Sharapova First to Stumble at US Open
by Sean Randall | September 1st, 2007, 3:48 pm

The first weekend at the US Open began with a bang this afternoon with Maria Sharapova ushered out by Agnieszka Radawanska. The loss was the earliest by a No. 2 seed at the Open since 1981 according to an on-air CBS stat.

Apart from that stunner the women’s side has been rather uneventful the first week with the seeds rolling through. Now with the Sharapova loss it would look as though Chakvetadze and Kuznetsova will meet in the semifinals, and I would guess the winner to meet Henin in the final.

The men as usual have had much of the drama in the first week with Novak Djokovic pulling out a tough five-setter yesterday. Tommy Robredo won the last five games over the floundering Mardy Fish – still don’t know how Fish gagged that one.

And of course is was good to see James Blake get the “monkey” off his back with his first career five set win beating Fabrice Santoro, though I’ll admit I missed the fifth set (sorry James, has duties to tend to, but congrats).

That all said, Federer still has looked impressive and I fully expect him to take care of John Isner. Federer will have some looks at breaking Isner while the American will be lucky to see a break point against the No 1. Can Isner win the match? Maybe, but he’ll need to win three tiebreaks to do it.

Along with Isner, Donald Young has looked good, and getting a lucky walkover thanks to an ill Richard Gasquet certainly helps. And hey, playing Feli Lopez is actually a very winnable match for The Donald, who is locked with the Spaniard in the third as I write.

Roddick has looked good today, real good. Not sure yet if that’s an Andy thing or a Thomas thing or maybe a little of both. We shall see if the Fed-Roddick quarter comes to fruition.

And good to see Andy Murray playing decent tennis, though I’m not convinced he’s a serious threat with the that wrist injury lingering in the back of his mind.

Meanwhile the bottom half of the draw has been shredded. If the courts are fast, which some say it is, looks like Ljubicic might get thru, but if it is slow as other contend then maybe Ferrer. I simply don’t trust Rafa and his knee.

Djokovic has complained of injury so who knows with him. It’s a real toss up, so if not Djoko then maybe Carlos Moya.

And I have to mention my semifinal picks, Lleyton Hewitt, Dmitry Tursunov and Sam Querrey who are all MIA, kinda like my picks I guess.

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20 Comments for Sharapova First to Stumble at US Open

jane Says:

Sharapova had no warm up for that match and it hurt her – that and her unforced errors – esp in the 3rd set.

Fed already pushing Isner on some service games – but Isner holding his own and staying composed. A stronger return game and ground strokes and he’ll be something else!

In fact both the young Americans looking pretty strong and poised in my view.

some bum Says:

From AFP: “Match-fixing, some of which is linked to internet gambling, is not uncommon in professional tennis, according to a damaging report in L’Equipe today. Two elite players made the claims, under anonymity, in an interview with the French sports daily claiming they have witnessed matches being “thrown” and that they had personally been offered bribes.

jdlund Says:

I’m having a hard time understanding why people are making such a big deal out of James Blake winning his first five set match. Perhaps on paper it’s an accomplishment until you look at the specific match any closer. The important point that people seem to keep forgetting is why did it take Blake five sets to put Santoro away? For the love of god the man is 34 and he is ranked 38 places below Blake. The only one who deserves praise for that match is Fabrice Santoro who played his heart out despite the fact that his age was a clear handicap. Santoro conquering his body through heart and sheer will and lasting five sets was a spectacle to behold.

Blake on the other hand had over 70 unforced errors, played very sloppy and barely beat the nearly middle aged man. And yet announcers and columnists talk about how great it is that Blake finally got the ‘monkey off his back.’ If anything, last night proved that Blake is incredibly overrated and is not capable to go as far as people keep claiming he will. Against a 34 year old Santoro his poor performance got him his first five set win. Against any player ranked above 20, Blake’s performance would have earned him a resounding straight set loss.

grendel Says:

Santoro above mere rankings.

Santoro – he magic. Blake did ok.

Sandy Says:

I wonder if Santoro let Blake win the match?

Govseeyou Says:

Sharapova deserved this loss. She is cold and not friendly when signing autographs, she is “NASTY” when you try to talk to her. She actually said ” talk is cheap” a 13 year old girl who wanted to ask a question about tennis. NASTY I AM TOO COOL INCLUDING HER NASTY FATHER

zeg Says:

Rafa is looking decent again despite hanging out in the no-man’s land behind the baseline against Tsonga. Gotta charge the net! Hope he stays fit.

jane Says:

Ditto zeg – tho Rafa a little further in than in that 1st match where he was turning blue…making some nice passing shots against Tsonga.

zeg Says:

Happy day – Nadal’s moved on. Ferrer will be a handful. Go Robby!

jane Says:

Interesting that Argentines and Spaniards are so dominant on hard courts – already Chela, Ferrer, Monaco, and, of course, Nadal all through to last 16. Likely Moya and/or Robredo will be through too. Even Del Potro could, feasibly, have the upset, though I think Djok will come through.

