Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - "Much Better"
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"Much Better" 09/15/2009 - 6:50 PM

Dp It was the perfect ending; I was wrong again. Juan Martin del Potro beat Roger Federer in a chaotic Arthur Ashe Stadium yesterday and sent the tournament out with a festive buzz. From an instantly infamous outburst—forever to be known as “The Tirade” in tennis lore—to the best shot ever hit by the best player ever, to a spunky new American on the horizon, to a pair of appealingly humble champions, it was an Open that we’ll be seeing more of in future highlight reels. For now, let the snap judgments begin.

Juan Martin del Potro

What will I remember from this most logical and inevitable—though still stunning—Grand Slam breakthrough?

—Del Potro lumbering slowly behind the baseline as he set up to serve, and finishing by blowing on the heel of his right hand. It was a ritual that exuded self-assurance, and seemed to help him gather more of it with each point.

—Del Potro enlarging the court and ranging backward behind the baseline to track down a forehand in the corner and unleashing a flat line drive past his opponent. There were two remarkable aspects to this shot: It had absolutely no arc, and when it hit the DecoTurf, it didn’t so much bounce as skid, like something coming off ice.

—The Argentine, from the third set on, forcing Federer back with his heavier, thuddier shots. The world’s best was suddenly just hanging on for dear life, surviving with his squash shot. From my perspective in the 10th row off the baseline, it seemed like, if del Potro believed in himself, that it was only a matter of time before he would overwhelm Federer. For the day, at least, the sport had been handed over to a new, taller, rangier, more physical, and powerful generation.

—Del Potro’s player box. For anyone who’s seen all he ever needs to see of Anna Wintour’s straw helmet, Gavin Rossdale’s ever-ascending forehead, and his wife, what’s her name, this kid from small-town Argentina couldn’t have been a bigger breath of fresh air. He had his manager, his coach, Davin, and his trainer, Orazi (when I see the similar-looking Davin and Orazi next to del Potro at tournaments, my brain always goes, “Hi, my name’s Larry, this is my brother, Darrell, and this is my other brother, Darrell.”) Behind them were two rows of very empty, and very desirable, seats. When DP clambered up there afterward, all they could do was hug each other over and over; they didn’t have anyone else. The vibe wasn’t “us against the world,” though, the way it is with Maria Sharapova’s player box; DP doesn’t do confrontation. It was just “us.” 

—Dick Enberg opening the trophy presentation by asking del Potro how he felt, considering that the Argentine had claimed that the previous day, when he'd crushed Rafael Nadal, had been the best of his life. DP answered without missing a beat, and with maximum brevity: He said he felt "much better." 

—The sight of del Potro in the press room afterward. One of my favorite rituals at the Slams is the champion bringing the trophy with him up to the dais. I wasn’t shocked by DP’s win yesterday until I saw him behind the same silver cup that Rod Laver raised at Forest Hills when he completed the Grand Slam in 1969. Del Potro hunched low and, as always answered questions slowly and thickly. Finally, an Italian reporter had had enough. He asked, with mock exasperation:

“You always talk so quietly with this soft voice. Do you ever shout in your life, in your private life? Do you ever get angry?”

Del Potro, slowly and thickly, barely looking up: “Yeah, of course.”

—Finally, yesterday on the way into the National Tennis Center, as I passed through security and bag check and traipsed across the grounds to the stultifying press room one last time, I told myself how happy I was not to have to go anywhere near the place for the next 12 months. But as I walked out in the opposite direction after the final, behind a couple in matching blue and white Argentine soccer shirts who had their arms draped around each other, I’d changed my mind. There was a buzz around the grounds and in the air that I was going to miss; I wanted to see more tennis. A few minutes later, I got on the train back into Manhattan. The woman sitting next to me, who was coming from somewhere else, said, “Did you see del Potro?”

“Yes, I saw him.”

“I liked to watch him when he won,” she said, and put her hands over her face to imitate his emotional reaction after the final point. She had hit it: That was why I wanted to see more tennis, to see that emotion and relief that only a player who has won his first major can conjure. It doesn’t happen all that often nowadays, which only made the last moments of yesterday’s final that much more exhilarating. Thanks for sharing it with us, DP. A+

Kc Kim Clijsters

I wonder if she even feels like she’s playing her best yet. Give Clijsters credit: She saw an opening at the top, and she filled it. And she appeared to me to be hitting with more aggression—intelligent aggression—than ever, while the only difference in her movement was that she didn’t do quite as many splits as she did in the old days (that’s a good thing, by the way). While I’m surprised she beat both Williams sisters and went all the way so soon, I knew she would bounce back with no trouble. As with Jennifer Capriati in her comeback at the start of the decade, if you can hit big and through the court on the women’s tour, you always have a chance. Kim can do that, and she can move with a gymnast’s sure-footedness—she seemed to enjoy scaling the wall to get to her husband after the final as much as anything she did on court. More important, she put a smile back on the face of women’s tennis a day after Serena had scowled her way out of the tournament. The trophy ceremony was a love fest and a big welcome back for a favorite of everyone involved in the sport. Her daughter danced, Mary Jo gave her a hug, and the guy crying next to her husband was John Dolan, a WTA pr guy who has had more than his fill of pro egos, but who couldn’t help but become a friend of Kim’s. Would she have beaten Serena anyway? It’s not a lock, given Williams’ history of returns from the dead. But Clijsters deserved the win anyway. You should get something for not dropping an f-bomb at a line judge, shouldn’t you? A+

Caroline Wozniacki

She wasn’t the edgiest runner-up in history—the bloodthirsty sporting rivalry between the Danes and the Belgians just doesn’t register in the Big Apple—or the most famous. A few minutes before the final, I was walking in the hallway under Ashe next to a blonde with two racquets who was wearing a nondescript gray sweatshirt. I didn’t realize it was Wozniacki until I got back to my desk in the pressroom. And I’ve spoken to her before.

I feared a nervous meltdown in the final, but she didn’t show much, if any, fear. Wozniacki is refreshing all around: She doesn’t shriek or look up to her box all that often. She uses her brain, makes adjustments during rallies, and plays purposeful defense. She solved the riddle of Oudin by employing the moonball, and used it again to good effect in the final—let’s just hope the dark days of Andrea Jaeger are not upon us once again. Wozniacki is a natural at the game who also knows how to move forward, even if her volley is an adventure. She made Clijsters, a superior ball-striker, work for everything she got. A

Roger Federer

What does the greatest do after he’s the greatest? Pete Sampras went into a deep slump, rallied for one more major, and retired. He was 32, though, while Federer’s tennis afterlife is beginning at 28. Yesterday he was dwarfed by his younger opponent, and as the match progressed he had to work harder than del Potro to get on the offensive. But while he was outplayed by DP for long stretches, and on his heels much of the time, you might still say that Federer let this one slip away. He went to DP’s forehand a lot, even after the big guy found a monstrous groove with it. And serving for a two-set lead at 5-4 in the second, Federer opted for a drop shot on a key point that he ended up losing. It’s the shot that won him their French Open semi, but maybe he fell a little too in love with it here. Will Federer become overly besotted with his maestro image now that all the heavy lifting is done? His finest moment of the tournament was a between-the-legs shot. Don’t panic yet, though. Even Federer, who was two points from the title, termed this loss “acceptable.” After the year he's had, both professionally and personally, he better say that. A

Melanie Oudin

The only image that could match del Potro’s victory plunge was the celebration Oudin patented after her three upsets: staggering forward, hands-in the-air, eyes bugged out, she was the slightly berserk face of teen triumph, American-style. Don't try to resist. A

Mary Carillo

Right from the start, she was tough but dead-on in her assessment of the Serena situation, blaming the player, not the official, and calling for a suspension. A

Rafael Nadal

Making his second straight Open semi was an accomplishment. Enduring another, very different injury immediately after the knee problem was troubling. Getting run out of town by del Potro was embarrassing, and a possibly a reputation-diminisher in the locker room. But he’s been here before—remember Tsonga in Melbourne?—and returned stronger than ever. The down moments in his career just seem to make him hungrier. If that's possible. B+

Jimmy Connors

Who would have thought we’d wish that Jimmy Connors would loosen up a little? At least undo the top button on your shirt, before you strangle yourself. And stop asking Martina what she thinks—she's gonna tell you anyway. What you said, when you said it, was pretty strong. B

John McEnroe

Mac, Mac, and more Mac. Mac on your TV, Mac in your ear in the stadium, Mac’s eternally-not-quite-balding (how much Rogaine can one man use?) head hovering over the National Tennis Center. He didn’t waste any time making ESPN his territory. I think Brad Gilbert is in witness protection—who was that man in black doing a mixed doubles match on Court 12?—and Darren Cahill didn’t get a whole lot of love either.

