Things I'd like to see at the 2012 U.S. Open...
? Venus vs. Serena, one more time. The Williams sisters haven't played each other since the year-ending Tour Championships in 2009, and we're well past the stage at which this meeting seemed awkward and unsettling. Not that either is on the verge of retirement, but a head-to-head confrontation would be a heartwarming tribute to their longevity and what they've meant to American women's tennis.
This is a longshot notion, to be sure. It would require each reaching the semifinals, and although that's a sure bet for Serena, Venus has a tough second-rounder coming up against fast-rising Angelique Kerber. As we've seen so often this year, most recently in Cincinnati, Venus' health and energy level are day-to-day propositions.
? A moment for Kim Clijsters. Not a title, necessarily -- that's probably asking too much -- but a spectacular, career-defining moment that lends a signature to her farewell tournament. That was a great move Monday night by tournament organizers, giving Clijsters the first night match before a packed house. Nobody was more deserving of the prime-time exposure.
Clijsters' U.S. Open history is remarkable to consider. She has won the event three times -- 2005, 2009 and 2010 -- but has often found herself unable to even enter the draw. As a result, she hasn't lost at the National Tennis Center since the 2003 final against Justine Henin.
? Federer serving to Djokovic's forehand, in the finals, with everything on the line. This has become a recurring storyline since last year's Open, when Djokovic's spectacularly reckless forehand return sizzled into the corner for a winner. Federer found it brazen, if not outright irresponsible -- an odd reaction to publicly admit -- and it's still a front-burner issue.
At Wimbledon, serving for the match at 30-30 against Djokovic in the semifinals, Federer served out wide to the forehand and won the point (twice, as it turned out, due to an overturned call). In an interview with a Swiss-German-speaking outlet, Federer said afterward, "I simply wanted to see if he could do it again. In that sense, it was a bit of a game that I was playing with him." And as CBS announcer Jim Courier noted in Cincinnati, Federer employed the same tactic at a crucial stage because "he's trying to prove a point to himself."
It would be fascinating to see this deuce-court scenario played out again. Then again, the U.S. Open rematch might mark the occasion for Federer, at just the right time, to hammer one straight down the middle.
? Andy Murray facing Milos Raonic in the fourth round. Murray's Olympic gold-medal performance has made him the Open favorite in some quarters, and it would be deeply satisfying -- at least in this corner -- to see him win and officially turn that "Big Three" into four. Meanwhile, Raonic has established himself as the most dangerous player of his up-and-coming generation (also including Ryan Harrison, Bernard Tomic, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Grigor Dmitrov and Kei Nishikori). Put this one under the lights, with Raonic serving out of his mind, and it could be a match to remember.
? Dolgopolov against Djokovic in the fourth round. If both men are at their best, the shotmaking will be astounding. The difference is that Djokovic generally has a clear idea what he's doing, while Dolgopolov basically fires from the hip. But few matchups could provide such pure talent. Let the Ukranian win the first set, and then it really gets interesting.
? Serena keeps her cool. Down 4-2 in the third set to a lesser player, and outraged by a bad call, she keeps her emotions in check. I'd bet strongly in her favor, but not everyone agrees. "Serena won't change her behavior in New York; she's unable to do that," former tour player Jo Durie told The Tennis Space. "She'll want to win so badly, and if she's not getting her own way, she'll find it difficult to control her emotions. She gets more uptight and nervous playing in New York than she does at Wimbledon."
? An everlasting relationship between ESPN and Tennis Channel at the majors. It takes some clever DVR work to digest the entire package, but TC's coverage airs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, ESPN running from 1 p.m. to 11. Eighteen hours of live action daily? In what other sport do fans get such detailed coverage of a major event?
? A more concrete statement from the USTA on covering Arthur Ashe Stadium. And how about by the end of the final weekend. It's all impossibly vague right now, with indications that a roof's installation might be 10, 12 years away. John McEnroe was extremely skeptical on ESPN, and he's hardly alone. After expressing his hopes for "sooner than later," he added, "I'm not optimistic."
? WTA officials state exactly what's on their mind when it comes to shrieking and future generations. Tortured television viewers would be relieved to know that, five or six years down the road, they can watch tennis in peace.
? While we're waiting for that... There's the shocking development of a chair umpire shouting "Hindrance!" on the very first ball struck by Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka. The whole arena goes into shock, and then it's called again, on the second shot, forcing a penalty. No, this will not happen. But I can almost hear the thunderous cheering from Mary Carillo and Martina Navratilova.