Getty Images

U.S. Open Live Coverage: Day 9

Leave a comment

10:25 p.m.

Novak Djokovic moved into the U.S. Open semifinals for the 10th consecutive year when No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga stopped because of a hurt left knee, the defending champion’s third opponent to pull out with an injury.

 After the top-seeded Djokovic won the first two sets 6-3, 6-2 on Tuesday night, Tsonga was visited by a trainer and had his left leg taped below the knee. Tsonga double-faulted on the opening point of the third set, then retired from the match.

Djokovic’s second-round opponent, Jiri Vesely, withdrew from the tournament with a sore left forearm. The man Djokovic was supposed to play in the third round, Mikhail Youzhny, quit after six games because of a strained left hamstring.

8:25 p.m.

Former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki reached her fifth U.S. Open semifinal, and first at any Grand Slam tournament in two years, by beating an injured Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 6-0, 6-2 on Tuesday night.

The 48th-ranked Sevastova twisted her right ankle on the opening point of the second game and clearly was hampered by that. During the changeover after the third game, a trainer examined and taped up the ankle during a medical timeout.

Wozniacki, twice the runner-up at Flushing Meadows, will meet No. 2 Angelique Kerber in Thursday’s semifinals.

It’s been quite a resurgence for Wozniacki, who is ranked only 74th after dealing with injuries and hadn’t won a match at a major in 2016 until last week. But she eliminated 2004 champion Svetlanta Kuznetsova in the second round and No. 8 Madison Keys in the fourth.

Wozniacki’s last trip to the semifinals of a major came in 2014, when she lost the U.S. Open final to her good friend Serena Williams. Wozniacki also was a finalist in New York in 2009, losing to Kim Clijsters. Wozniacki lost in the tournament’s semifinals in 2010 and 2011.

6:20 p.m.

Lopez and Lopez have once again beaten Bryan and Bryan at a major tournament.

The eighth-seeded Spanish doubles team of Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez defeated third-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals to deny the Bryans their quest for a 17th Grand Slam title. It was a rematch of the French Open final, where the Lopezes also beat the Bryans in three sets.

The Lopezes, who are not related, move on to the semifinals to take on the winner of the match between Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and No. 12 seeds Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Alexander Peya of Austria.

Marc Lopez teamed with Rafael Nadal to win the gold medal in men’s doubles at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

5:45 p.m.

Roberta Vinci, who stunned Serena Williams on the way to last year’s U.S. Open final, says she will ponder retiring at the end of this season.

After the 33-year-old Italian lost to Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-0 in the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows on Tuesday, Vinci was asked by a reporter whether she’d be back in 2017.

“I don’t know. This is the question you’re going to ask me now?” a smiling Vinci said good-naturedly.

A year ago, Vinci beat Williams in the semifinals, then lost to good friend Flavia Pennetta of Italy in the first Grand Slam final for each. Immediately after the match, Pennetta announced she would leave the tour after last season.

Vinci is currently ranked No. 8. She was bothered over the past two weeks by an injured left Achilles tendon and back pain, but still reached her fourth quarterfinal in New York.

“I really don’t want to be someone who says ‘I’m retiring,’ then, after two weeks, ‘No, I’m not retiring.’ ‘I’m retiring.’ ‘I’m not.’ I don’t know. It’s something I’ll need to figure out at the end of the year,” Vinci said in Italian, with a laugh. “Let’s see what I’m feeling and if I have a desire to continue. Putting aside my injuries, I’m playing good tennis.”

4:17 p.m.

Gael Monfils reached his first Grand Slam semifinal since 2008 with a straight-set victory at the U.S. Open over 24th-seeded Lucas Pouille, who upset Rafael Nadal a round earlier.

The 10th-seeded Monfils beat Pouille 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in an all-French quarterfinal Tuesday.

Monfils had lost six consecutive major quarterfinals since reaching his only previous semifinal, 8 and-a-half years ago at the French Open.

But the entertaining Monfils has been playing the best tennis of his career lately, winning all 15 sets he’s played at Flushing Meadows during this tournament.

Pouille, meanwhile, ran out of steam. He never had won a U.S. Open match until last week and his 4-hour-plus win against Nadal on Sunday was his third five-setter in a row.

1:40 p.m.

Roberta Vinci fell apart after losing the opening set on a foot fault, allowing No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber to take last nine games and win their U.S. Open quarterfinal 7-5, 6-0 on Tuesday.

Kerber, who has a chance to overtake Serena Williams at No. 1 after the tournament, moved into her third Grand Slam semifinal of the year. She won the Australian Open in January, then lost to Williams in the Wimbledon final in July.

At last year’s U.S. Open, Vinci stunned Williams in the semifinals, ending the American’s bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam.

On Tuesday, she was two points away from taking the first set when she served for it at 5-4, but she got broken there. Then, trailing 6-5, and serving at love-40, Vinci was called for a foot fault on a second serve. That resulted in a double-fault that ceded the set. As she walked to the sideline, Vinci looked at the line judge who made the call and smiled sarcastically, giving him a thumb’s up and applauding with her racket.

In the second set, Vinci won only 10 points.

12:35 p.m.

Former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic says she’ll take the rest of the season off because of wrist and toe injuries.

Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open champion, tweeted Tuesday about the decision to step away from the tour until 2017 – making the announcement one week after losing in the first round of the U.S. Open.

She said she has a recurring wrist injury and was advised by her doctor to take time off. In addition, she will have surgery on a toe she broke at the Australian Open in January 2015.

12 p.m.

Novak Djokovic, Caroline Wozniacki and Roberta Vinci will seek to return to the U.S. Open semifinals Tuesday, part of a lineup that also features two Frenchmen battling for a spot in the final four.

The No. 1-seeded defending champ Djokovic takes on ninth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, one of three French players in the quarterfinals. The other two, 24th-seeded Lucas Pouille and 10th-seeded Gael Monfils, face off for only the second time. Monfils won the previous meeting in five sets at last year’s Australian Open.

On the women’s side, in a contest of unseeded players, the two-time U.S. Open runner-up Wozniacki plays Anastasija Sevastova, who had never won four straight matches at any major until now.

The other women’s quarterfinal features two top-10 players: second-seeded Angelique Kerber, this year’s Australian Open champ, and No. 7 Roberta Vinci, last year’s U.S. Open runner-up.

The roof on Ashe may be a factor. Forecasts call for partly cloudy skies, blustery winds and a chance of afternoon showers.

French Open 2017: 30 is the new 25 in men’s tennis right now

Getty Images
Leave a comment

PARIS — The very top of men’s tennis has never been this old.

For the first time in the history of the ATP computer rankings, which date to the early 1970s, the men sitting at Nos. 1-5 are all 30 or older, the latest sign that the current crop of stars has enviable staying power.

It’s also the latest reason to wonder when a new face will emerge among the elite, because there eventually will come a point – yes, there really will – when the group that was once known as the Big 3, then came to be called the Big 4, and now is considered by some to be a Big 5, is no longer running the sport.

With the French Open starting Sunday, No. 1 Andy Murray, No. 2 Novak Djokovic, No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and No. 4 Rafael Nadal (No. 5 Roger Federer is skipping Paris) all have designs on another major trophy. But could someone such as Alexander Zverev, who just turned 20 last month, or the supremely talented – and supremely enigmatic – Nick Kyrgios, 22, or Dominic Thiem, 23, make a breakthrough for the up-and-coming kids?

“We’re probably coming to the end of one of the greatest eras of tennis that, certainly, I’ve ever seen,” ATP Executive Chairman and President Chris Kermode said, “and what we need to do as a sport is look to the next generation of players.”

Federer is 35, Wawrinka is 32, Nadal turns 31 on June 3, and Djokovic and Murray turned 30 this month. That quintet has won 46 of the last 48 Grand Slam titles, a dozen-year stretch of dominance.

Zverev’s victory over Djokovic in the Italian Open final last weekend might have symbolized coming change. Zverev was the first man born in the 1990s to win a Masters 1000 title, the youngest champ since Djokovic about a decade ago.

That title also pushed Zverev into the top 10, making him the youngest member since Juan Martin del Potro in 2008.

