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The Reuters global sports blog

Winds of change at the Davis Cup

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A fan stands up to applaud during the match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the men's final at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York September 13, 2010. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

The 2010 US Open was a very challenging tournament for all the players this year because of the weather conditions. Players had to deal with a heat wave for the first three days with temperatures well over 100 degrees. Then the mercury dropped into the mid 80s and during the final week dropped to the mid 70’s. With the weather being so hot for the first three days, the players needed to make sure they took shade, ice towels, electrolyte drinks and consumed bananas on court to get potassium into their body. There was a real threat of players cramping with such temperatures. Hydration and prevention were key.

Elena Dementieva of Russia is covered in sweat while playing Sybille Bammer of Austria in 97 degrees Fahrenheit (31 degrees Celsius) heat during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 1, 2010. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine

Extremely hot weather favors the more aggressive players and the ones who are in phenomenal shape. Points are quicker as the ball travels through the air faster due to the extreme temperatures. The more the temperature dropped the more it helped baseline players. But for all the players it becomes less physically demanding. There were also heavy winds in these championships which made it very difficult. The top players hate it because it is more of an equalizer for the lesser player because of the unpredictability of the ball moving through the air.

Ivan Lendl used to hate the wind and wanted to put a rule into place that when the wind reached a certain velocity, play would be stopped. When you are with the wind, you can hit the ball with more top spin to bring the ball into court. The top spin helps to bring the ball down. When the wind is into you, you can hit out on the ball more as the ball will drop in. Also, you need to find the balance of height over the net to get the right depth. Foot work becomes that much more important too because of the extra adjustment steps you need to take to get into position. This is because the ball movement is unpredictable. The drop shot against the wind is a very effective shot because the ball stops and doesn’t come towards the opponent. On the other hand with the wind the drop shot is usually a poor shot selection because the ball goes to your opponent. One shot that is great with or against the wind is the slice because it stays low and neutralizes your opponent. When the wind is swirling you have to constantly adjust and there is no rhyme or reason. You need to anticipate what the ball will do and use both theories of dealing with the wind when it swirls – this is the least favorite time for players to play.

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark gets set to serve in the wind to Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York September 8, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The Davis Cup semi-finals were France vs Argentina and Serbia vs Czech Republic. The French team were brilliant and won 5-0 against Argentina at home in Lyon. The defining match was a second rubber with Gael Monfils from France beating David Nalbandian from Argentina. Monfils has really matured and is starting to fulfill his potential. He won in 4 sets to give France a 2-0 lead after day one. The doubles were a formality with the experienced team of Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement winning in straight sets. It’s been eight years since France have been in the Davis Cup final and captain Guy Forget has done another great job. They will be looking forward to regaining the title and having French no. 1 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga back in the team for the finals.

Nadal success sparks new GOAT debate

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TENNIS-OPEN/Rafael Nadal ticked off another box when he joined an exclusive group of men to win a career grand slam and in doing so re-ignited the debate about whether he or Roger Federer is the better player.

It also strengthens Nadal’s case in the ongoing discussion around the GOAT, or Greatest Of All Time. 

U.S. Open final: Nadal beats Djokovic – how it happened

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Rafa Nadal beat Novak Djokovic in four sets to win the U.S. Open title for the first time and complete the career grand slam, only the seventh man to do it. Here’s how it happened.

U.S. Open: Day Five

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Fans shelter under umbrellas during a rain delay at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 3, 2010. REUTERS/Kena Betancur

By Helen Cook

What a week! And now the players are facing a long rally with Mother Nature in the shape of Hurricane Earl - which was the size of a small country earlier this week.

Aside from the smashing tennis, the weather – come rain or shine – has had everyone chatting and the umbrellas are now out for the lashings of rain about to come crashing down on Flushing Meadows.

U.S. Open: Day Three

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Victoria Azarenka of Belarus collapses on the court during her match against Gisela Dulko of Argentina during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 1, 2010. Azarenka was unable to continue the match. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

By Helen Cook and Josh Hargreaves

Earlier in the day tournament talk swirled around the moment Victoria Azarenka collapsed in a heap on court under the searing sun at just 11:30 a.m., but the heat took a back seat in the evening matches when the best American hopeful in the men’s draw Andy Roddick stumbled to a bad-tempered second round exit.

