The draw holds many treasures. These are some of the matches I'd like to see if things break just right at the U.S. Open:
I'd wager that in any sport where camaraderie matters -- say, rugby or basketball -- Djokovic would become a legend. Teammates would be begging for his impressions at parties and social functions. They'd all be howling with laughter at the videos. Not so in tennis. Roddick and Federer, among others, weren't at
To make matters worse, Djokovic developed a well-deserved reputation as a hypochondriac, losing or pulling out of matches for any number of crazy reasons -- and it was Roddick who went public with the tour's disdain. Looking ahead to his quarterfinal against Djokovic at the 2008 U.S. Open, Roddick was asked if it appeared Djokovic was experiencing ankle and hip problems.
"Isn't it both of them?" Roddick said. "And a back and a hip?"
Reporter: "And when he said there are too many to count ..."
"And a cramp."
"Do you get a sense right now that he is ..."
"Bird flu. Anthrax. SARS. Common cough and cold."
What a bust. What a setup for Roddick to take the court and dispatch Djokovic with a flourish -- except it didn't happen that way. Djokovic won that quarterfinal, then made the mistake of making some angry, ungracious comments about the crowd during his on-court interview. The New York audience heckled him into a shell two days later, during his loss to Federer, and he has since been viewed as a sort of sad, tragic figure.
It speaks to Djokovic's resolve that he remains the No. 3 player in the world. But he has endured a hellish spell against Roddick, first retiring in the fourth set of their 2009 Australian Open quarterfinal, then losing the next three matches (including the recent Cincinnati quarterfinal) in straight sets. If you like a bit of conflict in your matches, a little more tension than usual, you'd love to see these two in an Arthur Ashe Stadium encore.