Minnesota-native Mattek-Sands, J. Murray win mixed doubles title
Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray have successfully defended their US Open mixed doubles championship.
Mattek-Sands and Murray beat the top-seeded team of Hao-Ching Chan and Michael Venus 6-2,-6-3. They are the first team to defend a US Open mixed doubles title since Kevin Curren and Anne Smith in 1981 and 1982. Murray became the first man in the Open era to win three straight mixed doubles titles in Flushing Meadows after starting the run in 2017 with Martina Hingis.
Murray won his fifth Grand Slam mixed doubles title and Mattek-Sands won her third.
ESPN: Why are American women more successful in tennis than U.S. men?
The spotlight on American women at the US Open this year was relentless, shifting from 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff to 37-year-old Serena Williams to iconoclastic stylist Taylor Townsend, pausing now and then to give us a glimpse of a Madison Keys, Sofia Kenin or Caty McNally.
Lurking in the background, out of the light: an embattled generation of American men.
As fans cry for the next great American male champion, the current veterans -- including John Isner, Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson -- are still oppressed by the Big Three. Meanwhile, a cohort of talented youngsters are doggedly trying to move up from the Top 50 into the spotlight. But the slogging has been slow.
The U.S. had four women in the US Open fourth round, led by finalist Williams. Three women from the U.S. were ranked in the top 10 (Williams, Keys, Sloane Stephens) during the Open, another was in the top 20 (Kenin), three more ranked No. 36 or better -- a grand total of 13 in the top 100 -- and, of course, Gauff. Other talented players wait in the wings.
Not a single American man survived the third round. They have nine in the top 100, but none ranks higher than No. 20 Isner, the only one in the top 25. Three 21-year-olds (Reilly Opelka, Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe) are in the top 50, led by No. 30 Fritz. But there's no male franchise player like Williams, or a surefire future one like Gauff and not a single active singles Grand Slam champion (the women have three).
There are powerful reasons for the disparity, and most of them have little to do with the quality of the heavily-funded USTA training programs, which allocate resources equally to the men's and women's programs.
Patrick Mouratoglou, Williams' coach and operator of the eponymous academy where Gauff and men's star Stefanos Tsitsipas have trained, told ESPN.com: "I can't comment on what the USTA is doing, but something more general applies. When you have a star in any sport in any country, the kids want to be like him or her. And the U.S. doesn't have a male tennis star who can compare with Serena and Venus Williams."
Timea Babos, one of the top two-way players (singles and doubles) in the WTA, knows the value of having a domestic role model, as she didn't have one growing up in Hungary.
"It's important to have these great idols," she said in an interview. "We never had such players like the Williams sisters. I looked up to (Russia's) Elena Dementieva, but that as personal. Having someone from your country at the top creates a lot more interest."
I think it also has to do with the competition between different sports. Men have many more sports to choose from in order to make a professional living, and more are way more hyped up than tennis in the US (football, baseball, basketball), and the amount of money to earn in those sports is pretty massive. The US just doesn't push tennis as a sport for young males, at least that I've seen.
Sure, there is the WNBA on the women's side, but the amount of money in that league isn't the highest. There's professional volleyball, but the countries where that sport is popular are overseas, and there too they can't earn as much. In my opinion, women's tennis has the highest income potential and fame for female athletes, as it's a popular sport worldwide.
Exclusive: Kim Clijsters announces 2020 comeback - 'I love the challenge'
Four-time major champion Kim Clijsters is set to come out of retirement and return to the WTA Tour in 2020. The 36-year-old Belgian, who retired after the 2012 US Open, announced the news on Thursday.
"I don't really feel like I want to prove something," Clijsters said on the WTA Insider Podcast. "I think for me it's the challenge.
"I have friends who would say, I want to run the New York Marathon before I turn 50. For me, I still love to play tennis. Whenever I'm at a Grand Slam playing the Legends, if somebody asked me hey, do you want to hit some balls, I'm the first one to be like I'll hit. I'll be the hitting partner for your practice today. I still love playing tennis.
"The love for the sport is obviously still there. But the question still is, am I capable of bringing it to a level where I would like it to be at and where I want it to be at before I want to play at a high level of one of the best women's sports in the world.
"I don't feel like I need to prove anything, but I want to challenge myself and I want to be strong again. This is my marathon. This is where I'm saying OK, let's try this."
American Danielle Collins beat seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams 7-5, 7-6 (5) in the opening round of the Wuhan Open on Sunday.
Williams controlled the match early, going up 5-3 in the first set before dropping nine games in a row. A major turning point occurred when Williams failed to convert two set points while up 5-4 in the first.
After falling behind 0-5 in the second set, Williams stormed back to force the tie-break, which Collins won 7-5.
"I didn't really play great the entire way through so I wasn't too happy with my performance even though I got the win, but I was happy to pull it out and sometimes you have to win ugly," said Collins.
