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Venus Williams Discloses Recent Diagnosis of Sjögren’s Syndrome

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

 Venus Williams at recent celebration of Hampton's Magazine cover of herself and sister Serena

After the very sudden and unexpected announcement of her withdrawal from the 2011 U.S. Open, American Venus Williams has disclosed in a statement that she was recently diagnosed with Sjögren’s Syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disease in which people’s white blood cells attack their moisture-producing glands causing low energy levels and joint pain among other symptoms.

According to the Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation website, although the hallmark symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth, Sjögren’s may also cause dysfunction of other organs such as the kidneys, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas, and the central nervous system. Patients may also experience extreme fatigue and joint pain and have a higher risk of developing lymphoma.

With upwards of 4,000,000 Americans suffering from Sjögren’s syndrome, it is one of the most prevalent autoimmune disorders. Nine out of 10 patients are women.

In her statement Venus said, “I’m really disappointed to have to withdraw from this year’s US Open.  I have been recently diagnosed with Sjögren's Syndrome, an autoimmune disease which is an ongoing medical condition that affects my energy level and causes fatigue and joint pain. I enjoyed playing my first match here and wish I could continue but right now I am unable to.  I am thankful I finally have a diagnosis and am now focused on getting better and returning to the court soon."

God's speed Venus.

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2011 U.S. OPEN DAY 3: BREAKING NEWS - Patrick McEnroe Just Announced Venus Williams Withdraws Due To Unspecified Illness

Venus Williams, USA

American Venus Williams, whom most seemed to think looked pretty good in her round one match, has withdrawn from the 2011 U.S. Open because of an unspecified illness.

Will update as information becomes available.

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2011 U.S. OPEN DAY 2: Blake Comes Through In Four, "Just Happy To Be Here"

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

James Blake, USA

Jesse Huta Galung, The Netherlands
James Blake was on court for a bit longer than he would have liked on Tuesday afternoon at the US Open. The former quarterfinalist dropped the third set and struggled through the fourth as he eeked his way past qualifier Jesse Huta Galung, winning their encounter 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

Blake has been a true journeyman over the last year on tour, making trips to out-of-the-way places like Tallahassee, Fla., Savannah, Ga., and Winnetka, Ill. But the off-the-beaten-path approach seems to be working out for the American, who recorded his eighth win of the summer with his four-set victory on Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Blake, once ranked inside the top 10 and is best known at Flushing Meadows for his epic five-set quarterfinal loss to Andre Agassi in 2005, has struggled with injury in the last two years and at times has contemplated retirement. He began 2011 outside the top 150.

I was thinking about every match I've played on this court and Arthur Ashe when I walked out tonight," Blake said on court after his win. "I've come full circle. I appreciate every single one of those matches."

But after losing in the second round at Wimbledon this year, Blake took his chance in entering a Challenger tournament at Winnetka and won it -- giving him the confidence to move forward.

He continued to move forward on Tuesday, blasting his big-weapon forehand and serving well when it mattered. The American, currently ranked no. 63, opened the match with an ace and closed out the first set by breaking Huta Galung's serve for the third time.

In the second set it was much the same for Blake, who jumped out to a 4-1 lead and saw the set through with a running forehand up the line that just landed in. Huta Galung challenged the call, but the ball had dropped landed on the baseline, giving Blake a two-sets-to-love lead.

After a hiccup in the third set, Blake's late afternoon match slowly drifted into the evening, the lights on Armstrong springing to life as darkness fell. Blake went down a break in the fourth set, gesturing to his box in confused frustration and arguing with the chair umpire at times. But the 31-year-old New York native used a well-timed backhand lob to earn two break points in the eighth game of the set and prevailed on his second opportunity as Huta Galung sprayed a groundstroke long.

Blake used the break to spur him, his mom and brother cheering him on from his player's box. Holding serve for 5-4 in the fourth, he shouted, "Come on!" as he trotted to his chair. It would be the next game where he would break Huta Galung for the match, the world's No. 160 crumbling under the pressure from the American crowd.

Blake sprung out to a 0-40 lead on Huta Galung's serve in the tenth game and sent a blazing forehand return up the middle of the court for a winner, letting out a loud scream in victory.

