American Rogers wins longest ever women's match at U.S. Open

Shelby Rogers knew she was in for a tough match, facing a quick opponent who runs down a lot of shots.

More than 3 1/2 hours later, she finally won it.

The 62nd-ranked American prevailed in the longest women's match in U.S. Open history, beating No. 25 Daria Gavrilova of Australia 7-6 (6), 4-6, 7-6 (5) on Thursday in the second round.

"I didn't feel like it was the longest match ever," Rogers said. "But it's starting to set in a little bit now. Going to be sore."

The match lasted 3 hours, 33 minutes, with Gavrilova finishing with a 133-132 edge in total points won.

"Got the last one, that's all that matters," the 24-year-old Rogers said.

Johanna Konta won the previous longest match, beating Garbine Muguruza in a 2015 second-round meeting that lasted 3:23.

Gavrilova was asked what she thought was the difference in the match.

"The two last points," she replied.

The winner of her first career title last week at the Connecticut Open, Gavrilova wouldn't have had to worry about losing in a tiebreaker if she was playing in another Grand Slam tournament. The U.S. Open is the only one of the four that uses a tiebreaker in the decisive set, but she wouldn't have been interested in playing more games anyway.

"No, it was a 3 1/2 (hour) match," she said. "Just get it done. Get it over with."

When Rogers finally did, she moved on to a third-round match against No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina. But first, she stopped off for some treatment — and a well-deserved meal.

"Ice bath, straight to dining," she said. "That was a long time to go without eating."

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US Open 2017: Alexander Zverev beats Darian King

US Open 2017 round one: Alexander Zverez 7-6 7-5 6-4 Darian King.

Alexander Zverev came through a tricky clash with qualifier Darian King in straight sets after a tight late-night contest in round one of the US Open.

The much-fancied number four seed was far from his best as he edged past the plucky qualifier from Barbados 7-6 7-5 6-4 in just under three hours.

King was featuring in the main draw of a major for the first time, but the world number 168 more than rose to the occasion as he broke Zverev early on and repeatedly made life difficult for the German.

Zverev struggled to find the form that has seen him win two Masters titles so far this season, leaking errors and struggling on serve before taking a lengthy opener 11-9 in a rollercoaster of a tie break.

The second set saw fewer rallies to excite the crowd as both players began to find their rhythm on serve, with an improving Zverev making the decisive breakthrough in the 11th game.

One break was also enough in the third set as Zverev booked a place in round two against another 20-year-old starlet, Croatia's Borna Coric.

Roger Federer reveals exactly why he changed up US Open routine to practise in Central Park

In between his two gruelling five-set opening matches at the US Open, Roger Federer made the unusual decision to surprise New Yorkers by going for a hit in Central Park.

The world No. 3 opted to have a knock on the courts in the middle of New York’s famous public park ahead of his second-round tie with Mikhail Youzhny and on the back of his opener against American teenager Frances Tiafoe.

Federer admitted he was looking for a short commute to the courts and that he was keen to break out of his usual Grand Slam routine.

And the 36-year-old described the experience as ‘very refreshing’ amid the stresses of travelling on the ATP Tour.

‘We were looking for if there was any place at all in the city to play tennis at,’ he explained after his victory against Youzhny.

‘Then I think we spoke to Eric Butorac of the tournament, spoke to coaches, maybe gave an idea at Central Park, apparently they have a US Open court. I was like, Yeah, anything that doesn’t make me drive very long.

‘I really liked the idea of playing in Central Park for the first time. We tried it out. It was perfect. I was really happy.

‘It was really a totally different experience in the sense that when I finished practice, that was fun. If only all practises were like this. I really enjoyed myself.

‘It was a different crowd. I really enjoyed that. Just to be in that environment for a change.

‘I’ve seen the routine of normal practice sessions and matches, press, all the things we do in a row, it’s always the same. I think this was very refreshing. I hope I can do these things a bit more often.’

