SI:AM | The U.S. Open Is on the Verge of a Historic Finish

SI:AM | The U.S. Open Is on the Verge of a Historic Finish
Good morning, I’m Josh Rosenblat. Football can wait. I’m locked in to the U.
S. Open. In today’s SI:AM: ???? Iga vs.
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During the first week of the tournament, the story lines (rightfully so) all centered on Serena Williams. But even after her third-round exit, the tennis in Flushing has been scintillating and historic. We’re set for three days of epic clashes with the two men’s singles semifinals today, the women’s final tomorrow and then the men’s final to wrap things up Sunday.
Casper Ruud will look to continue his historic season, which has seen him already reach the French Open final and gain a career-high ranking of No. 5, the best-ever ranking for a Norwegian man. But he has his sights set on more.
If Ruud goes on to win the U. S. Open, he’d ascend to No.
1 in the world. He’s already shed a reputation for being a clay-court specialist with his run in New York so far, using a massive forehand to dictate play. Khachanov won just three matches on the North American hard court swing leading into the U.
S. Open and the 26-year-old hasn’t quite maintained his level after reaching a career-high ranking of No. 8 in July 2019.
But he’s raised his game in his last two matches. In the fourth round, Khachanov beat two-time U. S.
Open semifinalist Pablo Carreño Busta and the red-hot Nick Kyrgios in the quarters, both in five sets. How much will he have left in the tank? This prime-time event at Arthur Ashe Stadium is a matchup between two of the most electric players on the men’s tour and should have a charged-up atmosphere. Both players are fan favorites, but Tiafoe is the first American man to make the semis of his home slam since Andy Roddick in 2006.
We’ll start with the 19-year-old Spaniard, though, who is coming off a grueling five-plus-hour match vs. Jannik Sinner . The match finished yesterday at 2:50 a.
m. ET, the latest finish for a U. S.
Open match. The teenager plays with what seems like endless energy , so we’ll have to see his fitness level versus the relatively well-rested Tiafoe’s. Like Ruud, Alcaraz could move to No.
1 in the world by winning the tournament (see SIQ below). After taking out No. 9 seed Andrey Rublev in straight sets in the quarterfinals, Tiafoe admitted the tennis ball looks “like a watermelon” to him right now.
He’s lost just one set in the tournament (to Rafael Nadal) and has been impressive in choosing his spots to finish points at the net. What a way for the WTA to end its Grand Slam season. Świątek and Jabeur have been the winningest players on Tour this season in terms of match victories.
Świątek took over the No. 1 ranking following Ash Barty’s retirement and hasn’t looked back. She won her second French Open title in June, but a disappointing third-round exit at Wimbledon began a summer when she didn’t play her best tennis.
Following her triumph at Roland-Garros, Świątek went just 6–4 in her next 10 matches before the U. S. Open.
But Świątek has looked more and more comfortable on the hard courts. Her heavy topspin and relentlessness can impact her opponents, and she’s earned two come-from-behind victories en route to the final so far. Jabeur, who will become the No.
2 player in the world following the U. S. Open, has also had a summer full of questions.
Following a run to the Wimbledon final, she struggled to transition to the North American hard courts. She had to pull out of the first round of the Canadian Open and won just one match in Cincinnati. But she’s been steady in New York.
The creative Tunisian has used her diverse playing style to her advantage. The two players have matched up four times since 2019, splitting the head-to-head. Each player has a win on a hard court, while Świątek has a clay court win from earlier this year and Jabeur won a three-setter at Wimbledon last summer.
John Cordes/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images In today’s Daily Cover, Pat Forde dives deep into Lincoln Riley and his move to bring USC back to its football glory days. But this much is certain: USC will have every available resource to compete, and players have flowed in via the portal. It’s not easy to successfully flip a roster in a matter of months, but the Trojans are intent on finding out how fast a total rebuild can happen.
Want Week 1 NFL picks ? MMQB has you covered for the entire slate. … The Bills proved why they’re the Super Bowl favorites . … The College Football Playoff management committee is looking at ways to expand the CFP to 12 teams as early as 2024 .
But that could mean schedule changes. … Tom Verducci breaks down MLB’s rule changes to improve pace of play. … Albert Breer polled NFL decision-makers on the best quarterbacks in the league .
… Graham Potter’s journey to become Chelsea’s manager has been unique, and so is the challenge that awaits him, writes Jonathan Wilson. … Emma Baccellieri wrote about MLB’s most traded player (who is now back with a team for his fourth stint). The Connecticut Sun used an 18–0 run to close out Game 5 and upset the Chicago Sky to reach the WNBA Finals.
… NFL Network reported Aaron Donald had retirement paperwork sent to the Rams this offseason. … Al Michaels told Jimmy Traina that he’s “pleasantly surprised” with his chemistry with new broadcast partner Kirk Herbstreit . … Matthew Stafford went up against his brother-in-law last night, who is a coach with the Bills.
… things I saw yesterday: 5. 5. Josh Allen’s vicious stiff arm .
4. Samuel Chukwueze’s sweet, curling volley in Villarreal’s 4–3 win in its Europa League opener. 3.
These epic rallies from the U. S. Open wheelchair doubles tournament.
2. Lorenz Assignon’s remarkable, leaping stoppage-time winner for Rennes in the Europa League. 1.
Paula Creamer’s hole-in-one at the LPGA Queen City Championship as she makes her return after more than a year away from pro golf. With his win Wednesday night, Carlos Alcaraz continued his march toward an impressive feat. If the 19-year-old Spaniard wins the U.
S. Open, he will earn the ATP’s No. 1 ranking (as would 24-year-old Norwegian Casper Ruud if he was to win the tournament).
Alcaraz would become the youngest ATP No. 1 ever. Who currently holds that title? Check Monday’s newsletter for the answer.
Yesterday’s SIQ: On Sept. 8, 1998, Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire hit his 62nd home run of the season, breaking Roger Maris’s single-season record. He finished the season with a record-setting 70 dingers.
But, he didn’t win the National League MVP that season. In fact, it wasn’t even that close. Who won the award, getting 30 of 32 first-place votes? Answer: Sammy Sosa.
Despite leading all of baseball in home runs, walks, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS, McGwire finished a somewhat distant second to Sosa in the NL MVP race. Sosa, though, had the most RBIs and runs scored and also led the league in strikeouts. But the 29-year-old outfielder was on the better team that season.
The Cubs won 90 games in 1998 (compared to the Cardinals’ 83), a huge outlier. Chicago failed to win 80 games in any other season between ’94 and 2000. The Cubs made their first playoff appearance since 1990 and then didn’t make it again until 2003.
It appears the voters loved the Cubs’ “lovable losers” narrative. John Biever/Sports Illustrated The Dolphins are starting their season Sunday with a new coach against the Patriots after completing a 9-win season. Miami did the same thing back in 1996, but that’s where the comparisons end.
While current coach Mike McDaniel is replacing Brian Flores, a coach who seemed to overachieve with the Dolphins during his three seasons in charge, Jimmy Johnson started his tenure with Miami in 1996 having to fill even bigger shoes. His season opener in New England was “ the Dolphins’ first game under a coach other than Don Shula since the Nixon Administration ,” Peter King wrote. Johnson believes he can win—doing it his way.
He scoffs at the notion that he has made the Dolphins too young too fast. … Johnson chose to keep 13 rookies and first-year players. These were personnel decisions that may well be the right ones, long-term.
But at some point this season the Dolphins will pay for Johnson’s devotion to youth. This is a team facing massive growing pains. Those growing pains didn’t show up in Week 1, though.
The Dolphins eased to a 24–10 road win, winning the turnover battle 4–1 and outgaining New England by nearly 100 yards on the day. Miami won the first three games of that season. But in Week 4, during the team’s game in Indianapolis, star quarterback Dan Marino went down with an injury.
With Marino out, the Dolphins lost to the Colts and then lost two of their next three games. Ultimately, Miami finished the season 8–8 and those growing pains King predicted did show up. But, in some ways, the long view paid off; the Dolphins made the playoffs under Johnson in 1997, ’98 and ’99 but never made it past the divisional round.
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