But Mac is good. He’s still enthusiastic, and his insights aren't overworked—he never tries to claim that there’s more going on strategically out there than there really is. But his argument that “you just can’t call a foot fault” in the Serena situation was flawed (more on why below). He remains a player chauvinist to a fault. B

Novak Djokovic

What happened to the days when the Serb and his wacky family fought Federer tooth and nail? Now he’s been mesmerized and softly intimidated like the rest of the tour. In their semi, he stuck his butt out for Federer to hit, he prayed to the lord for help, he never acted like he could win the match, and he wrapped it up, as always, with a nice big hug. Smiling is great, but that’s not what most of us want out of a tennis match. C+

Dinara Safina

I’d have more sympathy for her last-minute move to Armstrong if she’d showed a little more in the match she lost there. As it was, Kvitova appeared to me to be every bit as good as the No. 1 player in the world. Reaching that spot may have been the worst thing that ever happened to Dinara. C

Andy Murray

Has he become too methodical in his preparation, to the point where he’s ironed out his creativity? For a player of such vaunted variety, he had no options once he got behind Marin Cilic. There’s no substitute for power and aggression, as del Potro, who just left the Scot and his many Masters titles in the dust, has proven again. C-

Serena Williams

A foot fault is different from a line call for at least one major reason: No matter how much control a player has over his or her feet, they can’t know for sure whether the call was right or wrong, because they’re looking at the ball at that moment. Could Serena have been that confident she didn’t foot fault at the moment she went berserk? She had been called for three others during the tournament, so it couldn’t have been a shock. Rather, she was protesting the idea of the call, of someone having the gall to whistle her for it on a second serve at 5-6 in the second set of the semifinals of the U.S. Open.

There are defenders, most prominently McEnroe, of the idea that “you just don’t make that call at that stage.” The concept comes from basketball, where referees typically try not to decide a game with a foul call. But refereeing in basketball is relatively subjective to begin with; there’s some kind of illegal contact on hundreds of plays during a game. In the final seconds, it’s just a matter of the refs raising their threshold a little for what constitutes a foul. Can we ask this of tennis officials? When should we tell them not to do their jobs and call foot faults? Only on second serves at 5-6 in the second set of the semis of the Open? On match points? In tiebreakers? After the eighth game of a set? No, the simplest answer, as usual, is the best—they should call foot faults when they see them, and players should make sure they don’t commit them. It isn't a trivial rule, either: There obviously needs to be a uniform place where players start points, and the back of the baseline is the easiest spot for it. If you start to allow players to cross the line by half an inch, it will soon become an inch or two inches or three inches, until no one is sure what they can do, or what they can call. 

If there’s a rule of thumb that we should import from another sport, it should come from the NFL. Foot faults, like overruled calls in football, should only be made when they’re indisputable in the eye of the line judge. If there’s doubt, don’t call it. But that criteria should hold true at every stage of the match. If the lineswoman in the Serena semifinal believed without doubt she saw a foot fault, she was right to call it. It’s the player’s job not to cut it that close. And whatever the reason for the call, its obviously the player's job not to threaten anyone.

Serena was angry, at the line judge and at herself. You could see her frustration building during the match. Now, like McEnroe, she’ll have a new, unwelcome addendum to her career bio: A Slam loss because of multiple code violations, because she said—screamed—words that should never be used on a tennis court, brandished her racquet at a line judge, and even went back toward her a second time. As with McEnroe, her temper and her talent are intertwined; as weak as her first apology was, there’s no question that the fierce emotion she showed in her outburst is, when it’s harnessed, part of what has made her an 11-time Slam champion. But that’s what makes her punishment for it all the more necessary, so we can get more of Serena the champion, the Serena who rarely argues calls, in the future. For our purposes today, two f-words—foot-fault—led to more f-words by Serena; they can only be answered in kind here. F

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Posted by amanda townsend 09/15/2009 at 07:06 PM

nice article,
i wanted delpot to win was getting tense and wanted to see mirka upset..both things happened per plan..well done del pot

Posted by amanda townsend 09/15/2009 at 07:08 PM

well u cant have everything...i believe 15 slams r enuf for federer.i am fed fan but still has sympathy for other..if it was nadal..i mignt have cried but thanks god it was del pot who won.

Posted by Perry 09/15/2009 at 07:09 PM

Steve Tignor, you're an IDIOOOOTTT!!!

Posted by Tim (The Devil Has a Laptop! ) 09/15/2009 at 07:22 PM

lots of Fed fans here nice to see limited knashing of teeth, and all credit to del po, classy bunch :)

i would give del po this match vs. the French Open ten times out of ten, and Fed got sloppy and went from overconfident to a tad panicky, live and learn even after 15 Slams!

Posted by wilson75 09/15/2009 at 07:33 PM

ESPN coverage of the US Open: C
I have enjoyed them at the other events but the USO was disappointing and many times annoying.

Some tips for next year in NYC-
1. Get rid of Hannah Storm and Mike Tirico they know nothing about tennis.
2. Bud Collins also needs to go for obvious reasons.
3. Break up the McEnroe Bros- one word "terrible!"
4. Get a proper reporter having Pam Shriver acting like a journalist is just plain wrong.
5. Delete Kim Catrall and Rosie Perez essays they were unnecessary, meaningless, irritating and even prevented the Women's Finals from starting on time.

Posted by a 09/15/2009 at 07:36 PM

why no mention of r-fed using the f-word? why only hang serena. isn't she also one of the greatest? but yeah, i guess r-fed's bad moments have to be glossed over or how would you guys milk the legend? sick.

Posted by berkee 09/15/2009 at 07:38 PM

I agree with your Serena grade. Since all she cares about is being #1 over Safina, take away her ranking points earned at the open and suspend her at the next grand slam, The Aussie Open. A 10K fine is chump change for her - the jewelry she was wearing for the match cost more than that.
More grades - Jankovic - C+ - playing after her grandma died takes alot of guts
Safina, Sharapova, Dementieva, Petrova, Kutznetsova - C - serving lessons and sports psychologists are in dire need here.
Yanina Wickmayer - A-: coming out of nowhere to take advantage of a wide open draw.
Andy Roddick - C+ - sports psycologist is also needed

Posted by zolarafa 09/15/2009 at 07:41 PM

another good part of a slam is to come here and read your analysis. You write so well! thanks for that! That last line to Serena, answering F with F! is a classic!

How I wish it was Rafa who won the trophy, unfortunately it was not meant to be this time. But watching a soft-spoken 20-year old, so happy and thrilled for his first grand slam championship almot matched it. The first set, Roger was cruising and making those unbelievable shots, as if he was almost toying with Delpo. I remembered his remark in AO, "putting him (Delpo) out of his misery!" and I bet that had something to do with this win.

