US OPEN DAY 1 PREVIEW: WHAT TO WATCH

by Karen

Day 1 of the US Open starts today at 11:00 a.m. EST and sees 32 matches from the top half of the women’s draw.  There are some tasty matches in store and fans of the women’s game are in for a treat. 

For the first time that I can recall a men’s champion who is defending a Major has been shunted off to an outside court for his first match of his title defence.  Only at the US Open could this ever happen.  Taking top billing today on Arthur Ashe stadium are 3 women’s matches, the first of which are day time matches featuring Ana Ivanovic going up against Dominika Cibulkova and Venus Williams against Monica Puig. 
To be honest of the 4 players on this court, only 1 has had any good hard court results to speak of and that is Cibulkova, who is 3 months into her return from an extended injury break where she had surgery on her right foot. I think this may very well be the match of the day as although Ivanovic has posted some good results, she has not had a stellar year this year.  Cibulkova will be looking to test Ivanovic’s fitness and Ivanovic will be going for her all out first strike tennis.  I am picking the upset today.  Venus Williams has not had good results coming into this US Open. She lost in the first round of Toronto and withdrew with a viral illness from her scheduled second round match against Ivanovic in Cincinnati. Look for her to come out of the gates against a player who has all but disappeared from the scene over the last year. 
There are some players who could really use some match wins right now, not the least of whom are Svetlana Kuznetsova who withdrew from the Citi Open earlier this summer and who has not really played a match since then, Carla Suarez-Navarro who is on a 6 match losing streak, as is Eugenie Bouchard and Heather Watson.  Sloane Stephens has not had good results since winning her first title at the Citi Open and Madison Keys, while winning a few matches in New Haven has also not had very good results.
Court Assignment
Players
Arthur Ashe
Cibulkova v. Ivanovic
Williams (V) v. Puig
Williams (S) v. Diatchenko
Louis Armstrong
Vandeweghe v. Stephens
Grandstand
Tatishvilli v. Pliskova
Keys v. Koukalova
Court 4
Zheng v. Brengle
Linette v. Radwanska (U)
Court 5
Kozlova v. Mattek-Sands
Bencic v. Karantcheva
Court 6
Kenin v. Duque-Marino
Suarez-Navarro v. Allertova
Court 7
Pegula v. Van Uytvanck
Mladenovic v. Kuznetsova
Court 9
Friedsam v. Kanepi
Konjuh v. Maria
Court 10
Kontaveit v. Dellacqua
Hantuchova v. Doi
Court 11
Siniakova v. Radwanska (A)
Falconi v. Crawford
Court 12
Pereira v. Makarova
Bertens v. Lucic-Baroni
Court 13
Dodin v. Jankovic
King v. Vinci
Court 14
Svitolina v. Kulichkova
Hercog v. Diyas
Court 15
Pavlyuchenkova v. Rybarikova
Smitkova v. Mitu
Court 16
Arruabarrena v. Jovanovski
Court 17
Davis v. Watson
Bouchard v. Riske

Live Streaming 

ESPN3 will be livestreaming today’s matches from the USOpen.org website.  Please see link 
For those of you who do not reside in the United States and therefore are unable to access the USOpen.org website, the usual streams are available at LiveScoreHunter


US OPEN DRAW, PREVIEW AND PICKS

by Karen 

We are at T-minus a few hours until the first round of the 2015 US Open draw starts.  As most folks would know by now Serena Williams, the No. 1 seed and defender faces a murderers row of potential losses on her way to tying Steffi Graf’s record of 22 Majors, but also in her quest to complete the Grand Slam for the first time since Graf did so way back in 1988. 

If you have not seen the draw already, you can do so here.  The Spin, along with her fellow podcasters broke down the Draw, Game of Thrones style and you can listen to us here.

First Quarter – Top Half 

The first quarter of the top half of the Draw is a veritable Who’s Who in US women’s tennis right now.  There is Serena, Sloane, Madison, Venus, Coco. The list just goes on. Thrown into that mix are some players who have seen their best days and some who are so dangerous that you just wonder whether they can make a serious run at a Major. 

Serena, if she wants to defend this particular title, will have to be ready from day 1 as her opening round opponent is no stranger to big matches and big stadiums.  Diatchenko is a hard hitting Russian with a big game and much like her opening round match against Gasparyan at Wimbledon, Serena will need to be ready for this big serving Russian.  She will not trouble Serena much as she tends to be inconsistent, but if the World No. 1 is not focused, she could have a rough time of it.  

