Sunday, September 4, 2011

Grading The Open: Week 1

There were a lot of high marks, and two epic fails at the US Open this week. Join us as we take out the red marker and grade the pros for their week one performances. 

Flavia Pennetta: A + 
The gutsy Italian braved Maria Sharapova and a bout of heat-related nausea to fight her way to her third US Open quarterfinal of her career. She's still alive as the No. 2 seed with partner Gisela Dulko in the doubles draw as well.
Donald Young: A+
Finally, Young becomes the center of attention for all the right reasons. His signature moment was when he rallied from a set down in round 2 on Court 17 to defeat Stan Wawrinka, but he's been grinding hard all week. He's also endeared himself to fans this week by showing that he's really a super nice kid with a lot of respect for the game and the pros ranked ahead of him. Also, he's grateful for the support that he's been getting from the USTA (and grateful that the widely publicized rift is in the past). Don't believe me? Watch a few of his pressers and see for yourself.
Rafa Nadal: A
His tennis hasn't been as supersonic as 2010—yet—but his cramping episode today was an instant classic.
Tommy Haas: A
Saw an interview with Haas on the Tennis Channel, and came away invigorated by Haas' passion for the sport. A guy like him, who has been through numerous surgeries over the years, could easily say "No Mas" and cozy up to a nice post-tennis career, but he's still got the fire to compete, and it's admirable.
Jack Sock and Melanie Oudin: A 
Perma-slump would be a kind way to describe Melanie Oudin's year, which is why I'm rooting for her in mixed dubs. Melanie has been forgotten as a fresh stable of American gals have forged their way to major headlines this week, but she did get busy on the mixed doubles court with Jack Sock. They rallied from a set down to beat the No. 1 seeded team of Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan in a match tiebreak.
Sam Stosur and Maria Kirilenko: A 
Stosur won this awesome match, but both players get an A for playing the longest women's tiebreaker in Grand Slam history.
Andy Murray: A
He was facing another demoralizing early round loss on Armstrong (remember last year when he went down against Stan Wawrinka in the 3rd round?) but he got his act together and wobbled to the finish against Robin Haase in one of the craziest matches of the tournament thus far. It wasn't pretty, and some might say it wasn't even good, but for Murray it was a character win. It was also his sixth comeback from 2 sets down in a Slam, and that, my friends, deserves an A.
Serena Williams: A
I would have given her an A + but then she almost lost a set. How dare she?
Andrea Petkovic: A-
I'm not sold on the popping and breaking just yet, but I loved her kissing her recently-injured knee after a hard fought win over Zheng Jie in the 2nd round.
David Ferrer: A-
The consummate pro had another solid week and will head into his round-of-16 match-up with Andy Roddick as the heavy favorite.
Victoria Azarenka: B
We may very well look back a week from now and say "Wow, Vika was the only one who even came close to giving Serena a match." She didn't play well enough to win, but she sure as heck played well enough to impress.
Francesca Schiavone: B
She's playing D+ tennis but she's getting A+ results. She's still alive and there is definitely something to be said for that.
Sabine Lisicki: B
She had an A average coming into the fourth round (had lost only 7 games), but Vera Zvonareva brought her swiftly back to earth.
Juan Martiin del Potro: B-
Props to Gilles Simon for playing him perfectly, but Delpo was neither tactically nor technically anywhere near his best today. I think we all expected his return to New York for the first time since his title in '09 to be a little more magical.
Ryan Harrison: C
This is the year of the American resurgence, and our prize prospect gets shellacked by a lost-at-sea Marin Cilic? Look, Cilic is a great player, but the fact that Harrison's worst performance of the summer came in the US Open is very disappointing.
Bernard Tomic: D
You think Harrison was bad? Tomic was a Wimbledon quarterfinalist two months ago, but he only managed 3 games against Cilic in the second round.
Ivo Karlovic and Frank Moser: D
These guys have the nerve to take out the Bryan Bros. in round 1 and then lose the next match to Bolleli and Fognini? Huh?
Gael Monfils: D
Gael got bounced in 5 sets by Juan Carlos Ferrero in the 2nd round in style. Unfortunately, La Monf prefers style over making the plays that would give him the best chance to win matches. It's beautiful to watch at times, but it's also infuriating to see a player of his talent level crash out in round 2. A lot of us just wish he'd save the Cirque du Soleil moves for the practice courts, because his propensity to dazzle is obviously fouling up his chances to win.
Petra Kvitova and Na Li: F
There's no other grade to give them, unfortunately.

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