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U.S. Open building second roofed stadium

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NEW YORK — The old No. 1 stadium at the U.S. Open is about to be replaced by a better-than-ever No. 2.

Louis Armstrong Stadium hosted two decades of championship tennis, memorable matches on the court that often hid its inadequacies off it.

Rain would send spectators scattering, fleeing onto crowded concourses and toward cramped restrooms.

Not anymore.

When the new Armstrong opens for play in August at the U.S. Open’s 50th anniversary, complete for the first time with both a day and night session, the U.S. Tennis Association believes its second stadium will be second to none.

Topped by a retractable roof, it’s the final stage of a five-year, $600 million project that remade the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, all without ever interfering with the tournament.

And as USTA officials showed off the progress of the stadium Thursday under rainy skies that were forecast to last into the weekend, it was comforting to know they now had two places where they could keep the action going if faced with the same weather in late summer.

“Now with two stadiums with roofs, you know that if you’ve got a ticket to the U.S. Open, you’re going to see tennis, regardless of the weather conditions,” USTA President Katrina Adams said.

The roof over the main Arthur Ashe Stadium has been operational since 2016, the middle of a transformation that included a new Grandstand stadium and additional seats on outer courts.

Work began on the new Armstrong following that tournament. A temporary, 8,500-seat Armstrong was constructed for last year’s event while work continued on the new $200 million Armstrong that will seat 14,000 and stands about 95 percent completed.

It will be the first naturally ventilated stadium of its kind with a retractable roof, as openings at the north and south end allow outside air to flow through even when the roof is closed, which will take less than five minutes. Usually, some form of air conditioning is needed to cool a stadium when the roof isn’t open.

The stadium fits almost entirely in the footprint for the original Armstrong and Grandstand, which was constructed where the Singer Bowl was built for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The U.S. Open would move there for the 1978 tournament and Armstrong would remain the main stadium until Ashe opened in 1997.

“For 40 years we made great use of that stadium. The magic on court and history and what went on has always been spectacular but quite frankly the fan experience was maybe subpar at best,” said Danny Zausner, the chief operating officer of the National Tennis Center. “They were so lost in the action on the court they never really recognized that those bathrooms were built for the `64 World’s Fair.”

The new restrooms and concession stands will be four times bigger, and fans will be able to see the action on the court from the expanded concourses. The seating capacity that was 10,500 in Armstrong’s final years will increase, with 6,600 reserved seats in the lower bowl and 7,400 general admission ones upstairs.

“We’ve got so much more open space, so the days of seeing maybe 500 people standing in line outside to try to get into the stadium should hopefully go away, because we have that many more seats,” Zausner said.

The Armstrong schedule will feature three day-session matches for the first nine days of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament, and a night session with two matches for the first six days. And the best part for those ticket holders, as with the ones who had Ashe seats for the last two years, is they are going to see tennis.

“For this year’s U.S. Open, we can guarantee up to 40,000 fans that if we were to get rain – hopefully we won’t, but if we do – that between these two stadiums 40,000 people will be able to watch tennis uninterrupted,” Zausner said.

Defending US Open champ Stephens wins Cincy opener

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MASON, Ohio (AP) Defending U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens overcame a thumb injury to cruise into the third round of the Western & Southern Open with a 6-3, 6-2 win over qualifier Tatjana Maria on Wednesday.

A trainer applied a bandage to the third-seeded Stephens’ right thumb between the third and fourth games of the second set of this U.S. Open tuneup. The match was Stephens’ first since losing on Sunday to Simona Halep in the finals at Montreal.

Sloane’s semifinal appearance last season is her best Cincinnati finish in six previous appearances.

Roger Federer advances in Cincinnati

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MASON, Ohio (AP) Roger Federer advanced to the third round of the Western & Southern Open with a 6-4, 6-4 victory against Peter Gojowczyk on Tuesday.

It was Federer’s first Cincinnati appearance since winning his tournament-record seventh championship in 2015. After a first-round bye, Federer extended his Cincinnati winning streak to 11 matches since losing to Rafael Nadal in the 2013 quarterfinals.

The second-seeded Federer, refreshed from a month off after losing in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, became the tournament favorite when Nadal withdrew on Sunday night.

Karolina Pliskova and Nick Kyrgios also advanced Tuesday in early tournament action.

Pliskova moved into the second round by snapping a seven-match losing streak against Agnieszka Radwanska with a 6-3, 6-3 win.

“It means a lot because it was against her, and, like, you know, I never beat her,” Pliskova said. “We played so many times. I think I always played her at her best level the matches before, so it was always tough.”

Kyrgios, a finalist last year in Cincinnati, overcame physical problems to fight off qualifier Denis Kudla for a 6-7 (2), 7-5, 7-6 (9) victory.

“This year has been tough,” Kyrgios said. “I started the year very well. Then, obviously, I hurt my elbow. Then I had an ongoing hip injury. We have been definitely thinking about the options with my hip. You know, there is only so much you can do before you have to, you know, I guess, get surgery or something like that. You know, right now I’m just managing it.”

No. 11 seed David Goffin advanced with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Leonardo Mayer became the first player to reach the third round on the men’s side with a 7-6 (7), 6-4 victory over 16th-seeded Lucas Pouille.

Australian Open semifinalist Hyeon Chung won the last five games to beat Jack Sock 2-6, 6-1, 6-2. Sock has lost eight straight matches since winning in Rome on May 13.

Two-time Cincinnati semifinalist Milos Raonic advanced with a 6-3, 6-3 win over qualifier Dusan Lajovic. Robin Haase also made it to the second round, defeating Filip Krajinovic 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Sixth-seeded Caroline Garcia reach the third round with a 6-4, 6-5 win over wild card Victoria Azarenka. Elise Mertens scored a 6-4, 6-2 first-round win over Magdalena Rybarikova. Ashleigh Barty stopped wild-card Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 7-5.

Maria Sakkari upset Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka 6-3, 7-6 (8). Ekaterina Makarova cruised past qualifier Ana Bogdan 6-3, 6-2.