"This is where it all started," Blake said, remembering his five-set encounter with Lleyton Hewitt on Armstrong in 2001. "I can win any match out here with this crowd behind me," Blake said. "I have a good shot in the next round. I'm just happy to be here."

Blake is set to take on No. 5 seed David Ferrer in the second round.

source: usopen.org

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2011 U.S.OPEN DAY 2: 18-Year Old Sloane Stephens Debuts With A Win!

Sloane Stephens, USA
Reka-Luka Jani, Hungary
American Sloane Stephens, three-time junior Grand Slam doubles champion will now break into the WTA top 100 for the first time due to her win over Hungarian Reka-Luca Jani.

It took some doing, and three sets to accomplish the 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (3) victory over Jani, but Sloane hung in there and tactics outlasted errors.

Israli Shahar Peer awaits Sloane in round 2 - she won't be nearly as generous with errors.

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2011 U.S. OPEN DAY 2: Donald Young "Turns His Light On" As He And Tsonga Advance To Second Round

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France

The No. 11 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga began his US Open campaign with a solid, straight-set win over Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan.

Tsonga showed no signs of the right arm injury that forced him to retire against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semis of Montreal in early August. His serve and forehand were firing on all cylinders, at least when he needed them to, as he secured a service break in each of the first two sets and jumped out ahead in the third for a comfortable 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win.

Tsonga, his demeanor relaxed and confident, hit seven aces, 39 winners and had 29 unforced errors. The times the No. 82-ranked Lu did challenge Tsonga on his serve, the Frenchman overcame the threats with almost routine efficiency, by pouding serves and forehands to Lu's weaker backhand side.

Tsonga is now a solid 20-9 in Grand Slam matches in 2011, with a semifinal finish at Wimbledon in his last major. He also has two wins over Roger Federer in the past three months--one in the quarters at Wimbledon and the other in the round-of-16 in Montreal. A finalist at the 2008 Australian Open, Tsonga's hard-court suited game makes him one of the main challengers here to the big three of Djokovic, Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Donald Young, USA

In his first round match today at the U.S. Open, World No. 84 Donald Young, chalked up a win against Slovak Lukas Lacko, ranked 162nd in the world in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.

Post match Donald was asked about being the first American male to win on the new court, he said " It's awesome.  I didn't know that.  I'm just happy to win the first match and happy to be on that court, which is great. Yeah, I'm happy that's part of history."

When compared to fellow American Mardy Fish in that he seems to be a late bloomer, Donald responded, "Yeah, I mean, I think everyone's light turns on at their own time.  I'm starting to feel like mine is turning on.  Yeah, people do it at their own time.  Not everybody does it when everybody expects it to be done. I wish it could have been earlier.  It's starting to come now and I'm excited about it."


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2011 U.S. OPEN: (PHOTOS) Venus Pays Homage To The "Tradition Of The Little Black Dress"

American Venus Williams in her "little black dress" for the 2011 U.S. Open

I like it!

For the most part anyway -- not quite understanding what appears to be white french lace on the upper back.

Nonetheless, the fabric, the rich shade of black, even the pink zipper and shorts all work for me. Venus' "Eleven" emblem in pink on the front of the dress, all very well coordinated.

Even though the lace is a distraction for me, I like the extreme white color, given the extreme black dress color - the contrast works.

I even like how her headgear seems to be more of a head piece that goes with the dress as opposed to just a visor.

In her post-match interview last night Venus stated that the dress is in the "Tradition of the little black dress, love lace and zippers, just having fun."

A- for this year's fashion design Venus!

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2011 U.S. OPEN DAY 1: Nighttime Is The Right Time! Venus And Monfils Open Title Bids With Wins

Venus Williams, USA on first night of 2011 U.S. Open

NEW YORK (AP) - Even Venus Williams was surprised at how well she played after two months away from the game.

"I'm not sure I expected to be so sharp," Williams said.

In powering her way to a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Vesna Dolonts at the U.S. Open on Monday night, Williams served up to 126 m.p.h. and hit six aces. She won the point on 15 of 20 trips to the net. She compiled a whopping 28-7 edge in winners against the travel-weary Russian.

All in all, Williams looked far more dangerous than the average unseeded player does. And, yes, she is unseeded at Flushing Meadows because she's ranked only 36th after entering the tournament having played only 10 matches over the last 50 weeks.