“It’s nice … for the tour, as well, to have a few younger guys, few younger girls, as well, to be able to play at the top,” said Zverev, who is German. “As I said many times, unfortunately for tennis and unfortunately for the spectators, the top four cannot play forever. So it’s good that younger players are starting to get through.”

So then the question becomes: Why has it taken so long?

Why does someone such as former player and coach Brad Gilbert, now an ESPN commentator, say, “Today’s 30 is like 25 used to be,” as he did this week? Why have these 30-somethings had such staying power? And why is it taking so long for newcomers to make a mark?

There is a similar situation in women’s tennis, where Serena Williams has kept winning Grand Slam titles into her 30s and is the oldest No. 1 in WTA history. Current No. 1 Angelique Kerber was the oldest woman to make her debut at that spot.

“Tennis has changed in the last 15 years … since they slowed down surfaces and there is not much difference in speeds of the surfaces,” said Patrick Mouratoglou, Williams’ coach. “You rarely have many easy shots now. You have to work the points much more, and one of the consequences is you need to be physically much better and able to play long rallies.”

He points out that when Wimbledon’s grass courts, for example, used to play much faster than they do now, a player could succeed there hitting aces by the dozen and going for one winner after another, because “you don’t need the same maturity and understanding of tactics” that are required today.

Gilbert points to Andre Agassi – a man he used to coach, and who is assisting Djokovic during this French Open – as an inspiration to the current old-timers still in charge.

“It used to be, you turned 30, you were completely on the downside of your career. A lot of these guys can remember Andre making a deep run at 2005 at 35 years old. I think that was the turning point in belief, that guys could play a lot longer,” Gilbert said. “You’re seeing Tom Brady be the best quarterback in all of football, maybe ever, and he’s approaching 40, which is dinosaur for a quarterback, but not anymore. Athletes are pushing the envelope all year round. There’s no offseason. Offseason is for more training, diet, technology.”

Nadal leads Djokovic, Murray, Thiem on French Open odds

Leave a comment

The overarching presence of Rafael Nadal, who has won a record nine times at Roland Garros, has inflated prices on the other top men at the French Open.

Nadal is listed as a better than even money -125 favorite on the French Open men’s champion board at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Spaniard has won 17 of 18 matches on clay this year and will not have to worry about longtime nemesis Roger Federer, who’s saving himself for the grass and hard courts. The event begins in Paris on Sunday.

While Nadal is undoubtedly the most consistent clay-court player in the world, many threats loom. Novak Djokovic (+300) might be ready to come out of his lull now that he has swapped out his support staff, bringing on Andre Agassi as a personal coach. Nadal and Djokovic are on the same side of the draw, so either would benefit if the other falls prey to an upset.

Dominic Thiem (+900) could also be undervalued, given that he defeated Nadal in the Italian Open, one of the tune-ups for the French.

Top seed Andy Murray (+900) has not won an event on clay this season and his place on the tennis betting lines might reflect the notion that some bettors will always go for a big name with a track record of winning Grand Slams. In terms of someone who is coming into the tournament playing well, Stan Wawrinka (+1000) has had an impressive run at the Geneva Open after having so-so output for most of the clay-court season. Wawrinka is also a recent champion, having won in 2015.

It seems like it is just a matter of when 20-year-old Alexander Zverev (+1400) will win his first Grand Slam singles title. Zverev turned heads when he extended Nadal to five sets in a third-round defeat at the Australian Open in January, and he defeated Djokovic in the Italian Open final to become the youngest player in 10 years to win an ATP Masters event.

As far as the women’s champion board goes, Simona Halep (+450) has top odds but is battling an ankle injury. World No. 1 Angelique Kerber (+1600) has also been inconsistent throughout the season. Young Ukrainian Elina Svitolina (+700) is an intriguing possibility by virtue of her results (four singles titles already in 2017) and her strong return game, since the soft clay at Roland Garros dictates having longer rallies.

Garbine Muguruza (+900) is the defending champion, but it’s a little glaring that she has not reached a Grand Slam semifinal in three tries since that 2016 breakthrough.