West Conshohocken, Sep 5 (AP/UNB) — Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, golf's most prominent players for more than two decades, never realized the Ryder Cup would mean so much.
For Woods, it's the culmination of a comeback that began in January after a fourth surgery on his lower back. For Mickelson, more than setting a record by playing his 12th Ryder Cup, the 48-year-old gets what he believes will be his last chance to capture that gold trophy away from home.
U.S. captain Jim Furyk added them to his team Monday evening as wild-card selections, along with Bryson DeChambeau.
Woods agreed to be a vice captain in late February, and he set a goal to be in Paris on Sept. 28-30 as a player.
"It's incredible, it really is, to look back at the start of the year and now to have accomplished a goal like that," Woods said. "To be a part of this team, and now to be a player is just ... beyond special."
Mickelson had qualified for every team since 1995, a streak that ended this year when he finished No. 10 in the standings. His 12th appearance breaks the Ryder Cup record held by Nick Faldo.
Mickelson has only been on three winning teams — at Brookline in 1999, Valhalla in 2008 and two years ago at Hazeltine. His last time overseas was at Gleneagles, where he infamously closed out a losing press conference by questioning captain Tom Watson and the direction the PGA of America was taking the U.S. team.
That led to sweeping changes in the U.S. structure, mainly by giving players a stronger voice.
"This is mostly likely my last chance to go over to Europe and to be a part of a winning U.S. team in Europe. We haven't done that in 25 years," Mickelson said. "I set out this year on really a strong commitment and journey to get on the team. I got off to a great start this year. It's been a really good year, and although I fell just shy of making it on points, it feels great to be a part of this team and serve this team in any way I can."
Furyk still has one more captain's pick he will announce on Monday after the BMW Championship, and it might not be as easy as this one.
"Not that it was an easy decision," Furyk said with a smile. "But it could have been a lot more difficult."
Woods and Mickelson were logical choices. Woods briefly had the lead Sunday in the British Open until he tied for sixth, and he shot a career-best final round of 64 to finish second in the PGA Championship. Mickelson won another World Golf Championship in March, though he hasn't seriously contended since then.
DeChambeau narrowly missed out on one of the eight automatic spots by missing the cut at the PGA Championship, and the 24-year-old Californian knew he had to show Furyk some form in the three weeks before the picks were announced.
He won the first FedEx Cup playoff event by four shots. He won the next FedEx Cup playoff event by two shots.
"I wanted to be a part of this experience so badly that I worked twice as hard," DeChambeau said. "And it showed, and it paid off."
Tony Finau is believed to be the leading candidate for 12th and final spot. Furyk invited him as part of a small group that played Le Golf National on the weekend before the British Open. Finau tied a PGA Championship record with 10 birdies in the second round while playing with Furyk.
During the FedEx Cup playoffs, he was runner-up at one event and tied for fourth at the other.
European captain Thomas Bjorn announces his wild-card selections on Wednesday, with Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey among the likely picks. Still to be determined was whether former Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, gets a nod.
The eight Americans who qualified on their own were Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed. Throw in Woods and Mickelson, and that gives the U.S. team a lineup that has combined for 31 majors.
That doesn't mean as much in foursomes and fourballs, on a European course before the singing and chanting of Europeans fans.
"We're heading over into foreign soil," Furyk said. "It's going to be an interesting crowd. They are boisterous, I have a lot of respect for them and we are looking for players that we thought would handle that situation well and would thrive, love the challenge. And naming these three players, that's what we've done."
Woods will no longer be a vice captain, though Furyk said he would continue to lean on his advice. Woods was an assistant at Hazeltine and at the Presidents Cup last fall at Liberty National in a U.S. route.
Furyk picked former world No. 1 David Duval to replace Woods. Furyk also said Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar would fill out his lineup of vice captains, joining Davis Love III and Steve Stricker.
New York, Sep 4 (AP/UNB) — Roger Federer served poorly. Closed poorly, too. And now he's gone, beaten at the U.S. Open by an opponent ranked outside the top 50 for the first time in his career.
Looking slow and tired on a sweltering night in Arthur Ashe Stadium, the No. 2-seeded Federer double-faulted 10 times, failed to convert a trio of set points and lost 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (3) in the fourth round to John Millman in a match that began Monday and concluded at nearly 1 a.m. on Tuesday.
It's only the second time in Federer's past 14 appearances at the U.S. Open that he's lost before the quarterfinals. He is, after all, a five-time champion at the tournament, part of his men's-record haul of 20 Grand Slam titles.
"I have so much respect for Roger and everything he's done for the game. He's been a hero of mine, and today he was definitely not at his best," Millman said, "but, you know, I'll take it."
