Thoughts On The U.S Open

By Sujay Lama, head women's tennis coach

If you are a tennis nut like me, you have to be super excited about the next two weeks. The final grand slam of the year is underway in New York. It is going to be an exciting Open with so many story lines to follow.

You have Roger Federer who is coming in red hot with victories at French Open and Wimbledon. After eclipsing Pete Sampras’s overall grand slam record (15), a load of pressure has been lifted and he should be poised for another great run for his 6th consecutive U.S Open title.

Rafael Nadal is coming back after a knee injury sidelined him for two months. He showed signs of rust in two pre U.S Open events but never discount one of the greatest competitors ever to play the game. Americans will be pinning their hopes on big serving Andy Roddick who gained many new fans after a heart-breaking loss to Federer in the finals of Wimbledon. Charismatic Serbian Novak Djokovic and hard hitting Argentine, Juan Martin Delpotro will be in the conversation too.

However, my pick is Andy Murray. The 22-year old Scot has had the best results on hard courts this past 12 months. The experience of reaching the finals last year and his commitment to fitness will be key in him capturing his first grand slam title.

In the women’s side, it’s Serena Williams and the rest of the field. The defending champion has been spectacular in grand slam play this year. She won Australian Open and Wimbledon and lost a close semi-final match at the French Open and should be very motivated to get a third slam for the year. My dark horse picks are Olympic Champion Elena Dementieva who trounced Serena at the Canadian Open this month. Her movement makes her a difficult match-up for anybody. And how about former champion Kim Clijsters who has made a sensational come back having beaten 4 top-10 players in the three events she played while tuning up for the Open.

I love the U. S Open. I was fortunate to be able to coach junior and pro players there in 1993, 1994 and 1995. It is unlike any other grand slam. The hustle and bustle and the loud New York fans bring out the best or at times the worst in some. My fondest memory as a coach was when one of the players (Amanda Coetzer) I was a traveling coach for, made it all the way to the finals of the women’s doubles in 1993. She and her partner  (Ines Gorrochetegui) lost 6-2,6-4 to Helena Sukova and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario. It was a thrill for me to be able to warm her up on the center court before the finals and to actually see them go that far in a major. 

As a fan, it was the classic quarterfinal match in 2001 between Agassi and Sampras that I will remember most. It was my dad’s first trip to a grand slam event and what a match it was. They played four sets that went to tie breaks. The level of tennis was just amazing. Two great champions at their best. Too bad one (Agassi)  had to lose that day.

Later this week, I will be flying to New York to evaluate some junior players from all over the world at the U.S Open junior tournament. I am looking forward to seeing some great tennis and will keep you up to date with all that is going on there. Now sit back, get your remote out and enjoy this great sport at its finest.



North Texas Mean Green