U.S. Open will get long-awaited retractable roof

 

mkaufman@MiamiHerald.com

A retractable roof will finally be constructed over Arthur Ashe Stadium after five years of rain-delayed U.S. Open finals.

The U.S. Tennis Association will reveal Thursday designs for a $500 million renovation of the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, and the plans include a roof over 22,000-seat Stadium Court. Two new stadiums also will be built, and a plaza from which fans can watch practice courts.

Construction is not expected to be completed before 2016, at the earliest.

The U.S. Open is the only Grand Slam event that did not have a roof over its main court or a plan to build one. The Australian Open has roofs over its two showcase courts and is considering a third. The French Open is in the process of adding a roof. Wimbledon’s Centre Court got a retractable cover in 2009.

After 21 years of on-time finishes, the U.S. Open has had to be pushed to an extra Monday the past five years because of bad weather wreaking havoc with the schedule.

Players have been complaining louder each year about the delays.

The men’s U.S. Open final is scheduled for a Monday again this year and in 2014, and will return to Sunday in 2015.

Players at the Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio, this week welcomed the news.

“They’ve talked about it at all the other Slams and Wimbledon came around,” said veteran American player James Blake, a two-time U.S. Open quarterfinalist. “It’s good news the U.S. Open will be next. I do wish it was earlier in my career, but I can’t complain too much.

“Maybe it helped me play cards a little better and get to know some of the players a little better when you’re sitting around waiting in rain delays.’’

Miramar victor

Sachia Vickery, an 18-year-old from Miramar, earned a wild card into the U.S. Open main draw by winning the USTA Girls 18s Nationals in San Diego last week.

She rallied to beat her doubles partner, 18-year-old Allie Kiick of Plantation, 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 in the final.

Vickery reached as high as No. 6 in the world junior rankings and is currently No. 229 in the WTA rankings. She is based at the USTA training center in Boca Raton.

“It feels unbelievable. It hasn’t sunken in that I’m going to be playing at the U.S. Open,” Vickery told reporters after the match. “It’s been my dream since I started playing tennis. I can’t even put it into words how happy I am.

“The first set was a lot of nerves, and I was letting her dictate more,” said Vickery, who had lost 6-4, 6-4 to Kiick in a WTA tournament in April. “The difference in the last two sets was that I was more aggressive and intense, going for my shots and improving footwork.”

Kiick, the daughter of former Dolphins legend Jim Kiick, was in tears during the awards ceremony, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

It was the second year in a row she made the 18s final and settled for runner-up.

“To lose here again in the finals, this was probably one of the toughest losses,” Kiick said. “In the second set, she definitely found her game. She was controlling everything, and it just wasn’t my day.”

Kiick, ranked No. 290 in the WTA, earned a wild card into the U.S. Open qualifying tournament. She and Vickery won the 18s doubles title. Other locals who earned spots in the U.S. Open qualifying draw were Jan Abaza (18, Deerfield Beach), who has won two pro doubles titles in 2013; and Victoria Duval (18, Delray Beach), the 2012 USTA Girls’ 18s national champion.

A pair of South Floridians won the Boys and Girls 16s titles, earning spots in the U.S. Open junior draw. Tommy Paul, 16, of Coconut Creek, won the boys’ title, and Katerina Stewart, 16, of Miami, won the girls. Paul beat Jake DeVine of Boca Raton 6-3, 6-1, and Stewart, seeded second, beat No. 1 Ena Shibahara of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., 6-4, 6-1.

Federer’s racket

Roger Federer, who had struggled as he tested a bigger 90-inch racket frame, went back to his smaller racket Tuesday night in the Mason, Ohio, event and beat No. 26 Philipp Kohlschreiber, 6-3, 7-6 (9-7).

Federer had lost to No. 114 Federico Delbonis and No. 55 Daniel Brands with the bigger racket.

“I’m going to do more racket testing when I have some more time after the U.S. Open,” he told reporters after the match.

“I was playing for a month with the black one, but it’s a prototype. At the end, I just felt like, you know what, right now I feel like I need to simplify everything and just play with what I know best.”

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