Collins has now won both of her encounters with Williams, her previous win coming in last year's Miami quarterfinals.
It's amazing how quickly the Laver Cup has overtaken Davis Cup as far as fan interest and excitement goes.
Team Europe Retains Laver Cup Title
Alexander Zverev won the final match for Team Europe in last year's Laver Cup and put in a repeat effort on Sunday in Geneva. The German defeated Milos Raonic 6-4, 3-6, 10-4 to complete a successful title defence for the home team.
Team Europe defeated Team World 13-11 after three exciting days of play and has won the Laver Cup crown in all three years of the competition. Each winning team member will also receive $250,000.
“It was an unbelievable weekend. Those guys [Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal] were screaming at me in the locker room before the Match Tie-break, saying this is how I could turn my season around. Without all of these guys on the bench, I couldn’t have done it,” Zverev said. “This is very special, especially playing in front of those guys and having them trust me to play the last match.”
Federer kept Team Europe's title defense alive with a 6-4, 7-6(3) victory over John Isner. Federer leads Isner 8-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry and has won both of their Laver Cup singles matches. The Swiss is undefeated (6-0) in singles at this event, while Isner dropped to 2-4.
”I’m very excited. What an atmosphere and what a match. I’m thrilled that I was able to give something back to the team after a tough Match Tie-break (in doubles) earlier today,” Federer said. “Team Europe has been amazIng. They’ve fought so hard and played so well.”
Coco Gauff breaks into top 100, makes first tour quarterfinal
American teenager Coco Gauff is set to break the world's top 100 for the first time after reaching her maiden WTA tour quarterfinal at the Linz Open in Austria on Wednesday.
Gauff, 15, progressed to the quarterfinals after her opponent, Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine, retired when trailing 6-4, 4-6, 0-2, becoming the youngest player to reach a WTA quarterfinal since Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria in January 2005.
American teenage sensation Coco Gauff reached the first WTA final of her career on Saturday as the 15-year-old beat Andrea Petkovic 6-4, 6-4 in the last four in Linz.
Gauff, who burst onto the scene with a run to the Wimbledon last 16 earlier this year, is the youngest woman to make a WTA final since Nicole Vaidisova won the Tashkent title in 2004.
"This is definitely unreal, my first final on the WTA," said Gauff, who only got into the main draw in Austria as a lucky loser. "Linz is my special place.
"Not even in juniors did I ever get into something as a lucky loser -- now I'm in the final.
"I've had a lot of luck and happiness here."
The current world number 110 is set to climb to at least 80th in the rankings next week. She will face either 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko or Russian eighth seed Ekaterina Alexandrova in Sunday's final.
"This is crazy," Gauff added after winning in 92 minutes. "I thought I was out in qualifying and now I'm here.
"This was one of the highest-level matches I've played. Andrea hit a lot of winners and put pressure on me.
"I was fighting for every point, even at break points down, I just tried to get the serve in and make her play a point."
'After all these years': Roger Federer bursts into tears after 10th Basel title
Roger Federer couldn’t hold back the tears after securing a record-extending 10th title at his home event in Basel on Sunday.
Federer clinched a record-extending 10th Swiss Indoors championship with a crushing 6-2 6-2 victory over Aussie yoiung Alex de Minaur.
The 38-year-old has now won 103 career singles titles to be six shy of Jimmy Connors' all-time record - and exactly 100 more than de Minaur, who, at 20, is barely half the age of the 20-times grand slam champion.
"I was really hoping that Roger was going to get sick of winning here and give someone else a chance," de Minaur said.
What an incredible coincidence
I literally cannot believe what happened in this minor league tennis match yesterday.
Michael Mmoh took on Darian King in ATP Challenger Tour action (the second-highest level of tennis in the U.S.) in Charlottesville, Va., and was disqualified after hitting a line judge with his racket.
Trailing in the second set, Mmoh lost a point and responded by throwing his racket at the wall behind him. It struck the line judge in the leg and the man stayed down on the ground for several minutes.
This is where things get weird, though. You can hear in that video that one of the announcers says “It’s happened again in Charlottesville.” What he means is that King, Mmoh’s opponent, was disqualified from a match five years ago for doing the very same thing at the very same tournament.
Wow Jack Sock will fall completely out of the ATP rankings after failing to record a singles win in 2019 including Challenger events.
It’s going to be a long, hard road for Jack Sock if he wants to rejoin the world’s Top 10. On Monday, the former world No. 8 will drop out of the ATP ranking system entirely. Aside from his Laver Cup victory over Fabio Fognini, Sock has yet to win a singles match in his injury-plagued 2019 season.
