US Open: Day 1

The 2013 edition of the US Open kicks off today in Flushing Meadows, New York. Today’s matches feature a blockbuster crew of big names including defending champion Serena Williams, Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal.

Lets take a look closer into some of the story lines that highlight the first day of this year’s Open.

News developed earlier today that former world no. 4 & fellow American James Blake, has decided to retire from tennis after this years US Open. Blake has won 9 career ATP Tour Events. Blake held a news conference today quoting, “No real surprise here, this is my last tournament. Had 14 pretty good darn years on tour.” Flushing Meadows seems like a good place for Blake to end his career, in front of his rowdy fans in the J-Block.

Red hot Rafael Nadal will be competing in his first match since becoming the first player since Andy Roddick in 2003 to complete the Montreal/Cincinnati sweep. Ironically enough,  in 2003, Roddick ended up winning his next tournament, the US Open, which was the first and only grand slam title of his career.

Nadal enters this years US Open with an impressive 53-3 record in 2013.  Nadal has been the most dominate player on tour, reaching the finals in 11 of 12 tournaments & winning 9.  World No.1 Novak Djokovic proclaimed Nadal’s greatness when he was interviewed by ESPN following his loss to John Isner at the Western & Southern Open, quoting, “”Rafa since he’s come back has been the best player in the world, no question about it.” The most eye-popping statistic from Nadal this year has to be his 15-0 hard court surfaces record. The hard court surfaces has been widely regarded as his worst playing surface.

As well as Nadal has played this year, his road to the finals may be a difficult one. Nadal opens today’s action versus one of the rising American stars of tennis, Ryan Harrison.  Harrison’s game features a big serve with an overpowering forehand. If Harrison can get mentally focused, this match may not be a walkover for Nadal.

The match-up everyone is circling on the men’s bracket has to be the potential match up of Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals. These two have met 31 times in there careers most recently two weeks ago in the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Open, but have never met at the US Open. The 31st meeting between the two, Nadal ended up winning his 21st match versus Federer 6-7, 6-4, 6-3.

Roger Federer enters the 2013 US Open in an unfamiliar spot as the 7th seeded player, this due to his recent struggles with his game.  Federer, after suffering his worst grand slam result since 2004 at Wimbledon (losing in the second round Serigy Stakhovsky) decided to switch racquets from his classic racquet, the Wilson Pro Staff Six One 90 BLX to a Wilson prototype 98 sq. in. frame. After play testing with his new 98 sq. in. racquet in two tournaments in Europe, both ending in upset loses to players outside the top 75, Federer went back to his old stick. The switch back to his old stick was partly due to comfort and partly due to the fact that he had points to defend at the Western & Southern Open & the US Open.

If the 5-time US Open champion wants to sniff any chance at competing in this years Open, he will have to go back to his old bag of tricks & start out smarting his opponents. This year may be one of Federer’s last years at seriously competing for his 18th grand slam title, wouldn’t it be fun to watch Federer duel with Nadal in the quarterfinals one last time?

On the women’s side, both of the Williams sisters are competing on the first day. Venus kicked things off on the Arthur Ashe Stadium Court, taking the first set from 12th seeded player in the world, Kirsten Flipkens 6-1, but the match is still in progress.

Serena will take her talents to the Arthur Ashe later in the evening as the first night match of the 2013 US Open. Serena has won 93% of her matches in 2013, posting a 60-4 record. Williams has won 8 titles including a French Open title. Williams will face 2010 French Open Champion, Italian Francesca Schiavone.