"I just want to play tennis," said Williams, whose seven Grand Slam singles titles include the 2000 and 2001 U.S. Opens. The 31-year-old American hadn't played a match since June 27, when she lost in the fourth round at Wimbledon.

Then again, Williams is accustomed to missing time but still playing well. In 2010, she was sidelined between Wimbledon and the U.S. Open by a left knee injury, yet made it all the way to the semifinals in New York.
"Last year, I had little to no preparation also, too, so I hope can I play just as well as I did last year."

Gael Monfils, France, 2011 U.S. Open Opening Night

Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria
NEW YORK (AP) — Seventh-seeded Gael Monfils won his opening-round match at the U.S. Open on Monday, defeating Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-4.

Monfils, who made the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows last year, was called for a double fault while facing break point at 5-4 in the third set. He challenged the call and the replay showed the ball squarely in. Given a second chance, Monfils saved break point then served out the match.

Dimitrov, ranked 52nd, was making his U.S. Open debut after making the second round at the Australian Open and Wimbledon earlier this year.

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2011 U.S. OPEN OPENING NIGHT: (PHOTOS) The Stars Came Out

2011 U.S. Open opening night ceremony atmosphere at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 29, 2011 in New York City.

The Honorable Mayor of New York City, Michael R. Bloomberg

Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins

A general view of atmosphere at The Moet Suite at the US OPEN, Moet & Chandon is the official champagne sponsor of the 2011 US OPEN, on August 29, 2011 in New York City.

Television personality Robin Roberts - Hot shoes!

14-year old singer/musician Greyson Chance

Former professional U.S. tennis player, Jim Courier

 Actress Bridget Moynahan in the Moet Suite at The US Open, signing a limited-edition magnum for the champagne's Cheers for a Champion charity initiative benefiting USTA Serves.

Singer Tony Bennett and wife Susan Crow

Vogue Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour

Actor Alec Baldwin (R) and girlfriend Hilaria Thomas

Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins (L) and Joyce Dinkins
MTV/VJ Coltrane Curtis attends The Moet Suite at the US OPEN, Moet & Chandon is the official champagne sponsor of the 2011 US OPEN.

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2011 U.S. OPEN DAY 1: Britain's 19-Year Old Heather Watson Comes Just Shy Of Taking Out Sharapova

 Britain's Heather Watson took Russian Maria Sharapova to the finish line.

Maria Sharapova, RUS
Heather Watson made Arthur Ashe Stadium her stage as she pushed third seed Maria Sharapova all the way in an enthralling first-round match at the US Open.

The 19-year-old from Guernsey led by a set and a break early in the second set and kept battling with the 2006 champion right up until Sharapova clinched a 3-6 7-5 6-3 victory after two hours and 34 minutes. It was Watson's first appearance in the main draw at the US Open, two years after she won the junior title.

She said: "I had a lot of fun. It's what I want to do. I want to be out there on the big courts playing the top players. It was a really great match, very competitive. We played some really great tennis. I had my chances in the second set. You have to create the opportunity but also execute, and I was probably a bit too defensive on those important points."

Watson added: "But I always believed I could win. There's no point in my going out there if I don't believe that I can win.

"I just wanted to make every ball, make her play every ball, and just fight. Because Maria's a fighter. She's never going to give up. That's what makes her a champion. That's why she's won this tournament before.

"I absolutely loved the atmosphere. I thought everyone was going to be supporting Maria. She's won here before. She's been number one in the world. I had a lot of support. I heard some people calling me Cinderella, all sorts of stuff. And just when they were chanting my name, I kind of got the goosebumps. I thought, 'Stay calm, focus on the match.'"

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2011 U.S. OPEN DAY 1: 16-Year Old Madison Keys Makes Good Use Of Wild Card, Ousts Veteran Jill Craybas

2011 U.S. Open wild card recipient Madison Keys, USA  advances to second round.

Jill Craybas, USA
NEW YORK (AP) — All in all, 16-year-old Madison Keys of Boca Raton, Fla., thought her Grand Slam debut was "awesome."

As well she should. After all, Keys became the youngest player since 2005 to win a match at the U.S. Open by beating 37-year-old Jill Craybas 6-2, 6-4 on Monday.

