and Sweet & Savory Crepes.



U.S. Open attractions

Fountain Desk Plaza

ESPN and CBS will be broadcasting live during select sessions from the Fountain Plaza Desk in the South Plaza. You won't want to miss interviews with today's tennis stars!

SmashZone


Located in the Chase Center, SmashZone has something for the whole family to enjoy, including QuickStart Tennis courts, a rally wall challenge and interactive photos and games. Pick up a drawsheet for a list of special guests, autograph sessions and player demonstrations.

International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum Gallery

Be sure to visit the U.S. Open Gallery, located inside the Chase Center, where this year’s champions will be commemorated.

Family Day
The U.S. Open is holding its third annual Family Day on Tuesday, Aug. 30. Parents accompanied by children 14-and-under can sit together in reserved seating in Louis Armstrong Stadium. An exclusive family breakfast, located in the Corporate Hospitality Pavilion in the Chase Center, is also available as a ticket package for purchase and includes early access to SmashZone and an exclusive gift bag.



 

12th Annual BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis Event

The world’s top tennis players and chefs will serve-up a kickoff to the U.S. Open on Thursday, Aug. 25 from at the W New York in midtown Manhattan at the 12th Annual BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis event, to benefit the New York Junior Tennis League. One of summer’s most anticipated New York nightlife events, BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis gives guests the opportunity to mingle with their favorite tennis stars and chefs, while sampling an eclectic mix of specially-designed dishes that earn rave reviews each year. This year’s lineup includes former U.S. Open and Davis Cup Champion Andy Roddick, Wimbledon Semifinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, along with top 10 players Mardy Fish and Tomas Berdych. On the women’s side, the BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis field is stacked with three of the top 10-ranked players in the world, including Li Na, Francesca Schiavone and Victoria Azarenka. These stars will cook alongside notable chefs from many of the nation’s premiere restaurants, including James Beard award winner Michelle Bernstein from Miami’s Sra. Martinez, Anita Lo of Annisa, Buddakan’s Brian Ray and Humberto Leon & Ashley Palma of STK, among many others.



The State of American Tennis: The Men's Side

By David Drucker

Another year brings another U.S. Open, and the question on the mind of many Americans is who can step up for the host country this year and make an exciting run to the title?

Does anybody remember the last time an American won a Grand Slam? That would be in 2003 where up and coming star Andy Roddick defeated Spain’s Juan Carlos Ferrero at the U.S. Open. Shortly thereafter, we were introduced to the era of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. These two champions have simply dominated the sport since 2004, winning 25 of 31 Grand Slams, starting with the 2004 Australian Open. Out of those 31 Grand Slams, only five have featured American finalists. Roddick was a finalist in 2004, 2005 and 2009 at Wimbledon, as well as the 2006 U.S. Open. Andre Agassi was a finalist in the 2005 U.S. Open. All five finals losses came at the hands of Roger Federer.

Going into this year’s U.S. Open, there are no Americans who would be considered favorites to win the title, but that doesn't mean we don't have contenders with a shot. So, which American has the best chance to win our nation’s Grand Slam?

Let’s first begin with tier one or the “top” Americans to look out for:

►Mardy Fish: 

Ever since losing a significant amount of weight thanks to a healthy diet, Mardy Fish has seemed to resurrect his career. Fish has recently overtaken the number one American ranking from his buddy Andy Roddick, who had been carrying the U.S. on his shoulders for more than six years now. Fish is coming off his best career performance at Wimbledon, reaching the quarterfinals before losing to Rafael Nadal. Sadly though, Fish’s best result in a Grand Slam during his entire career has been a trip to the quarterfinals. Sorry “Fish Heads,” as Mardy likes to refer to his fans, don’t look for anything better then a quarterfinals appearance in this Slam.

Andy Roddick: For Andy Roddick, it must feel like a century ago since he won the 2003 U.S. Open. Since then, Roddick failed to live up to expectations, losing in each of the four Slam finals he’s reached since 2003. Andy was shocked in the second round by Feliciano Lopez at this year’s Wimbledon, which is why Andy will be my American favorite at this year’s Open. Roddick, who has been embarrassed in his recent Grand Slam performances is seeking redemption and looking to make one last splash in a Grand Slam before he calls it a career. Pending Roddick’s draw, I pick him as the top American hopeful at the U.S. Open.

In tier number two, I think there’s only one American who fits that category. That American would be John Isner.

John Isner: 

The 6”9 John who is coming off his second career ATP title in Newport, R.I. will hope to slay a few opponents and surpass his 2010 performance, when he lost in the third round. When on his game, Isner is a dangerous opponent and top players would prefer not to see him in their draw. However, Isner’s serve simply cannot carry him to a Grand Slam title. 

