U.S. Open: Europe Dominates World Of Tennis
MOTHER Nature has revealed her supremacy as rain storms delayed the semifinal matches at the US Open. This gives the space for reflection, as the match-ups for the men’s and women’s events revealed a predominance of players from Europe.
It is an all-Europe affair for the men, while America is the exception for the women. Two Swiss will compete, while a Croatian will battle a Serbian; two countries that emerged from the balkanization of the behemoth Czechoslovakia.
World number one Serena will face an Italian; while another Italian, Flavia Pennetta will face Romania’s Simona Halep.
Alex Metreveli won the 1973 Wimbledon tournament when the 32 professional tennis players at that time boycotted the championships in the period immediately preceding the emergence of the professional tour.
At that time, the four major tournaments (except the US National championships played at the private Westside Tennis Club, Forest Hills, New York) featured only “amateur” players who did not receive prize money. The American event was changed to US Open, as it was the first to admit amateurs and professionals. Arthur Ashe won that first “open” event in 1968.
Metreveli’s achievement was symbolic, as he came from a “country” called USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) that was not part of the mainstream in the world of tennis. The visionary former US Davis Cup player, Eugene Larry Scott (of blessed memory and my friend and boss at Tennis Week Magazine, New York), initiated the first international tournament behind the Iron Curtain, and named it The Kremlin Cup.
Yefgeny Kapelnikov emerged from that platform. There were also the satellite countries, Czechoslovakia and Romania, who also provided state support for promising tennis juniors. Martina Navratilova and Ivan Lendl came from that system.
Roumania’s Ilie Nastase and his mustached doubles partner, Ion Tiriac, were great Ambassadors of their country. Nastase deprived Arthur Ashe of a second US Open title when he took it in 1972.
Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s courageous policy of Glasnost and Perestroika gave birth, first, the Commonwealth of Independent States that emerged as separate countries.
They rushed to meet the rites of passage for membership in the European Community that has grown from the 12 countries who united in 1992. Each one of the countries from the Soviet Bloc unloaded a stream of great tennis players who have dominated the world of tennis ever since. In this year’s US Open there is a greater percentage of players from Europe and especially from the countries of the former Soviet bloc.
This year, after the rain delay, the first semi-final will commence in Arthur Ashe stadium when Serena Williams takes on Italy’s Roberta Vinci, a 33-year old veteran, who had earned $ million and won nine singles titles in her career.