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Stakes will be high at the U.S. Open

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has taken successful measures in recent years to further boost the popularity of the U.S Open. The annual Grand Slam tournament has undoubtedly become a must-see event for tennis fans everywhere.

“The USTA continues to enhance its commitment to players and fans with a record $17 million purse and $50 million in improvements to the National Tennis Center,” USTA Chief Executive Arlen Kantarian stated in a press release. “The top athletes in the world, the biggest purse in sports and the fans of New York continue to define the U.S. Open as one of the most competitive and entertaining events in sports.”

This year, both the men’s and women’s singles champions will take home a record $1 million. The USTA has also upped the ante in the doubles competition, where the winners will receive an unprecedented $400,000 apiece.

The actual tournament will take place Aug. 24 through Sept. 7 at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., while the qualifying tournament begins Aug. 19 at the same venue.

Though the action is still weeks away, some controversy has already surrounded the games. Last week it was erroneously reported by several news outlets that the tournament seeds had already been announced, leading to much confusion among athletes and fans alike. It was then surmised that what had really been released was information pertaining to the event’s entry list in order of current rankings. The seeds will not be announced until shortly before the tournament begins.

It is projected, however, that among the top seeds for the men will be Andre Agassi (USA), Juan Carlos Ferrero (Spain), Roger Federer (Switzerland), Carlos Moya (Spain) and Lleyton Hewitt (Australia). Top women competitors should include Kim Clijsters (Belgium), Justine Henin-Hardenne (Belgium), Venus Williams (USA), Lindsay Davenport (USA) and Amelie Mauresmo (France).

Pete Sampras and Serena Williams will not be back to defend their singles titles this year – an occurrence almost unheard of at the Open. Sampras, who has not played in a professional tournament since winning last year’s title, simply withdrew from the running. The top-ranked Williams was forced to withdraw due to a recent surgery intended to repair a partial tear in the quadriceps tendon of her left knee. She is expected to make a full recovery.