O. Dodin: "Venus Williams could be my mother!"

Océane Dodin could enjoy the pleasure of playing a second round of the US Open in 'night session'. After her victory over Pauline Parmentier (3-6, 6-0, 7-6 (6)) in the first round, the Frenchwoman will indeed cross the iron with the recent finalist of Wimbledon and world star Venus Williams. Before competing with the older Williams sisters, the tricolor player told her impressions at the Tennis News. While there is a huge obstacle in front of her, Océane Dodin is "excited" at the idea of ​​playing this type of encounters.

US Open: Sharapova looks to back up big win in battle with Babos

Fresh off a thrilling victory in front of a sold-out crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday, former world number one Maria Sharapova will look to prove that she has the stamina to back it up when she battles Timea Babos at the U.S. Open on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old Russian looked like her old dominant self in her first grand slam match since serving a 15-month doping ban, defeating world number two Simona Halep in three entertaining sets.

The five-times grand slam champion fell to her knees after dispatching the Romanian in a match she said she had “no right to win”, given her extended absence from the game and her nagging injuries.

Wednesday’s match will mark the first meeting between Sharapova and 59th-ranked Babos, who was dispatched by Halep in the third round of last year’s U.S. Open for her best-ever finish at a grand slam.

Babos defeated Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland in a marathon 7-5 5-7 7-5 first round match of her own behind her commanding serve and potent groundstrokes.

Assuming her 6-foot 2-inch frame can recover from Monday’s classic, the more powerful Sharapova should have the upper hand against the shorter 24-year-old from Hungary.

U.S. Open: Long Island’s Julien Klein has tennis world on a string

Julien Klein pulls strings at the U.S. Open.

No, he’s not in the business of getting prime seats for the finals, or grabbing a vacant suite, or lining up a quick rally with Roger Federer. But he could be one of Federer’s allies during the Open. Klein strings rackets at the Open, part of a team of stringers who prepare rackets for the lowest qualifiers and the greatest players in the world.

Klein, of Huntington, is the owner of Solow Sports, which specializes in tennis and handles all racket sports. He has a store in Huntington and another facility in Glen Cove, but for the two weeks of the Open you will find him mostly in the stringing room at the National Tennis Center trying to fine-tune a racket to whatever specifications a player requests.

“I’ve been very fortunate with what I’ve done in the tennis industry,” Klein said. “I used to work for a gentleman who created what has been called ‘tour stringing,’ he trained me and after that I started my own company. I knew the right people and it’s kind of a one-of-a-kind skills set I’m working on that allows me to apply for [stringing at the Open].”

Let’s just say there’s a lot of tension involved in what Klein does. First and foremost are the specific pounds of tension a player wants his or her strings to perform at. With a warmup in the morning and a match during the day or night, a player could ask for at least a dozen different rackets with various tensions to cope with the conditions and the opponent.

“They might want to start the day off with something looser for more power, then something tighter for more precision,” Klein said. “They may want their strings to be pre-stressed by hand, pre-stressed by machine, and that’s a process of simulating the wear and tear. Pre-stressed strings hold tension longer.”

There is so much more, and stringers are under constant tension to get it right and get it done, in fewer than 20 minutes for one racket. There are many particulars, some of which are specific to a player’s racket company. Klein reeled off the details.

“Where you place the knot when you are tying off the strings, the pressure of the strings, the style of the strings, the gauge of the strings, how rackets are placed in the bag,” Klein said. “Every racket gets put in a bag. You eliminate air in the bag since some strings are temperature and moisture sensitive. Make sure logos are visible. Players have very specific requests for their stencils, for their logo placement. If they are (a Wilson player), they will want their logo to appear between the fifth and sixth string, perfectly centered in red. We use like a giant marker with a specific ink to adhere to the string.”

Racket stringing tensions really get taut when a player requests a restring during a match, called an “on-court.”