I agree with your grade for Djoko. He has become too soft now.He could have won this. Same with Murray. Don't know if it was a wrist injury or mental fatigue that derailed him, but seemed like he let it go.

About Serena and the foot fault, many people say it was not a fair call and I didn't like the timing either. But that's the job of the line judge. Unless ITF or WTA make a new rule that no foot fault should be called during the last game, calls like this should not be called unfair. It could have been challened.

Sorry for the long post. Congratz to Delpo and to Fed as well. So close to having #6. This man is unbelievable!

Posted by gert 09/15/2009 at 07:45 PM

hey hey hey! what about federer the big role model for gentlemanly conduct who had millions of kids watching him on live tv swearing at an official? hope his kids grow up and watch that and he feels shame just as the parents of those kids did. i spit at the great federer.

Posted by wilson75 09/15/2009 at 07:49 PM

Call me sick, classless or whatever I'd give Federer a A+ for the all the things Steve mentioned but you have to add the cussing. I'll say it again I loved it!

Posted by princepro110 09/15/2009 at 07:51 PM


Thanks for your coverage at this years USO and recap today. What I think were some of the best stories besides the obvious:

- Jesse Witten - Never been a USTA wild card list at the Open..........but toiled in Futures & Challengers in 2009 to qualify for 2009 Open. Beats the second best player from Russia Andreev(30 World ranking)....gets to the 3rd round and goes 4 tough sets with Djokovia. WHATS HE DOING THIS WEEK....playing a Challenger in Tulsa with a $50,000 total purse!!!!!

Travis Parrott & Cary Gullickson ..a last second entry to mixed and they win their first Grand Slam! Cary Gullickson can play doubles!

Novak Djokovic trying all year repair his image for corporate he can get back on the endorsement bandwagon! He wants to be liked more than he wants to win and I don't see anything to change that for the rest of his career.

Pam Shriver.......better than before but still a bore!

Tracy Austin.......did they finally fire her? I hope so!

Posted by tommy 09/15/2009 at 07:51 PM

A few grades

Maria Sharapova ---- C-
At 3-3 in the 3rd was broken 3 times in a row. If Petrova did that, everyone would call her a choker.

Tennis Channel ----F+

Give them the + for Isner-Roddick, although they butchered the way they showed the next 2 matches.
Otherwise, it's clown college. Why is someone who knows nothing about tennis on that show with Davenport?

What are they doing with this Australian women who also knows nothing about tennis.

Squash and Ping Pong. Beach tennis. They are out of their minds.

Kim Clijsters --- A++
It doesn't get better. Toughest draw. Who was left for her to play, Yanina?
No doubt about this major.

Posted by linex 09/15/2009 at 08:01 PM

Steve as always I enjoyed your post. Nevertheless, as a Delpo fan perhaps I wanted a more thorough analysis of the match and why your prediction went wrong. Why did you make that prediction? Did you think that Delpo was not going to be able to hit the ball as hard and freely and accurately as he did from the moment he broke at 4-5 set up for Roger? Did you think that Roger´s versatile game was the perfect answer for Delpo´s game? Did you think that a repeat of what happened in Roland Garros when Delpo dominated for almost three sets was not likely?

Posted by tarheel 09/15/2009 at 08:04 PM

Steve, nice article. Dittos about Serena. I watched her on good morning america and it all looks fake, just like her press conference sat. night. she kept promoting her book, over and over. She just doesn't get it.

Posted by kudz 09/15/2009 at 08:10 PM

"The Argentine, from the third set on, forcing Federer back with his heavier, thuddier shots. The world’s best was suddenly just hanging on for dear life, surviving with his squash shot. "
exactly. please less rhetoric about how del potro won coz he "stood up" to roger while everyone else capitulates...del potro won coz he played better and hit the biggest forehands yet seen by mankind...nadal wins coz he renders feds backhand useless...fed wins coz he uses more of the court than anyone else, not because the whole atp suddenly decided in 2004 that they didnt 'believe' anymore

Posted by Anjali 09/15/2009 at 08:15 PM

Steve--perhaps a more nuanced understanding of Serena's outburst might help unseat you from your self-righteousness a bit? Was a bit surprised by your admonishing analysis of Serena, surely things are never that simple--I recommend your checking out:

Posted by richie 09/15/2009 at 08:15 PM

Steve - It seemed like an overly long OPEN - but it had many dramatic moments. Clijsters win was great. The one point from the Del Potro match that seemed to me telling was Fed's choice of a drop shot in the crucial 5-4 game of the second set - an open forehand was there for the taking. But I think that Fed is now into showboating and this cost him. But Del Potro took over the match and deserved the title. I agree with your grades and your analysis of the foot fault call. There is always a vacuum after a major.

Posted by Penny 09/15/2009 at 08:16 PM

Steve Tignor has no clue to what he's talking about. Babbling fool.

Posted by Ryota 09/15/2009 at 08:18 PM

Things to Take Away from this Open... and What to Expect Next

1. Roger Federer:
The good news? He got to the final and was a couple of points away from winning 6 straight USOs.
The bad news? He got to the final and was a couple of points away from winning 6 straight USOs.

Looking forward to winning the remaining Masters tournaments and the Masters Cup.

2. Rafael Nadal:
The good news? He got to the semis and reclaimed the #2 ranking. The bad news? His body is breaking down. If it's not the knees, it's something else. That and he got pasted by Del Potro, who now seems to have his number.

Is he healthy enough to give Federer one last battle for #1? Does he want to?

3. Andy Murray:
The good news? Um...
The bad news? This US Open was a disaster for Murray. Not only did his arch-enemy won the Slam, the public and the media has now vocally started questioning if he's ever going to win a Slam.

Murray has a lot of points to defend this fall. With the Masters Cup being played in London, will he step up and win it or succumb to the pressure anew?

4. Novak Djokovic
The Good News? He got to the semis anew with a better PR than last year.
The Bad News? He'll be forever be in the highlight reel as the guy at the receiving end of Federer's magical shot. Kinda like Patrick Ewing getting dunked on by Michael Jordan.

Djokovic is the defending Masters Cup champion. He has yet to defend a major title he's won, can he finally break that jinx and win the Masters Cup anew?

5. Juan Martin Del Potro
The good news? He won USO and entered the champion's circle with Djokovic as the only players in this era who have won a title not named Federer or Nadal.
The bad news? With this win comes pressure and expectations.

Very little points to defend this fall and his powerball game suits the indoor circuit. Can he handle the baggage that comes with being one of the favorites now?

6. Andy Roddick
The good news? Um...
The bad news? Like the other Andy, this USO was a disaster for Roddick. Losing to Isner, no matter how close it was, is inexcusable for a player who's supposed to be among the elite.

Very little points to defend this fall and his powerball game suits the indoor circuit. Can he finally win a major title?

7. Others
The USO also saw the emergence of Marian Cilic. At the start of the season, the buzz was on Cilic and Del Potro to take the next step. Del Potro has surely done that, can Cilic do the same? The indoor circuit suits his game just fine.

Tsonga has a number of points to defend. He played well until the Gonzalez match where he was too flamboyant for his own good.

Davydenko is always on the bubble. He has a number of points to defend given his performance in Shanghai.

Verdasco, Simon, and a slew others also still have a chance to grab one of the remaining spots in the London.

Posted by agnes 09/15/2009 at 08:21 PM

Dick Enberg - F

Posted by Ryota 09/15/2009 at 08:30 PM

I disagree with the call for Serena's suspension. I'd rather have this version of Serena than a meek- accepting-all-calls-not-allowed-to-show-anger one than you're proposing.

The Tirade was a heat-of-the-moment thing. I've watched the replay of that episode so many times now and yes, she did cross the line by aggressively going to the line judge's location and pointed her racket towards here but, IMHO, there was never a moment there that I thought she has lost her mind and she was seriously going to physically attack that judge.

