American players shock crowds at the U.S. Open

Declan Hoffman, Online Editor

One of the world’s four most prestigious tennis grand slams, the U.S. Open, started Monday August 26, 2013 in New York City, with much promise in the American field.

The hard-court tournament hosts the world’s top names in men and women’s tennis during a two-week long battle between top stars for a grand slam title including 2.6 million dollars in prize money.

Up-and-coming American players Victoria Duval, Jack Sock, Alison Riske and Sloane Stephens have already proven themselves competitors by advancing to the second round.

Seventeen-year-old Duval made a comeback to upset tennis veteran Sam Stosur in three sets during her first round match Tuesday night. Duval, ranked 296 on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour, holds zero titles there or on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) tour. She lost in her only previous U.S. Open appearance last year, which she made with a wild card, to Kim Clijsters during the first round.

U.S. Open mixed doubles champion, Sock, also won his first round match to Philipp Petzschner after a retirement and being up 5-2 in the third set. Sock is a 20-year-old Nebraskan native who won the 2011 U.S. Open Mixed doubles title with partner Melanie Oudin. Since, he has made it to the third round of the US Open main draw (2012), earned a world ranking of 84, one Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) title and nearly $500,000 in prize money.

“It certainly brings much hope to the future of American tennis,” said Sidd Gandhi, when asked about Sock’s recent success.

Alison Riske, currently at her highest WTA ranking of 81, made herself noticed at this year’s open after defeating the tournament’s seventh seed, Petra Kvitova, advancing to the fourth round. Riske then lost in a close three set match to Daniela Hantuchova on the biggest stage in tennis, Arthur Ashe stadium. Twenty-three year old Riske holds 6 ITF titles, but no WTA titles. The only place she has made equal progress was at Wimbledon, earlier this year.

“I think Riske did a good job and made an impressive showing, but needs to work on her serve, consistency and mental game,” said Jack Lawson, Athens varsity player.

Highest projected American, Stephens, shocked Australian crowds earlier this year when she advanced to the semi-final of their grand slam, almost conquering her first slam title. There, she upset many top names including American tennis superstar Serena Williams. Stephens is currently at her highest world rank of 15 and 20 years old. She was born in Plantation, Florida to two eminent athlete parents and now splits her time living in Los Angeles, California, where she trains. Stephens is currently on track to rematch Williams in the fourth round of this year’s U.S. Open.

Aside from the striving, younger Americans, older James Blake plans to retire, making the U.S. Open his last tournament. Blake is 33 years old. He has been one of the more consistent players on tour while still making a tremendous name for himself in the game.

The U.S. Open has already brought days of excitement and is expected to bring more as the weeks progress. Defending champions, Andy Murray for the men and Williams for the woman, will face much challenge as the weeks progress with lots of young American talent not willing to lose without a fight.