Fifty parting shots from U.S. Open
NEW YORK -- The U.S. Open felt like two separate tournaments. The first was an exciting, spirited 10-day party, played amid ideal conditions. The second was a soggy circus. But in the end, the sun came back out and we were treated to some compelling finals. Herewith, some scattered observations and opinions:
• For a guy who didn't win a single event until May, it's been a banner year for Federer: the French Open-Wimbledon double, the career revival, the wedding, the twins. But boy, you suspect when he reflects on his career, this final will stick in his craw, a la
• An impressive event for finalist
• Nice to see
• Though overshadowed by the final-weekend hijinks,
• The Williams sisters won the doubles title, rolling past
• She was a distant third to Clijsters and
• A few more words about
a. Opinions, predictably, are all over the map, but can we find common ground in agreeing not to demonize the line judge? Even if that woman blew the call -- and, frankly, I think she did -- no one deserves what she got from Serena. And to clarify: She didn't tattle to the chair umpire; she was asked to approach and explain what vitriol Serena had spewed.
b. This would have been obviated if Serena had been able to challenge the call.
c. An NBA ref friend of mine said sarcastically, "Great feel for the match," implying an official doesn't call an infraction at such a critical juncture. Not sure I agree. Unlike basketball fouls, which are subjective, a player did or didn't foot-fault. Ignoring a violation based on the time of the match is dangerous. That said, if you're going to call a foot fault at 5-4 in the deciding set, it darn well better be unambiguous. And that wasn't.
d. Second only to the outburst itself, Serena disgraced herself with clumsy "damage control." Here was a chance to express some remorse and humility and instead we get
e. On a final, lighter note, on rides to the Open I finally devoured the excellent
• British junior
• Now we know the answer: Nadal's knees are fine. It's the rest of his body -- his stomach in particular -- that causes concern.
• American wild cards
• The USTA must figure out a solution for the rain. One patch of bad weather late in Week 2, and the tournament implodes. The answer is more complex than, "You make all this money with this wonderful event, spend some of it." But a little creative thinking is in order. Anything to avoid the debacle of Friday and Saturday. One idea: Build a cheap roof for the Grandstand, which at least will accommodate that swing match -- this year it was Nadal/
• Odd stat: Only once in her career has Serena successfully defended a major title (at Wimbledon in 2003).
• We're bigger fans than ever of
• A step back for the Andys. After losing 16-14 in the fifth set of the Wimbledon final,
• The worst thing that could happen to
• Take note how well the players from Kazakhstan did, most notably
• Props to
• He could not have been a more polarizing figure had he tried. And his big salary not only caused great dissent in the ranks but also undercut the USTA's "non-profit" rhetoric. But it's time to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to
• I wish I could take credit for this line about Russian players: "Not only are they willing to overcome hardships, but they insist on it!"
• With Serena's meltdown, Safina's implosion, the double faults and the tears, the WTA could get a group rate on a stress-management seminar. (That, or a couch that seats about 80!)
• A final tip of the chapeau to
• Farewell, Marat Safin, who has mountains to climb.
• And while we're on this topic, take a bow,
• Just as Federer revealed plenty about himself when that idiot accosted him during the French Open final, how telling was Nadal's playful reaction to the fan who tried to kiss him? We hear that after the match the USTA apologized profusely to Nadal. He waved them off, saying it was no big deal and hoped no charges would be pressed. Also, how do you not love a guy who loses (badly) in a Grand Slam semifinal and still signs autographs before leaving the court?
• Walking through the tunnels, I'm always struck by how many players --even winners -- are limping, grimacing, heavily wrapped. Yes, "injuries happen in sports," the fallback line for the apologists. But the emperor is wearing new attire and it is an ice pack! Might someone address this in a meaningful way?
• This was Federer's sixth different opponent in the last six U.S. Open finals. He had beaten, in order,
• The most entertaining match? My vote goes to
• Many of you are still hammering ESPN's
• The ESPN coverage was generally excellent.
• Full disclosure: I did some work for Tennis Channel. Those who get it, love it. Those who don't get it, don't love it. Direct your outrage to your cable operator.
• Note to all broadcasters: Unless you're specifically describing melons, grapes, kumquats and the like,
• Speaking of Querrey, the documentary
• It's time to take a long, hard look at the U.S. Open Series. Let's see: It's done nothing to lure top players; in fact, the fields in locales such as Indianapolis were weaker than ever. The TV is still iffy -- big matches are tape-delayed in favor of the Little League World Series; the Cincinnati final was on CBS, yet the Toronto women's final was on ESPN. One event, in Carson Calif., has already announced a relocation and another is pending. The "bonus money" is a joke, benefiting no one other than a few players. And every four years, the Olympics throw a monkey wrench into things. We don't have the answers --apart from a suggestion to take the ridiculous bonus money, currently yielding no return on investment, and applying it to inner-city coaching and racket distribution -- but let's go back to the drawing board here.
• Not to harp on the ridiculous U.S. Open Series bonus money ... but if
• A theme this year: "The plots change in a hurry." One early storyline was how the American men had stormed through the first few rounds, and how John Isner was a breakout star. Then, suddenly, there were no Yanks in the quarterfinals for the first time.
• If you get a chance, check out Austrian
• I'm thinking
• That yellow tape you see is for the
• Anyone else having a hard time figuring out
• Note to the deejay: You do a great job and your subtle music jokes are appreciated by many. But there is no place for Right Said Fred's
• The Edward R. Murrow Award goes to the intrepid journalist who saw Andy Murray's attire and asked, "Who's
• From reader
• We're helpless to stop the Bryan brothers media juggernaut:
• Programming note: New England readers, I'll be giving a talk at 6 p.m. ET Thursday at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. Consider yourself invited.