She has lost the match. She has been fined. The USO 09 is over. Move on.

She might lose fans and sponsors and what-have-you because of this and that's for her to deal with. If anything, because of this episode, tennis will again have to step up and address this foot fault controversy the way it did with line calling.

Posted by Tennissy 09/15/2009 at 08:39 PM

DelPo win came as a total surprise. The one thing i like about Del Potro was how he took that quarterfinal defeat at the australian open and completely turned it around.

Well what can u say about Roger.Even when Rog was broken in the fifth i thought it aint over as yet. I was wrong, no complaints. U cant get everything.

As far as Novak is concerned i dont think he has soften a bit. The Nice talks mode is just an excuse to cover up his messy head. He likes Federer's game no question, but reverence does not mean submission. Read his interview transcript and you'll understand.

Posted by Jenn 09/15/2009 at 08:41 PM

Great post. I agree with everything said.

Posted by Weekend Warrior 09/15/2009 at 09:07 PM

Didn't you have a post the day after Serena's tirade saying that the linesperson should not have inserted herself into that semis match? (Or did somebody else write it?) It seems to have conveniently disappeared.

Posted by Samantha elin 09/15/2009 at 09:12 PM

Steve, I couldn't disagree more with Carillo's call for a suspension for Serena. I think the same rules must apply to all players. I don't recall Carillo calling for Anastasia Rodinova to receive a suspension when she deliberately fired a ball at a spectator for booing her. Rodinova wasn't suspended for trying to hit someone. Another example, does everyone remember when Bjorkman went beserk on the court, called a male umpire the P and B word, use the F word many times, and threaten the umpire in Swedish. BTW, this is the second time he done it, I witness him do the same thing in Sweden. What penalty did Bjorkman receive, nothing he was allowed to continue his match. Sorry, but I think actually hitting someone with a ball as Rodinova tried to do, is more servere then threatening to do it. I'm not defending Serena, what she did was indefensible. But you should have consistency in the penalities that are given out. You know why Weirtheim called for Hingis to be reinstated immediately? Because there is something wrong with the fact that Hingis received a two year suspension when she had less cocaine in her system then Gasquet who got a pat on the back. Be consistent in your punishment of players.

Posted by tennisnut 09/15/2009 at 09:19 PM

what about the umpire - very average
in 4th set tiebreak, fed down 4-2 - DP double faulted but fed hit it back then stopped - fed then challenged and confirmed double fault - DP then protested and ump said play 2 - - DP went on to win

that was turning point for me and i am surprised fed agreed -fact - it was a double fault but ump overuled hawkeye- ump was wrong to play 2 - fed could take that one to the lawyers!

full credit to fed for getting on with it - class act and i think his tirade was justified - ump was hopeless in enforcing time rule for challenge - how about challenge shot clock? 3 seconds!

Posted by Paula V. 09/15/2009 at 09:22 PM

A few memorable moments for me:

-Seeing John Isner beating Andy Roddick
-The out-of-left-field semifinalist, Yanina Wickmayer.
-Serena Williams' post match press conference, 15 minutes after her on-court tirade, and seeing her mother (who never goes to her press conferences) standing in the room, near the side door.

Overall, American tennis receives an A+ from this year's US Open, in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.

Regarding Serena's tirade, we all make choices. Sometimes bad ones. Serena made a bad choice, and will pay a price for it. Yes, we are all human, and yes, we all lose are tempers sometimes, but it is a choice nonetheless. In addition, dropping the F-bomb on someone is very different from threatening someone, especially coming from someone of Serena's size and muscle mass. I would be scared too.

Posted by Samantha elin 09/15/2009 at 09:23 PM

Another thing on Carillo, her self righteous indignation over Serena's tirade is a little bit hypocritical when I have heard her defend J-mac many times who she grew up with. I've heard her say that most of his tirades were due to bad calls. I guess she has more tolerance for bad behavior when it comes to someone she grew up with and won a mixed slam with and who is a very close friend. Hmmm! Her buddy J-mac could write the book on how to abuse refs and linespeople.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 09/15/2009 at 09:31 PM

Nicely written,Steve. And I agree with your assessment of the foot-fault cal and rule, and why Serena desewves an F. you're also right, IMO, in observing that her frustration had been building. It could also be argued that her aggression has been building for some time now. She had evem taken to wearing in-your-face-nasty-rude T-shirts at the US Open this year. Something's wrong with her world-view, it's skewed, and it needs amajor adjustment, immediately.

I agree with berkee that she needs to have all her points earned at the US Open stripped away and to be suspend through the 2010 AO. I'd personally prefer to see the suspension last an entire year, but that would merely cause certain interest groups to enter the fray with fangs and claws bared. And the sport of tennis doesn't need that.

I think Jimmy did well for his forst major outing. He'll only improve. MArtina, while sometimes insightful, is a weak voice behind the mic.

Carillo showed, again, why the producers like her so much. She gets the job done, doesn't mince her words, and keeps it crisp enough to keep some of us listening.

Posted by Samantha elin 09/15/2009 at 09:42 PM

Slice and Dice, Serena deserves to be suspended l year for curseing and threatening a linesperson and Rodinova received not one days suspension for firing a ball at spectators? Well that sounds fair to me.

Posted by Account Deleted 09/15/2009 at 09:53 PM

Steve for once i agree with your post but i hate you for picking Federer to be the champion because you really suck at predictions.I was happy when you were rooting against him and he was always winning.!And now this???ok enough.I wont cry over spilled milk.Both man are worthy to be called champion and unfortunately for a Roger fanatic like me,My champion didn't win.Because if did, am sure GOAT issue will be forever sealed.Luckily for the rest of the field.Im sure they all heaved a sigh of relief.But now, they will once again be wary of another contender and that's Delpo.

In reply to your post GERT, i'll SPIT right back at you in Roger's behalf.Your hatred of the Man really blinded you to some hard facts.Being a role model,means you also have to fight for your right.Right to talk freely and right to cuss freely when you feel like you are being judged unfairly as that of the stupid umpire who obviously floats on his high chair really abusing his authority and making calls unfairly. Im sure Fed's children and those who will have the chance to watch this match in the future will cheer on Roger big time and will flip him the bird.Roger is too much of a gentleman and a rolemodel that he didnt do that thing!

Posted by Red 09/15/2009 at 10:11 PM

Hey Steve,
What grade would you give yourself for your predictions this tournament?

Posted by TB 09/15/2009 at 10:22 PM

If youre defending the Serena tirade youre proabably just a blind fan or have some kind of vested interest in defending her. Her behavior was totally unacceptable, especially from a multi-grand slam winner in that type of spot light. The action was wrong regardless of where and who did it, but it was wrong. Ive always thought Serena seemed a bit fake and egotistical and her responses to the tirade seem consistent with that impression. She still tries to explain it away and makes excuses like a child caught cheating. And while im sure one can dig through the vault of old matches and find situtaions where players have done or said questionable things, but this situation was clearly over the top. And to suggest that Fed dropping a couple of curse words is equivilent to Serena threatening to shove a Fing ball down someone's throat and physically intimidating them is absurd.

Posted by Samantha elin 09/15/2009 at 10:42 PM

Nobody is defending Serena, she was given a point penalty at match point, paid a fine, completely embarassed herself, has issued an apology,the USO 09 is over and like someone said it is time to move on. TB firing a ball at someone is also "clearly over the top."

Posted by Obispo 09/15/2009 at 10:45 PM

Federer didn't say the f-word. Get your facts straight.

Posted by Sara 09/15/2009 at 10:50 PM

Why is no one talkig about that jerk from CBS that didn´t want to let DelPo talk in Spanish?!?! I was very upset for him, he ahd to beg to address his spanish speeaking fans! In the women´s final I heard 3 languages at least!