“The chair umpire will call ahead to notify you,” Klein said. “A ball kid runs the racket to you. You are looking at the score and it’s say, 5-4, you realize that they might lose, 6-4. If they had this racket in their possession it could mean so much. If you can’t get the racket back on a changeover, you’ve missed an opportunity.”

Time for an “on-court” stringing is expected to be under 18 minutes.

Klein grew up in Flushing, where he played high school tennis and where, from necessity, he learned how to string his own racket.

“I didn’t start playing until 14 and I don’t come from a big financial background,” Klein said. “When you pop your strings, you have to figure out how to string your own racket. Now that skill applies to others.”

As a perk of the job, Klein got to rally Friday with Wilson racket players Gael Monfils, Feliciano Lopez and Madison Keys.

His strings were making music.

19-Year-Old Naomi Osaka Upends Defending U.S. Open Champ Angelique Kerber

When the 2017 U.S. Open draw came out on Friday, defending champion Angelique Kerber's first round match was highlighted and circled on a lot of draw sheets. On Tuesday, Japan's Naomi Osaka proved why. 

Under the roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium on a rainy day at Flushing Meadows, 19-year-old Osaka out-played the two-time Grand Slam finalist, winning 6-3, 6-1 in just over an hour to advance to the second round. The victory marked Osaka's first top 10 win of her career.

After retiring with an abdominal injury in Toronto earlier this month, World No. 45 Osaka hoped to be healthy for the final major of 2017. A year ago at the U.S. Open, Osaka led Madison Keys in a third round match on Arthur Ashe but was unable to close. ​On Tuesday, Osaka simply out-hit Kerber, blasting winners all over the court and putting any memories of last year's disappointing U.S. Open exit behind her. Osaka finished with 22 winners and 17 unforced errors to Kerber's nine winners and 23 unforced errors.

Kerber is only the second U.S. Open women's champion in the Open Era to lose in the first round the following year (Kuznetsova, 2005). After reaching No. 1 a year ago when she won her second Grand Slam of the year in New York, Kerber has not won a tournament since her victory at the 2016 U.S. Open. The German also lost in the first round at the French Open in May and bowed out in the Round of 16 at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year. 

With Tuesday's loss, Kerber, who was seeded sixth at the U.S. Open, will drop out of the top 10 in the WTA rankings.

With many stars sitting out, US Open gets a look at the future.

After a bunch of bad news about big names missing the U.S. Open, the folks who run the tournament are searching for a silver lining. Who could blame ‘em?

They figure there’s no time like the present to promote the future stars of tennis.

At least Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal still will be in the field when play begins Monday, although even that didn’t quite work out for the U.S. Tennis Association and its TV partners. The presence of the two greats — and the tantalizing prospect of what could be their transcendent rivalry’s first installment at Flushing Meadows — is not as enticing as it could have been, because the luck of the draw set up the bracket so they only could meet in a semifinal, not the final.

There’s a significant drop-off in wattage from there: An event already without the sport’s top woman, 23-time major champion Serena Williams (she is pregnant), will be contested without three of the top five members of the men’s rankings, and five of the top 11.

Andy Murray, the 2012 champion and No. 2 seed, became the latest to pull out when he unexpectedly withdrew Saturday, citing an injured hip that could sideline him for the remainder of the season. That followed withdrawals by reigning champion Stan Wawrinka and the man he beat in last year’s final, Novak Djokovic, a two-time champion and five-time runner-up in New York. Also absent: 2014 U.S. Open runner-up Kei Nishikori, meaning just one of the 2016 men’s semifinalists returns, and 2016 Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic.

“We want the players to do what’s best for them in terms of their bodies and their health. But we know one thing: Somebody’s got to win the tournament,” tournament spokesman Chris Widmaier said in an interview. “And we think tennis fans are going to see a lot of new, exciting young talent.”