Keys was playing in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, and appearing in a tour-level event for only the third time. At 455th, she is the lowest-ranked woman in the field.
"Obviously it was a good first day. It's just been awesome," Keys said. "I'm really excited, and hopefully I have another good match Wednesday."

She wasn't intimidated by the setting Monday, even though she never had played in a match this important or at a tournament this big.

"It's pretty crowded. There's lots of energy," Keys said. "So it's definitely an awesome experience."

Her secret to dealing with the hustle and bustle of the U.S. Open?

"I have two younger sisters who are always really loud and everything, so I'm kind of used to noise," Keys explained.

 Keys won her first WTA main-draw match in 2009 at Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., when she was 14 — about a decade after she first took up tennis.

Her interest in the sport came about after seeing Venus Williams on TV at home.

"I was 4, and I walked through my parents' bedroom — I think they were watching Wimbledon or something — and I decided I wanted Venus' dress. They told me if I played tennis, they'd buy me a tennis dress," Keys said. "I said, 'All right, I'll try it.' I have been playing ever since."

Craybas, who lives in Huntington Beach, Calif., was playing in her 45th consecutive Grand Slam tournament — tied for the longest active streak — and 49th overall. But she is 111th in the WTA rankings and — like Keys — needed a wild card from the U.S. Tennis Association to get into the main draw.

Craybas made her Grand Slam debut at the 1996 U.S. Open, about 18 months after Keys was born, and was the second-oldest entrant this year.

This was the 15th time Craybas has played at Flushing Meadows.

"I was told there was a pretty big age difference," Keys said, "but I wasn't really thinking about it."

Four 16-year-olds, all days or weeks younger than Keys — Vania King, Nicole Vaidisova, Sessil Karatantcheva and Alexa Glatch — won U.S. Open matches in 2005.

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2011 U.S. OPEN SERIES: Serena Williams And Mardy Fish Clinch Series Titles - First Time For American Sweep

Thursday, August 25, 2011

2011 Olympus U.S. Open Series Champions Americans Serena Williams and Mardy Fish.

Serena Williams clinched the 2011 Olympus US Open Series women’s title on Tuesday.  This is the first career Olympus US Open Series title for Williams, who earned 170 points by winning titles at Series events in Stanford and Toronto.

Williams will now compete for the largest payout in tennis history at the 2011 US Open -- $2.8 million ($1.8 million for winning the US Open and a $1 million bonus for winning the US Open and the Olympus US Open Series).  The women’s second and third place finishers in this year’s bonus challenge have yet to be determined, with Agnieszka Radwanksa, Maria Sharapova and Marion Bartoli still in contention.

Top-ranked American Mardy Fish clinched the 2011 Olympus US Open Series men’s title with a 7-5, 7-5, round of 16 win over Richard Gasquet at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Thursday (now that the field for the Winston-Salem Open, the final event of the Series – has been closed). This is the first Olympus US Open Series title for Fish, who finished third in the standings last year. The men’s second and third place finishers in this year’s bonus challenge have yet to be determined.

Fish will now compete for the largest payout in tennis history at the 2011 US Open -- $2.8 million ($1.8 million for winning the US Open and a $1 million bonus for winning the US Open and the Olympus US Open Series).

This year marks the first time in Olympus US Open Series history that Americans have won both the men’s and women’s titles, as Mardy Fish clinched the men’s title last week.  Novak Djokovic has clinched second place, and the third place finisher will be determined at the Winston-Salem Open.  

Fish will also compete for $1 million in bonus prize money at the 2011 US Open. The second and third place finishers on both the men’s and women’s sides will compete for $500,000 and $250,000, respectively.

source: usopen.org

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2011 U.S.OPEN: 10 And Under Tennis To Be Prominently Featured - Reigning Champ Rafael Nadal To Put On Clinic

Reigning U.S. Open Champion Rafael Nadal, shown in 2011 U.S. Open promotion.

The USTA announced that 10 and Under Tennis will once again play an important role in the 2011 US Open, including a clinic with reigning US Open champion Rafael Nadal, an on-court demonstration of 10 and Under Tennis in Arthur Ashe Stadium and a full day of other fun-filled activities beginning on August 23.  

Similar to other youth sports where equipment and playing fields are scaled to size for kids, 10 and Under Tennis provides the youngest players with the ability to achieve immediate success by playing tennis on smaller courts, using smaller and lighter racquets and slower-moving and lower-bouncing balls.

The 10 and Under Tennis activities officially kick-off during qualifying week.  From August 23 - 26, instructors and local tennis pros will be manning two 10 and Under Tennis courts in the South Plaza to give kids pointers and educate their parents.

On Thursday, August 25 and in conjunction with the US Open Draw Ceremony, reigning US Open champion Rafael Nadal will appear at a 10 and Under Tennis clinic with kids from The Child Center of NY, a Queens-based organization whose mission is to help 18,000 at-risk children and youth each year succeed in life.

Families will have the opportunity to view and experience 10 and Under Tennis at Arthur Ashe Kids Day presented by Hess on Saturday, August 27.  Two of the outer courts will be entirely dedicated to 10 and Under Tennis, and it will also be on display during one of the celebrity matches during the AAKD Stadium Show with players from Chicago and New York City taking on some of the top pros in the sport on a 60 foot court.   

Kids and parents wanting to experience 10 and Under Tennis first hand can at SmashZone, the premier fan interactive attraction in tennis located in the Indoor Tennis Center.  SmashZone will highlight 10 and Under programming with a number of 36 ft. courts for kids and their parents to use throughout the tournament. Back again will be the “Get Sized Right” racquet displays and other information designed to teach parents more about Kids Tennis.

On Family Day Tuesday August 30, for the first time ever, 10 and Under Tennis balls will be signed and hit into the crowd by the winning player following each match played.  The balls that they will be hitting are lower compression balls that allow children under the age of 10 to hit them with more control, thus allowing tennis to be more fun.

Families will get a chance to pick up a racquet, work with USTA coaches, and experience the benefits of the play format for themselves when 10 and Under Tennis takes over Court 12 on Saturday, September 3 from 1:00-7:00 pm.

10 and Under Tennis will be on display on center court in Arthur Ashe Stadium with a demonstration featuring kids from tennis facilities in the New York City area prior to the night session on Thursday, September 8.

On Friday, September 9 a 10 and Under Clinic given by a special guest will be taking place in SmashZone involving local children from the Harlem Junior Tennis League and the New York Junior Tennis League both local National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapters.  

Throughout the run of the tournament the USTA will be offering a free USTA Junior Membership to all children ages ten and under. The membership promotion is open to all first-time junior members until December 31, 2011. This special USTA membership offer will allow more kids to try USTA programming including USTA Junior Tournaments and USTA Jr. Team Tennis.  All parents will need to do is stop by the USTA membership booth located near SmashZone.

“Tennis is the sport of opportunity. And there is no better opportunity to showcase the fun and excitement of 10 and Under Tennis than during the US Open—the world’s highest-attended annual sporting event,” said Jon Vegosen, USTA Chairman of the Board and President.

“The USTA is committed to growing the game at every level and we are excited that 10 and Under Tennis is a driving force to fostering new tennis players and hopefully new champions,” said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA.  “It’s never been easier to get young kids started in the sport of a lifetime, from our SmashZone Mobile Tour to the First Year Free Ten and Under Membership, we’re excited about the potential for growth of these young players.”

source: usopen.org

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2011 U.S.OPEN: Arthur Ashe Kids Day - Summer's Biggest Hit - Saturday, August, 27

The USTA announced that reigning US Open Champions Rafael Nadal and Kim Clijsters, world No. 1 ranked Novak Djokovic, former US Open Champion Andy Roddick and the 2010 US Open Wheelchair Champion David Wagner will team up with actor Bradley Cooper, New York Knicks All-Star Carmelo Anthony, Music Sensation Jason Derulo and rising pop stars Cody Simpson, Diggy Simmons, Jessica Jarrell and Mindless Behavior  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 p.m. Hosted by TV personalities/actors La La Anthony and Quddus, the popular full-day tennis and music festival for children and adults alike – including interactive games, musical entertainment and tennis activities – will also feature performances from up-and-coming stars including Girls Nite Out, Action Item, Jacob Latimore, Nickelodeon's The Fresh Beat Band, Love Jones Girlz and New Hollow .  Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day Presented by Hess will kick off the 2011 US Open, which runs from August 29 - September 11. 

From 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., 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 1 p.m. - 3 p.m., 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 Jason Derulo, Cody Simpson, Diggy Simmons, Jessica Jarrell and Mindless Behavior.