Tier number three is a group of Americans who have slipped in the rankings, perhaps ones you’ve forgotten about. Without a fantastic draw, these Americans will have a tough road to glory:

Sam Querrey: We haven’t seen Sam Querrey since the AEGON Championships, a tune up tournament for Wimbledon. Querrey eventually withdrew from Wimbledon, citing an arm injury. Should Querrey even be healthy enough to compete at this year’s U.S. Open, he is no threat to anyone. Sam has won only one match in three Grand Slams this year, and lacks any major wins. His best win in 2011 was defeating Spain’s Fernando Verdasco. Don’t bank on Querrey making it past the second round should he play in the Open.

James Blake: 

Yes folks, James Blake is still playing tennis, and no … he is not retired. James has simply fallen in the rankings hence why you barely see him at the major tournaments. Currently ranked 91st in the world, Blake has struggled with his game in recent years, but is looking to make one more major run like he did when he reached the quarterfinals of the Open in 2005 and 2006. As much as I like Blake, I don't see positive results for the "J-Block" at this year’s Open.

Lastly, who will be the American long shots to possibly make a name for themselves. At this year’s U.S. Open:

Ryan Harrison: Rookie American Ryan Harrison does have game and will look to put his game on display should he make the main draw of the U.S. Open, which he should. In 2010, he made the second round after upsetting former top five player Ivan Ljubicic in the first round. Harrison, though young, can still win a few matches in Flushing Meadows. Let’s hope for a good draw and a nice Cinderella story here.

Donald Young: Year after year, we wait for Donald Young to do something big. This year, Young upended Andy Murray for the biggest win of his life at Indian Wells. However, what we would like to see is Donald show us some game in the Grand Slams. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen that at all from the young American in his already seven-year career. Based on past experiences, don’t expect anything beyond the second round at best for Young.

Alex Bogomolov Jr.: Most fans aren’t too familiar with Alex Bogomolov Jr. as he’s never done well in the rankings. His career-high ranking in singles is where he currently strands in the rankings, 63rd in the world. However, Bogomolov Jr. has just come off his best Grand Slam performances at this year’s Wimbledon, making it to the third round before falling to Tomas Berdych. Unfortunately, the American hasn’t made it past the first round of the U.S. Open. This is the year I believe Bogomolov Jr. can make it out of round one and possibly equal his Wimbledon performance, if not better, pending his draw. Realistically, Bogomolov Jr. won’t make it out of week one, but he will be entertaining to watch with the way he’s been playing of late.


 Contenders and Pretenders for the 2011 U.S. Open: The Men's Side

Going into the U.S. Open, there will be players looking to continue to dominate, looking to repeat, and looking to break out. More than likely, a top 20 player will win the title as that’s the trend that has existed over the last 10 years. This year’s U.S. Open will be no different in my eyes. Let’s break down this year’s players to watch into three categories.

The no-brainers

Rafael Nadal is the defending champion at Flushing Meadows, and you can bet that he’ll be looking for revenge against Wimbledon champ Novak Djokovic whom he lost to in four sets in the Wimbledon final, which cost him his number one world ranking. Nadal, who defeated Djokovic in the finals of last year’s U.S. Open, has a great shot to repeat this year. Expect nothing less than a semifinals appearance from the now world number two.

Novak Djokovic, who is the new number one in the rankings, the hottest player on tour, and easily having the best year in his career, is an obvious pick for the later rounds of the Open. Already winning two of the three Grand Slams this year, Djokovic will be looking to capitalize at this year’s U.S. Open where he’s made the finals twice in his career, losing to Federer and Nadal. The number one-ranked Serbian should be seeded first at this year’s Open, therefore he should find himself in at least the semifinals this year again.

Roger Federer is suffering the biggest Grand Slam drought of his career, failing to win a major since the 2010 Australian Open. Since then, he’s reached only one Slam final, this year’s French Open where he lost to Nadal yet again. For Federer, it looks like the door may be starting to close with the emergence of Djokovic. However, I do not rule the Swiss maestro out, as he has always faired well at the U.S. Open. Each time he has lost on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows, he had his chances to win, but was simply outplayed in the end. Look for the five-time champion to make it to at least the semifinals.

Andy Murray, believe it or not, has made the semifinals or farther each Grand Slam in 2011. Murray faltered in the finals of the Australian Open to Djokovic, and the semifinals of the French Open and Wimbledon to Nadal. Out of the four no-brainers, Murray is the one I have the least confidence to go deep in the Open. It seems as if he just cannot break through on the big stage. Though he’s been extremely consistent in Grand Slams this year, I don’t see Murray making it past the semifinals should he make it there.

