Tennis: Satchmo court is ready to swing

US Open tennis: Big guns lying in wait as Henman and Rusedski bid for Grand Slam triumph

THE MAIN arenas at Flushing Meadows, home to the United States Open, were named in honour of two great American swingers, one of whom never had a racket in his hand.

Louis Armstrong probably would have been amused to find himself associated with tennis folk in a curiously wonderful world; the more so tonight, when Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra are due to play at a ceremony to mark the re-dedication of the Louis Armstrong Stadium, tastefully downscaled to seat 10,000 as the second show court.

"Satchmo" was a resident of nearby Corona, Queens, from 1943 until his death in 1971. The City of New York dedicated the former Singer Bowl from the 1964-65 World's Fair in his honour, and the concert arena was converted into the centrepiece of the USTA National Tennis Centre when the US Open came to Flushing Meadows in 1978.

Louis Armstrong Stadium was too big, so when the USTA replaced it with a new centre court three years ago, they made it even bigger. It was named after another African-American, Arthur Ashe, an embodiment of sporting achievement with dignity. Ashe would have been proud of the recognition, though somewhat embarrassed at the sheer size of the 21,000-seat stadium.

The opening of the Arthur Ashe Stadium was marked by a parade of champions. Two were missing. Pete Sampras was excused because he was due to play. Andre Agassi was not there because he had fallen out with Harry Marmion, the then USTA President, who inadvertently neglected to mention Agassi at a dinner earlier.

Agassi is capable of blowing his own trumpet, and many spectators hope it will sound loud, clear and triumphant during the next couple of weeks as the showman from Las Vegas endeavours to extend an inspired run of form that has seen him win the French Open and advance to the Wimbledon final.

Pete Sampras, playing some of the best tennis of his life, defeated Agassi in straight sets at the All England Club, and the two Americans are seeded to meet in the final here. Victory for Sampras would nudge the Californian ahead of Australia's Roy Emerson with a record 13th Grand Slam singles title.

Victory for Agassi would add to a remarkable career that seemed destined to be regarded as a mixture of charisma and underachievement until he completed a set of the four Grand Slam titles in Paris in June. Not even Sampras has accomplished that.

It is possible that the British contenders, Tim Henman, the No 6 seed, and Greg Rusedski, seeded No 9, will have a say before the American dream has a chance to materialise.

Henman, who did not make an auspicious start to the American hard-court season, will have to lift his game to Wimbledon levels if he is to advance to a prospective meeting with Agassi in the semi-finals.

Rusedski, forced to rest for a month after damaging the big toe of his right foot, made an encouraging return in last week's Boston tournament. Whether he is sufficiently match-hardened to make a similar impact to 1997, when he was defeated by Australia's Pat Rafter in the final, is open to doubt. A meeting with Sampras in the quarter-finals may be a realistic goal.

Rafter, who hopes a dodgy right shoulder will not wreck his chances of a third consecutive triumph in the Arthur Ashe Stadium, at least will not have to face the serving power of his compatriot Mark Philippoussis, who has withdrawn because of a knee injury. Rafter and Philippoussis, last year's finalists, were due to meet in the quarter-finals.

The strong African-American theme may go beyond the strains of jazz in the women's singles. The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, may even meet in the final, as they did on a similar court at the Lipton Championships in Florida in March.

Martina Hingis, restored as world No 1 and reconciled with her mother and coach, Melanie, is determined to make amends after her tantrums in Paris and first round elimination at Wimbledon. She may be Venus's obstacle in the semi-finals and Serena is on course to meet Lindsay Davenport, the Wimbledon and US Open champion, in the last four in the lower half of the draw.

While not suggesting anybody should put their money on Venus, it is perhaps worth mentioning that her face is plastered on enormous American Express ads on buses, so she may do nicely.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower