Monday, August 25, 2008

US Open Tennis

Top Tennis players have arrived for the US Open and are looking forward to the fourth Grand Slam tournament of the year (Other three being the Australian Open , French Open and Wimbeldon).

Rafael Nadal, the new world No. 1 and Olympic gold medalist, arrived in New York on Monday from Beijing and has been enjoying some off-court activities since he arrived, including seeing "Phantom of the Opera" one night and visiting Central Park.

“All tournaments are very important. Here is the last Grand Slam of the season, so it is going to be important, very important for everybody,” he said of the US Open. “If I play a good tournament here, I am going to have chances to continue to be No. 1 for more time. For sure, New York is an important city and one of my favorite cities. To be here is a pleasure, (and) New York is big motivation.”

The 2008 US Open is Nadal’s first Grand Slam with the No. 1 world ranking and the No. 1 seed, but it has not changed the Spaniard’s preparation or focus entering the tournament, where he plays qualifier Bjorn Phau in the first round.

This year, Roger Federer, the four-time defending champion, is the No. 2 seed after a tough year for the Swiss. He lost to Nadal in the finals of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

“Maybe it's nice to go into a Grand Slam for a change maybe not having No. 1 next to me, and it should be interesting,” he said.

The Americans, Andy Roddick and James Blake, could not agree more about how special the US Open is. Roddick, the 2003 US Open champion, has battled a shoulder injury since the spring, but he said it is feeling much better now, and after playing a few tournaments in the Olympus US Open Series the past few weeks, feels like he is getting back into match shape after not playing much since Wimbledon.

Roddick faces 35-year-old Fabrice Santoro in the first round – not any easy opening match – who lost a tight five-set match to Blake last year in the second round.

Blake, who is originally from nearby Yonkers, N.Y., and grew up in Fairfield, Conn., is entering the 2008 US Open with a lot of confidence after defeating Federer for the first time in his career at the Olympics last week, where he lost to Novak Djokovic in the bronze-medal match.
Djokovic, who lost to Federer in the 2007 US Open final, enters the tournament this year now as a Grand Slam champion, having won his first major at the 2008 Australian Open.

And as far as Djokovic bringing the entertainment this year with his famous impressions of fellow players – stay tuned – if he does them, it is a spontaneous decision.

Serena and Venus found themselves in the same section of the draw when it was released on Thursday, meaning they could meet as early as the quarterfinals.

In the first round, Venus plays Samantha Stosur, and Serena plays Kateryna Bondarenko. The two feel like they are playing great, with Venus winning her fifth Wimbledon title in July – defeating Serena in the final – and winning the doubles gold medal at the Olympics.

Dinara Safina has had one of the best seasons on the WTA Tour, including winning the Olympus US Open Series and winning 15 of her last 16 matches. She reached her first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros and is now looking to win her first at the US Open, where her older brother Marat Safin won the men’s title in 2000.

She will play a qualifier in the first round and is in the same section of the draw as Ana Ivanovic, to whom she lost in the Roland Garros final. But Safina is playing the best tennis of her career this year, and the turning point for her was capturing the title in Berlin in the spring.

For Jelena Jankovic, who reached the No. 1 ranking for the first time in her career recently but is now No. 2, battling jet lag was an issue after the Olympics, and she went home to Serbia after to see her doctors about a calf injury she struggled with in Beijing. She has battled several injuries this season but is feeling better now and doing her best to train as usual as she pursues her first Grand Slam title.

US Open begins on August 25 and finishes on September 7. players are competing for a prize money of US $ 2.5 million-the largest in the tennis history.

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