2018 US Open Tennis Championships® Sloane Stephens returns to US Open as champion and Williams’ heir

For more than a decade the discussion over who will inherit the Williams sisters’ place at the forefront of American tennis has been a source of no small consternation to anyone in the US with even a passing interest in the sport. Television commentators and dedicated fans have often broached the subject the same way conservationists talk about global warming, as a sort of event horizon beyond which nothing is certain besides a vague feeling of dread.

Sloane Stephens’ improbable run to last year’s US Open title, where she became the first American outside the Williams family to win a major, men’s or women’s, since 2003, did not put an end to the conversation which, with Venus and Serena in the winter of their careers, is as relevant as ever. But, as the effervescent Floridian returns to Flushing Meadows to defend her crown, the tenor surrounding the inquiry is rosier than it has been in years.

Stephens had been sidelined for 11 months by injury and was ranked 957th in the world a month before last year’s tournament, only to survive a wildly unpredictable fortnight in which the top eight women’s seeds were eliminated by the quarter-finals for the first time at any major tournament in the Open era.

That was enough for some critics to dismiss Stephens’ triumph as a fluke but the 25-year-old has over the past year backed up her maiden slam with a formidable 2018 campaign that has included the Miami title, a run to the French Open final and a runner-up finish in Montreal earlier this month. She enters this year’s US Open ranked No 3 in the world, marking the first time any American woman not named Venus or Serena has cracked the top five since Lindsay Davenport 12 years ago.

And now the real fun begins. “A lot of stress, a lot of pressure,” Stephens said on Friday after an early practice before throngs of onlookers, as she took measure of an unfamiliar role: defending champion. “I’m just going to go out and handle it as best I can, just try to play my best. It’s a completely new tournament this year.”

She added: “There’s just more to do. Everyone would say winning a grand slam, there’s just a lot more expected of you. I think that is a little bit hard to adjust to. In general, just less days for myself. I think I handled it the best that I could. I’ve just made the most of it, tried to keep my tennis first. That’s really all you can do.”

Stephens rose to prominence as part of a promising class of US teenagers – including Irina Falconi, Madison Keys, Christina McHale and Coco Vandeweghe – who were talented enough to make noise in the first week of majors but not reliable enough at the business end. That all changed at the 2013 Australian Open when Stephens delivered the defining win of her career to that point, rallying from a set and a break down in a quarter-final upset of Serena Williams. It marked the first time Williams, then 31, had lost to an American younger than herself.

Stephens would lose two days later in the semi-finals to the eventual champion, Victoria Azarenka, but the Williams scalp elevated her profile considerably back home. It was the first of six consecutive grand slam events where Stephens reached the fourth round or better, a span in which her ranking rose as high as No 11.

Progress from there to last year’s breakthrough in Queens was anything but a straight line. Even as she won her first four WTA titles during an eight-month span starting in 2015, Stephens’ performance at the majors began to regress. Then came the injury that abruptly ended her 2016 season: a stress fracture that required surgery and an 11-month lay-off.

In terms of style Stephens has always defied easy categorization. She is not endowed with devastating power but is more than solid off both wings even if she favors a big looping forehand for winners. Her speed is not blinding but the American is still quick off the mark and somehow seems never out of position.

That athleticism and ability to retrieve powerful groundstrokes, paired with a matured variety and understanding of point construction, lends itself to a defensive baseline tack that can read as passive. But at her best she is more than a traditional counterpuncher. No single element of the package grades as exceptional but, when everything is clicking, Stephens is as complete as it gets.

The even bigger mystery exists in Stephens’ mind. There is a coolness about her that has a Rorschach quality to it: interpreted as composure and sangfroid when she is winning, as indifference when the chips are down. One thing is for certain: she has earned a reputation for playing her best in big tournaments, even if there has been a nagging tendency to follow it up with first-round flops at smaller events.

In her first three full years on the tour after cracking the top 100 Stephens’ win-loss record in the majors was 30-12 but a pedestrian 51-48 in all other tournaments.

After her career-changing US Open triumph, Stephens lost her next eight matches in a row, including her first-rounder at the Australian Open while dogged by a sore knee. But she came back to win the title in Miami and surprised everyone all over again with a run to the French Open final. It almost feels as if the search for consistency is more important than wins and losses, since that is all it seems that could prevent her from reaching the No 1 ranking.

US Open® Tennis 2018: John McEnroe blunt but still feels Andy Murray is a threat at

If John McEnroe were a street he would be Broadway, all flashing lights and confidence and surprises, in the city where he grew up, but he reined back on the braggadocio when he handed Andy Murray a sobering warning about his chances at the US Open, which starts on Monday.

He is not writing him off but when they spoke here this week, he was blunt: Murray needs a kind run in the early rounds – starting with the last-minute substitute for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the Australian James Duckworth – and plenty of quality recovery time if his creaking body is to carry him towards the final weekend.

US Open 2018 date, tee times, odds and how to watch on TV

The World Cup 2018 is not the only sporting tournament to kick off on Thursday, June 14, with the US Open 2018 golf tournament also starting on the day.

It will be a particularly special major with the legendary Tiger Woods returning to the Shinnecock Hills course for the first time since 2015.

As if the tournament wasn’t exciting enough, Woods will be partnered with the two current best players in the world, No.1 Justin Thomas and No.2 Dustin Johnson.

That’s not the only exciting draw—Rory McIlroy will partner with Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson.

Here is all you need to know about the US Open 2018 Golf tournament including when it’s on, tee times of everyone including Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth, odds and how to watch on TV.

When is the US Open 2018

 The US Open 2018 Golf tournament runs between June 14-17, 2018.

Where is the US Open 2018? 

The US Open 2018 will be on the Shinnecock Hills golf course in Long Island, New York.

The last time the course was home to the US Open was back in 2004. During that year’s tournament play actually had to be suspended during the final round in order to water the seventh green, which was described as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘unplayable’.

Shinnecock was one of two US Open gold courses to be under 7,000 yards, with the other being Merion in 2013.

Who is playing in the US Open 2018?

This year’s tournament will see the return of Tiger Woods, who will play against the world’s best golfers including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama.

Last year’s winner Brooks Koepka returns, as does Phil Mickelson, who is seeking his first US Open win to complete a career Grand Slam. Mickelson has been the runner-up six times.

Britain’s Tommy Fleetwood, who came fourth at last year’s event, also returns.

What are the First and second round tee times?

McIlroy, Mickelson and Spieth are paired together for the first two rounds and will tee off at 08.02am local time (1.02pm BST) on Thursday, June 14.

Defending champion Brooks Koepka is paired with two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson and former world No.1 Jason Day. They tee off from the first at 07.40 local time (12.40 BST).

Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and 14-time major winner Tiger Woods will start at 13.47 local time (18.47 BST).

Here is the full list of the first and second round tee times:

Thursday, No 1 / Friday, No 10

11:45 a.m. / 5:30 p.m. – Harold Varner, TBD, Matthieu Pavon

11:56 a.m. / 5:41 p.m. – Michael Putnam, Scott Gregory, Will Zalatoris

12:07 p.m. / 5:52 p.m. – Brendan Steele, Chesson Hadley, (a) Harry Ellis

12:18 p.m. / 6:03 p.m. – Jhonattan Vegas, Dylan Frittelli, (a) Doug Ghim

12:29 p.m. / 6:14 p.m. – Louis Oosthuizen, Jimmy Walker, Justin Rose

12:40 p.m. / 6:25 p.m. – Bubba Watson, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka

12:51 p.m. / 6:36 p.m. – Tyrrell Hatton Danny Willett, Ian Poulter

1:02 p.m. / 6:47 p.m. – Kevin Chappell, Andrew Johnston, Daniel Berger

1:13 p.m. / 6:58 p.m. – Bryson DeChambeau, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Matt Kuchar