Posted by squarish 09/15/2009 at 10:56 PM

Good Evening everyone, I hope that all is well with the end of the Grand Slam season and the void that is felt in all of our hearts. I've been lurking these posts for a while, and can't help but poke my head up and add a few comments of my own.

First: Mr. Tignor is pretty much on the mark with all of these grades. He always seems to have much better hindsight than foresight... but that's how the saying goes ;)

In particular, I completely agree with the 'F' grade for Serena, and the related 'A' for Mary Carillo. It was a disgusting moment in the sport's history.

As for the examples brought to light by Samantha elin, I agree that those should have been sanctioned as well. However, just because they did not, does not mean that it is amnesty for all afterward. Basically, I'm saying "So what?"

Posted by Bobby 09/15/2009 at 10:58 PM

I enjoyed the end of the Juan Martin del Potro bit and laughed out loud at the description of Melanie Oudin, in her victory pose, as "the slightly berserk face of teen triumph". It would have been nice to see something about Yanina Wickmayer, the mixed champions and perhaps Venus Williams. Still it was a great read.

Posted by Samantha elin 09/15/2009 at 10:59 PM

Basically, I'm saying "So what". I'm not!

Posted by squarish 09/15/2009 at 11:09 PM

So basically, what you're saying is that because other stuff in the past has been essentially(unjustly) ignored, Serena's and any other potential future infractions should be ignored as well? That argument is absurd.

Posted by lioheart 09/15/2009 at 11:10 PM

agree with most of the grades but wheres
yanina and k. bond ..gee maybe they had a cake walk but hey they reach sf and qf better than lena d, sharpie , jj and dina still good post

Posted by lioheart 09/15/2009 at 11:11 PM

oh and marin also deserved a bit of a spotlight no?
anyway im out good night every1

Posted by TB 09/15/2009 at 11:14 PM

"Samantha elin"

Well, perhaps the ball incident you speak of is also unacceptable, but we cant define all moral acts based on which rule was or was not enforced by some people at some point in time. WHat serena did was wrong, regardless if Jimmy Conners yelled at his mother in 1979. People are notoriously inconsistent, and these rules are not black and white. Id think that shooting a ball at someone in the crowd would warrant a point penalty, but if it didnt it doesnt mean that no one else in the future cannot be fined or penalized for such behavior. Im not saying she should be suspended, that seems a bit extreme, but the point penalty was the right move at that moment for that action. And while she apologized, it seems pretty clear she doesnt really see the problem.

Posted by TB 09/15/2009 at 11:17 PM

"""So basically, what you're saying is that because other stuff in the past has been essentially(unjustly) ignored, Serena's and any other potential future infractions should be ignored as well? That argument is absurd."""

Good one Squarish, i was trying to make a similar point.

Posted by Samantha elin 09/15/2009 at 11:19 PM

Who said it should be ignored, did you not read where I said she got the punishment she deserved? It absurb for you to pretend that she wasn't punished. She was fine, received a point penalty as well as national criticism. I'm simply saying that you have to be consistent when dishing out punishment. I FIRMLY believe that actually hitting a spectator with a ball is more severe then threatening to do so, butn't actually hitting the person. To me actually hitting is worse then a threat.

Posted by Samantha elin 09/15/2009 at 11:22 PM

And where in my post did I say that any future similar actions should be ignored, I never said that because I don't believe that. Our disagrement isn't over ignoring what Serena did, but on the severity of the punishment. I believe the punishment she received fit the action, you don't and that is where the disagreement lies.

Posted by John Baldwin 09/15/2009 at 11:25 PM

Great post by the way Steve. I agree with most of your observations of the open.. I do however disagree with suspending Serena. First I would like to say I'm am no way defending her actions. I thought it was disgraceful for the sport and for her. She has no right to go at the linesperson like that. However lets keep in mind a few things. First Serena is a professional player with no prior history of violence against anyone and just because she has a bigger physique doesn't mean she was going to actually attack the official. I had no doubt in mind that she was not going to really attack the official. Now in regards to penalties, I believe $10,000 is not enough but to suspend a player for the next grand slam or even take away ranking points is completely unfair. There have been many other times in Tennis where a player has done something offensive on the court and was never suspended. Especially with the Rodionova scenario where she actually hit someone in the stands or even Jeff Tarango's tirade at Wimbledon. Everyone makes a mistakes in their lives and we need to fine her more and move on..

As for DelPo this was a big win for him and I definitely feel like he has moved ahead of Novak and Murray right now..And not because he beat Federer but it was the way he did it. He didn't fold mentally against Federer which is key in beating him. Now more than ever he will like any other player give you a look. Many times in the past other players were too "awe" to take advantage. however Delpo seen a opening in the 5-4 game in the 2nd set took advantage and changed the match. Props to him for that..Looking forward to the rest of this season and next season.

Posted by Samantha elin 09/15/2009 at 11:25 PM

And let's be clear on what Rodonova did, she didn't accidently hit a ball into the stand, she deliberatly tried to hit a spectator for booing her.

Posted by OK 09/15/2009 at 11:28 PM

Steve - I missed, and I'm sure it's out there somewhere given your vehemence on the subject, where you called for equal treatment of Andre Agassi when he not only brandished his racquet as weapon, but used it as one in firing not one, but two balls, at a linesperson at Wimbledon a few years ago.

Please let us know where we can find your thoughts on that. And if you didn't think it important to address back then (in which case there obviously is no record of it), I hope you'll explain why not, and how Serena's situation is the same or different from Agassi's.

I look forward to it.

Posted by Samantha elin 09/15/2009 at 11:29 PM

Just to make myself clear, what Serena did was indefensible, no way around it.

Posted by BK 09/15/2009 at 11:34 PM

Disagree on Serena. I think people love piling on. This is low-hanging fruit: she swore and cussed on national TV. Fine, she was wrong. Give her the fine. She should know better. But cut her some slack, it was a tight situation and she wears her heart on her sleeve and fights and believes in herself - which is more than I can say for most of the other competitors on the WTA tour. What she brings to the table is a lot more than what she takes from it. I'd dock her a grade and a half for poor judgment but I don't fail her. GIve me a profane, arrogant and flawed female fighter any day over a nice, polite lady who is always a runner-up.

Posted by OK 09/15/2009 at 11:35 PM

I think what Samantha is saying, and what I think she's been saying eloquently throughout, is that rules that are not applied equally and consistently are not useful.

How do players know what is acceptable? Why is Serena "brandishing" a racquet at a linesperson worse than "using" your racquet as a weapon like Agassi did against linespeople who angered him at Wimbledon a few years ago.

Consistency matters. If you don't have it, you sacrifice the integrity of your sport in much greater ways than Agassi's behavior in firing tennis balls at linespeople.

People that refuse to acknowledge that are either foolish or myopic in their view of the Serena situation.

Posted by Elevennis Anytwo? 09/15/2009 at 11:36 PM

Nice comments, your first two, Samantha elin. I remember that Bjorkman outburst; it was crazy, but at least it was directed at a chair umpire who could defend himself.

Wow, SnD going for the big suspension. That's harsh. Serena's outburst was horrifying, but in retrospect, it's almost comically over-the-top and plainly out-of-control. It was clearly a crime of passion -- lineswomanslaughter, not first-degree murder. A probation period with tennis fans will do.

Mr. Tignor strikes again. We should all encourage him to post twice daily to set loose all that excellent thinking and writing so that we can all benefit from it. Your thought process on Serena was especially clear.

However, there is a notion in philosophy and law that applies to McEnroe's belief that this call should not have been made at that stage in the match. Or even that foot faults should not be called at all. It is the idea of proportionality. Is the sanction appropriate to the violation? That is, is sufficient advantage gained by foot faulting that it needs to be discouraged by penalty of a fault?