The contenders

Andy Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion has always mentioned how much he enjoys playing on the hard courts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Though his recent results in Grand Slams have been considered embarrassing for Roddick, I believe he is ready to redeem himself at this year’s Open. Roddick has won this Slam in the past, and has been to the finals in 2006, he knows what it takes. Though he’s slipped a bit in the rankings, the shot at redemption is what I’m banking on that will take Roddick into week number two.

Juan Martin del Potro, for those of you who don’t remember, won the U.S. Open in 2009 when he stunned Roger Federer in five sets. Since then, del Potro has struggled with injuries that have sidelined him for nearly a year. After looking to be fully recovered, del Potro is a big threat with his heavy strokes and massive presence. Look for the Argentinean to make it into the second week as well, possibly clashing with a big name like a Nadal or Federer in the quarters.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has been flying under the radar this year, but at this year’s Wimbledon, he did something that caught the eyes of every tennis fan in the world. Tsonga became the first player ever to beat Federer when down two sets to none in a Grand Slam. For this reason, along with his huge serve and forehand, Tsonga is a contender at this year’s Open. The fast hard courts suit his game well; therefore, Tsonga should find himself in week two as well.

Tomas Berdych is a player who can catch fire with every aspect of his game at any moment. Take, for example, last year’s Wimbledon where he dismissed the defending champion at the time, Roger Federer, with ease. Berdych painted lines every single point with winner after winner. Should Berdych start hitting his spots, he will be extremely dangerous and difficult to beat. Berdych was embarrassed in the first round of last year’s Open, but this year should be different for the big hitting Czech.

The pretenders

Robin Soderling, similar to Tomas Berdych, is another big hitter that, if he catches fire, watch out. His example of that type of hitting was evident at the 2009 French Open where he ran defending champion Rafael Nadal ragged. Soderling and Berdych could go either way, but in this case, I feel Sodeling is a pretender because he lacks the all-around game that Berdych has. If this were the French Open, then I would reverse the positions as I believe Soderling moves better on clay, but the U.S. Open is played on a hard court. The tall Swede will struggle.

David Ferrer will always be one to give you everything he has in the tank when playing a match. Unfortunately for Ferrer, he lacks the knockout punch in his arsenal to do any damage. The only thing he can do which can and has worked in the past, is run his opponents off the court. However, when Ferrer makes it into the later rounds of a Grand Slam, he is usually met by someone who possesses that killer shot, or the knockout blow. That’s why I don’t see the Spanish warrior making it past the quarterfinals of the Open.

Gael Monfils may be the most entertaining out of all the players listed thus far, no-brainers and contenders included. The young Frenchman is quite the show on-court, with his cat-like speed and heavy strokes. To go along with those weapons, he loves getting the crowd involved after the big points to help fuel his fire. The problem that Monfils runs into is that he lacks the ability to sustain his high-quality level of play for a best of five set match with the top players of the world; therefore, he is no threat to win a Grand Slam at this time.

Mardy Fish is now the top-ranked American in the world, surpassing Andy Roddick who was the top-ranked American for a number of years. Fish has been playing the best tennis of his life as of late. Reaching the quarterfinals of Wimbledon was his best performance ever at the grass court Slam. Coming into this year’s U.S. Open, I feel he can only carry that momentum so far before succumbing to defeat.



 

The Women's Side: American Hopefuls for the 2011 U.S. Open Crown

By Monica Gorny

American youngster Christina McHale is moving up the rankings and making steady progress in her young professional career. She comes into the 2011 U.S. Open with a WTA ranking of 65, and hopes to make it further than her U.S. Open-best showing of making it to the second round in 2009. McHale has often been described as one of the most ambitious young players on tour, and chances are that she will look to prove herself on home soil at the 2011 U.S. Open.

Currently ranked number 88 on the WTA Tour, Vania King is another American hopeful at this year’s U.S. Open. King has had most of her career successes in the doubles field, where she is currently ranked number seven. Her best result in the U.S. Open singles draw is a third round appearance in 2009. Will King pleasantly surprise the American public in this year’s tournament?

Coco Vandeweghe stormed into the U.S. Open limelight in 2008, where she won the girl’s singles title, and is currently ranked 99th on the WTA Tour. In her two showings at the Open, she did not manage to pass the first round. However, the New York native will be hungry to show her potential on her home turf and could cause some upsets along the way.

American sweetheart Melanie Oudin had a terrific run at the U.S. Open in 2009 when she reached the quarterfinals. However, Oudin has not had a successful season thus far and has not managed to pass the first round at any of the previous Grand Slams. Will the 2011 U.S. Open serve to reignite her young career?

