Monday, July 9, 2007
Updated: July 10, 11:53 AM ET
Factors for Flushing Meadow
After Sunday's epic Wimbledon final, the picture for the U.S. Open Series, culminating with America's Grand Slam, has suddenly jumped into sharper focus. Here are some of the themes that, having been established at Wimbledon, will mature into full narratives in the long, hot summer months to come:
1. We knew that Serena Williams was back for good this spring, but now we know Venus is back, as well. Barring injury, the Williams girls probably will reorganize the upper level of the women's rankings in the next few months, but if we see a few All-Williams finals this summer, will they be able to produce closer, more competitive matches?
2. Roger Federer is in a race against time. He played a brilliant Wimbledon (the final was the least of it; his progress to that championship match was swift and lethal). But he is a marked man now, with at least two young 'uns (Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic) gunning for him. Federer now stands just three Grand Slam titles from equaling Pete Sampras' record of 14. Every one from now on will be tougher than any that came before, except perhaps his first. Federer's drive to be the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) entered its final phase in the Wimbledon final.
3. Can Nadal emerge as a significant factor at the U.S. Open? In Sunday's final, Nadal showed that he is not a "clay-court specialist" but a "tennis specialist." But Nadal has yet to show that he can go deep at Flushing Meadow. He played great tennis during the spring U.S. hard-court season, but he's been a little fatigued and off his game in the last two U.S. championships. It isn't just Nadal's record at stake here -- it may be Federer's, as well. Nadal also needs to come up big in New York if he hopes to capture hearts in the United States the way he has in France and England.
4. Will the Serbian invasion hit American shores? Last year, Jelena Jankovic had an emotional meltdown while she was in control of her semifinal match with Justine Henin at Flushing Meadow. It was a sign of things to come (her level of play, up until the meltdown). Ana Ivanovic wasn't much of a factor, though, nor was Novak Djokovic. This year, Djokovic has been the most consistent performer on the men's tour so far, Ivanovic made the final of the French Open in June, and Jankovic was a French Open semifinalist (she lost to the eventual champ, Henin). Get ready for all those "Serb"-based puns in the Big Apple tabloids, folks!
5. Can Andy Roddick duplicate or better his runner-up finish at the Open last year? Roddick lost a heartbreaker to the gifted Frenchman, Richard Gasquet, at Wimbledon, a tournament in which he always invests a lot of emotional energy. Roddick needs to reinvest, in New York.
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