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?
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Voices
Björt Ólafsdóttir is a member of Iceland's Bright Future party
voicesIceland's Björt Ólafsdóttir on her decision to take part in #FreeTheNipple
Life and Style
The Clove Club will charge customers when they book
food + drink
News
Lapping it up: a woman feeds felines at a cat café in Japan
newsThe vast majority of cat and dog 'wet foods' contain items not specified on the tin, study finds
Sport
Andros Townsend and Paul Merson
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat