Diede De Groot Is On Top Of Her Game, Just Look At The Results

Esther Vergeer and Diedre de Groot (photo: US Open video)

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, September 13, 2023 (by Michael Dickens)

When Diede de Groot won her sixth consecutive US Open women’s wheelchair title Sunday afternoon, it was also her 13th straight major crown – tying Hall of Famer Esther Vergeer‘s record for the most women’s singles title at Flushing Meadows – and it meant she had also completed her third calendar Grand Slam in as many years.

Her one-hour, 13-minute championship match, in which the No. 1 seed from the Netherlands defeated No. 2 seed Yui Kamiji of Japan, 6-2, 6-2. was very efficient, very businesswoman like. Afterward, Vergeer presented de Groot with the champion’s trophy.

“I was actually expecting a longer and bigger fight, I think, seeing the history that we have on this court,” de Groot 26, a native of Woerden in central Netherlands, said during her victory news conference. “We have played three sets; I’ve been down to win the championships on that court. So, I was definitely expecting one of those battles.

“I was on top of my game. So yeah, good result. Very happy.”

De Groot, who is the current World No. 1 in both singles and doubles and has won 20 crowns in singles and 17 in doubles, was asked by a reporter if the feeling from winning titles ever gets old.

“It’s one of those funny things where you sort of get used to it, so, like, the special feeling,” she said, smiling. “I saw Coco win yesterday; the first time will always be the best one. So yeah, like the special feeling or the excitement from it, it’s a little bit less, but, like, I know at this point what I do for it every day. I know at this point it’s not just coincidence that I won just this one slam, I can do it over, over, over again.

“So, I think I appreciate it more these days. So that’s the difference.” 

Consistency more than the number of major titles won is what makes de Groot, in her ninth year as a wheelchair professional, feel most proud of.

“I always like to say that I don’t really keep track of the numbers. I’d like to really not worry about it too much, because then you’re going to start to think about, oh, I want to reach this or I want to reach that,” she said.

“I really just want to focus on my game, and that’s what I did today. So that’s what I’m really proud of. But I think just being this consistent is what I’m really proud of. Being able to do it multiple times in the year.

“I don’t even have a goal to never lose, like, that’s a really strange goal to have that. But because I think I have that goal, like, I think about myself, what do I have to do, where can I find the key points, and I think because I focus on them so well, I manage to win.”

When de Groot was asked if the motivation to keep training and working hard comes from a fear of failure, she replied:

“I like to be challenged. The past two, three months I have been training with the guys at home. The same guys that play here in the men’s division.

“It shows that I’m capable of, like, a higher level. I really enjoy that. Like, even though I can’t always beat them. Sometimes I do, but it’s very rare, but I’m challenged. Like, they challenge me to push harder, to hit harder, to have higher percentages. That’s what I really like at the moment.

“Also, just looking at a match like this [against Yui], where can I still improve. That’s what I really enjoy. These days it’s not just tennis player anymore. I’m also doing a lot of things besides tennis. I try to do stuff for the Esther Vergeer Foundation, where we motivate kids to start to play sports, any sports, doesn’t necessarily have to be tennis.

“There are so many things next to tennis which I’m also doing at the moment, so I’m really enjoying it.”

Looking ahead, de Groot will have all four major titles to defend in 2024 as well as her gold medal won at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021. However, bring up the subject and she’ll admit she’s only focusing on the Australian Open at the moment.

“The only goal I have in my mind is Australia,” de Groot said. “I’m not thinking ahead that much yet, and I think really taking it step by step is what’s keeping me going and don’t think about the hard stuff – yet. Just focus on one thing at a time.”