To that end, Widmaier said, the USTA is putting more effort into telling fans about American players who might not be household names — “who to watch out for and why they’re going to succeed” — and up-and-comers from other countries.

“We recognize that we have a responsibility to start promoting new names in tennis and that will start at this year’s Open,” Widmaier said. “You’ll see new faces in ads. You’ll see new names at night.”

One example: Alexander Zverev, a 20-year-old German considered the “Next Big Thing,” will play under the lights in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday.

Widmaier said Zverev or Nick Kyrgios, a talented and volatile 22-year-old Australian, could be the focus of TV, print or digital promotion that otherwise might have put Djokovic, Murray or Wawrinka in the spotlight.

“In the past, our ads have featured former champions,” Widmaier said. “Now they will feature future champions.”

That is a good thing for tennis, which will see a generation of significant players on its way out in the coming years. Federer, after all, is 36. Wawrinka is 32, Nadal 31. Djokovic and Murray are 30. Williams turns 36 next month; her older sister Venus is already 37, the oldest woman in the draw.

Those seven players own a combined 82 major singles titles.

Federer, for one, does not think the preponderance of injuries among leading men is a worrisome trend. He offered a rather simple take.

“It’s mostly because they are 30-plus. Wear and tear just takes its toll. Maybe some players have just had enough of playing hurt and just told themselves: ‘When I come back, I just want to be 100 percent. Not always playing at 85, 90, 95 percent. It’s just not fun this way,” he said.

“I don’t think there needs to be that much addressing, because the players, they have the option not to play as much as sometimes they have to or want to,” added Federer, who took off the last half of 2016 to let his surgically repaired left knee heal. “I don’t think the tour is doing much wrong, to be quite honest.”

Nadal mostly agreed, noting, “Don’t forget that we are not 21 anymore.”

But he also said, “There is a couple of things that I’m sure we could do ... better.”

One specific complaint he raised was that tennis balls used at the hard-court tournaments ahead of the U.S. Open are drastically different from those in New York, which is “very bad for the wrist, for the elbow, for the shoulder.”

Another possible reason for so many withdrawals is one far less likely to be remedied: It stands to reason that more men would accumulate injuries by the end of their long season, and the U.S. Open’s spot as each year’s last Grand Slam tournament seems set.

U.S. Open 2017 live stream: How to watch online

The 2017 U.S. Open will be under way this week, beginning on Monday morning in New York City. Here is how to watch the Grand Slam tennis tournament online.

The 137th playing of the U.S. Open will begin on Monday in New York City. It will begin at 11:00 a.m. ET on Aug. 28 at the UTSA Billie Jean National Tennis Center. ESPN will have the broadcast. The available live streams can be found on WatchESPN and FuboTV.

This is the fourth and final Grand Slam of the 2017 professional tennis season. While the women’s brackets have been crazy with top player Serena Williams out since the spring due to her pregnancy, it has been mostly the Roger Federer show on the men’s side.

Williams, Jelena Ostapenko and Garbine Muguruza won the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon, respectively for the women. Federer won the Australian Open and Wimbledon. His rival Rafael Nadal won the French Open, but that was the major tournament that Federer sat out. At his age, he doesn’t feel clay is good for his feet.

Two of the top men’s players will not be playing in New York for this tournament. Novak Djokovic and last year’s U.S. Open winner Stan Wawrinka are out for the season due to injuries. Djokovic is dealing with an elbow injury, while Wawrinka is battling something with his knee. Last year’s women’s singles winner Angelique Kerber should be in the mix to win it all in New York in the middle part of September.

Date: Monday, Aug. 28
Time: 11:00 a.m. ET
Location: New York, New York
Venue: UTSA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
Live Stream: WatchESPN, FuboTV

What To Watch: US Open Day 1

What To Watch: US Open Day 1

On each day of the US Open we will provide you with insight on compelling matches to watch, plus notes and numbers to keep you well-equipped for the day ahead.

