By Benjamin Snyder, special to EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com
CINCINNATI - With Cincinnati coming to a close and the US Open just around the corner, players are sounding off on New York preparations and sharing thoughts before heading to the year’s final major.
American No. 2 Mardy Fish posted a series of solid results during the Emirates Airline US Open series by making the final eight at the Western & Southern Open and in Toronto.
"This is great preparation for me the past two weeks, making the semis in Washington and then two quarterfinals in both Masters 1000 events," said Fish, who missed months prior in the season to a health scare.
With many matches under his belt, the 30-year old Fish will rest ahead of his 12th career showing at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. "It's been a good three weeks. We will take a little bit of a break and then we will gear up for New York," said Fish, who hopes to break his quarterfinal appearance at the 2009 US Open with a run further this year.
For compatriot Serena Williams, whose attempt at a career-first Cincinnati title was also cut prematurely in the quarterfinals, there’s confidence coming into New York. The three-time US Open titlist finished as runner-up last year, but wants to do one better in 2012.
She plans to pack seven dresses for the seven matches she’ll need to win to make the championship round. But that’s nothing new for the younger Williams sister, who claimed her first US Open crown back in 1999 as a teenager.
"I always do, so I will have my seven lined up," she said. "Hopefully, I'll get through them. That's my goal. I got seven last year," she said, rolling her eyes. "That's not necessarily the goal [again]," she added. "This year is to get and win seven."
Serena had a 19-match win streak this year by getting to the Cincinnati quarterfinals after clinching titles at Wimbledon, Stanford and a gold medal at the London Olympics in singles. "Honestly just playing and competing and being healthy is my main goal," said Serena. " I think I'm pretty much there."
The player who snapped the Serena streak, Angelique Kerber, reflected on her surprise semifinal performance at the 2011 event and plans for 2012. "My goals are still the same. I mean, my goals are to going out there and try to play my game," she said. "You know, just enjoy to come back to New York with all the great memories I had last year and show that I can play maybe better than last year."
The recent Wimbledon semifinalist continued that it’s all about taking her upcoming experience one step at a time and not getting ahead of that mindset. "I go there and just try to play round by round," she added, "and we will see how far I get."
For defending champion Samantha Stosur, who beat Serena in the finals last year, she’s in a new position coming to New York. "I'm looking forward to going back there," she said. "It's a good feeling to be going into the tournament now I think with a little bit more confidence, which is good."
But it’s not all tennis for a certain five-time US Open winner, who claimed his last crown in 2008. World No.1 Roger Federer said he wants to enjoy the sights, too. "Going out to nice restaurants with my wife. Just walk in the city a bit, see the hustle and bustle, you know," he said.
While the frenetic pace may be too to handle for the Swiss every day of the year, he added, "While I'm there I love it and enjoy it so much."