Tennis Channel’s Ted Robinson impressed by US Open fan growth

Tennis TourTalk caught up with longtime Tennis Channel commentator Ted Robinson on the grounds of the National Tennis Center during the first week of the US Open. Robinson was on hand to do play-by-play for several men’s and women’s matches during the fortnight for the US Open’s World Broadcast Feed, including the Jannik SinnerAlexander Zverev fourth-round thriller that lasted until 1:45 a.m. last Tuesday on Arthur Ashe Stadium, and the Iga SwiatekJelena Ostapenko fourth-round match on the first Sunday night, in which Ostapenko upset the defending champion and top seed on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Ted Robinson

Ted Robinson (photo: Michael Dickens)

Among Robinson’s take aways from this year’s US Open:

“The Masses: I am stunned by the continued growth of the Open,” he said. “Most notable was the late-night finish of Zverev-Sinner. As I left the grounds, it was an elbow-to-elbow march to the [subway] trains. My guess would be at least 5,000 fans stayed to the end. In the ‘90s, both in Armstrong and once Ashe opened, the late-night matches became a signature of the Open. But those who stayed were largely Wall Street types, perhaps 1,000-1,500 fans. This week, there were true tennis fans who lasted into the morning.”

• Robinson said that after calling the Swiatek-Ostapenko match, “it felt to me as if the crown wore heavy on her head. There was every appearance that she was stressed about the loss of No. 1, and we never saw the fight that she displayed in the third set of Roland Garros against [Karolina] Muchova.”

• On the men’s side, Robinson wondered if there’s a “Big 2” rivalry developing between Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz, even though they ultimately didn’t get to meet in the title final. “Doesn’t there still seem to be a gap between Tsitsipas, Sinner, Ruud, Rune, Rublev – even Medvedev – and the Big 2?”

• Robinson, who called the men’s doubles final last Friday, won for the third straight time by Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, said he was impressed by the fan turnout for doubles, “especially the women’s events, where a good number of top players played.

“I’ve always hoped the US Open would generate the interest in doubles that is so impressive at Wimbledon,” he said.

Simona Halep: “My fight continues”

Simona Halep

Simona Halep (photo: Michael Dickens)

Soon after two-time major champion Simona Halep of Romania was handed a four-year suspension following breaches of the Tennis Anti-Doping Program by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) on Tuesday, it was reported that she had hired Ron Berkowitz, a crisis communications expert at Berk Communications, an award-winning, independent public relations firm, as she mounts a vigorous appeal of the ruling.

A “shocked” Halep posted a lengthy statement on her social media channels, in which she said: “I refused to accept their decision of a four-year ban.”

Soon after, the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) issued a statement.

Later, Patrick Mouratoglou, who coached Halep last year prior to her suspension, weighed in on what he labeled an “unfair situation.”

Coco Gauff takes a victory lap after winning US Open title

New US Open champion Coco Gauff took a victory lap after winning her first major crown. On Sunday evening, she was welcomed at MeLife Stadium in nearby East Rutherford, N.J. for the NBC “Sunday Night Football” showdown between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.

“It doesn’t get any more exciting than this,” Gauff said in a video that the Giants posted to social media.

Then, on Monday, Gauff guested on both NBC’s “TODAY” and ABC’s “Good Morning America” morning infotainment shows.

By the numbers

Ben Shelton of the United States has reached the Top 20 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time after his semifinal run last week at the US Open. Debuting at No. 19 after being ranked 47th, the 20-year-old Shelton defeated fellow Americans Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe en route to becoming the youngest American semifinalist at the US Open since Michael Chang in 1992.

“Quotable …”

“He’s a genius. He’s one of kind. There are not too many people in this world like him sport-wise. This is one of the biggest achievements in sporting history. We’re not talking about tennis. We are talking generally in sport. 

“He’s a winner. He’s the guy who is self-motivating. He had luck to have guys like Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer come before him, so they pushed each other, but he’s a born winner. For him, when you tell him he cannot do something, it’s even worse. Then he’s going to show you that he can do it. 

“There are no excuses. He always tries to find a way how to win, how to fight, even when he’s not feeling well, injured, not injured.”

Goran Ivanisevic, coach of Novak Djokovic, during his victory news conference Sunday following Djokovic’s fourth US Open title victory and 24th major title.