Roger Federer is not present at the 2016 US Open but that doesn’t mean there aren’t players there who are gunning for him.

Probably the most sacred record in men’s tennis is the 17 Grand Slam titles that Federer has won – with Rafael Nadal (14) and Novak Djokovic (12) being the active players with the best shot of equalling or bettering that number.

With Nadal’s loss to Lucas Pouille in a five-set thriller on Sunday, it begins to look less and less like the 30-year-old Majorcan has a shot at getting to 17. He could win maybe two more titles at Roland Garros based on his history (nine titles) there but injuries, time off the tour, the faster (lower-bouncing) surfaces at the other three Grand Slams and Father Time are now conspiring against him.


Federer has only won one Grand Slam after turning 30 – Wimbledon in 2012 – and just one title at the last 27 Grand Slams, which includes the 2016 French and US Opens he didn’t play.

Many thought Nadal was a good bet to at least equal Federer when he won three out of five majors from the French Open of 2013 through the French Open of 2014. But he is now zero for the last 10 Grand Slams, including when a right wrist injury kept him out of the 2014 US Open and a left wrist injury forced him to withdraw after two rounds of the 2016 French Open.

Up until his surprising loss to Sam Querrey in the third round at this year’s Wimbledon, it looked like Novak Djokovic was on an express train to Federer’s record. The Serb had won five of six Grand Slams from the 2015 Australian Open through the 2016 French Open. But what appear to have been “personal issues” got the better of him at Wimbledon and now left wrist and right arm ailments could compromise his opportunity at Flushing Meadows this year.

Djokovic turns 30 on May 22, 2017, so he just has two Grand Slams – the 2016 US Open and the 2017 Australian Open – before reaching that three-decades demarcation line for tennis players and their ability to continue winning Grand Slam titles.

It’s always the way with tennis fans and followers that they tend to think what’s going on at the moment will continue into the near future – mainly because they can’t predict what will happen to the dominant player of the day regarding injuries, aging, their personal lives – and maybe most importantly – the evolution of younger players who may emerge to challenge or overtake them.


Recently, Djokovic has wavered – the losses at Wimbledon to Querrey and at the Olympics to Juan Martin del Potro in the first round being fresh examples.

So this US Open could be extremely important in his quest to catch Federer’s 17. It appeared, after the French Open in June, that he was almost assured of winning at least two of Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open, but now he could be shut out at all of them.

If he is, his momentum will have been given a severe jolt and his vulnerability exposed, reducing his chances of him winning five more Grand Slams.

The fact that Djokovic, after a largely injury-free career, is having some fitness issues – as both Nadal and Federer have in recent years – is not a good omen for the Serb as he closes in on age 30. And it’s a signal to his rivals that he isn’t quite as invincible as has seemed.

It is unlikely Federer will add to his total of Grand Slam titles, so is his record of 17 safe? This year’s US Open result is crucial to Djokovic and his chances of ever catching the thus far incomparable Swiss. If he wins not only is he one step closer but his confidence, and his aura, will be restored heading into the 2017 season.          

Canada’s Davis Cup quest

nestor pospisil dancevic

Canada will attempt to maintain its berth in the Davis Cup World Group when it faces Chile the weekend of Sept. 16-18 at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.

In the absence of Milos Raonic, the Canadian team will feature Vasek Pospisil, Frank Dancevic, Daniel Nestor and rookie Denis Shapovalov.


Not much is known about the Chileans so here’s a list of their players.

Gonzalo Lama: Rank: 172, Age: 23, Height 5’11”

Christian Garin: Rank 275, Age: 20, Height: 6’ 1”

Nicolas Jarry: Rank: 484, Age: 20, Height: 6’6”

Hans Podlipnik-Castillo: Rank (doubles): 65, Age: 28. Height: 6’

The only two Chilean players at the US Open were Lama – he lost 6-2, 6-1 to No. 227 Sekou Bangoura of the U.S. in the first round of singles qualifying and Podlipnik- Castillo. He and partner Malek Jaziri of Tunisia were beaten 6-3, 6-2 by American Brian Baker and Marcus Daniell of New Zealand in the opening round.

