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US OPEN SCENE: Bryan offer their tips for fixing what ails American tennis

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NEW YORK — Bob and Mike Bryan have a few tips for fixing what ails American tennis.

"Just get rackets in kids' hands" is the first step, said Bob Bryan, adding that starting at an early age is the key.

The Bryans, going for their 100th career title at the U.S. Open on Sunday, gave their take amid much hand-wringing over the state of the American game: No U.S. man has reached the quarterfinals at any Grand Slam tournament since 2012, and none has won a major championship since Andy Roddick at Flushing Meadows in 2003.

Mike Bryan rejected the notion that players have to be sent off to a tennis boarding academy to reach the upper echelons of the game, noting that such American stars as John McEnroe, Roddick and the Bryans themselves learned the game without ever leaving home.

"It's tough to hand-pick kids and put them in a center and say they're going to all be champions," he said. "The best chances are to let the coaches do their jobs."

Bob Bryan added that there are plenty of such coaches in the U.S. who are "doing great, great jobs and pumping out national champions and college players. They're smart and know what they're doing."

"So why not help out those coaches and those programs," he said, "instead of taking kids out of their comfortable environment and sticking them in a center without parents and trying to make them pros in an uncomfortable environment?"

— By Sandra Harwitt

PHOTO: Tomas Berdych, of the Czech Republic, argues with the chair umpire who ruled that a ball hit by Marin Cilic, of Croatia, bounced twice before hitting Berdych's racket during the quarterfinals of the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament, Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Tomas Berdych, of the Czech Republic, argues with the chair umpire who ruled that a ball hit by Marin Cilic, of Croatia, bounced twice before hitting Berdych's racket during the quarterfinals of the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament, Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)


SWEET EMOJIS: Give Tomas Berdych credit for this: He apologized.

Sure, it came a day after his rant at a U.S. Open chair umpire over what turned out to be a correct call in Berdych's quarterfinal loss. And sure, it came via Twitter, instead of face to face.

Still, the player from the Czech Republic did extend an olive branch — well, colorful flower bouquet emojis — by writing a tweet Friday that said: "this i my personal apologize to the referee from yesterday. She was right. My emotions were driving my crazy...Sorry for that."

In the third set Thursday against Marin Cilic, the sixth-seeded Berdych thought he won a point when he raced forward to get to a ball and lift it back over the net. But chair umpire Louise Azemar Engzell awarded the point to Cilic, saying the ball bounced twice before Berdych hit it.

Berdych argued over and over, at one point saying: "Have you ever had a racquet in your hand?"

— By Howard Fendrich, http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich


U.S. Open Scene follows tennis' hard-court Grand Slam tournament in New York as seen by journalists from The Associated Press. It will be updated throughout the day.

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