To quote Queens native and rock ‘n roll legend Joey Ramone “Hey ho, let’s go!”

US Open Day 1

(2) Simona Halep vs. Maria Sharapova, Arthur Ashe Stadium First Night Match
Head-to-head: Sharapova leads 6-0 

Former world No. 1 Sharapova plays her first Grand Slam match since the 2016 Australian Open quarterfinals, while two-time French Open finalist Halep tries to take the first-round step toward attaining the world No. 1 ranking.

The unknown adds intrigue here.

How will Sharapova, who has not played a match since defeating 80th-ranked Jennifer Brady, 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 in Stanford last month, hold up physically after battling arm and leg injuries earlier this season?

The five-time Grand Slam champion has only played nine matches in the last 18 months.

One former US Open champion expects a stress test for both women.

“I think it’s gonna be somewhat mixed (crowd response),” Hall of Famer and ESPN analyst John McEnroe said of the notoriously vocal New York crowd’s reaction to Sharapova’s Grand Slam return from a 15-month doping suspension. “I think that (Maria is) obviously the biggest name in the draw so that’s gonna provide some interest.

“A lot of us are interested to see how she does. There’s no question because she hasn’t played much and she was suspended for 15 months so there’s definitely going to be some interest there. The fact that it’s best-of-three sets will definitely help her because it’s not quite as difficult to come back. She could be potentially ready to go. (She) can provide some stress for the top players.”

Will Halep, who suffered a thrashing to Garbiñe Muguuza in the Cincinnati final after Elina Svitolina crushed the Romanian in the Toronto semifinals, shake it off and play the dynamic tennis she's shown reaching the semis and quarters in her last two New York appearances? 

And how will the 25-year-old Halep, who has a habit of calling coach Darren Cahill out on court when the going gets tough in WTA matches, react if she gets down since coaching is not permitted at the US Open?

Hall of Famer Chrissie Evert says Halep’s attitude will be even more important than her aptitude if the 2015 US Open semifinalist is going to win this match and make a deep run in New York.

“Simona has been a little disappointing this summer,” six-time US Open champion Evert told the media in an ESPN conference call to promote the network’s US Open coverage starting Monday. “She had that lead at the French Open and let it slip away, definitely.

“The one thing I’m disappointed with is her fight. She just doesn’t seem to fight in the big matches recently—and even in the past in her career. And until she gets that fight back, she’s not gonna win Grand Slams and she’s not gonna be number one in the world.”

Though Sharapova has dominated this match-up, including winning all four of their prior hard-court clashes, it’s a bit deceptive in that three of their last four meetings have gone the distance.

In a glorious struggle of electric shot-making, scrappy defense, and sudden momentum shifts, Sharapova stared down a spirited challenge from Halep, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-4, to capture her second French Open title in the 2014 final.

That titanic struggle featured gamesmanship from both sides, including Sharapova embarking on a seven-minute bathroom break to clear her head and give Halep time to think after the second-set tiebreak.

Halep knows what she’s in for in this very dangerous first-rounder.

The 6’2” Sharapova must command the center of the court, assert her aggression and pound flat drives in the corners to force the 5’6” Halep into defensive positions. Sharapova has been a superb front-runner throughout her career so she will want to get off to a fast start and make Halep feel the pressure of both her superior power and the scoreboard.

Halep will want to create running rallies, play some shorter, sharper angles to displace the powerful Russian from the baseline and maintain a high first-serve percentage (Halep has a 68.4 first-serve percentage on the season). If Halep, who can get skittish on second serve, gives Sharapova, one of the most devastating returners in Open Era history, too many looks at second serves she could be in trouble.

However, Halep has played many more big matches during the past two years, she’s much quicker around the court than Sharapova, she’s reached quarterfinals or better in 10 consecutive tournaments and if she can hold her nerve and back up her serve, she should prevail for the first time in this rivalry.