Podlipnik-Castillo seems a good-natured guy and when a Canadian reporter spoke to him last week at the US Open he said, about the upcoming World Group play-off, “we’re gonna to kick your butt.”

He then added, “I don’t know why they put it on indoor hard, it’s the best (surface) for us. I think they made a really bad call there.”

Those seemed like rather brazen declarations until it became clear that the playful Podlipnik-Castillo was joking. In a more serious vein, he said about the upcoming tie, “it’s going to be a great experience I think. I’m really good friends with Vasek (Pospisil). We grew up together playing tennis so it’s going to be fun. I love Canada to be honest.

“For us we’re so happy to be where we are now, being able to play Canada, a world-class team. In such a big stadium, it’s going to be a world-class experience.”

Asked about who he would play doubles with, Podlipnik- Castillo answered, “I’ll play with Jarry I guess. There aren’t so many teams to choose from in Chile.”

As for the singles, Podlipnik-Castillo, who has some Polish ancestry, said, “there’s Lama who’s a good clay-courter and Jarry who can play everywhere, he’s really good on hard court. And Garin who’s a rising star so we’ve got a pretty good team – a young team with a lot of potential.”

Could one of the Chilean players cause a surprise? “Maybe the young players, playing loose without any pressure,” Podlipnik-Castillo said. “It could be Garin or Jarry, they’re really young. If they can play really loose and not be afraid to lose or anything, no pressure…you never know in Davis Cup.”

Who would be their best player on the indoor hard court surface at the Scotiabank Centre? “I think Jarry is really good on hard court, it’s his favourite surface,” Podlipnik-Castillo said. That’s probably no surprise – Jarry is six-foot-six and should have a good serve.

Canada and Chile are 4-4 head-to-head in Davis Cup with Chile, led by Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu (the current captain), winning 3-0 in their last meeting in Santiago in 2008.

The Chileans, whose other fine players over the years have included Jaime Fillol, runner-up at the 1977 Canadian Open in Toronto, Hans Gildemeister and Marcelo Rios, a former world No. 1, have spent nine years in the World Group and actually was Davis Cup runner-up to Italy in 1976. Its last year in the World Group was 2011, which is ironically Canada’s last year out of the World Group. Canada has been in the World Group for a grand total of eight years including the last five in a row.

Chile reached next week’s World Group play-off by winning a controversial tie in July against Colombia at home in Iquique when No. 1 Colombian Santiago Giraldo walked off the court in the decisive fourth match, protesting the quality of the clay court.

Subsequently, the International Tennis Federation fined the Chilean Tennis Federation $55,000 (US) – $15,000 as a penalty and $40,000 from a partial retention of a Davis Cup bonus it was entitled to due to the substandard quality of the clay largely caused by sandstorms that delayed the tie start by a day.

Bienvenue à Québec


The 24th edition of Quebec City’s WTA tournament will begin next Saturday with the qualifying event.

Genie Bouchard, ranked No. 39, headlines the field for the $250,000 (US) National Bank Cup as she returns for the first time since losing in the 2013 semifinals to eventual champion Lucie Safarova.

The only player in this year’s field ranked higher than Bouchard is hard-hitting No. 34 Timea Babos of Hungary.

The 2014 champion, No. 57 Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 34, is also entered as are three Germans – No. 41 (defending champion) Annika Beck, No. 46 Anna-Lena Friedsam and No. 64 Julia Goerges.

There will be one former Grand Slam champion in Quebec City – 2010 Roland Garros winner Francesca Schiavone, who is now 36 and ranked No. 97.

Hard on the eyes

us open tv

The TVs in the media room at this year’s US Open have left something to desired. This picture, of British player Kyle Edmund, is an example of the distortions that occasionally took over the screens. Ironically, that’s Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski shown on the middle at the bottom after she and partner Rohan Bopanna of India won their first round mixed doubles match.

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