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The U.S. Open, which starts August 27th and runs through September 9th, is the last tennis major of the year. There was a week of qualifying (the qualifying started on 21 August) and now the real heavy lifting begins, starting on Monday, the 27th. The U.S. Open and the Australian Open are the two majors that are played on hard courts (they are also the first and last majors of the year); the French is played on clay and Wimbledon–arguably the most famous tennis tournament in the world–is played on grass. The courts at the U.S. are very quick, perhaps just a shade quicker than the hard courts at the Australian Open. One thing the U.S. Open brings to the game that none of the others offer is competition under the lights(matches can go to very late at night); that is unique to the U.S. Open as is the often raucous and loud crowd that is a competitive asset (if you’re a crowd favorite) or liability if you’re not. There is no setting in modern tennis that is as loud and combustible as the U.S. Open. It’s one of a kind.
But…..that’s all as it should be; the tournament is staged in Queens in New York City, at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. New York has never been a “soft city” and the Open and it’s tough crowd represents the city’s persona perfectly. It’s a tough, rambunctious, bruising city and once a year it shows up in Queens to take in a little tennis. It’s not coincidence that a true child of New York, the sometimes volatile, always brilliant John McEnroe, won four U.S. Open singles titles (his chief rival of that era, Bjorn Borg, won none). McEnroe also won four U.S. Open doubles titles (it has often been said that the “best team in doubles is John McEnroe and whoever he is playing with”). He will be a commentator for television coverage and you would do well to pay close attention to his analysis–especially of the players at this particular tournament.
The U.S. Open as we it today was founded in 1968 but was preceded by a series of tournaments that started as far back as 1881. and over the years, the tournament has been held on clay, grass, and finally, hard court. This year, Nightshift Sports will be providing daily updates, how to watch information, some behind the scenes commentary from our exclusive correspondents, and, of course, the best set of links in sports coverage. Scene set, let’s get to the pre-tournament predictions.
This is the last major of the year–one last chance to add a major (also called a “Grand Slam”) to the resume, move up the world rankings, get a head start on your next round of endorsement contracts, and vault onto the world stage or reinforce everyone’s expectations about how you should do. Behind the scenes, the tennis industry is using the U.S. Open to introduce new shoes, racquets, accessories, and clothing (we know–we were a part of this process, which occurs at the Grand Slams almost exclusively) so if you want to know what you’ll be wearing this fall, take a close look at what the players are wearing at the Open.
Coming into this year’s U.S. Open, the usual suspects are at the top of the food chain in terms of favorites: Roger Federer (who was knocked out in the semis at Wimbledon), Rafa Nadal, and Novak Djokovic are favorites on the men’s side for the simple reason that they dominate men’s tennis. Djokovic came back to form at Wimbledon, which he won, and Nadal won the French (retire the current trophy…he always wins there); Federer started the year by winning the Australian. Now–add a few new (and wild) ones to the “in the running list”. Alexander Zverez (no coached by Lendl)has yet to win a major but if he can avoid a dip in performance over 14 days, he could be a factor. Kevin Anderson was a finalist at Wimbledon and should be taken seriously. Juan Martin del Poltro is a charismatic crowd favorite who keeps knocking big names out of tournaments; some like Grigor Dimitrov but we at Nightshift Sports think he’s got both mechanical (serve) and competitive psychology issues, despite a a potentially immense game (remember Texas football Darrell Royal’s famous quote: “Potential means you ain’t done it it yet”—and yes, we miss Coach Royal); Dominic Thiem has a marvelous game, but he may be the Phil Mickelson of tennis–going for too much when he doesn’t have to; John Isner is the best American male in the tournament and boy it would be great for Big John to finally break through; Marin Cilic, who has massive physical talent that is not equalled by his mental game, and Nick Kyrgios, the James Dean of tennis– mercurial would be an upgrade–who has the talent to win big but not yet the discipline or mental toughness. We shall see–that’s why they play the game. Monday’s results: Nadal, del Poltro, Cilic through. Nadal and Cilic won as their opponents retired due to injuries. It’s been exceptionally hot at the U.S. Open and that’s taking a toll.
On the womens’ side Simona Halep (WTA No. 1) was the No.1 seed but she lost in the first round to Kaia Kanepi; Serena Williams (No. 17 seed), who had a great run at Wimbledon but has won only one match this summer expects to contend and is into the second round, as is Caroline Wozniacki (seeded No.2) who came into the tournament a bit wounded with small injuries after a summer of competition; Petra Kvitova (WTA ranked No. 5, U.S. Open seed No. 5) won; and Angelique Kerber won, she’s the winner of the Women’s Singles Title at Wimbledon and seeded No.4 at the Open–Kerber is streaky but if she gets hot, she can ride it all the way to the finals and a title. Sloan Stephens is always an American favorite; Garbine Muguruza (winner of the French a couple of years ago)has a wonderful game when it shows up; and Madison Keys (another perennial American favorite) is always in the mix if not on the podium. Venus Williams also won….she could meet her sister, Serena, later in the tournament.
It was brutal on the second day at the Open with sizzling, body-and-resolve melting heat affected everyone. The U.S. Open experienced a day like never before–five men retired due to the heat. Djokovic finally won his match in five sets, but had to take an ice bath (along with opponent Marton Fucsovics) to play out the match. The heat difficulties were no doubt amplified by the lack of a defined policy by the USTA for male tennis competitors. The players were offered a 10 minute break (men, after the third set; women, between sets 2 and 3). Djokovic and his opponent made the most creative use of the break but, as one official noted, “they were lucky that retirements were the only thing that happened”….a veiled implication that something much worse–heat stroke–could have occurred.
Tuesday’s results on the men’s side revealed that the “usual suspects” are behaving according to form, i.e. making it to the second round. Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Sock, Cilic, Thiemm, del Poltro, Monfils, Murray, Krygios, Warwrinka, Zverev all made it through to Round Two.
The women’s side also played truer to form after the Day 1 shock of Halep being upset. Sharapova (looking very rusty but still one of the very best competitors), Wozniacki, Stephens, Keys, Kvitova, Osaka (new and one to watch), Ostapenk0, and Kerber all made it to round two. American fav Coco Vandeweghe lost.
Hopefully you can watch a lot of the U.S.Open over the next two weeks, so–just to make it fun–do your own list of the top 5 and see how it all plays out. In the meantime, we’ve got the tools to keep you in the game, below, with our exclusive list of links to all that is good, proper, and accurate at the 2018 U.S. Open. Stay tuned, we will update throughout the tournament.
Direct Link to U.S.Open Website
Direct Link to Men’s Draw
Direct Link to Women’s Draw
Direct Link to U.S. Open Draw ( all classes)
U.S.Open Schedule of Play
Players in the 2018 U.S. Open
How to Watch: International
How to Watch: USA
Favorites for 2018
The Fine Print: Image embed courtesy of our friends at GettyImages.com, who have the photographic history of the 20th and 21st century on file. This image has not been altered in any way. All rights reserved by GettyImages.com. We thank them for sharing. Nightshift Sports coverage of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis championship is produced by Perception Engineering and the Media Bunker. Text copyright (c) donald pierce. Follow Nightshift Sports for the entire tournament as we update on a regular (and irregular) basis). Thanks for reading.