Commentary

Dejected Blake, elated teenagers highlight Week 1 of the U.S. Open

While a crestfallen summer certainly hurt Ana Ivanovic's chances, perhaps karma played a role in Lindsay Davenport's early dismissal. Bonnie D. Ford highlights the week that was at the U.S. Open.

Updated: September 1, 2008, 10:07 AM ET
By Bonnie D. Ford | ESPN.com

Ana Ivanovic and James BlakeGetty ImagesAna Ivanovic and James Blake had little reason to grin, as both exited the U.S. Open in Week 1.
NEW YORK -- Midway through the U.S. Open, it's time to take stock of the most memorable and forgettable moments:

When upsets aren't upsets, women's division: Serbia's Ana Ivanovic and Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova were seeded Nos. 1 and 3, respectively, but both came into this tournament rusty and uncertain. We wouldn't necessarily have predicted that lightning would strike Ivanovic in the form of France's Clemson-educated Julie Coin, who at No. 188 pulled off one of the biggest shockers -- on paper -- of the Open era, but we weren't confident she would go very deep in the draw. Kuznetsova's upending at the hands of veteran giant killer Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia was similarly unsurprising given her disjointed summer.

Ditto, men's division: James Blake lacked some edge in his first couple of matches. He allowed a fired-up Donald Young to take him to five sets, and he looked listless in the second round against Belgium's Steve Darcis. Blake caught a break when Darcis withdrew because of injury in the third set, but his old friend Mardy Fish never let him into the match. As Blake pointed out, Fish played in scintillating style, but the bottom line is that we weren't totally stunned by Blake's earliest departure from Flushing Meadows since 2003.

Best breakthrough in a loss: Young, who looked completely ready for prime time when he took it to Blake in the first five-setter the teenager has ever played.

Most disappointing curtain call: We didn't expect Fabrice Santoro to beat Andy Roddick in the first round, but we were looking forward to some of the athletic high jinks and scene-chewing that have made the 36-year-old Magician such a crowd-pleaser throughout the years. It's a shame that what appears to be Santoro's final appearance here ended on a churlish note, with Santoro's failing to contest Roddick's last serve after narrowly averting being hit by an errant Roddick missile on the previous point. Roddick is a fiery competitor, but there's no way he'd purposely go for Santoro's body at that juncture. Santoro chose to vent his frustration with his own play with an act of civil disobedience that left a sour taste.

Quote of the week, men's division: Roddick, on the rowdy atmosphere during his four-set, late-night win over Ernests Gulbis: "I looked up, and there's girls on the big screen dancing on top of their tables in the suite, and some guy and girl freak dancing in the corner. I was like, 'This is great. Might as well get a win while we're out here.' It felt like a party in the stadium on switchovers. I don't think he [Gulbis] is even old enough to go out yet, is he? I knew I had him then.''

Quote of the week, women's division: Lindsay Davenport, on having yips on her serve against Marion Bartoli: "I don't know where it came from. Probably came from all my years making fun of people that had it. That was my karma coming back. That was my joke.'' Davenport declined to discuss any plans for retirement after Bartoli eliminated her.

Hangover cure: Elena Dementieva, for so long the most overlooked and underrated member of the Russian distaff contingent, had a career-defining win at the Beijing Olympics. In her charming way, she freely admitted that she had a hard time coming back to earth and refocusing for this tournament. But after a shaky first-round win, Dementieva is doing what the best pros do: playing her way into form, with two crisp victories. We like her chances of getting to the final.

[+] EnlargeVenus Williams
Nick Laham/Getty ImagesVenus Williams' attire has been as sparkling as her game.
The boys are back in town: Last year, it was the teenaged women who made noise here. It's the boys' turn this time. The upcoming fourth-round clash between 19-year-old Juan Martin Del Potro (who turns 20 in late September) and Kei Nishikori, 18, guarantees that an under-20-year-old will make it to the quarterfinals for the first time since Roddick advanced that far in 2001. If Marin Cilic of Croatia were able to beat third-seeded Novak Djokovic on Sunday night, it would be the first time three teenagers reached the round of 16 since 1989, when the formidable young trio of Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and Michael Chang reached that point. Hardly a teenage wasteland.

Most overlooked statistic of the week: Germany's Anna-Lena Groenefeld has hit the comeback trail with a vengeance here, but few noted that she smacked the second-fastest serve recorded by a player in a WTA main draw this season -- 128 mph, just shy of Venus Williams' 129 mph rocket at Wimbledon.

Fashion picks and pans: Venus Williams' classic solid-color, dropped-waist dresses have been tangible proof that less is more, as was Ivanovic's simple A-line outfit. The men haven't been so impressive. We're not crazy about the olive-drab palette sported by a lot of the Nike guys, or that wingie thingie on Rafael Nadal's shirts, or the melted-popsicle color combo on Djokovic's jersey.

Taking care of business: In an encouraging development for the American men, Fish and Sam Querrey are in the fourth round. Neither had advanced beyond the second round in the past. Too bad they're scheduled for a quarterfinals collision if both advance.

And speaking of lousy luck of the draw: We wish the Williams sisters were scheduled to meet later than the quarterfinals.

Bonnie D. Ford covers tennis and Olympic sports for ESPN.com. She can be reached at bonniedford@aol.com.

Bonnie D. Ford covers Olympic sports for ESPN.com.