Denis Kudla, Jack Sock provide hope to future of American men's tennis

By Liz Clarke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 11, 2010; 12:36 AM

FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y. - American men are long gone from the U.S. Open, with 22-year-old Sam Querrey, the last Yank standing, ousted just shy of the quarterfinals.

But Friday at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center, there were signs of promise in the pipeline, as Arlington's Denis Kudla and Jack Sock, a native of Lincoln, Neb., advanced to the semifinals of the junior boys' tournament.

Kudla, 18, playing a second time at 10,103-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium, broke his pattern of dropping his opening set and storming back for a victory, defeating Filip Horansky of Slovakia, 7-5, 6-1.

Kudla cracked that he drew his motivation from the realization, after doing a bit of math Friday morning, that if he won at least one of his next three matches in straight sets (presuming he reaches Sunday's final), he could avoid having to do laundry while in New York.

"I don't have enough shirts," said Kudla, who signed an apparel deal with Lacoste upon turning pro at 17. "So now, I have enough shirts so I don't have to do laundry."

"Getting past the quarterfinal of a Slam feels pretty good," said Kudla, who reached the final eight last year. "But the important thing is, I don't want to be satisfied."

Kudla, who trains at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, will next face Argentina's Agustin Velotti, who won the 2010 French Open junior title.

The match should offer a contrast in styles, with Kudla most effective playing an attacking, serve-and-volley game, and Velotti favoring protracted rallies.

Sock, the 2010 U.S. boys' 18s champion, will face reigning Wimbledon junior champion Marton Fucsovics of Hungary.

"It would be great if we both got to the final," Kudla said, referring to Sock. "Today I think we both showed that we belong in this round. Hopefully we'll both belong in the final."

The last American to win the U.S. Open boys' title was Andy Roddick in 2000. As the world's top-ranked junior at the time, Roddick won both the Australian and U.S. Open junior titles without dropping a set.

Also Friday, Sloane Stephens of San Pedro, Calif., advanced to the semifinals of the junior girls' tournament.

Bryans win, salute foes

Americans Bob and Mike Bryan won their third U.S. Open doubles title Friday, edging Rohan Bopanna of India and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan, who bill their peace-promoting partnership as the "Indo-Pak Express," 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4).

It was the Bryans' 65th career doubles title and ninth major. But afterward, Bob Bryan paid tribute to the way Bopanna and Qureshi have used the platform of tennis to advocate for harmony and cooperation between their neighboring countries, long bitter enemies.

"What they are doing is a lot more important than winning the U.S. Open," Bob Bryan said.

Among the near capacity crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium was a sizable delegation of early-arriving Indian and Pakistani supporters, as well as the countries' respective ambassadors to the United Nations, who presented the Bryans with a traditional shawl.

In the trophy presentation that followed, Qureshi congratulated the Bryans on the victory, thanked the crowd for its support and spoke on behalf of his country.

"Every time I come here, I feel there is a very wrong perception about Pakistan being a terrorist country," Qureshi said. "We are a very friendly, peace-loving people. And we want peace in this world as much as you do. And may God bless us all."

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