To answer that, I think we need to recognize that foot faults in the professional tennis context are mere accidents. They occur only a handful of times over several matches. The pros often don't realize they have touched the line. Indeed, they are actively trying to follow the rule, to avoid the foot fault (perhaps because the punishment is so extreme, but I'll dodge that question for now).

That said, is it really proportional to call their serve a fault, or even take a point away when the accident occurs on a second serve? Is it proportional to send Serena to match point down for touching an inch of the line? I would argue the answer is "No" to all of the above queries.

What would be a proportional response? Perhaps a fault on first serves and a let on second serves. Or a let on either one. Remember, we already call a let for the ball touching the net on a serve. Would it be fair to call a fault every time a serve clips the tape yet lands in? I don't think so. Thus, the lesser punishment of having to redo the otherwise good serve is applied.

My answer, then, is to call a let on all foot faults that occur on otherwise good services. As it stands today, the foot fault is too harsh a penalty, disproportional to the offence. And having to re-serve would remain an adequate annoyance to players to discourage them from foot-faulting. And, if they want to throw off the receiver, they can still catch their toss a couple of times; there should be no need to delay the game with deliberate foot faults.

Posted by Samantha elin 09/15/2009 at 11:59 PM

EA, no, the umpire couldn't defend himself because he didn't understand Swedish. Jonas threatened him in Swedish, called him the B and P word, use the F word many times.They should have had someone interpret what he said and he should have been punish for it after the match. It shouldn't have been ignored.

Posted by Samantha elin 09/16/2009 at 12:01 AM

Also, to me being Swedish it was so horrible what Jonas did because you NEVER abuse someone when they can't understand a word you're saying and can therefore not defend themselves. Well good nite all.

Posted by TB 09/16/2009 at 12:43 AM

HA, so "OK" and Samantha are a real ethics team here. "Ok" is saying if there is no consistency in rules then players have no idea whats right and whats wrong? Thats absurd. I think we all can see, unless we delude ourselves, that Serena's behavior was totally unacceptable, and to imply she needed some type of offical rule stating that "players will not threaten officials with physical violence" to know it was wrong, well that again is absurd. So, I guess if there was a clear rule stating something to that effect then Serena would have behaved differently? Yes she's human, yes people make mistakes, yes she's been punished, but some on here seem to be suggesting that its no big deal and that it should be taken so lightly. We all experience frustration in our lives, and as responsible adults, we are expected to control anger and aggression, at least to some degree, and she went well over the line. And again Samantha, what myself, and Squarish were saying is that whether or not some other tennis pro did or didnt get punished at some point in time doesnt determine if Serena's behavior was the right thing to do. It sounds as if the other person deserved a violation, but the fact that they didnt get one doesnt mean that Serena should have gotten a pass. I certainly agree that consistency would be nice, and people like agassi or whoever crossed certain lines should have received similar or appropriate violations, but to suggest that the rules are meaningless when they are not followed 100% of the time is worse than myopic, id say its vacuous. SO if i run a red light and get a warning from a police officer who happens let me off the hook, does this make the rule meaningless? I still know that its not allowed and i should avoid doing it because there are possible negative consequences. Certain behaviors are wrong, and we as humans know they are wrong and dont need rules to tell us, unless youre a sociopath.

Posted by Voltaire 09/16/2009 at 12:45 AM

Steve-You were indeed very prescient about Deluge Potro....that forehand,that serve,that coverage....cooed you awhile back. I guess you opted for Roger in the final just so Juan might win....some delicious conspiracy! I watched 3 mins highlights of his win over Nadal in Montreal.....saw one ferocious forehand,one jumping backhand and decided that's he's winning USO. But those 37 forehands should alert Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty folks....if not most men await destruction.

Poor Murray....he really seemed to have ironed out his creativity(some classic phrase that). Winning Slams by retrieving has ended with Aranxa Sanchez Vicario.....wakeup Murray!

Posted by abbey 09/16/2009 at 12:48 AM

steve, you're definitely my favorite tennis writer. you just capture moments perfectly and put them into words so eloquently.

my favorite was about del potro's player box as the repeated hugs captured my attention too. and the way your wrote about it, actually made me tear up

Posted by Azhdaja 09/16/2009 at 12:53 AM

Djokovic analysys? I think you (Steve) were too generous toward him.

The guy simply goes from one extreme to another.

Extreme #1: From being extremly cocky, fighting everyone and everything, claiming to be #1, denying any supremacy of Federer's, and winning the tourneys: MS, MC and GS as well.

Extreme #2: To winning only two lesser rank tournaments per year (Doha, Serbia Open), soft at the net and at the play at all, acknowledging everything to Federer, giving credits to everyone, able and capable of losing matches to everyone, chocking the decisive points, asking the god to help him with something that is not the god's job, loosening his serve and his inside-out forehand, soft backhand, giving up too easy and quickly break pints, even entire matches...

It might take a few years before he finally settles to what's called tennis maturity. If ever? He is the biggest questiion mark among the top 10. Only time will answer this one, since neither Djoker himself knows that answer .

And just to add: it took Djokovic 5 years to learn a basic lesson of drop-shots: not to drop-shot from the baseline!?!? (Since I saw him at the first time now not going for such ridiculous shots.)

Posted by Azhdaja 09/16/2009 at 01:13 AM

Nobody mentioned kudos to the lineswoman who called Serena's FF.

Only few (linesman) would call FF at that situation and to that player - 11 time GS champion and home favourite!!. (We know that Jonny Mac is not one of them for sure.) That's why Serena went nuts. She simply couldn't believe that somebody would've made that call against her.

I am a soccer referee, and as a linesman I called wrong throw-in at the final match of the national tournament. The sideline coach of that team cracked on me with the similar argument: "who on earth would made such a call in this situation", he yelled! Not improtant here to mention how he was treated, but my answer certainly was: "A good referee, mister!"

I wish we had more of those linesman in tennis. She had an eye and the guts to make such a call. Kudos to her.

Posted by gliciouss 09/16/2009 at 01:38 AM

if i were playing in serens's shoes i would have lost it for sure...i would have yelled...and i would have been really angry...i would have sworn...but probably not threatened...but yes definitely would have lost it...and i am guessing so would most other people...

Posted by Azhdaja 09/16/2009 at 01:47 AM

Sorry, omission in my 1:13Am post instead "...I called wrong throw-in...", should stay"...I called A wrong throw-in..."

Posted by Azhdaja 09/16/2009 at 01:55 AM

I just watched Djokovic's presser after his loss to Federer. The guy is talking about everything and anything except his own faults, or his own mistakes and self-belief!??

He talked about Federer's supremacy 75% of the time (??), he talked about the luck, the opponent's skills, he even stateted that he could've won that match, that he was close of winning all three sets (???)...bla, bla..that guy simply lost reality.

Someone shoudl've explained to him that he lost it in straights!! Was not able to take ONE seta away in his loss(??). He didn't realised that yet (??!). Wake up Djoko! It's 5 till noon.

If he still thinks to be #1 and win some more majors he MUST go down-to-earth. Otherwise, Kohlschreiber, Monfils, Simon, Gulbis, Niemenen...are gonna be his level.

Posted by susan 09/16/2009 at 02:09 AM

This is why I just can't stop reading I find a link to a blog written by queer academics writing about sports and the Serena incident. Too good.

And it is refreshing to read comments, some of them insightful and others nutty, from posters who are not part of the regulars' club (although the latter contribute many of the same).

Posted by susan 09/16/2009 at 02:12 AM

Oh, and I also enjoy reading Steve's posts, particularly the last line in each post. Usually A quality.

