The Rest

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 /by

A couple of reminders: (1) I don't grade everyone; if there's someone missing, feel free to make your own judgement about him or her. (2) Players don't get failing grades just for losing a tennis match.

Tomas Berdych
What looked like the start of a slump—the Czech lost in the first round at Wimbledon and the Olympics—now appears to have been a brief case of burnout after a strong start to 2012. Berdych put on one of the performances of the tournament to beat Federer, then was out-thought and out-foxed by Murray in the wind. Tough break for him; he had a winning career record against Murray. But the lack of flexibility in Berdych's game was exposed. A-

Laura Robson
The London glow didn’t fade for Muzz, nor for Robbo, who was the surprise of the tournament. With a new coach and a more aggressive mindset, Robson was a different player—suddenly she was out-hitting two of the WTA’s best hitters, Kim Clijsters and Li Na. Good personality, too. Hope she’s a keeper. A-

David Ferrer
Most people, including myself, thought that Ferrer’s quarter was wide open, but he proved us wrong by winning a marathon over Tipsarevic and reaching the semis as scheduled. Then his backhand went south. Four majors in 2012, four losses to the Big 4. A-

Court 17
The USTA got it right with this well-proportioned stadium, which really comes to life when the sun goes done. Next step: More evening matches out there. A-

Maria Sharapova
She didn’t have her best, but she gutted out two close matches, over Bartoli and Petrova, 6-4 in the third. Then she had the tables turned against Azarenka. That loss was odd—Maria was the better player in the first set, but she looked especially nervous and agitated after she won it. You can’t live on guts alone. A-

Sara Errani
Which is the more impressive result for this clay-courter, her run to the final in Paris, or to the semis here? In both places, she added the doubles title with fellow Italian Roberta Vinci. A-

Juan Martin del Potro
He fought well against a very in-form Djokovic in the quarters, and Andy Roddick couldn’t have asked for a more humane executioner. Del Potro did his duty to the fullest, then gave Andy a hug. A-

Venus Williams
She made 60 errors in her loss to Angelique Kerber, but her press conference afterward, where she said this was the first time she had "felt American at the U.S. Open," and that it was like "winning gold again," was a later-night thing of beauty. A-

Vivica A. Fox
The actress took tennis cheerleading to a new level during Venus's loss. My favorite line was what she said as Venus got ready to pound a putaway overhead: "Gimme some." A-

U.S. Open Livestream
Easy to use, great access and picture quality. It might not have been better than being there, but it was better than being in the press room. A-

Janko Tipsarevic
He played Ferrer tougher than we might have expected, but couldn’t finish him off. From a personal perspective, I realized that his particular brand of full-throttle ball-striking translates better live. B+

RedFoo
I had never heard of the Foo before, and I don’t know why he was at the Open with Victoria Azarenka, but he cut a refreshingly unique figure in the corporate boxes in Ashe Stadium. B+

Marion Bartoli
She was hurt by a rain delay against Sharapova, but she gets extra credit for her Rosolian freak show third-set against Kvitova in the Grandstand. Could anyone have beaten her when she was playing like that? B+

Sam Stosur
Sam rose to the challenge against Azarenka when it looked like she was going to get blown off the court. She gave us the match of the tournament in the process, only to lose it on a shank at the end. B

James Blake
He showed some of the old spark before getting pounded by Raonic. Best was seeing how enthusiastic he is at 32. B

Sloane Stephens
She’s coming along, and like Laura Robson she’s a personality as well as a player. But her loss to Ivanovic was a slight disappointment, and she doesn’t use all of her athletic and ball-striking abilities to their maximum yet. B

Milos Raonic
He played poorly and won his first round, played two good matches after that, then was spun around helplessly by Murray. He’s still learning, but he was often too passive, and I didn’t love seeing his wide smile and buddy-buddy handshake in defeat. C+

Marin Cilic
Lost in the Andy Murray story is how he escaped his quarterfinal with the Croatian after being down a set and 5-1 in the second. Poor Marin. I don’t love his game, but he’s a good guy. This was an opportunity. Docked a notch for losing the fourth set at love. C

Agnieszka Radwanska
Aga, after pulling out of the previous tournament with a shoulder issue, lost listlessly, 1 and 4, to Vinci in the fourth round. Is there a curse on the No. 2 ranking now? C

John Isner
The Big Enigma continues to perplex. He played tough tennis to beat Berdych in Winston Salem, and then, for the third straight major, he admits that he “didn’t do what he needed to do,” this time in a five-set loss to Philipp Kohlscheiber—who, it should be noted, is no slouch. Many people say Isner needs to finish his early wins more quickly at the majors, and that would be nice. But his energy level and commitment to playing his own aggressive game waver from event to event. He won’t have many draws at majors that will be as favorable as this one. C-

Open Officials
There’s no roof, and they say tarps wouldn’t help keep the courts any dryer—OK. The mistake came in not being ready to move Djokovic and Ferrer to Armstrong when they knew bad weather was coming a day in advance. Djokovic ended up playing three relatively routine sets in the semis, but it could have been much worse. D

USTA Player Development
The Taylor Townsend story quickly, maybe too quickly, became about body type. The implication was that the USTA wouldn’t pay their best young player's way because she was overweight. Patrick McEnroe denied this, claiming that they wanted her to get into better shape in general. This may have been a case of the USTA trying to get tough with a promising junior early, but the organization went overboard—worse was the lack of clear communication with Taylor and her family. While Townsend herself says she needs to get fitter, she’s had a great season nonetheless, to the point where, even before the Open, she was the best story in American junior tennis—for the right reasons. Now we have this instead. As I wrote yesterday, let’s hope it motivates her more. F

Honorable Mention: Bud Collins
At 83, Bud returned to the Open after missing it in 2011, for the first time in more than four decades. As always, he had nice things to say to everyone around him. And he made Serena laugh.

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