U.S. Open is underway

   The 2009 US Open Tennis Championship began on Monday in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. and has potential to be just as exciting and competitive as last year’s tournament. 

      With last year’s winners ready and healthy for battle, American-born Serena Williams and Switzerland’s Roger Federer will definitely put on a great show defending their titles. 

      In 2008, Williams defeated Jelena Jankovic in the women’s final 6-4, 7-5 and Federer took care of Andy Murray 6-2, 7-5, 6-2. 

      Federer, to say the least, is a beast! With his second-round victory on Monday over young American, Devin Britton, 6-1, 6-3, 7-5, Federer became the first tennis player in history to surpass $50 million in career prize money.  This, along with his other recent accomplishment, places him on a royal pedestal above the competition. In July, Federer won Wimbledon, which allowed him to surpass Pete Sampras and gave him the all-time record of 15 Grand Slam singles titles.

      Other favorites on the men’s side besides Federer include: last year’s runner-up, Andy Murray, the 2003 champion and American favorite, Andy Roddick, and Spain’s raging bull, Rafael Nadal.  Since Arthur Ashe won the Open in 1968, no other black male has won the title, but if a black man were to win it in this era, James Blake stands to be the most qualified and capable player to do so.  Blake is the 21st seed in this year’s open and has a fighting chance.  Over the years, he has shown flashes of brilliance and intimidated opponents with his fearless style of play, but he has never been able to win the “big one.” But who knows, maybe this could be his year.

      Although Dinara Safina is seeded first in this year’s women’s draw, the Williams sisters are always a threat to take the crown at any major. Serena and Venus are seeded two and three respectively but Jelena Jankovic, the fifth seed and last year’s finalist should not have a problem getting into the deeper rounds of the tournament.  On a side note, Florida A&M graduate Althea Gibson won the US Open two years in a row on 1957 and 1958! Go Rattlers!

      For the past few years, the US Open has put the “Grand” in Grand Slam. Unlike the other major tennis tournaments i.e. the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, the US Open gives players a chance to nearly double their prize money.  Both the men’s and women’s US Open single champions will earn a record $1.6 million and a new 2010 Lexus IS convertible. Winners will also have the opportunity to earn an additional $1 million in bonus prize money totaling up to a $2.6 million potential payout.. The Open will receive coverage on ESPN2, the Tennis Channel, and CBS. So watch and learn from the most skilled tennis players in the world.