Posted by susan 09/16/2009 at 02:14 AM

or A+

Posted by Marshall1 09/16/2009 at 02:18 AM

Even though I'm a fan of Roger, I think his cursing was uncharacteristic and unwanted. I do think he should be fined, but not as much as Serena.
But the interesting thing is the parallel between Serena and Federer. They both:

a) outplayed by a fierce opponent and have no answer for it
b) wants the title so badly. For Serena, it is for her to get back to number one in the rankings, and for Fed, it is to get match Bill Tilden 6 USO (we all know how Roger is always putting pressure on himself in making history)
c) are being stubborn and can't let go of the situation (ok, it's easier said than done, but they ARE role models). For Fed, his stubborn-ness is once again manifested with his poor tactically play. As Steve has pointed out, why the hell would you keep hitting to his forehand? Also, he should've sliced more, forcing Delpo to hit his shots low.
d) both can't channel their frustration into constructive and positive energy

For me, personally, I think Fed is obviously in the wrong here and he should apologize. However, I think we should also ask ourselves, in our lives, did we ever curse? Yes, he should've kept quiet even though Delpo is deliberately taking too much time. On the other hand, Serena's tirade is plain scary. Both are unacceptable, period.

Posted by Marshall1 09/16/2009 at 02:23 AM

Good job Steve, btw!
I think looking at these posts, there really is a dilemma that is created by the competitiveness of sports itself. You have to be competitive in order to win, and sometimes wanting to win creates ugly situations (i.e. Serena's tirade). If you don't have the fire and steel of nerves within, you might lose all the time (i.e. Safina's implosion).
BUT, one big BUT, look at Kim Clijsters now, after motherhood, she's all matured. She is both competitive but friendly. She now knows when to go for it in the court, but also manage to keep our outgoing personality intact. She should talk to Serena and maybe give her some tips on how to balance things. I would love to add Nadal to it even though I think sometimes he's just a bit

Posted by manuelsantanafan 09/16/2009 at 02:35 AM

Steve Tignor writes about Rafa:

"Getting run out of town by del Potro was embarrassing, and a possibly a reputation-diminisher in the locker room."

Rafa was injured and somewhat rusty. He was neither "run out of town" nor was there anything "embarrassing" about losing, under those conditions to the person who won the tournament by taking out the five-time champion.

In light of the factors pertaining to Rafa's loss to del Potro, I doubt Rafa's reputation in the locker room was or will be diminished by that loss.

Rafa has never displayed invincibility on hard courts. His wins on hard courts against top players are often closely contested. Again, under the circumstances, Rafa's loss and type of loss was no surprise.

Now, if and when an in-form Rafa loses matches 2, 2, and 2, then, perhaps, Rafa's locker room reputation will suffer.

Posted by zolarafa 09/16/2009 at 03:03 AM


****Why is no one talkig about that jerk from CBS that didn´t want to let DelPo talk in Spanish?!?! I was very upset for him, he ahd to beg to address his spanish speeaking fans! In the women´s final I heard 3 languages at least!

Agreed 100%. I was so mad. this guy had just won a GS and he was not allowed to speak? That was ridiculus. An F for Enberg for that reason.

Posted by zolarafa 09/16/2009 at 03:14 AM


Yep, Rafa had a 15 mm tear in his abdomen when he was playing Delpo. Many players withdraw in conditions les severe than that ( a blister on the toe, Wimbledon QF?). Rafa gave it all. He wasn't able to serve and wasn't able to play his game and still made it to the semis.

For that effort he deserves an A.

That lopsided result was from an injured Rafa to an eventual champion. If anything that determination of Rafa should bring him more respect in the locker room!

Posted by MD 09/16/2009 at 03:55 AM

I believe we have just witnessed the changing of the guard - a generational change with DP's wonderful win. It doesn't mean he will do on to dominate at GS level but it does mean that Federer is a diminished quantity. He will never be dominant again. I was reminded of Safin tearing Sampras apart when he won his first GS. Sampras looked little and frail as did Federer for parts of this match.

The big difference is that Federer very nearly won this match. DP played with astonishing courage at key moments, I don't think I have ever seen a forehand hit as hard for so long in a match. Astonishing. He has a great future if he can remain healthy and motivated. He has the ability to challenge on every surface (poor Andy Murray is no longer the coming man).

As for Federer, he will bounce back and continue to contend at GS level. He served so badly in this match I am wondering if his back problems have returned, it certainly looked like it to me. His footwork looked slow at times but that could have been due to the pace of the DP shots more than anything else. I believe Federer will continue to pick up intermittent GS titles for a few more years, if he remains healthy, but will never have a multiple GS season again. Like Sampras Wimbledon is an obvious place for him to win a few more GS, but I wonder if he will have success elsewhere from now on. Tennis has an exciting new star, who appears to have accepted his talents with a degree of humility that is refreshing. Next year will be fascinating.

Posted by reckoner 09/16/2009 at 04:12 AM

steve, im still not sure you call a foot fault at that stage of the match when its not even clear there was a foot fault to begin with... im not a huge fan of serena so this isnt coming from a biased fan sitting in her corner... in fact, i think shes generally offensive and too much of a diva for her own good... but i do think that perhaps the motivations of the linesperson should be assessed as well ?

we will never know if there really was a foot fault or if the lineswoman had a hidden agenda

Posted by Pat frm Philippines 09/16/2009 at 04:31 AM

well steve nice one...

but still your hatred on the williamsovas isn't gone after all... the way you praise their games in wimbledon is indeed a fluke, pure of fakery...

at least you should have given serena a chance...we all know champs are humans, and as humans they do mistakes quite often...well, champs should act like champs, but how did serena react in 2003 french open sf, in 2004 us open quarters???

Posted by The_Boy 09/16/2009 at 05:08 AM

Personally i feel the claims that Serena should be banned for a year from tennis is amazingly ignorant.
1) A foot fault is known to be an erratic call, it seems each separate official has their own tolerance level for it and therefore we get a fluctuating level of foot faults depending on each lines person. The replay shown Serena to barely tip her toe over the line and to think she did not do that more often in the match, considering she is serving the same each time is beyond, which suggests other officials just decided it was to small to call, if she had been called on I earlier perhaps she would have been more aware and the incident may have been avoided. However the main point is that a foot fault called at such a vital point considering a) the margin for error b) inconsistent judgement c) current uncertainty of how much advantage it really gives the players means the line judge was making a very debateable call and a key junction that she knew would put Serena against match point.
2) Now I feel the call was petty but the line judge has every right to do it, as its in her power but she must have realised that by doing this call which unlike in or out cannot be chanllenged and in is not so defined as in or out would cause a reaction and as a lines judge should have expected and accepted the tirade. I know I am sounding uncaring but she is a tennis official and should be aware of the pressure and emotional turmoil a call like that can have on play.
3) Serena did use swear words but as far as I can tell. She stood far away enough from the lines woman and even with her racket raised (Surely just to point not as a head crushing weapon) was still a fair distance from her, yet the lines woman was threatened? The swear word cannot be the reason for such negative reaction and talking of suspension because TMF told a empire he could say what ever the f*** he likes. Yet maybe his reputation, lack of massive arms and softer accent means he appears less threatening but he still swore at an official yet I have not heard a mention of it besides as a few amused besides? So Federer can swear at official and people laugh if it off yet Serena does can get destroyed.
4) I realise Serena threatened the lines woman and Federer did not but its debateable how much she said and the ball shoving down your throat, harsh cruel and maybe deserving of a fine after the match perhaps even prize money been taken but to take away the match from Serena and more important the win for Kim! Once again the line judge knew what she was doing and by claiming threatening behaviour would cost Serena the match and Kim the victory, I found like disgraceful as the lines woman could have brushed it off and complained after the match. Also I am not sure but I think the ball shoved down the throat comment came in the second tirade once Serena realised that she had lost the match and been defaulted, realising the lines woman input had cost the match. I can’t honestly saying I would have done the same if someone complaint cost me the match.