Sock turned pro in 2010 and very quickly rose to the top of the men’s game. He experienced immediate Grand Slam success in mixed doubles, winning the US Open title with Melanie Oudin in 2011. Sock won the 2014 Wimbledon Championships with Vasek Pospisil, and partnered with Mike Bryan to win the 2018 Wimbledon and US Opens. He's also a two-time Olympic medalist, winning the gold in mixed doubles with Bethanie Mattek-Sands and the bronze in men’s doubles with Steve Johnson at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
He reached his career high No. 8 singles ranking after a sensational end-of-season run in 2017, winning the Rolex Paris Masters and making a semifinal appearance at the ATP World Tour Finals in London. Those are the points that will push him out of the rankings after going 0-7 in ATP action (including Challengers).
Sock was one of, if not the, most accomplished American junior tennis players in recent history. Throughout his junior career, he won a staggering 23 gold balls—the “trophy” for winning a USTA Level 1 National Championship. Sock went a perfect 80-0 playing high-school tennis, leading his team to four consecutive state titles.
For the most part, Sock experienced nothing but success throughout his entire life. This is undoubtedly the most adversity Sock’s tennis has faced. Despite the grim outlook, Sock remains confident that he will return to the top of the game, where he clearly belongs.
Bob and Mike Bryan, the greatest doubles pair in the history of tennis, have announced they will end what they describe as a "magical ride" in 2020 after one more crack at the U.S. Open.
The 41-year-old Californian twins, famous for their trademark chest-bump celebration, will bid farewell at Flushing Meadows, scene of their Grand Slam debut in 1995.
Playing almost exclusively with each other throughout their 25-year careers, the Bryans captured a professional era record 118 titles, including 16 Grand Slam titles, 39 ATP Masters 1000s and the ATP Finals title four times.
The Bryans also won Olympic gold at London 2012 and were part of the U.S. Davis Cup-winning team in 2007.
Mike claimed two more Grand Slam titles with Jack Sock in 2018 after Bob was sidelined with a hip injury.
"Mike and I chose to finish our 2019 season after the U.S. Open, even knowing there was a strong chance we'd qualify for the ATP Finals," Bob said in an ATP statement on Wednesday.
"After much discussion, we decided that it would be best to rest our minds and strengthen our bodies in preparation for 2020 which will be our final season on the ATP Tour.
"For the last 21 years, we have been so grateful for the opportunity to live out our dreams of playing professional tennis. It has truly been a magical ride."
It was Canada's first win in 16 meetings with the United States in the 119-year-old competition, although the teams had not played since 1965. The Americans had lost only three matches in total against their neighbors in the previous 15 meetings.
"It's extremely disappointing because I felt like I definitely could have won, and it would have been big for the team," Fritz said. "Unfortunately, I didn't come up with the right shots at the right times sometimes. Ultimately, that's why I lost."
Canada, which had never beat the United States in 16 Davis Cup meetings, got wins from Vasek Pospisil and Denis Shapovalov to provide an insurmountable lead. The U.S. now needs to beat Italy to advance to the knockout stage.
Nothing will prepare you for how bad this ‘professional’ tennis player is
A tennis match in the ITF World Tennis Tour is raising as many questions as eyebrows. Artem Bahmen, a “tennis player” from Ukraine, is being branded as an impostor after video emerged of his 6-0, 6-0 loss to Thailand’s Krittin Koaykul — a match where it was unclear if Bahmen had ever picked up a racket before, let alone played in a professional match.
The match, which is being branded as the “worst of all time” was a rare Golden Match for Koaykul, who won without dropping a single point. A feat that sounds impressive until you watch the video and realize his opponent struggled to even get the ball over the net.
Attempts to learn more about Bahmen have come up empty. There is no evidence he has ever played in a professional tournament before, and even the Ukrainian Tennis Federation has no ranking points or history of Bahmen playing in a match.
So how does an obviously ill-equipped player manage to enter a $15,000 tournament in Doha? Necessity. Bahmen was entered as a wild card, which only requires a player to sign up and pay an entry fee. Tennis.com explained that in low-level tournament like this one sometimes it’s difficult to make up a full draw, so organizers are incentivized to let in wild card competitors to fill out the draw, and also raise more money.
Typically this isn’t an issue, because there are more than enough prospective tennis players to make up a draw with wild cards, but in this instance a terrible player found his way onto the court before proceeding to lose 48 straight points en route to one of the world matches of all time.
Bahmen’s display was so bad it’s prompting some to call for a reexamination of how tournaments allow in wild card competitors. Personally, I am all for these random, Pros vs. Joes style matches happening once in a blue moon. It’s dumb, it’s fun — and I’m a fan of dumb and fun.
ESPN had a nice 30 minute documentary on Federer last night. Here is an overview with a link to some video:
ESPN was recently granted an all-access look at life on the road for Federer, who embarked on a whirlwind exhibition tour two days after the end of the 2019 season. He played five matches with Alexander Zverev over seven days across Mexico and South America, including a contest in front of world-record-breaking crowd (42,517) at the Plaza de Toros bullring in Mexico City.
Watch "Roger Federer: Everywhere is Home" on Tuesday, Dec. 17, on ESPN and the ESPN App, but, in the meantime, check out a few sneak peeks here: