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U.S. Open postcard: Preparing Serena Williams for opening match |

New York — It’s game day at the U.S. Open. Serena Williams headlines the show Monday night at 7 p.m. EST (6 p.m. in New Orleans) followed by Roger Federer’s match. I will depart our hotel at 3:30 pm with Serena’s longtime hitting coach Aleksander “Sascha” Bajin to travel to the match site.

We will be joined by Serena and Venus Williams’ full-time physical therapist, Esther Lee, who travels with them to all tournaments.

Bajin, in addition to being the hitting partner, handles all the ground travel arrangements for the matches, coordinates getting practice courts, makes sure the racquets are strung correctly, and is like a third son to me.

Serena’s opponent tonight is Italian athlete Francesca Schiavone, who won the 2010 French Open singles title and was runner up in 2011.

The pre-match practice session occurs between 4:45-5:30 pm, under the supervision of the newest member of our performance team, tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou. He owns the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in Paris, a facility where Serena does much of her preparation for the French Open and the Wimbledon Championship.

After the practice session is over, Serena will head to the locker room to change, then its up to a private room in the fitness center to have Lee tape her ankles and wait for me to bring the pregame meal from the player’s dining room.

By 6:30 pm after consultation with her coach, I will supervise Serena’s warm-up in the fitness center for the match.

From that point, Williams grabs her racquet bag and heads to the bottom floor of the Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium for the player introductions. Let the game begin.

via U.S. Open postcard: Preparing Serena Williams for opening match |