So much for that highly anticipated matchup between Federer and 13-time major champion Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Instead, it'll be the 55th-ranked Millman, an Australian who had never made it past the third round at a Slam until last week, taking on No. 6 seed Djokovic.
Millman was adamant he would not be intimidated by Federer, and perhaps was helped by having spent time practicing together a few months ago ahead of the grass-court portion of this season.
Still, this was a stunner. Not simply because Federer lost — he entered the day 28-0 at the U.S. Open, and 127-1 in all Grand Slam matches, against foes below No. 50 in the ATP rankings — but how he lost. Start with this: Federer held two set points while serving for the second at 5-4, 40-15 and did not pull through. Millman knew that was the turning point.
"I felt like a bit of a deer in headlights to begin with, to be honest with you. The feet weren't moving. Roger had me on a string. He was manipulating me around the court," Millman said. "But I got out of a tough second set and really found my feet and started to be a little bit more aggressive."
Then Federer had a set point in the third at 6-5 in the tiebreaker, but again was stymied.
In the fourth set, he went up a break at 4-2, yelling "Come on!" and getting all of those rowdy spectators in their "RF" gear on their feet, prompting the chair umpire to repeatedly plead for silence. But Federer uncharacteristically got broken right back with a sloppy game, most egregiously when he slapped what should have been an easy putaway into the net.
And then there was his serve.
In the final tiebreaker, he double-faulted twice in a row.
The first obvious signs of trouble for Federer came far earlier, in the second game of the second set. He started that 15-minute struggle by missing 18 of his initial 20 first serves. While he eventually held there, he needed to save seven break points along the way. It was clear the 37-year-old Federer was not at his best.
Maybe the 75 percent humidity played a role. Millman's big rips on groundstrokes didn't help matters. As the unforced errors mounted — Federer would finish with 77, nearly three times as many as Millman's 28 — Federer's wife, Mirka, couldn't bear to look, placing her forehead on her hands in the guest box in the stands.
Federer hung his head at a changeover, a little black fan pointed right at his face, but nothing seemed to make him feel like himself.
Hours before, Djokovic left the court for a medical timeout — the second time during the tournament he's sought help from a doctor because of harsh weather — during what would become an otherwise straightforward 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 victory over 68th-ranked Joao Sousa of Portugal.
"I'm not 21 anymore. That was 10 years ago. I still don't feel old. But at the same time, there is a little biological clock that is not really working in your favor," Djokovic told the crowd afterward. "Sometimes, you just have to survive."
He reached the quarterfinals for an 11th consecutive appearance in New York as he bids for a third U.S. Open championship and 14th Grand Slam trophy.
The other quarterfinal on the bottom half of the draw will be a rematch of the 2014 U.S. Open final: No. 7 Marin Cilic against No. 21 Kei Nishikori.
Cilic, who beat Nishikori four years ago for his only major title, was a 7-6 (6), 6-2, 6-4 winner against No. 10 David Goffin, while Nishikori advanced by defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-2, 7-5.
New York, Sep 4 (AP/UNB) — Maria Sharapova won the U.S. Open as a teenager. More than a decade later, she can't seem to make it past the fourth round.
With a mistake-filled performance, Sharapova lost a night match at Flushing Meadows for the first time in her lengthy career, beaten 6-4, 6-3 by No. 30 seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain on Monday.
"Just a little too up-and-down," is the way Sharapova described her performance.
It's the third consecutive appearance that ended one step short of the quarterfinals for the 31-year-old Sharapova, who had been 22-0 under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Sharapova collected the trophy in New York at age 19 in 2006 and owns a total of five Grand Slam titles, but the Russian was far shakier during this match than Suarez Navarro, who never has made it past the quarterfinals at a major.
The Spaniard, who turned 30 on Monday, will be at that stage for the second time at the U.S. Open, five years after her other run to that round.
"A really complete performance," is the way she described her play.
On Wednesday, Suarez Navarro and her smooth one-handed backhand will take on 2017 runner-up Madison Keys of the United States. Keys advanced by beating No. 29 Dominika Cibulkova 6-1, 6-3.
"I have to be ready," Suarez Navarro said about facing Keys, "and I think I am ready."
Suarez Navarro often let the 22nd-seeded Sharapova create her own problems.
Sharapova had all sorts of trouble serving, repeatedly catching wayward ball tosses and committing eight double-faults. She was broken in six of her 10 service games.
During lengthy exchanges from the baseline, Sharapova repeatedly blinked first, although a couple of times the righty managed to switch her racket to her left hand for a desperation shot to extend a point.
While both women finished with 15 winners, Sharapova had nearly twice as many unforced errors as Suarez Navarro, 38-20.