The Pick: Simona Halep

Gilles Simon vs. (17) Sam Querrey, Grandstand Third Match
Head-to-head: Simon leads 4-2

Contrasting styles could create a battle as Querrey confronts competitive scar tissue.

The San Francisco native is winless in three career hard-court meetings with Simon, he’s coming off successive first-round Flushing Meadows exits and has not been to the US Open fourth round in seven years.

Meanwhile, former world No. 6 Simon lost his only hard-court match of the North American summer season, bowing to Damir Dzumhur in Winston-Salem last week.

Querrey is a power baseliner, who can dictate play against nearly anyone in the world when he’s landing his menacing first serve frequently and firing his forehand with ferocity.

The 21st-ranked American, who is fourth on the ATP in first-serve points won (80 percent), should be empowered by his run to his first-ever Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon.

The crafty Simon not only knows how to defuse big hitters, he exhibits a mischievous glee feeding them a series of no-pace balls then suddenly stepping in and sliding a dart down the line.

When he’s on, Simon is a highly-accurate ball striker supremely skilled at changing direction. The slender Frenchman will target the 6’6” American’s weaker, but much improved, backhand wing. Querrey, who has improved both his backhand down the line and his net play, will not want to get dragged into lengthy rallies.

The man nicknamed “Q-Ball” is known for his twisting topspin inside-out forehand. And if you watched Querrey’s victories over Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, David Goffin, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Nick Kyrgios this season, then you saw a more mature player who spreads the court with the inside-out forehand and can crush the inside-in forehand as a vicious kill shot.

The laid-back Californian has not played his best tennis amid the hustle and bustle of frenetic New York City, however Querrey is playing some of the best tennis of his life this season and should prevail if he plays points on his terms.

The Pick: Sam Querrey

Roberta Vinci vs. Sloane Stephens, Louis Armstrong Stadium Third Match
Head-to-head: First Meeting 

Former world No. 1 doubles player Vinci befuddled Serena Williams with an unsettling mix of spins, slices and speeds en route to the all-Italian 2015 US Open final where she fell to good buddy Flavia Pennetta.

The 34-year-old Italian knows her way around net and is very good pulling opponents into obscure areas of the court. Vinci has showcased her all-court skills partnering Sara Errani to win the 2012 US Open doubles title. She's reached the US Open quarterfinals or better in four of the last five years.

In contrast, the 24-year-old Stephens has put so much pressure on herself in New York, she's struggled in her home major. Aside from a fourth-round run in 2013, Stephens has managed just five US Open wins in her four other appearances.

Though she's one of the fastest women on the pro tour, Stephens' footwork can get stagnant when she's nervous. She must be quick off the mark, play proactive tennis and look for Vinci to play the short slice off her backhand side. Stephens hits a bigger ball, she possesses a more powerful serve, she's more athletic, she's a decade younger and should enjoy major crowd support.

Coach Kamau Murray has encouraged Stephens to assert her speed offensively rather than to chase and defend and she's responded reaching successive semifinals in Toronto and Cincinnati defeating several former Grand Slam singles and doubles champions—Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber, Lucie Safarova and Ekaterina Makarova—along the way.

Stephens must take charge in rallies and be willing to take her cracks when she draws the mid-court ball on her forehand.

The Pick: Sloane Stephens

By the Numbers

3 Former champions—reigning champ Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic—have pulled out of the US Open due to injuries.

3 Years since world No. 1 Rafael Nadal won a hard-court tournament at the 2014 Doha.

4 Former US Open champions reside in the men’s draw: Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Marin Cilic and Juan Martin del Potro.

5 Number of former Grand Slam singles champions in action on opening Monday: Garbiñe Muguruza, Marin Cilic, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova.

8 Number of women who can depart New York with the world No 1 ranking.

20 Years ago a 16-year-old Martina Hingis defeated a 17-year-old Venus Williams in the 1997 US Open final.

49 Americans appear in US Open singles draws, including qualifying, this year.