U.S. Open midterm grades

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Top contenders: All the favorites move on to Round 2, most in businesslike fashion, without spending unnecessary time on the court.

Kim Clijsters: If one of the keys to happiness is respect from one's peer (I read that somewhere), Clijsters is smiling for life. Among the most well-regarded athletes in sports, Clijsters plays her final event.

Andy Roddick: Best American for the last decade calls it a career after this event as well. Unlike Clijsters, at this writing, he remains in the draw. In a last-hurrah-nothing-to-lose kind of way, he has a real chance for a signature win against Juan Martin del Potro on Tuesday.

Laura Robson: On the heels of winning an Olympic silver medal in doubles, the 18-year-old Brit -- the youngest player in the top 100 -- reaches the middle weekend, taking out Clijsters and Li Na in the process.

NCAA tennis: The sport at the college level may be beleaguered -- and came close to being completely distorted by bureaucrats before reason prevailed. But from Mallory Burdette (Stanford) to Steve Johnson (USC) to John Isner (Georgia) it's been a terrific event for past and present college stars. This still is a viable path to the pros.

Victoria Duval: Never mind the wildly entertaining and endearing personality. Forget her remarkable backstory for a moment. What about simply her potential as a player?


Brian Baker: Good for him for authoring one of the great comeback stories in sports. Barely a year ago, he was unranked. Now, he should be eligible for most fall events and may well finish the year in the top 50. Reached the second round, but you expected a bit more from him there than straight-set defeat at the hands of Janko Tipsarevic.

USopen.org headline writer: Calling Christina McHale "McFail" is, well, a fail. (It's since been taken down, but The Mighty Screen Grab strikes again). "Sharapova shrieks into Sweet 16" is also questionable. These were redeemed, though, by the clever: "Kerber Returns to the Scene of the Climb." And this one that made us laugh aloud.

Venus Williams: Good to see her competing. Good to see her clearly healthier than she was at Wimbledon. Even if it was lamentably late in her career, good to see her feel affection from the home crowd. But in one of the better matches of week one, she missed an opportunity against Angelique Kerber,

Germany: Ach! Three days into the tournament, Sabine Lisicki, Julia Goerges, Andrea Petkovic, Tommy Haas and Florian Mayer had been eliminated. Only Angelique Kerber and Phil Kohlschreiber save Deutschland from a worse grade.


Caroline Wozniacki: The top seed one year ago, Woz (or is it Woes?) loses in the first round, the low point in a dismal season. She's clearly less than 100 percent physically, but this is more about the mind than the body. Where does she go from here?

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: An absolutely vacant performance by the fifth seed, as he exits in the second round at the hands of No. 52 Martin Klizan. On the plus side, Larry Stefanki is now available for coaching.

Bernard Tomic: Giving new zest to the phrase "Australian bush," the talented teenager, cowed by the occasion, gives a shaky effort in his second round night match against Roddick. Then, he compounds matters with this shaky press conference. Lost in the discussion: What's with the state of his game? This was supposed to be a breakthrough season.

The reciprocal wild card: A sham of a practice that ought to stop. It's bad enough to lard your draw with homegrown players who would not otherwise be eligible. But spots to Guillaume Rufin, Kristina Mladenovic etc. in exchange for Americans getting spots in Melbourne and Paris? Sorry, that's warlord stuff.

Early round fodder: We like it when seeds win. But there was serious carbo loading in the first round at Arthur Ashe, what with all those bagels (6-0 sets) and breakdsticks (6-1) sets. Consider Maria Sharapova's win over 6-0, 6-1 Dominguez Lino. Winners count: 30-0. As one of you put it (and, under fair usage dicta, I will be using this line in the future) "I've seen more competitive muggings."

Lois Goodman: Innocent until proven guilty. But if the goal of a sports official is anonymity, a murder charge sort of undercuts that.