"I didn't take care of the chances that I had. By 'chances,' I mean the balls that were a little bit shorter. I hesitated to move forward," Sharapova said. "The balls where I did attack, I made unforced errors, especially on that inside-out forehand today."
Since her championship, Sharapova has only once made it to the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open — in 2012, when she lost in the semifinals. Since then, the best she's done are fourth-round exits in 2014, 2017 and 2018.
After this latest loss, Sharapova was asked whether she envisions herself getting back to her best in the future.
"First of all, if I didn't have the belief to keep doing this and to keep having the motivation and the grind of doing this every day in order to get myself in these positions, I don't think I would be here. I think I've done plenty in my career, established a lot for myself personally, professionally," she replied.
"The belief is not something that I'm eager to show everybody else," Sharapova continued. "The belief matters most when it's internal and when you have a passion for something. If you don't, it's your choice to not continue that, not for anyone else to tell you so."
New York, Sep 3 (AP/UNB) — It was quite a point, one that showed off the best of Sloane Stephens' versatile game, and so a reporter began recounting what happened to the defending U.S. Open champion after she won Sunday night to get back to the quarterfinals.
Stephens interrupted. She did not think the retelling did it justice. At all.
"You are not describing that point good. But I know what you're talking about," Stephens said, then proceeded to give her own play-by-play.
"She hit a drop shot. I hit a drop shot back. Then she lobs me to my forehand. I ran back and hit a forehand cross-court — and the crowd went crazy," she said. "You didn't describe it like that. You were getting lost in there. I think that was a great point."
Certainly was. And that chase-down, tunaround, hook-shot of a passing winner just showed a glimpse of how the No. 3 Stephens can go from defense to offense with flair, as she did repeatedly during her 6-3, 6-3 victory over No. 15 Elise Mertens of Belgium in the fourth round.
There were other, similar efforts of that sort by the 25-year-old American. Not that she works on those kinds of improvisational moves while training.
"Never, never, never. I'm the type of person, if the ball goes over my head, I'm like, 'Whatever,' in practice. I don't practice that. I think it makes it unnatural. It makes you try to do too much if you're practicing trick shots. I don't know how (Nick) Kyrgios and guys like that do it," Stephens said.
"Just like I always say: Get your racket on it. Make a play on the ball. Make your opponent play an extra ball. That's the most important thing to me," she continued. "Sometimes it doesn't have to be the best shot, but making them play another shot, you might get another opportunity. I worked really hard on that instead of trying to hit a trick shot or do fancy stuff. Just simple: Make them play an extra ball and see what happens."
Sure worked against Mertens.
Next match, Stephens can employ that strategy against No. 19 Anastasia Sevastova of Latvia. It'll be a rematch of last year's U.S. Open quarterfinal, won by Stephens in a third-set tiebreaker.
It's the third time in a row Sevastova made it to the final eight at Flushing Meadows.
"There's a pattern maybe, because," she said, "because some tournaments I play always good."
New York, Sep 2 (AP/UNB) — Novak Djokovic moved closer to a possible U.S. Open quarterfinal against Roger Federer with an efficient 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 victory over No. 26 Richard Gasquet in the third round.
Djokovic saved all five break points he faced.
He is now 13-1 for his career against Gasquet, including 11 wins in a row.
Djokovic has won two of his 13 Grand Slam titles at Flushing Meadows. He'll face Joao Sousa of Portugal in the fourth round Monday. Win that, and a meeting with 20-time major champion Roger Federer could be next.
Add two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova to the growing list of highly seeded women who keep losing U.S. Open matches at new Louis Armstrong Stadium.
The No. 5-seeded Kvitova is a big hitter, but she was overpowered by 26th-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 7-5, 6-1 in the third round.
Sabalenka made only 15 errors, 20 fewer than Kvitova, and won 12 of 13 points she served in the second set.
The 20-year-old Sabalenka never had been past the second round of a Grand Slam tournament. But now she's in the fourth at Flushing Meadows.
Kvitova's exit means that 10 of the top 13 seeds are out of the women's draw. And a bunch of them, including No. 1 Simona Halep, No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 4 Angelique Kerber, all were eliminated at Armstrong, which is making its debut this year.
Five-time major champion Maria Sharapova returned to the U.S. Open's fourth round by beating No. 10 seed Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-2.
The 22nd-seeded Sharapova got plenty of help: 2017 French Open champion Ostapenko hit 41 unforced errors and only 10 winners.
Sharapova won the 2006 title at Flushing Meadows, but she's only been past the fourth round once since then.
Ostapenko's exit left only four of the top 13 women's seeds in the draw.
No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev has made another Week 1 exit at the U.S. Open, losing this time to 34th-ranked Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-7 (1), 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 in an all-German matchup in the third round.
