EASTERN EUROPEAN DICTATORS, TENNIS CHAMPS AND ROGER’S LAST RUN
Added by Rory McQueen on August 26, 2013.
THE U.S. OPEN PREVIEW
There are many story lines colliding at this week’s U.S. OPEN. Will Serena continue her domination over the women’s brackets, being that she is one of the main pre-tourney stories? ESPN certainly thinks so. 9 out of their 11 experts picked Serena, and the other two went out on a limb with their Azarenka picks.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
This is not to knock ESPN or their experts, but only to show how the elite in the women’s draw is truly divided into the have and have nots. Sadly, this applies to name recognition as well, since besides Serena and Azarenka, the other names in ladies tennis that the public would be able to spot aren’t playing( ie. Sharapova). Let’s play a game– In the following list, which are Eastern European dictators last names or tennis players?
Numbers two, four, five and six are all females ranked toward the top of their sports. The others are dudes who slaughtered millions and probably couldn’t play a good serve and volley game. Once Sharapova dropped out last week, the Open lost if not one of its best talented ladies, one of its most marketable. There is Caroline Wozniacki and maybe Ana Ivanovic, but unless you are Rory Mcllroy, picking Caroline out of a line up might be tough. The lady with the most fans, the most pressure, and the one most likely to defect is Na LI from China. Two billon Chinese will be cheering her on, but that doesn’t help the sport here in America. A sport which is posting some of its worst ratings in years, unless Serena is playing.
This is where the ladies find themselves entering week one of this tournament, searching not just for a champion, but for a compelling storyline to drive their sport to the heights it once had when names life Graff, Seles, Williams, Davenport, Capriati, even Martina Hingis had more fan recognition then Sara Errani, the fourth ranked player in the tourney, who also might have the toughest road to reaching the final.
If all plays out well, ESPN will get their Azarenka-Williams final, with Na Li and Slone Stephens making some deep runs. Having two billion Chinese watching Li at home can only help increase the game overseas, and America needs a new young American face they can root for, such as Stephens, as well. She is young and inexperienced, but that is not the problem. The problem is that she might have to face and defeat Williams in the quarterfinals, but if she can, or if she can at least put on a memorable run and match, the future of ladies tennis in America might have hope.
When it comes to the men’s side, there is not much hope for an American champion this year. Jon Isner at 11th and Sam Querrey at 23rd are the highest ranked Americans, and both have to defeat the likes of Nadal, Ferrer, and the old man of the bunch Roger Federer, just to make it out of their draw. But at least Isner and Querrey can be happy that Novak, Murray, and Del Porto are on the other side of the bracket.
Men’s tennis may not have many American faces, which sucks for local ratings, but it has more potential story lines than a good drama on AMC could possess. Will Lendl coach Murray to another grand slam win? Is Nadal healthy enough to battle on for two weeks? Does Novak have the magic he had last year when he only lost 4 matches, one of which was to Murray in the U.S. OPEN?
The best story of the bunch though is Roger Federer, who at 32 is considered too old for his sport. Does Roger have one more epic run in him, like Pete Sampras did in 2002 when he was 32? They both are coached by the same man, have dominated their eras and can easily call themselves the best men’s player ever, but Pete didn’t have a Nadal, Murray, Del Porto or Novak trying to close the curtains on one of men’s tennis greatest careers.
(Photo Credit: Stevegtennis.com)
For my choice, I bet Novak and Azarenka, but if I had my druthers, I’d love to see Roger win one more and Serena or Slone Stephens win one at home. Either way, I’ll be writing throughout the tourney about different matches, stories, bets and, well, anything else that occurs near or around Flushing during these next two weeks.