Category Archives: US Open

USTA Coldly Withholds Money, Tells Taylor Townsend to Work on `Fitness.’ Teenage Girl Hears `Fatness’

Taylor Townsend

Taylor Townsend

A teenage girl whose natural and healthy body type doesn’t fit into a size zero, or onto the cover of a magazine, is already under enough pressure. You cannot tell her that her problem is “fitness” without her hearing the word “fatness.”

You can’t add punishment for it, hold back money for her future, threaten her family’s finances. Bluntly: You can’t be sure if that action will push her to train harder or force her to put a finger down her throat.

And if you’re the United States Tennis Association, having had a disastrous relationship with black tennis prodigy Donald Young, you cannot play this loosely or obliviously with the psyche of 16-year-old Taylor Townsend, an African-American girl who is the No. 1 ranked junior in the world.

On Monday, Serena Williams called it a tragedy.

Please read the rest of the column here at FoxSports.com


RODDICK RETIRES: Career Hall of Fame Worthy, but Should Have Been More

High point: Roddick wins 2003 U.S. Open

High point: Roddick wins 2003 U.S. Open

Andy Roddick is healthy, rich, smart, 30 years old and married to Brooklyn Decker. He spent his career traveling the world and doing what he wanted to do. He never got into much trouble.
When a guy creates a life that you would love for your son, it’s hard to see failure.

But in the end, Roddick was more name than game. He announced Thursday that he’ll retire after the U.S. Open. And for all he accomplished, and all he did for American tennis as its only mainstream, pop-culture male player, it’s hard not to think:

He should have done more. He could have done more. This is Roddick’s legacy. His tennis legacy, that is. In normal human terms, he hit it big.

Please read the rest of the column here at FoxSports.com

 


U.S. OPEN: Was this Andy Roddick’s Last Run?

Andy Roddick

Reporting from the U.S. Open for FoxSports.com

FLUSHING, NY — Whatever Andy Roddick is, he’s energy. Either he’s an overachiever reaching No. 1 without much talent or an underachiever winning young and then letting the game pass him by. But he’s emotion.

Either he’s a feisty competitor or a creep, but he’s passion. And that spills over into the crowd, which wants to cheer him on or curse him out. Sometimes both.

Either way is fine with Roddick. With him, everything is an argument.

But on Friday in the world’s biggest tennis stadium, in the world’s loudest city, in the quarterfinals of maybe the world’s most important tournament, the US Open, the crowd did something different.

It sat there quietly while Roddick was crushed by Rafael Nadal.

Crickets.

And it was so strange that it threw Roddick off, made him suspicious about what was going on and why.

“I think you’d rather be booed than have silence,’’ he said after losing 6-2, 6-1, 6-3.

“You know, it’s an empty feeling.’’

The match, as well as the crowd, was the sound of one hand clapping.

And you can’t be certain what thousands of fans are thinking. They might be thinking thousands of things. But they all acted as one, and I’m pretty sure I know why:

American tennis fans felt sorry for Roddick. Not just for the moment, but also for the realization of where his career is. This was Roddick’s last stand. Jimmy Connors’ famous run? Andre Agassi’s? Pete Sampras’?

This was Roddick’s. The last stand for the longtime face of American men’s tennis.

 

Please read the rest of the column at FoxSports.com


U.S. OPEN: Will Tennis Survive After Serena Williams?

Reporting from the U.S. Open for FoxSports.com

Serena Williams

NEW YORK — The cliff is always there. The road is always going to end.

But the joy ride is just too fun to worry about it, or to do anything about it.

The Indianapolis Colts have been riding Peyton Manning for years, building everything around him. And now, suddenly, the cliff: He apparently has had neck fusion surgery and will miss the season. You’re reminded that at some point, sometime soon, the whole ride will end.

Should the Colts have done something before now to prepare?

Tiger Woods ran off the cliff, too. Golf was a thrill with him on top. Now golf is just golf again.

Serena Williams is driving perilously close to the cliff. Venus Williams, too. But Serena is so amazing in general that no one seems to notice how amazing her story has been these past two weeks at the US Open. Amazing is commonplace for her, expected.

 

Please read the rest of my column at FoxSports.com


U.S. OPEN: Tennis’ Conflicts of Interest Leave Players out in the Rain

Reporting from the U.S. Open for my column in FoxSports.com

Rafael Nadal not looking happy in the rain

NEW YORK – It doesn’t look good when super-rich athletes who travel the world for work, with supermodel wives or girlfriends, are complaining about working conditions, publicly talking about the need for a union because they were expected to compete when it was misting outside.

I mean, boo hoo.

But Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Andy Roddick went into the US Open tournament referee’s office Wednesday to stand side by side and complain after they had been forced to play. And despite appearances, this was important.

“They know it’s a lot of money, and we are just part of the show,” Nadal said later, on ESPN. “They are working for that (show), not for us.”

The thing is, the players were right. And it’s a much bigger issue than the player mini-revolt suggested. It might be a turning-point moment in tennis.

It might be, but I doubt it. That would take untangling the world’s biggest ball of yarn first.

 

Please read the rest of my column in FoxSports.com


U.S. OPEN: Fairy Tale Over, Donald Young Makes a Real Move

Donald Young

From my column in FoxSports.com:

 

John McEnroe ruined Donald Young. Young’s parents ruined Donald Young. His own bad, lazy attitude ruined him. His agent, IMG? Ruined him. The media: Ruined him. The U.S. Tennis Association?

Ruined Donald Young.

Young has been a study in all the different ways to screw up an American tennis phenom. He was supposed to be tennis’ Tiger Woods. By 2007, The New York Times dubbed him a failure with a story in its Sunday magazine entitled: “Prodigy’s End.”

He was 17 at the time.

But the last, last, last straw didn’t come until this spring, when things dropped so far that Young wrote on his Twitter account: “F— USTA” and they’re “full of s—.” Only he didn’t use dashes.

So it’s a little hard to figure out how Young, now 22, is the story of this year’s US Open, after Serena Williams that is. He has beaten two seeded players to reach the fourth round, the final 16. He beat Stan Wawrinka in a classic fifth-set tiebreaker, tennis’ ultimate test of mind, body and guts. Tuesday, he’s scheduled to play No. 4 Andy Murray for a spot in the quarterfinals.

“Everybody’s light comes on at their own time,” Young said. “Hopefully, mine is coming on now.”

These phenom stories are all mapped out. Either a sudden emergence, or a straight arrow to the top. Anything less is how a 17-year old winds up being labeled a failure.

There has always been too much reality in Donald Young’s fairy tale. Is it possible to take all the wrong steps to the mountaintop?

Please read the rest of this column on FoxSports.com


U.S. OPEN: Is American Tennis Crazy to Bank on Mr. Crankypants, Ryan Harrison?

 

 

Ryan Harrison kicks a field goal at the US Open

 

The future of American tennis threw his racquet into a tree at the French Open qualifying tournament this summer. He took a divot out of the grass court at Wimbledon qualifying. In Cincinnati, he angrily hit a ball over the stands, out of the stadium and into the food court.

“I mean, I wasn’t like out of control when I hit it,’’ he told me at the time. “I wasn’t in a frenzy.’’

No frenzy in Savannah, either, where he called his opponent, Wayne Odesnik, a weasel (truth is no defense)? Or in Winston-Salem, where he threw his racquet into a parking lot? Or on Monday, when he threw the racquet at least half a dozen times and kicked a ball into the stands while losing to 27th seed Marin Cilic in the first round of the U.S. Open? It was 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 (8-6). On Tennis Channel, Mary Carillo called Harrison Mr. Crankypants.

“I didn’t break any racquets,’’ he said. “I didn’t say swear words on court. I didn’t really go nuts.’’

Are we nuts to be counting on this guy as a great American hope? Continue reading


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