The 21-year-old Zverev is considered a rising star of men's tennis. He already has won three Masters titles in his career and leads the tour with 45 wins this season.
But he has only one Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance so far, at this year's French Open, and he's now 4-4 at the U.S. Open. In four appearances at Flushing Meadows, he has one loss in the first round, two in the second, and one in the third.
Althea Gibson will be permanently honored with a monument on the grounds of the National Tennis Center next year.
U.S. Tennis Association President Katrina Adams announced the monument Saturday with Eric Goulder, who will build the sculpture.
Adams says Gibson is an icon in the sport, someone who "was truly diverse in her own thinking and her abilities."
USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier says the location for the statue has not been finalized and artist renderings are unavailable because Goulder "is still in the creative process."
Adams says her team will survey the grounds to put it somewhere visible.
Gibson was the first African-American woman to win the French Open (1956), the U.S. Open (1957 and 1958), and Wimbledon (1957 and 1958).
Naomi Osaka swept her way into the fourth round of the U.S. Open for the first time, beating Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-0, 6-0.
The No. 20 seed from Japan needed just 50 minutes, 25 per set, to eliminate the 33rd-ranked player from Belarus.
Osaka has reached at least the third round in six straight Grand Slam tournaments, the longest current streak on tour. She lost in that round in Flushing Meadows the last two years.
Roger Federer's 51 winners included one jaw-dropping flick around the net post and he got through a tough early spot to get past Nick Kyrgios 6-4, 6-1, 7-5 and reach the fourth round in a 17th consecutive U.S. Open appearance.
The outcome might very well have been decided with Federer serving at 3-all, love-40, less than 20 minutes in. He saved four break points in that game — and then never faced another.
In the 30th-seeded Kyrgios' previous match, the chair umpire climbed down from his seat to have a chat with the Australian's seeming lack of effort. There was no such visit during this match.
The No. 2-seeded Federer has won five of his record 20 Grand Slam titles at Flushing Meadows, but his most recent U.S. Open trophy arrived a decade ago.
He'll face 55th-ranked John Millman of Australia next. It's the first time Millman has reached the fourth round at any major tournament.
Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber has been eliminated, leaving none of this year's Grand Slam winners left in the U.S. Open.
No. 29 seed Dominika Cibulkova rallied Saturday to beat the fourth-seeded Kerber 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, leaving only one of the top-four seeds on the women's side in the tournament after three rounds.
Top-ranked Simona Halep, the French Open champion, was eliminated in the first round. Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki, the No. 2 seed, fell in the second.
Only No. 3 seed and defending champion Sloane Stephens remains among the top-four seeds.
Madison Keys rallied after dropping the first set and the U.S. Open finalist from a year ago beat Aleksandra Krunic 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Keys lost to Sloane Stephens in the final last year and lost to her again this year in the French Open semis. But Keys has been plagued with injuries for most of the season and slipped out of the top 10 in the rankings.
The 14th-seeded Keys looked out of sorts in the first set but she was resilient the rest of the way and won 12 of the last 15 games. She said she was nervous — she even whiffed on an overhead — but thanked the crowd for pulling her through into the round of 16.
The youngest player left in the women's field is through to the fourth round.
Marketa Vondrousova upset No. 13 seed Kiki Bertens 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (1) in the first match completed Saturday at Louis Armstrong Stadium.
The 19-year-old Vondrousova was one of two teenagers to reach the third round, along with American Sofia Kenin. Kenin was knocked out Friday by No. 8 seed Karolina Pliskova.
Vondrousova was one of six Czechs, including Pliskova, to reach the third round. She could meet another, Katerina Siniakova, in the round of 16. Siniakova played Lesia Tsurenko later Saturday.
Roger Federer's matches against Nick Kyrgios have been as close as can be.
So the five-time U.S. Open champion could be tested in trying to reach the fourth round when he meets Kyrgios for the first time in a Grand Slam tournament.
The No. 2 seed has played the No. 30 seed three times on tour, all decided by a third-set tiebreaker. Federer won twice, including a victory this year in a Wimbledon tuneup.
Kyrgios' second-round win at the Open caused a stir. The chair umpire left his seat to talk with the Australian, who was putting forth little effort while dropping the first set and falling behind 3-0 in the second. Federer was among those critical of the umpire's conduct.
Federer is one of five seeded men in the top 10 playing Saturday. The others are No. 4 Alexander Zverev, No. 6 Novak Djokovic, No. 7 Marin Cilic and No. 10 David Goffin.
Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber and 2018 runner-up Madison Keys are on the women's schedule, along with 2006 U.S. Open titlist Maria Sharapova facing 10th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko.