Austin wins the match, and Navratilova wins the heart

Excerpts of The 100 greatest days in New York sports by Stuart Miller

“At Wimbledon, the French and Australian Opens, there can be no final set tiebreaker, but at the US Open it’s do-or-die. And in 1981 Tracy Austin and Martina Navratilova squared off in the first final set tiebreaker.

Austin had won the Open at 16 in 1979, but in 1981 she’d been sidelined by sciatic nerve injuries. Navratilova had won Wimbledon twice and the Australian Open in 1981 but was still an erratic, emotionally vulnerable player.
She’d been an American citizen that summer, endured tabloid stories about her sexuality, finally subdued rival and top seed Chris Evert in the semis, and was desperately eager to win.

Navratilova seemed to have the trophy in her grip after grabbing the first set 6-1. But Austin, noted for her steely determination and concentration, began grinding away. Navratilova’s aggressiveness and gambling proved her undoing as she blew several break points with unforced errors – she’d make 43 to Austin 17 by day end.
Austin snuck off with the second set 7-6, 7-4 in the tiebreaker.
The third set was equally tight. Down 6-5, Navratilova committed 8 unforced errors and double faulted twice, but saved 3 match points to force another tiebreak. Then Austin showed her greatness, switching suddenly from hitting short to Navratilova’s backhand to slamming balls deep to her fierce forehand. This bold move rattled Navratilova, who fell behind 6-1, then double faulted.”


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Excerpts of The 100 greatest days in New York sports by Stuart Miller

“She turned head because she was a pretty, young thing, but she captivated everyone because of her gutsy play and icy determination.
Chris Evert was not the first teen prodigy, but in an era filled with veterans like Billie Jean King and Margaret Court, along with one-handed backhands, serve and volley tactics, and uncertainty about the viability of the women’s tour, Evert revolutionized the women’s game.

On September 4, 1971, in her first Open at Forest Hills, this 16 years old perky blonde with a 12 tournaments, 44 match winning streak landed on the stadium court for her second round match against fourth seed Mary Ann Eisel.
Her wins had largely been against lesser lights or on clay, which favored her relentless baseline game. But on grass against one of the surface’s top players, she was unable to simply grind down her opponent. And so, Evert, an amateur who had taken 2 weeks off from high school in Fort Lauderdale for this tournament, seemed headed for home.

She lost a close first set 6-4 and trailed 6-5 in the second when Eisel stockpiled 3 match points. As television announcers Bud Collins and Jack Kramer gave her a warm ‘nice try kid’ sendoff, Evert suddenly showed Forest Hills and a national television audience that she had the makings of a champion.
On Eisel’s first effort, Evert set the tone, whistling a big backhand service return down the line. Then on a second serve, Evert mashed a crosscourt forehand passing shot. Evert easily captured the tiebreaker then crushed her demoralized foe 6-1 in the third set.

King who’d come over to watch the rookie, was impressed by how she handled the pressure, saying later:

A star was born in my eyes that match


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Welcome to the US Open

1. buy a metrocard and take n°7 train to get to the USTA Billie Jean King Center.

2. enter by the South Gate: the morning lines at the East Gate, right off the subway/LIRR, are the longest and slowest. Walk around the crowd and to the South Gate, which is directly in front of the Unisphere.

3. pack a bag: a see through bag is your best bet for fast cleaning security. Don’t forget your sunscreen, your sunglasses and a water bottle. There’s plenty of fountains to fill up your bottle.

4. buy a 3$ drawsheet with the matches schedule.

5. leave the US Open grounds to eat: it’s less crowded and cheaper.

6. scour the practice courts: you may watch your favorite player hit balls for an hour.

7. watch some juniors matches: those kids are perhaps the next Rafael Nadal or Serena Williams.

8. watch some double matches: the matches are fast paced and you will finally see some serve and volley game!

9. attend a night session: the atmosphere is incredible and even sometimes electric.

10. US Open for free: check out the Qualifying Tournament and the Open Practice Day.

Enjoy your day at the US Open!

2011 US Open visitor guide

Here’s a quick visitor’s guide if you plan to attend this year’s US Open.

Arthur Ashe Kids Day kicks off the 2011 US Open by bringing the sports and entertainment worlds together for a full day tennis and music festival for children and family, including interactive games, musical entertainment and free tennis clinics. The ground open at 9:30 am on Saturday, August 27. Admission is free for the interactive games and clinics with top pros. Special tennis and music shows inside Arthur Ashe Stadium do require tickets.
This year’s lineup will feature defending champions Rafael Nadal and Kim Clijsters, world No.1 ranked Novak Djokovic, 2003 US Open Champion Andy Roddick but also actor Bradley Cooper, basketball player Carmelo Anthony and singer Cody Simpson.

Kids' Day
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Who will win?

  • Serena Williams (36%, 10 Votes)
  • Maria Sharapova (32%, 9 Votes)
  • Other (14%, 4 Votes)
  • Caroline Wozniacki (11%, 3 Votes)
  • Vera Zvonareva (7%, 2 Votes)
  • Victoria Azarenka (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Na Li (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Petra Kvitova (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Marion Bartoli (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 28

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Who will win?

  • Rafael Nadal (43%, 6 Votes)
  • Novak Djokovic (36%, 5 Votes)
  • Roger Federer (14%, 2 Votes)
  • Other (7%, 1 Votes)
  • Andy Murray (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Robin Soderling (0%, 0 Votes)
  • David Ferrer (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Gael Monfils (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Tomas Berdych (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Juan Martin Del Potro (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 14

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