Stadium show tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster (1-866-OPEN-TIX), usopen.org and at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center box office.  American Express is the official card of Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day.  General admission promenade tickets cost $10 and loge tickets are $20.  Arthur Ashe Kids' Day will be broadcast nationally by CBS on Sunday, August 28, from 12 p.m. – 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.

“We are excited to kick off the 2011 US Open with the biggest names in sports and entertainment at the 16th annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess,” said Harlan Stone, Chief Business and Marketing Officer, USTA. “We look forward to serving up a day of family fun as we celebrate the life of a tennis legend whose mission was to empower kids through sport and education.”

Over the years, Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day has featured many of music’s biggest acts including Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato, Sean Kingston, Jordin Sparks, Britney Spears, Ne-Yo, Gavin DeGraw, Jessica Simpson, Backstreet Boys, Bow Wow and Hanson.

source: usopen.org

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U.S. OPEN SERIES WINSTON-SALEM OPEN: Tuesday's Second Round Takes Out Both Blake And Young

James Blake, USA during second round Winston-Salem Open loss.

Tenth seed Robin Haase took just 61 minutes to dismiss American James Blake 6-4, 6-1. Haase fought off nine of the 10 break points he faced on serve, while breaking Blake five times from eight chances

Former World No. 4 Blake had come into the second-round match with a 7-0 record in Winston-Salem, inclusive of six Davis Cup matches. Haase, currently at a career-high No. 42 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings, extended his winning streak to six matches in his first tournament since claiming the Kitzbühel title earlier this month.

For Blake, it was his first loss ever in Winston-Salem. He was a perfect 6-0 in Davis Cup ties here and won his first-round match against Mikhail Kukushkin 7-5, 6-1 on Sunday night.

The 31-year-old New Yorker called it his worst performance of the summer hardcourt season.

"As I get to this age, I try to have a short memory about matches like that," Blake said. "It was just one of those days. Nothing seemed to be going right, wasn’t serving well, wasn’t returning well, just nothing was effective. It’s frustrating because the first round I thought I played pretty well, especially in the second set. I thought I was getting momentum and playing well. But that’s the worst match I’ve played all summer. It’s frustrating that it’s right before the Open, but the Open doesn’t start until next Monday so I’ve got some time to get on a practice court and get my confidence back hopefully."

Blake said he was disappointed not only for himself, but for the crowd that was clearly on his side.

"It’s a lot of fun to play in front of a crowd that’s cheering for you," Blake said. "It’s frustrating when you can’t come through for them. That’s the tough part of tennis. You feel great when you succeed in front of a home crowd and give them what they want, and it’s frustrating when you can’t. That’s what I’ve learned through the years. It’s a lot tougher to take when you feel like you’re letting others down. But they’ll get over it. They’ve still got Andy Roddick and John Isner to watch."

Donald Young, USA

Fifty-second ranked Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov came back after losing a one-sided second set to defeat World No. 85 American Donald Young in three sets 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(2) in the second round at the Winston-Salem Open in North Carolina on Tuesday. The match lasted for two hours and three minutes.

Source: atptennis.com

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U.S. OPEN SERIES WINSTON-SALEM OPEN: James Blake And Donald Young Advance Easily On Tournament Inaugural Day

Monday, August 22, 2011

James Blake, USA

The inaugural Winston-Salem Open, a new tournament on the ATP World Tour, got underway on Sunday with five matches on the schedule. Two of those first-round matches were played and won byAmericans James Blake and Donald Young.

Blake ran his record in the city to a perfect 7-0 on Sunday night as he beat Mikhail Kukushkin 7-5, 6-1 in his first-round match in the Winston-Salem Open. 

This came on Center Court at the new Wake Forest tennis complex, not across the street at Joel Coliseum, where Blake is unbeaten in six Davis Cup matches. But that didn’t seem to matter to the 31-year-old New Yorker.

"It’s great coming back here," Blake said. "Just across the street. It’s a little different being out in this heat and humidity, but it still feels great. The crowd obviously was incredibly supportive. A little different atmosphere than Davis Cup, but it’s still a lot of fun. I remember the area well and it’s good to be back and hopefully I’ll continue to play the way I did tonight, and maybe even better."

