New York, August 31
The first time Kim Clijsters entered the US Open, all the best way again in 1999, she confronted a sure somebody by the identify of Serena Williams.
All these years later, with play at Flushing Meadows set to start on Monday, three-time US Open champion Clijsters is again on the scene, out of retirement at age 37 and entered in a Grand Slam match for the primary time since 2012.
And Williams, lower than a month from turning 39, continues to be on the high of tennis, the runner-up in New York every of the previous two years and at 4 of the previous seven main championships.
Asked to call a second that sticks in her reminiscence, Clijsters pointed to that first assembly towards Williams, who received 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 within the third spherical and would go on to say the primary of her 23 Grand Slam trophies.
“It was an incredible match. The atmosphere was great. For me, that kind of, I think, started the energy that I feel here when I play here,” mentioned Clijsters, who received the US Open in 2005, 2009 (defeating Williams within the ultimate) and 2010, together with the 2011 Australian Open.
“Any night match that you get to play here at the US Open on Arthur Ashe is incredible,” she mentioned.
“It’s nothing like anything else anywhere else.”
As for Clijsters’ ideas on Williams and the opportunity of equaling Margaret Court’s whole of 24 Slam singles titles?
“The great results she had, not even a year after her daughter was born — playing Grand Slam finals, competing for Grand Slam titles — was, I think, incredible,” Clijsters mentioned.
“Obviously, lots of people discuss it. I feel additionally for her, it will get tougher to form of not let it get to you, I feel. She’s nonetheless working at it very onerous, very passionate on the market. That’s what we like to see.
“She’s a great competitor. Always has been that. You can only support that for somebody who has achieved so much and done so much.”
Here are different issues to know because the US Open will get began:
The pandemic will loom over the 2 weeks. How couldn’t it? In April, indoor apply courts housed a discipline hospital. On Sunday, the primary participant, 17th-seeded Benoit Paire of France, examined constructive for COVID-19. There are not any spectators. Players’ entourages are restricted to 3 folks. Everyone on the grounds should put on masks.
Novak Djokovic is 23-Zero in 2020, the very best opening to a season for a person since he went 41-Zero in 2011. He’s additionally the one member of the Big Three in New York: Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer usually are not within the draw.
That trio has collected the previous 13 Grand Slam trophies in a row; that features 5 of the final seven for Djokovic alone.
“Whether I have a bigger chance to win it because Roger and Rafa are not here, I really don’t know,” Djokovic mentioned.
“I think it’s unfair for me to talk about. That, in a way, is kind of disrespectful towards other players who are here.”
Ramping as much as top-flight competitors after so many months away due to the pandemic may result in accidents.
During the Western & Southern Open, for instance, Djokovic handled a neck subject and two-time main champion Naomi Osaka pulled out of that match’s ultimate due to a left hamstring downside.
“I do think that still a lot of players are going to have problems and we’re going to see a lot of withdrawals” on the US Open, 2019 runner-up Daniil Medvedev mentioned, “especially if it’s going to be hot, because … after six months without competitive tennis, to play (best) out of five (sets) is tough.” COURT SPEED
Players testing the Billie Jean King Nationals Tennis Center courts in apply or throughout competitors on the Western & Southern Open — usually held in Ohio, it shifted to Flushing Meadows as a part of a “controlled environment” — appeared just about in settlement: The velocity is quicker in every single place besides perhaps Ashe and Louis Amstrong Stadium.
The model of the US Open’s court docket surfaces modified for the primary time since 1978, with a five-year settlement to make use of Laykold onerous courts made by Advanced Polymer Technology.
“At least 20-30 per cent quicker than last year’s,” Djokovic mentioned.
There might be line judges solely on the 2 largest courts. Everywhere else, a chair umpire might be assisted by digital line-calling — eradicating the human factor within the identify of social distancing.
Other concessions embrace: qualifying and blended doubles have been eradicated solely; the boys’s and girls’s doubles fields have been decreased by half; whole prize cash decreased, together with a minimize from USD 3.85 million to USD Three million every to the singles champions. — AP