Roddick, who was called for a foot-fault in the third set, went off on both the lineswomen and the chair umpire, with his best line being, “What is this, call 1-800-RENT-A-REF?”

U.S. Open: Day Two

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Novak Djokovic of Serbia tries to cool off during a break in his match against compatriot ViktorTroicki during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, August 31,  2010. REUTERS/Mike Segar

By Helen Cook and Josh Hargreaves

It was a battle of the sweat on court during day two – even the fans gave up and went in search of shade.

There was a lot of tired screams and exhausted slumps in chairs as the 95 degree heat hit the courts hard. The baking got so intense at Flushing Meadows the tournament referee had to invoke the Extreme Weather Policy for the women’s matches. Even Jelena Jankovic resorted to an ice pack on top of her head during one break.

From the baseline: Tricky shot

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A combination photo shows Roger Federer of Switzerland returning a winning shot between his legs while playing against Brian Dabul of Argentina during their opening night match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, August 30, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Trick shots are nothing new for five-time U.S. Open champ Roger Federer.

With five former champs seeing action on day one, it was a spectacular between the legs shot during the second set of his victory over Argentine baseliner Brian Dabul that will dominate talk around the water cooler this morning.

“I’ve only hit a few in my life and two on center court in night session play here in New York,” Federer told his audience. “It’s amazing to share this moment with you guys. Thanks for the ovation and I love it.”

From the baseline

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Melanie Oudin of the U.S. eyes a return to Olga Savchuk of Ukraine during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, August 30, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Some big names on opening day at Flushing Meadows, with a birthday win for Andy Roddick and a nervous start for fifth seed Robin Soderling.

It seemed an easy opener for defending champ Kim Clijsters, but a scare in the second set could have seen the first big upset at the last grand slam of the year. But the Belgian overcame Gerta Arn 6-0 7-5 in her first tie of the tournament.

Rusedski predicts an unpredictable US Open

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A cashier hands change to a customer buying an oversized tennis ball used for gathering autographs at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, New York August 29, 2010.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The 2010 US Open is going to be very interesting and unpredictable! This summer on the hard courts Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Mardy Fish, David Nalbandian and Sam Querrey have all won titles. Rafael Nadal is seeded number 1 at the tournament but has not adjusted well enough to the hard courts and unfortunately I don’t believe he will win the title. My prediction is that he will have a run but will still miss out on the one slam that eludes him. Federer goes in as favorite after his victory in Cincinnati and wants to prove to everyone that he is still a major force and can still win slams. Murray will be second favorite because in Toronto he was superb and if he can play attacking and aggressive tennis throughout the fortnight, he has a real chance to win his first grand slam title.

Fish has had a great summer winning in Newport and Atlanta and reaching the finals of Cincinnati. I see him getting to the quarters if the draw works out well. He just doesn’t have enough against the big guys in a three out of five set match. Nalbandian will be a dark horse and I’m guessing no one will want to play him. He is one of the best strikers of the ball and has a brilliant return of serve; he could cause a major upset at this US Open. Querrey won in LA this year and saved a match point against Murray in the finals. With his serve and aggressive baseline game he has a chance to have his best grand slam finish but in my opinion, he will not win.

Rusedski reflects on Cincinnati results

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The Cincinnati Masters Series was the last big event before the US Open begins. It is closer to conditions in New York than those in Toronto, but slightly hotter than New York. The ball traveled even faster through the air because of the climate.

Andy Roddick of the U.S. hits a return to compatriot Mardy Fish during their semi-final match at the Cincinnati Masters tennis tournament August 21, 2010. REUTERS/John Sommers II  Andy Roddick was back in action after having complained about being lethargic in Washington. Having withdrawn from the Toronto tournament, Roddick was out of the Top 10. However, if he got to the semi-finals or better he would make his way back in the top 10. It is the first time since the rankings have started that an American has not been in the Top 10. There were quite a few interesting stories this week: Could Roger Federer defend his title? Would Nadal’s form improve from Toronto? Could Murray keep the aggressive play up and continue the role? Would there be any big shocks?

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