First round matches to watch:  Coco v. Sloane; Bencic v. Karantcheva; Williams v. Puig 

Quarter-Finalists – Serena/Bencic 

Second Quarter – Top Half 

In all the time that Sharapova has been on Tour I believe this is the first time that she has been drawn to play Serena in New York (folks can correct me if I am wrong). Sharapova is in the bottom section of the top half and her draw, while filled with complicated players, is not something that should trouble the hard-hitting Russian. What could trouble her is the lack of match play as she has not played since losing to Serena at Wimbledon. She opens up against Gavrilova, a player who has beaten her in the past.  If Sharapova starts slow and is not moving well, Gavrilova, if she is able could pull the upset of all upsets. 

First round matches to watch: Cibulkova v. Ivanovic*; Sharapova v. Gavrilova; Serena v. Diatchenko 

Quarter-Finalist – Svitolina/Vinci


Third Quarter – Bottom Half 

After what can only be considered a really poor hard court season, Kvitova rallied after dropping the first set to defend her title at New Haven by beating fellow Czech, Lucie Safarova.  What will that mean for Kvitova’s chances in New York? To be honest not much.  Look for Kvitova to go out early, possibly to Schmiedlova who has been playing very good tennis on the hard courts this summer. 

First round matches to watch:  Schmiedlova/Georges; Petkovic v. Garcia*; Robson v. Vesnina

Quarter-Finalists:  Muguruza/Pennnetta

Fourth Quarter – Bottom Half

Simona Halep can rest easy.  Lucic-Baroni is someone else’s problem for a change.  The diminutive Romanian has had a rough go of it this year, but seems to have steadied herself during the US Open Series by making back to back finals.  A leg injury in Toronto does not seem to have hindered her much in Cincy and her draw, while filled with dangerous opponents, should not cause the No. 2 seed many problems. She opens against the hard serving but erratic Erakovic, and unless Halep is really off, I don’t see anyone in her side of the draw causing her too many problems until the quarter-final, where she is slated to face 2 time finalist at this event, Victoria Azarenka. Also in Halep’s side of the draw is the ever dangerous Camila Giorgi and Angelique Kerber. 

First round match to watch:  Begu v. Govortsova*; Cornet v. Nara; Tomljanovic v. Knapp 

Quarter-Finalists:  Azarenka/Halep 


Semifinalists

Serena v. Svitolina
Halep v. Muguruza

Final:  Serena v. Halep 
Winner:  Serena 

*Seed Upset




THE WTA INSIDER

by Karen, 

For so long fans of women’s tennis have long advocated for a different narrative on women’s tennis.  There are endless megabytes of articles written by men (and sometimes women) about women’s tennis who completely miss the point about women’s tennis. Then there have been articles severely criticising the WTA regarding the lack of information about its players.  I am glad to say that the WTA has seen the light and snapped up one of the most prolific and staunch supporters and defenders of women’s tennis in Courtney Nguyen (follow her @FortyDeuceTwits).  Recently, the Realz Tennis Fan Podcast crew sat down with Courtney to talk to her about her new role as the WTA Insider, what it means for women’s tennis today and for the future. 

UPDATE

Since posting the above news has broken that ESPN will no longer air the French Open.


There are rumours that ESPN is also considering dropping the Australian Open from its Grand Slam.  This is beyond disappointing for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that Tennis Channel as I understand it is a premium channel and therefore is not available as part of a basic cable package to many subscribers within the United States.  In addition, the Tennis Channel is not readily available outside the United States.  Even worse is the fact that Tennis Channel’s premium subscriber service, Tennis Channel Plus is not available anywhere outside the Continental United States. 

This announcement follows hard on the heels that starting this year the USO Series will air exclusively on ESPN and its digital platform ESPN3.  Again, for many of us who live outside the United States and who would be able to get Tennis Channel are consigned to looking at small computer screens in order to watch tennis.  

Tennis as it is wont to do continues to shoot itself in the foot when it comes to providing content that is readily available. 

This blog has taken issues on many occasions with Tennis Channel and its coverage of events.  However, they have made significant improvements.  One of the benefits of having Tennis Channel is the constant repeat of tennis matches in case you missed it.  Their Center Court feature is one of the best things in tennis broadcasting for a long time and their analysts have grown significantly over the past year.   For those of us especially who are fans of the women’s game, the ability to wake up on a Saturday or Sunday morning and tune in to a live women’s final from the edge of beyond was a welcome event.   

I subscribe to my tennis through a convoluted series of events via Dish Network.  As Dish Network is not readily available outside the US, this can cost a pretty penny.  As a result I do get Tennis Channel and ESPN.  I have written on numerous occasions to both Tennis Channel and ESPN requesting that their digital service be provided to persons outside the US.  To date, I have not been able to get any kind of response.   

The French Open is a significant part of the Grand Slam season.  The clay court season makes up for a significant portion of the tennis season and to now have the premier clay event being relegated to a channel that is not readily available speaks volumes about ESPN’s lack of thought on this.   It is to be hoped that we are not going back to the days of delayed coverage of this tournament but one can only hope.