Let's Talk about Sports, Baby: Allow me to return Eno's Open serve with a cross-court knee-buckling slasher just over the net.
Nadal seems (repeat, seems) to have started his ascent from the huge European and South American pool of clay courters, and given the paucity of legit contenders, should (repeat, should) challenge Federer. While Agassi is indeed 87 years old, let's not forget Connors ousting Krickstein when he (Jimbo) was 39 years old, and the yet-to-be-creaky Kricker was still bouncing about on good knees. Will Andre win it? Probably not. But he hasn't missed the US Open in 19 years - which given everything is pretty astounding.
Roddick, as usual, will be fine until he faces The Maestro, and then he will succumb either in straight sets, or to some phantom injury (noteworthy: Roddick won the "Open Series" which entitles him to double-up on the $1.1MM prize money that goes to the winner of the Open - so, take that for what it is worth). Unfortunately Marat Safin is out with an injury (hardly surprising, but disappointing to be sure), as it would have been good to see the only guy to beat Federer on a hard surface in a major take him on.
Great article on James Blake in the NYT Magazine this past Sunday. Funny, I wondered what happened to him, and it's to my discredit that I didn't know the guy had broken his neck ... and that's just for starters. But, he's to play in the US Open, and did pretty well in the aforementioned Open Series. I thought the guy was a bit of a marketing ploy (African American, Harvard-educated, played in Harlem growing up), but the more I read, the more I like him. I'm pulling for him, even though his chances are not good, but the fact that he's playing at all is pretty amazing.
Like Eno said, who knows with Hewitt -- he's just too combustible, and more in the self-immolating way, to be dependable. Guys like Hrbaty and Acic (try pronouncing either one correctly) are also good hard-courters who had some success in the Series - every tournament has a couple surprises; these guys might be sleepers.
For the women, well, last year's champ is out -- a first for the record books. It's not surprising as she's had a horrible year, and was a five seed coming in - pretty hard to do as the returning winner. By all accounts, Venus is looking good, and Serena...well....heavy. Funny how the two of them can't occupy elite status at the same time for very long. Doesn't make any sense, unless you get all psychological on me and say that they don't like to compete against one another.
Justine will do very well, I imagine - her game is a bit soft on power, but she's got it in spades in the toughness and mental departments. Clijsters won the Series for the women, and has the above-reference financial windfall to capitalize on, and let's face it, when healthy, the girl's got game (snap, snap).
The big story (pun intended) of course is Maria. Everyone wants her to win. Everyone wants a player with Anna's looks, Martina's game (don't forget, Martina used to be considered a power player, back when most women looked like Tracy Austin), and say Chris Evert's approachability. If she wins this one, fuggedaboudit. She will be all over the joint.
Davenport will, as always, play solid, occasionally inspired tennis, only to lose to someone who wants it more or due to one of her myriad nagging injuries. Hey, she usually surprises me, but I can never find it within myself to predict a win from her. Finally, no J-Cap still. She hasn't played in about 10 months, and no word on when she'll return. Perhaps we've seen the last bit of tennis from the former wunderkind who is now pushing 30.