The world of tennis is in disarray

Del Potro

This last U.S. Open was both entertaining and dramatic. Kim Clijsters and Juan Martin del Potro, both underdogs, captured the Grand Slam championship in their respective competitions. Getting the most press, however, was Serena Williams’ tirade against a lineswoman. (Serena was later fined $10,000.) Tennis had been fairly stable the past few years in terms of competition, top players, and sportsmanship. As of the U.S. Open, however, that sentiment is changing:

– Roger Federer, of all people, was docked $1,500 for using profanity while arguing with the chair umpire open during the men’s final. Was the expletive in Swiss-German?

– Led by Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych, the Czech Republic have reached their first Davis Cup final in 29 years after beating Marin Cilic and Lovro Zovko of Croatia in doubles.

Spain also advanced into the Davis Cup finals, only without the services of Rafael Nadal. Spain owes a big thank you to Feliciano Lopez and Tommy Robredo. To his credit, Nadal is still suffering from abdominal pain.

– Can you believe Juan Martin del Potro is only the seventh male not named Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal to win a Grand Slam in the last seven years? Crazy. The others were Andre Agassi, Gaston Gaudio, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Marat Safin, Andy Roddick, and Novak Djokovic. In breaking it down that means, between those 28 Grand Slams, only nine champions have been crowned.

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Federer defeats Djokovic, will face Del Potro in finals


First and foremost, I want to commend Novak Djokovic for giving it his all. He played an incredible match, neck and neck with Federer in every set. However, while Djokovic was in top form, he’s no Roger Federer. Neither made many mistakes, earning points with well-placed shots after volleys rather than relying on aces.

After defeating Djokovic 7-6 7-5 7-5, Federer is now one match away from capturing his sixth consecutive U.S. Open Championship and sixteenth overall Grand Slam. He will face Juan Martin del Potro, the 20 year-old Argentine who defeated Rafael Nadal in straight sets earlier today. Del Potro has never made it to a Grand Slam final; Federer has been in 17 of the last 18. Who do you think is the favorite?

Djokovic and Federer provided several entertaining and clever drop shots, lobs, and lengthy volleys. Fed’s final winner in the twelfth game of the third set was just an extension of his dominance at this Grand Slam. But it was during the second to last point, seen in the video below, that caused Arthur Ashe Stadium to gasp in amazement. It’s the shot Federer is calling the greatest of his career.

Rafael Nadal gets smooched, advances

I didn’t say it was from a woman! How scary would it be to see some rambunctious fan storming at you, knowing what’s previously happened to Monica Seles? Still, once Nadal sensed the fan’s innocent yet homoerotic intentions, the talented Spaniard welcomed him with open arms. I heard these guys on the radio the other day — I forget which program — comparing Rafael Nadal to Alex Rodriguez, saying each is the most hated player in their respective sport. Are you kidding me? What’s not to like about Nadal? I think fans just don’t want to accept that, when 100 percent, he can beat Roger Federer on any surface.

He’s played well thus far, recently defeating Fernando Gonzalez after two days of rain postponed the match.

“I can’t tell you, because I don’t have the answer,” Gonzalez said when asked to explain his quick disintegration.

Though Nadal’s sore abdominals are still a concern, he certainly wasn’t overtaxed in this match, as he headed into what could be a very long weekend.

A match that had been a taut, well-played affair got postponed Thursday night with Nadal leading 3-2 in the second-set tiebreaker. They had to wait out an entire day of rain before coming back to the court to resume under overcast skies and temperatures in the 60s.

Final numbers: 59 unforced errors for Gonzalez to 13 for Nadal; Nadal won 31 of the 43 points played after the restart. The whole affair took 34 minutes to wrap up.

As of right now, the men’s semifinals are scheduled to take place on Sunday. Roger Federer will take on Novak Djokavic and Juan Martin del Potro will try his luck against Nadal. That is, of course, if the rain doesn’t push everything back to next year.

Melanie Oudin’s success amidst her parents’ divorce


By now, most sports fans know about Melanie Oudin’s remarkable run at the U.S. Open. At just 17 years of age, the no. 70-ranked American defeated both Maria Sharapova and Elena Dementieva. Though she lost in the quarterfinals to Caroline Wozniacki, she’s been the most captivating athlete at the U.S. Open. Unfortunately, her success has been tainted by her parents’ pending divorce, driven by the mother’s affair with Oudin’s coach. Yikes.

All the nice things about her remain accurate and worth saying.

But once again, the adults have apparently found a way to wreck things for the kids.

Before this became public, there would be no asterisks next to what Oudin achieved. No slants, few downsides. Just praise for hard work and a job well done, under great pressure on a very public stage.

Parents going through a divorce is one thing. Tennis has that, just as in all walks of life. Rafael Nadal’s parents are going through that, and he is pretty much left alone to deal with it as he wants, despite the public nature of what he does.

But when the charge is adultery and those charged are the mother and the coach, it’s just too juicy for the public to shrug and remember only backhands and forehands.

To be honest, I don’t think either Oudin story has legs. The U.S. Open is the last Grand Slam on the tennis calendar. Obviously, Grand Slams receive the most coverage, so Oudin won’t garner our interest until the Australian Open in January. Every tennis fan loves a newfound success story, but Oudin will have to perform well in consecutive Grand Slams to really make her mark. With the tennis year coming to a close and Oudin keeping a low profile, this tripe about her parents’ divorce will naturally go away.

Oudin’s story was great while it lasted — I just wished it was an unfamiliar American male showing up the big names instead. We already have the Williams sisters.

U.S. Open Update: Roddick, Sharapova, and Safina eliminated


Competition just got interesting at the U.S. Open as Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova, and Dinara Safina have all been eliminated.

Melanie Oudin’s face was flushed from a mix of exertion and excitement and maybe even a bit of bewilderment — “Yes, I DID beat Maria Sharapova!” running through her mind — when she stepped out of the U.S. Open locker room and saw Mom.

Several hours later, on the same court, another unheralded American who has lived in Georgia pulled off another upset of a past U.S. Open champion: 55th-ranked John Isner pounded 38 aces and eliminated No. 5 Andy Roddick 7-6 (3), 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 7-6 (5) to reach the fourth round at a major tournament for the first time.

Keeping with the day’s theme, No. 1-seeded Dinara Safina exited, too, a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (5) loser against 72nd-ranked Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic. After escaping the first two rounds with poorly played three-set victories, Safina wasted three match points Saturday night and finished with nine double-faults and 39 total unforced errors. Her departure means the Williams sisters are the only members of the top five women left in the field

On the plus side, at least Roddick was ousted by a fellow American. While I wanted to see Roddick take on Nadal in the final, I’m now completely rooting for this Isner character. The Georgia Bulldogs alum has yet to make his mark during his time on the ATP Tour. This looks like his chance.

Oudin’s story is even more exciting. Not only did she eliminate Maria Sharapova, but she upset Elena Dementieva, a two-time Grand Slam finalist and the Beijing Olympics gold medalist, in the second round. For the sake of diversity, I hope she makes it to the finals.

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