Clearly these players aren’t only “clay-courters” – but I wonder why they all do so well on this hard court? Is it slower now? Or faster – hence the serving and volleying?

Any thoughts?

zeg Says:

Rafa is a happy guy today – not only he advanced at the USO, but Real Madrid beat Villarreal 5-0!

The players are saying the court is pretty fast. I think the spanish-speaking contingent just adapted well – good news for them since this surface will be recreated for the Australian Open.

grendel Says:

Nalbandian looked good again, unfortunately nerve failed him at match point. Annoying, because otherwise we’d have had first ever meeting of Nadal/Nalbandian – two hugely skilful and inventive players.

As it is, the very likeable Ferrer is tough and absolutely thorough – as you say, Zeg, he’ll make Nadal work – but I don’t see how he can possibly beat him.

Incidentally, I think Nadal supports Barcelona – he explained it somewhere, from Barcelona to Real Madrid, and back to Barcelona again, to do with Uncle Tony’s professional commitments, I think.

zeg Says:

Rafa is a die-hard Madridista – he was at the Bernabeu a few months ago when Real clinched the La Liga championship. It is his other uncle, Miguel Angel, who was a footballer.

I agree Ferrer has got his work cut out for him, especially after such grueling match. My guess is the result will depend on Rafa’s fitness more than on Ferrer’s ability.

funches Says:

Blake overrated? Here’s his last six U.S. Open tournament results:

2001: L. to Hewitt in 5 sets 3rd rd. (Hewitt won tournament)

2002: L. to Hewitt in 5 sets 3rd rd. (Hewitt reached semis)

2003: L. to Federer in 3 sets 3rd rd.

2005: L. to Agassi in 5 sets QF (Agassi reached final)

2006: L. to Federer in 4 sets SF (Fed won tourney)

funches Says:

I forgot to include this year, when he is in the fourth round despite serving horrendously and despite all three of his opponents zoning.

grendel Says:

Sorry to get the uncles wrong, Zeg. Had a feeling there was something wrong, but didn’t know what. (Father, e.g.?) As you can see, I know nothing – like Manuel. But I did, fairly recently, see an interview with Nadal, in which he was asked why he supported team A when he had supported team B? (Put in Real Madrid and Barcelona as appropriate for A and B). He explained it in terms of the uncle playing for one of them, and then when uncle retired he reverted to his original support for the other team. I regret I cannot remember where I saw the interview, and have looked without success. So you’ll just have to take my word for it – if you’re so inclined.

zeg Says:


LOL. It’s not important, just FYI : Uncle Toni Nadal was a semi-pro tennis player before taking up coaching duties for his precocious nephew.
Toni’s brother Miguel Angel Nadal was an outstanding football player (mostly defender), “The Beast of Barcelona”, who started in his local team RCD Mallorca and later moved up to Barca. He also was a member of the Spanish national team in three World Cup finals.
Since he stopped playing, Rafa became a Real fan so they probably have a lot to talk about during the football season!
Anyway, Rafa was also happy yesterday for Moya, and the Nadal family & friends celebrated with a Japanese dinner – Tepanyaki style.
Hope he stays fit

Sean Randall Says:

Jdlund, would agree in your assessment of the Blake win over Santoro. The same could be said about Koubek and even Russell. James really hasn’t looked that great in all three wins thus far.

Funches, I hardly think Koubek was “zoning”. The same for Russell. Didn’t watch the Santoro match so I won’t comment.

andrea Says:

can’t say i’m upset that sharapova is out. yes, she has got some game but the shriek fest that has become women’s tennis (with maria leading the way) is almost unbearable, if not unwatchable. (and this includes venus and serena and a host of others).

makes me harken for the days of steffi graf who could play an entire match without nary a grunt.

likewise on the men’s side, with the spansh/latino men being the gruntiest of them all.

ah, the silence of roger.

jdlund Says:

Funches, I never said that Blake was a terrible tennis player or anything. He has had some good matches and done fairly well in several tournaments, almost always on hard surfaces. Yet he remains, in my opinion, incredibly overrrated. There are those out there that want to make him out to be this next big American tennis star.

When Roddick won the Open in 2003 so many branded him as being the one to be the next Sampras. Even though he has seen three finals and several semis since then, there has been a good deal of impatience over the fact that he hasn’t won another major. Some people have become dissapointed and they want another huge American star. Aside from possible dissapointment with Roddick is the fact that America has usually had at least two majors winning top ranked male players at any given time. After Agassi and Sampras it’s only Roddick whose won a major and he has yet to live up to the extremely high expectiations that surrounded him after 2003.

Anyway, that was a huge ramble when I just really had one point. Blake simply isn’t the amazing player he’s made out to be. He’s good, he’s just not great. I highly doubt that he will ever win a major, especially if his slopiness doesn’t improve. Of course until either Federer or Nadal start slipping no one else is going to win a major, but I don’t see Blake even making a final. People were talking about this being his year even though it took him five sets to put Santoro away and, as I am writing this, he just lost a 6-0 fourth set to Haas. He just isn’t the caliber of player he is made out to be by fans and commentators. He’s not mediocre by any means, just overrated.

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