 



 

Top Picks for the 2011 U.S. Open Women’s Title

The tennis world’s “sunshine girl,” Kim Clijsters, comes into the 2011 U.S. Open as the defending champion. The Belgian is currently in second place in the WTA rankings and has won the U.S. Open championship three times before. Clijsters was forced to withdraw from this year’s Wimbledon due to a foot injury; however, a speedy recovery is underway and indications are that the Belgian will be ready to defend her crown at this year’s Open, making her a real threat in the women’s draw.

American hopes for the 2011 U.S. Open crown will rest on the shoulders of Serena Williams, who is making a comeback to the tennis world after a difficult year of injuries, including a pulmonary embolism. Williams is a three-time U.S. Open champion, with her last victory on home soil coming in 2008. Due to her difficult season, Williams did not compete in last year’s tournament. A powerful serve and fiery groundstrokes, coupled with a home court advantage, makes Serena a notable favorite to hoist the tournament trophy.

The “old” Maria Sharapova is back and looks more determined than ever to make her presence felt once again on the WTA Tour. After suffering from shoulder injuries for the past two seasons, Sharapova made a startling comeback at this year’s Wimbledon where she reached the finals. The Russian is currently ranked number five in the world, but has been ranked as high as number one in the past. Her performance at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is highlighted by her U.S. Open victory in 2006. Will Sharapova be able to continue her stellar play and add another Grand Slam title to her record?

Czech young gun Petra Kvitova took the world by storm when she recently defeated a string of top-ranked players to take the Wimbledon crown. The Czech is currently ranked number seven on the WTA Tour, with her best result at the U.S. Open coming in 2009 when she reached the fourth round. With her aggression and ability to stay composed, Kvitova is a hot favorite to win this year’s Open championship.

Rounding out the favorites for the 2011 U.S. Open is Venus Williams who has won the tournament twice before. Like her sister Serena, Venus has not played much this season due to injuries. However, the American’s powerful serve and aggressive groundstrokes are perfectly suited for the hard courts, making her an undeniable threat and possible victor of the tournament.

Contenders


The current world number one, Caroline Wozniacki has yet to win a Grand Slam title. However, her performance at the USTA Billie Jean National Tennis Center has been her strength in Grand Slam showings. The Dane reached the finals of the Open in 2009 and reached the semifinals last year. Is this the much-awaited year for a Wozniacki victory in the finals?

After reaching last year’s final on the U.S. Open courts, Vera Zvonareva will look to repeat her successes at this year’s Open, and hopefully, one-up her 2010 performance. The number three-ranked Russian is one of the feistiest players on the WTA Tour and could pose a threat to the usual favorites in the women’s draw.

Na Li’s performance has been at its peak during the clay court seasons of the past two years. The Chinese woman had her career highlight when she won this year’s French Open. At the U.S. Open, Li’s best run came in 2009 when she reached the quarterfinals. The current world number six has the game to takedown anyone on the tour, making her a strong contender at this year’s Open.

Germany’s Sabine Lisicki has proven to be one of the world’s best with her performance throughout the grass court season this year. After winning the AEGON Classic, Lisicki went on to reach the semifinals of Wimbledon with her wildcard status. Her U.S. Open career has not been as impressive, with a second round showing being her best result. However, the German should not be taken lightly, as she has shown that she has the true heart of a champion.

The pretenders


It’s hard to believe that Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic was ever ranked number one in the world with her performance over the past year. She failed to pass the fourth round at any of the Grand Slams of the 2011 season, and has not reached the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open for the last two years. It is doubtful that the current world number 15 will make a strong showing at this year’s Open.

Aussie doubles specialist Samantha Stosur has made tremendous progress in her singles career over the past few years. Last year can be considered the peak year of her career where she reached a career-high ranking of number six and was a finalist at the French Open. Stosur’s successes have mainly come on the slower clay, and her 2011 season has not been as promising thus far. Chances are that the Aussie will not fair well at this year’s Open. 

Not so long ago, the tennis world marveled at the steady progress that Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic exhibited on the WTA Tour. Within only one year, Ivanovic went from being ranked outside the top 20, to number one on the tour. However, Ivanovic’s 2009 season was nothing short of disastrous, as her ranking plummeted to outside the top 20 once again. Any hopes for an Ivanovic comeback at Wimbledon 2011 were dashed with her elimination in the third round. Clearly, the 2011 Open will not be the Serb’s time to shine.

