Saturday, September 5, 2009

US Open: Storylines So Far

Top Men Hold Form, Women Seeds Fall

With world no. 3 Rafael Nadal finishing off a scrappy Nicolas Kiefer in a tight 4-set match Friday evening, 24 of the top 32 men have made it to the third round with the top 16 still alive, the first time it has happened in a Grand Slam during the Open Era. A strong showing for the men with the top ten losing only two sets so far.

On the other hand, only half of the seeded 32 women players made it through the third round with some stunning upsets of world no. 4 Elena Dementieva and world no. 5 Jelena Jankovic, both did very well in the US Open Series leading up to the US Open.

Americans Come Alive at Home

Seeded Americans are still alive with Andy Roddick, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Sam Querrey, and James Blake headlining a strong showing of Americans at the US Open. 14 unseeded Americans made it to the second round with Taylor Dent and Melanie Oudin giving the best storylines. Dent, coming off injuries, survives a thrilling 5-set match to make it to the third round. Oudin on the other hand knocked off world no. 4 Elena Dementieva and now meets Maria Sharapova in the third round.

Can an American win this year? Serena Williams is the defending champion, but in the men's side it's been six years since an American has won when Roddick won his one and only slam title. Serena is the favorite in the women's side, but Roddick might have to get through Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and then Andy Murray or Rafa Nadal in the final. That's a tall order even for him.

US Open Champions Playing Hard

Eight former US Open champions are still competing. The eight are Federer, Lleyton Hewitt, Roddick, Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Kim Clijsters, and the Williams sisters. Roger Federer is set to meet Lleyton Hewitt in the next round while a blockbuster fourth-round match between Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters is set.

Speaking of Kim Clijsters, it's as if she had never retired from the game. The 2005 champion never had a chance to defend her title before she retired so she is riding a 10-match streak here. She only lost 4 games in her first and third round matches and gutted out a 3-set win against 12th seed Marion Bartoli in the second round winning 1 and 2 in the last two sets. She'll have to dig deep to beat 2-time US Open champion Venus Williams in the next round.

Finally Goodbye

Fabrice Santoro and former US Open champion Marat Safin both lost their respective first round matches signaling an end to their Grand Slam careers as they both planned on retiring at the end of the year. Indicative of their personalities, Santoro did it all with a smile on his face while Safin couldn't be bothered to give a damn in the last few sets.

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