Commentary

Federer, Henin head and shoulders above the rest

From Federer's continued dominance, to Henin's remarkable run, Bonnie D. Ford shares a few musings from this year's U.S. Open.

Updated: September 10, 2007, 6:48 PM ET
By Bonnie D. Ford | Special to ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- A few musings on What We Learned in Week 2 of the 2007 U.S. Open:

Roger that: Andy Roddick played near-perfect tennis for the first two sets of his quarterfinal match against world No. 1 and immortal-elect Roger Federer and still couldn't get over the hump. "I know the danger of Andy,'' Federer said in an outright compliment, and obviously lifted his game to meet that threat. If it's any consolation to the fourth-ranked American, the consensus was that Federer's match against Roddick was his highest-level effort of the tournament.

And he had high fashion to go with it: Federer declared he's no Nike mannequin. "Look, in the end I call the shots what I want to wear,'' he said. "I see many shirts out there I don't like. I just want to make sure that one guy dresses kind of normal on tour.'' Yet how many guys really go this deep: "Even the black shoes and black socks, I'm not the biggest fan of them, but you have to complete the outfit.''

New math: Pitting two former U.S. Open champions currently ranked 1-2, the women's final matchup looked great -- on paper. But top-seeded Justine Henin routed Svetlana Kuznetsova in an anticlimactic affair after beating the Williams sisters in back-to-back rounds. Despite all the talk about Federer being head and shoulders above the rest of the men's field, there may actually be less parity in the women's top 10 at the moment.

Calling Miss Manners: We don't want to encourage players to skip their postmatch press conferences, but Serena Williams might have been better off taking the $10,000 fine than she was by making a curt four-minute appearance after losing to Henin. We don't blame her for being mad at herself, though, and we think sometimes female athletes take an unfair rap when they show that anger. It was still an unfortunate way to end the Slam season for Williams, who began it so brilliantly by winning the Australian Open.

What happens in the locker room doesn't necessarily stay there: Before No. 3 Novak Djokovic performed his now-famous impersonations of Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal for an audience of millions, he did those and several more in the ostensible sanctity of the locker room at Arthur Ashe Stadium as an Argentine player filmed away. The video, which included Djokovic's fabulous take on Federer, wound up on youtube.com, undercutting Djokovic's assertion that he couldn't possibly imitate The Great One.

The show must go on: Djokovic seemed a little taken aback by the reaction to his stand-up routine, saying, "More people were talking about my impersonations than my tennis.'' We don't think he needs to worry about that; plenty of folks were discussing his sky-high potential, and we hope he keeps bringing his delightful brand of humor to a sport in which there is way too much self-seriousness.

Maria can take a joke: Sharapova sat with Djokovic's family and coaches at the final (they're just pals, according to his camp). Let's see if his other targets take the joshing as gracefully.

No party of five: James Blake punched through a wall with his first career five-set victory over Fabrice Santoro, but couldn't keep up that momentum in his marathon against Tommy Haas.

Poker face: Say what you will about Russia's No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko, the gambling controversy that continues to swirl around one of his matches last month, and the fact that he still hasn't been interviewed by investigators -- the guy obviously has the ability to play blinders-on tennis. He didn't drop a set until he ran into Federer in the Open semis.

Trivial stat of the tournament: Federer beat players with the same initials in the semis and final. In this case, N.D. stood for No Dice.

Spanish Armada, the Sequel: David Ferrer keeps insisting he's a clay-court specialist, but his sprint to the semifinals here confirmed what we might have suspected from other performances over the last couple of seasons. He has to be taken seriously on hard courts -- as do any other Spanish or Argentinian players who can run and fetch all day on today's slower surface.

Another country heard from: It only takes a couple of players to put a nation on the tennis map, and Poland may have its quota in sisters Agnieszka and Urszula Radwanska. "Aga'' showed tactical smarts and poise in an upset of defending champion Maria Sharapova. Her younger sibling made the junior U.S. Open singles final and was on the team that won the junior doubles title. Their compatriot Jerzy Janowicz reached the final in the boys' draw.

They've got a lifelong friend: Carole King and James Taylor, forever linked by the hit she wrote and he covered, sat together at the women's final in one of the highlights of this year's celebrity watch.

The bright side of life: There were no rain delays at the U.S. Open. After a monsoon-marred Wimbledon and a wet French Open, the two straight weeks of sunshine in New York were extremely welcome.

Bonnie D. Ford is a frequent contributor who is covering the U.S. Open for ESPN.com.

Bonnie D. Ford

Enterprise and Olympic Sports
Bonnie D. Ford is a senior writer for ESPN.com.