Despite being ranked in the top 20, Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska has not had much success on the Grand Slam scene. Her greatest successes over the years have come on the grass courts of Wimbledon where she reached the quarterfinals twice. The U.S. Open has never been her strong point, and thus her prospects for a first U.S. Open title look gloomy.



 

So You Think You Know Everything About the U.S. Open?

►The U.S. Open originated in 1881 in Newport, R.I.

►A USTA competition ball must bounce 53 inches when dropped from 100 inches in order to be used in the tournament.

►70,000 balls get used during the course of a U.S. Open tournament

►$22,668,000 in total prize monies were awarded during the 2010 U.S. Open. Approximately $100,000 in total prize money was awarded in 1968

►In 1977, transsexual Renee Richards , who first played in the U.S. Open as Richard Raskin in 1960, was allowed to compete. "She" reaches the semifinals of women's doubles.

►Last year’s clip of a fight in the stands in the upper deck of Arthur Ashe Stadium Court at the U.S. Open drew 1,320,719 views on You Tube.

►1927 was the first tournament to use seedings.

►1950 was the first Grand Slam to allow a black woman to play (Althea Gibson).

►The fastest serve in U.S. Open history was 147mph by American Taylor Dent.

►When Andy Roddick and Ernest Gullbis played in 2008, their night match ended at At that time, they were each celebrating their birthday.

►The U.S. Open is played on hard court known as "Deco Turf."

►The U.S. Open began using instant replay in 2006.

►U.S. Open Champions with most career titles: Connors (109), Lendl (94), McEnroe (77), Sampras (64), Agassi (60), Federer (45 and counting) and Ashe (33).

►The latest a men's match at U.S. Open finished: Mats Wilander defeated Mikael Pernfors, 7-6(3), 3-6, 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 at

►The latest women's match at U.S. Open finished: Sam Stosur defeated Elena Dementieva, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(2) at

►The youngest man to win at the U.S. Open was Pete Sampras at 19-years-old in 1990.

►The youngest woman to win the U.S. Open was Tracey Austin at 16-years-old in 1979.

►In the longest U.S. Open match ever, Stefan Edberg defeated Michael Chang, 6-7(3), 7-5, 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-4. Total match time was five hrs. and 24 min.

► Most aces in a U.S. Open match: Richard Krajicek (49).

► Most consecutive wins at the U.S. Open: Roger Federer (40).



What if the kids had a shot at the Open?

With the U.S. Open on the horizon, we recently asked some local junior players the following question: What would it feel like if you got to play in the U.S. Open on

Arthur Ashe Stadium Court
?


►“It would be a dream come true for me because its one thing I've always dreamed of. My tennis idols, like Serena Williams, has played there, so it would really be a dream come true.”—Andrea Hernandez, 10

“It would be amazing, because then I could play on the same court as Roger Federer."—Matt Zeifman, 5

►“Pretty amazing … hard work pays off!”—Michelle Lehat, 14

►“I can show the world just how big my forehand is!”—Patrick Maloney

"Very important part of my life, a snapshot moment, breathtaking, an honor, really cool to play with experienced players."—Christopher Grisham, 11

►"Exhilarating … a good experience to play against professionals, nervous because a lot of people are watching, I would probably freak out, good thing it's not going to happen to me for a few more years."—Madison Battaglia, 13

►"Great because everyone would be watching me play tennis, I would like to be number one in the world."—Ronnie Hohmann, 9

►"I'd feel proud because I worked so hard to get there."—Vanessa Scott

►"Amazing, I'd feel famous."—Peter Bukary, 9

►"I would feel awesome, in power."—Jason Yu, 10

"Nervous … a lot of pressure, and everyone is watching."—Kat Changtroralekely, 14

►"An overwhelming moment … awesome! I'd feel unbelievable."—Jonathan Ochoa, 16

►"I would feel amazing, accomplished and proud."—Sophie Barnard, 16

►"Very proud, psyched to play with true pros."—Vanessa Pavia, 16

►"I would be excited because the U.S. Open is one of the biggest tournaments in the world."—Samantha Civil, 8

►"I would be very proud that I would have made it that far to be able to play in the U.S. Open."—Julia Misciagna, 10

"I would feel nervous, but I'd also feel good, because I know Rafael Nadal played there."—Anthony Giraci, 10

►"I would be happy, and maybe I could play with my dad on the court and get signatures from the other pros."—Joshua Baron, 6

►"It would be a great experience to be seen by other people and to show my talent."—Andre Gillespie, 10

►"Amazing if I could get that far."—Louie Kotler, 10

►"Awesome just being there … cool seeing all the people."—Jordyn Berry, 13

►"I'd feel more excited, I wouldn't care how I did because I'd just be so happy to be there."—Claire Handa, 12