Lets get this stuff out of the way. The top half of the men's draw has been an exhibition tournament for the Monogram. Moving on.
I Wonder As I Wander...
I don't know enough about the Russian Federation to comment on what is going on behind closed doors. I do know that they can't be pleased that for the first time in a very long time not only are there no Russian women but with Nikolay Davydenko's retirement during his match yesterday all of the Russian men were out of the tournament.
I do have some inkling of what is going on behind closed doors here in the States though. Andy Roddick has been Old Reliable for American tennis for several years now. What happened? He played a lot of tennis coming into the Open. He supported the US Open series instead of taking a mini break from things. He is as usual expected to play Davis Cup for the United States. Some of his fans think he's burned out from that Wimbledon loss. I don't follow Andy that closely so if his fans say that's the case I have to accept their opinion.
Everyone has been talking about who is coming after Venus Williams and Serena Williams but it looks like the crisis has come for the men sooner than many expected. Roddick has done his job and owes no one anything as far as I'm concerned. He's stayed in the top ten and spent many years in the top five. Does someone like Sam Querrey have the mental toughness to do that? John Isner? I don't know. Isner looked whipped mentally and physically during his match against Fernando Verdasco. Querrey had nothing left after playing the US Open Series.
For that matter neither did Elena Dementieva. She did what the US tennis establishment says it wants more European players to do. She played the US Open series. She too was coming off of a grueling European clay and grass season but she played well here in the States and came into the US Open on a high. Most, including me, figured her to be among the final four. Instead she went out early and rather meekly. All of the other Russian women, Vera Zvonareva, Alisa Kleybanova, Alla Kudryavtseva, Maria Sharapova, Maria Kirilenko, Vera Dushevina, Anna Chakvetadze, Elena Vesnina, and Vesna Manasieva all went out early. Only Svetlana Kuznetsova managed to fight her way deep into the tournament as number one ranked Dinara Safina went out before her.
As for American women once again it's Venus trying to will herself through on one leg, and Serena who has been taking names. It was a little disconcerting to hear John McEnroe say there was only one American left on the women's side last night and that it was left to Cliff Drysdale to remind him of one Miss Serena Williams.
I wish I could say I was surprised that there is so much hoopla over Melanie Oudin but I'm not. As someone on a fan site said she has "that American look". Read into that what you will. The fact that Melanie's coach first interview with mainstream tennis media read like a shot across the bow of the Player Development system in the United States is telling. As long as she stays with him I think she'll be fine. Why?
Tom Perrotta reported the following.
Melanie was overlooked as a junior, but here she is having more success than anyone in her age group. Why is that?
Brian de Villiers: You don't want to go there with me. The problem with American tennis, number one, is they don't dream big enough, they're not sold the dream, and then they don't believe in themselves. You have dream big, and you have to aim to be the best. I think people are afraid to put themselves on the line and say, “Hey, I want to be number one.” Dream big, and then try and make your dreams come true. And that's exactly what this child is doing. She dreams big and she believes. There are a lot of talented girls out there, tons of them. But I'll leave it at that.
What are her parents like?
They're just a normal family. I've been very lucky. From day one when they dropped the kids off [Oudin's sister, Katherine, is a college-bound player], they've left me alone and never fussed with me about results, what we're working on—I've done the schedule, I do all that. Most parents, I have a lot now who still bother me at the club, come sit on the court and tell me what to do. They've never, ever done that. And she's believed in me. I sold her the dream, told her how we were going to do it, and we came up here [to the U.S. Open] when she was 12 years old and got a feel for the place and she said, “Yeah, I'm gonna be here one day. This is what I want to do.
There is already talk about her need to break away from this man who has steered her career all of her tennis playing life. She is just seventeen. She will mature and her game will mature with her. She has the variety that has not been taught in the Academies. Let's see where she is next year this time. Hopefully the hypebeast will not have gotten her in it's clutches.
Very nice write up on Li Na in today's New York Times
Li Na stepped past the musicians plucking familiar string instruments and people doing tai chi in the pavilion. She stood near tables of men huddled around games of checkers.
“It is exactly like China,” Li said with a broad smile.
It was Columbus Park, the quiet, beating heart of Manhattan’s bustling Chinatown. One difference from her strolls in China is that no one seemed to recognize her Monday afternoon, seeing only a young woman in jeans and a black cap, not China’s best tennis player and a quarterfinalist at the United States Open.
Li, 27, is not only a long way from home, but she is also as far into a Grand Slam tournament as she has ever been. The day before her match against the resurgent, unretired Kim Clijsters, the 18th-seeded Li took a taxi from her Midtown hotel and spent a couple of hours strolling Chinatown and having lunch.
“I love New York City,” she said. “People in China say: ‘If you love your children, send them to New York. If you hate your children, also send them to New York.’ ”
She laughed at that lesser-known Chinese proverb. In news conferences, when asked to address questions in English, Li seems unsure and introverted. Alone, on the street or at a restaurant table, her English is near perfect and she continually punctuates jokes with a disarming grin.
When she plays at Flushing Meadows, she is about a mile — one stop on the 7 train — from the bustling Chinatown in Flushing, Queens, which some say has overtaken the Manhattan Chinatown in recent years as the largest concentration of Chinese in the Western Hemisphere. Li has stayed at a house in Flushing with other Chinese players and coaches the three previous times she played the Open, but she wanted to get a close-up view of Manhattan this time.
She laughed about how people from outside China get confused about her name. Li is her family name, she said. And Na is her first name, even if the Chinese place it at the end.
She has heard people see her name and call her “Lina.” Or “Nali.”
“If you see the draw,” she said of the tournament bracket, “it’s easy to find my name. It’s so short.”