Blake won twice here in his Davis Cup debut in 2001 when the U.S. beat India in a relegation match. He tacked on two more wins in the U.S.’s quarterfinal win over Spain in 2007, then won two more in a quarterfinal win over France the following year.

"Winston-Salem has been good to me," he said. "It was such an emotional week that first time playing against India, right after 9-11, my first Davis Cup, with Andy Roddick. We had a blast. I still remember so much from that whole week, really. To be back here, it seems like not long ago, but it’s been over a decade, so that’s a little crazy. But it’s been a lot of fun from then to now, and hopefully I’ll get some more wins, too."

Blake started slowly against Kukushkin, who came into the match ranked No. 62 in the South African Airways ATP rankings.

"He has a second serve that I feel I can attack," Blake said. "One of my biggest weapons is my second serve return, being able to hurt guys with that and make them think about it a lot. I was able to do that today. I feel like the courts are pretty good for that. Hardcourts are always better for me, but these feel like they grab the ball a little bit and it gives me time to go after the second serve. Today it was effective. I feel like the only times I didn’t return it well were when I was just trying to get the ball in the court and was getting a little too tentative. Which is something I do less and less the more confident I am. But in the second set I was pretty confident going after him the whole time."

Confidence, Blake said, seems to be coming to him more and more as the summer goes on. He won two matches in Cincinnati last week before losing to Roger Federer in the third round.

"I’ve won a decent number of matches this summer and I’ve been playing pretty well and feeling like once you get into that routine, that rhythm of winning matches, it seems to snowball," Blake said. "You just feel when it’s 5-all you’re going to win that set. You just feel good out there on the court and you can go for your shots. That’s what happened at the end of the first set and then in the second."

 Donald Young, USA

Donald Young needed just 68 minutes to close out a 6-3, 6-4 win over German Michael Berrer.

Source: winstonsalemopen.com

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2011 U.S. OPEN NATIONAL PLAYOFFS: Two for Two! Blake Strode Repeats As Men's National Playoffs Winner!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Blake Strode, USA - 2011 U.S. Open National Playoffs Men's Champion

He's done it again!

St. Louis native Blake Strode has repeated his 2010 championship run at the this year's U.S. Open National Playoffs at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

Strode defeated Australian Nathan Healey 7-68, 7-64.

By winning the tournament, Strode receives a wild card into the 2011 U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament to be held August 23-26, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.

In 2009 Strode deferred Harvard Law School to pursue a professional tennis career, a move that paid off in a victory by winning the USTA Southwest Sectional Qualifying Tournament. Strode grew into tennis as a member of his local NJTL chapter in Ferguson, Missouri, and developed into an All-American for the University of Arkansas.

The men’s final was delayed by more than two hours due to rain, with Strode serving at 1-1, 40-0. Play was moved indoors and the quick courts led to easy service holds throughout the set, with no break point opportunities.

In the tiebreaker, both players held mini-break advantages on several occasions. Strode was the first to hold a set point opportunity at 6-5, and then Healey had his own opportunity to close out the set at 8-7. In the end, a backhand sent wide from Healey at 9-8 wrapped up the opening set.

“Honestly, that tiebreak is a blur now,” said Strode. “There was a goofy volley on set point that I missed and some bad calls on both sides. I was just able to hang on in the end.”

A forehand winner from Strode in the opening game of the second set gave him an immediate service break off Healey’s serve. The Aussie veteran had a break point opportunity at 3-2 in the second set, but was unable to convert.

With Strode serving for the championship at 5-4, the timing on his shots began to abandon him. A forehand error on Healey’s first break point opportunity leveled the match at 5-5, but a backhand passing shot in the next service game gave Strode the break back at 6-5. Serving for the match once again, Strode was unable to convert and another tiebreak took place.

“It was more that he played a couple of very good return games rather than me choking or missing a couple of easy shots,” said Strode. “There’s a reason he has accomplished all he has.”

The players remained on serve in the tiebreaker until 4-4, when a slice backhand into the net from Healey gave Strode the mini-break. On his first match point at 6-4, a backhand sent long from Healey wrapped up the match and secured Strode a spot in the US Open qualifying draw.

“It’s really cool to be the inaugural champion and then come back to win it again,” said Strode. “I’m just really glad they have this because it’s gotten me into the US Open twice now!”

source: usopen.org

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