1:24 p.m. / 7:09 p.m. – Thorbjorn Olesen, Shubhankar Sharma, Patrick Rodgers

1:35 p.m. / 7:20 p.m. – Lanto Griffin, Tom Lewis, (a) Jacob Bergeron

1:46 p.m. / 7:31 p.m. – (a) Kristoffer Reitan, (a) Luis Gagne, Cole Miller

1:57 p.m. / 7:42 p.m. – Mickey DeMorat, (a) Tyler Strafaci, Calum Hill

Thursday, No 10 tee / Friday, No 1 tee

11:45 a.m. / 5:30 p.m. – Scott Stallings, Sebastian Munoz, Matthew Southgate

11:56 a.m. / 5:41 p.m. – Trey Mullinax, (a) Matt Parziale, Jason Scrivener

12:07 p.m. / 5:52 p.m. – David Bransdon, Eric Axley, Tyler Duncan

12:18 p.m. / 6:03 p.m. – (a) Garrett Rank, Mackenzie Hughes, Aaron Baddeley

12:29 p.m. / 6:14 p.m. – Alexander Levy, Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay

12:40 p.m. / 6:25 p.m. – Paul Casey, Satoshi Kodaira, Branden Grace

12:51 p.m. / 6:36 p.m. – Zach Johnson, Charl Schwartzel, Patrick Reed

1:02 p.m. / 6:47 p.m. – Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson

1:13 p.m. / 6:58 p.m. – Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Rickie Fowler

1:24 p.m. / 7:09 p.m. – Charles Howell III, Bill Haas, Charley Hoffman

1:35 p.m. / 7:20 p.m. – Sungjae Im, Russell Knox, Matthew Wallace

1:46 p.m. / 7:31 p.m. – (a) Shintaro Ban, Sung Joon Park, Timothy Wilkinson

1:57 p.m. / 7:42 p.m. – Dylan Meyer, Sulman Raza, Chris Naegel

Thursday, No 1 tee / Friday, No 10 tee

5:30 p.m. / 11:45 a.m. – Sam Burns, Brian Gay, Dean Burmester

5:41 p.m. / 11:56 a.m. – TBD; (a) Chun An Yu, Wenchong Liang

5:52 p.m. / 12:07 p.m. – Russell Henley, Aaron Wise, Peter Uihlein

6:03 p.m. / 12:18 p.m. – Tony Finau, Luke List, Gary Woodland

6:14 p.m. / 12:29 p.m. – Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:25 p.m. / 12:40 p.m. – Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Alexander Noren

6:36 p.m. / 12:51 p.m. – Cameron Smith, Kyle Stanley, Pat Perez

6:47 p.m. / 1:02 p.m. – Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods

6:58 p.m. / 1:13 p.m. – Haotong Li, Si Woo Kim, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

7:09 p.m. / 1:24 p.m. – Jason Dufner, (a) Braden Thornberry, Brandt Snedeker

7:20 p.m. / 1:35 p.m. – TBD, (a) Ryan Lumsden, James Morrison

7:31 p.m. / 1:46 p.m. – Cameron Wilson, (a) Will Grimmer, (a) Philip Barbaree

7:42 p.m. / 1:57 p.m. – (a) Rhett Rasmussen, Michael Hebert, Michael Block

Thursday, No 10 tee/ Friday, No 1 tee

5:30 p.m. / 11:45 a.m. – Matthew Jones, Ryan Fox, Shota Akiyoshi

5:41 p.m. / 11:56 a.m. – Paul Waring, (a) Theo Humphrey, TBD

5:52 p.m. / 12:07 p.m. – Richy Werenski, Roberto Castro, Ollie Schniederjans

6:03 p.m. / 12:18 p.m. – (a) Noah Goodwin, Richie Ramsay, Kenny Perry

6:14 p.m. / 12:29 p.m. – Keegan Bradley, TBD, Xander Schauffele

6:25 p.m. / 12:40 p.m. – Lucas Glover, Webb Simpson, Graeme McDowell

6:36 p.m. / 12:51 p.m. – Ernie Els, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk

6:47 p.m. / 1:02 p.m. – Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Martin Kaymer

6:58 p.m. / 1:13 p.m. – Kevin Kisner, Ross Fisher, Adam Hadwin

7:09 p.m. / 1:24 p.m. – Shane Lowry, TBD, Chez Reavie

7:20 p.m. / 1:35 p.m. – Lucas Herbert, Brian Stuard, (a) Stewart Hagestad

7:31 p.m. / 1:46 p.m. – (a) Franklin Huang, Sebastian Vazquez, Michael Miller

7:42 p.m. / 1:57 p.m. – Christopher Babcock, (a) Timothy Wiseman, David Gazzolo