I am not a Serena fan, if anything I hope she never wins a grand slam again because being a Venus lover I hold a lot of resentment for Serena. I feel she is cocky in interviews and disrespectful to other peoples victories over her but still I thought she was treated unfairly in the match, unfairly in the media and tbh Steve unfairly by you and your inability to acknowledge the emotion of the situation (losing your US open title on a questionable call) and the tactlessness of the lines judge that should have known better or have been more understanding of the situation and implication of her actions.

Posted by Samantha elin 09/16/2009 at 06:29 AM

I see not one person answered Ok questions. "Why is Serena brandishing a racquet worse than Agassi using his racquet as a weapon against a lineperson who angered him at Wimbledon a few years ago?" I would also ask why is Rodonova actually physically hitting a ball at a spectator and using her racquet as a weapon to do so,less worse than Serena making a threat to do what Rodonova actually did?" Nobody answered Ok question because most people recognize that actually hitting someone is worse than merely threatening to do it. Hingis had less cocaine in her system then Gasquet, so why should he receive a pat on the back and Hingis receive a two year suspension? Penalties which are given out in an arbitrary and unfair manner will always be questioned and challenged as they should be. The United states supreme court oveturned the death penalty because they found it unconstitutional that poor and minority defendants were given the death penalty in disaportional numbers to white and more wealthy defendants who committed the same crimes. For a law or penalty to be just, fair and equitable, you must be able to say, yes, I treated all the same. If you don't then I guarantee someone will challenge you. Jon Weirtheim challenge the Hingis sentence when he said she should be reinstated immediately and that challenge was based on the unfairness of the two sentences given out to two people who basically committed the same actions.

Posted by Weekend Warrior 09/16/2009 at 06:40 AM

sara & zolarafa: I picked up on that too. Mr Enberg was fawning over Federer earlier. And then brushes Del Potro aside when DP asks to say something in Spanish ("We're running out of time"). This was only the biggest moment in this guy's career. Boo, Mr. Enberg.

Posted by MZK 09/16/2009 at 06:44 AM

Steve, it's nice to read one of your post-Slam gradebooks again (the last two Slams kind of left a bad taste in my mouth so I didn't read up on them). I'm guessing you have more grades in the pipeline, given oversights like Roddick and such.

Still, the only A that I'd give Mary Carillo is for Acerbic, Annoying, Aggravating, and Asinine. (Her brand of 'humour' makes me cringe and her conspicuous long stretches of silence when one of her favourites is struggling is very telling - don't even get me started on the actual commentary itself.) I think Serena paid her dues for her transgression already; anything more would be as much an overreaction as her meltdown was. And I say this as someone who suspects she very deliberately cost herself the point penalty to taint Kim's win because she couldn't believe someone she used to own was coming back and outplaying her to within two points of defeat, and it drove her to the brink in more ways than one. Still, I hope she's back to her usual Slam-contending ways come Melbourne and maybe she'll defend one of her major titles for once (I'm thinking Wimby 2003 was the only time).

Posted by les 09/16/2009 at 07:15 AM

Absolutely an F MINUS for Dick Enberg:
His refusal to allow Del Potro to speak to his family/friends was utterly hideous, base and insensitive. Also disrespectful to the one who had just rewarded all the ticketed fans with a great win. And he even cut him short.
His choice to use the time to discuss the 'obscene' monetary and material payments so crassly rather than let Del Potro speak from his heart was a tacky, classless, almost brutally so - move. When will the USTA stop using him? He always fouls up but this is the worst ugly blunder yet. How embarrassing - and see what a message the prize emphasis conveys about Americans being crass and tasteless (just check out the BBC tennis talk to verify this)

Posted by les 09/16/2009 at 07:51 AM

Being angry and smashing a racket or using a foul word is not nice, but it belongs to a very different category than openly THREATENING anyone, whether it be player, officials, linesperson, or fans.
According to law, is this not actually approaching criminal behavior?

I cannot fathom why with all the technology we have, that press omits the worst of the tirade and doesn't reveal that Serena used the phrase "..I WILL KILL YOU" to the linesperson. Even Devin Frazier, on Breakfast at the Open, quoted these as the very words from Serena, according to, as he stated it, the Associated Press.
When another person is obviously threatened and there is proof, it is a serious offense and should not be allowed to evaporate into the realm of just an excusable overreaction.
The linesperson was not meted out verbal assaults but was forced into close proximity of a hell-bent racket-wielding maniac of the moment.. and for doing what she is paid to do, responsibly, no less.
The full disclosure of Serena's verbiage should have been exposed and from what I have seen, it is still being well-hidden. Serena Williams indeed needs to be suspended and no fine is too great. It is a miscarriage of justice and disgrace to allow her on court the next day, and she with no sense of what she has done. Contrary to some opinions expressed, the game of tennis does not need her or her behavior -and it doesn't need her 'wins' in order to be a beautiful and interesting sport. That is a meaningless assumption -and full of hot air. In fact, we need to stop this ugly thug-like trend, in order to preserve that special genteel and civil quality of the game of tennis.

Posted by les 09/16/2009 at 07:58 AM

Being angry and smashing a racket or using a foul word is not nice, but it belongs to a very different category than openly THREATENING anyone, whether it be player, officials, linesperson, or fans.
According to law, is this not actually approaching criminal behavior?
I cannot fathom why with all the technology we have, that press omits the worst of the tirade and doesn't reveal that Serena used the phrase "..I WILL KILL YOU" to the linesperson. Even Devin Frazier, on Breakfast at the Open, quoted these as the very words from Serena, according to, as he stated it, the Associated Press.
When another person is obviously threatened and there is proof, it is a serious offense and should not be allowed to evaporate into the realm of just an excusable overreaction.
The linesperson was not meted out verbal assaults but was forced into close proximity of a hell-bent racket-wielding maniac of the moment.. and for doing what she is paid to do, responsibly, no less.
The full disclosure of Serena's verbiage should have been exposed and from what I have seen, it is still being well-hidden. Serena Williams indeed needs to be suspended and no fine is too great. It is a miscarriage of justice and disgrace to allow her on court the next day, and she with no sense of what she has done. Contrary to some opinions expressed, the game of tennis does not need her or her behavior -and it doesn't need her 'wins' in order to be a beautiful and interesting sport. That is a meaningless assumption -and full of hot air. In fact, we need to stop this ugly thug-like trend, in order to preserve that special genteel and civil quality of the game of tennis.

Posted by Nik 09/16/2009 at 08:08 AM

How about giving CBS a D for their coverage? I couldn't see the first half of the final on TV because my local CBS station was showing "The Young and the Restless" instead.

And Steve, you must promise to always pick against Federer from now on. It has been amusing to read your picks for this year's USO. When I read your finals predictions, I winced when I saw you picked Fed to win it all. Please go back to picking Murray, Delpo ... or even Nalbandian! :-)

Thanks for the coverage. It is always fun reading your posts.

Posted by les 09/16/2009 at 08:21 AM

I meant to say, "The linesperson was not ONLY meted out verbal assaults, but was forced into close proximity of a ....racket-wielding maniac of the moment."

Posted by Julian 09/16/2009 at 08:34 AM

Failing to mention Federer's cursing spat on live television is lame, and reveals a bias that must go pretty deep. I can understand one saying that Serena used more inappropriate words and is therefore subject to more blame than Fed, but to excuse him entirely while making Serena seem evil makes me feel pretty crappy as a black tennis watcher. I'm also a law student, so let me ask a question - what is your precedent for imposing a serious suspension over a heat-of-the-moment statement?

Posted by petekol 09/16/2009 at 08:34 AM

Great final. Too bad Enberg was so disrespectful at the trophy ceremony.

Posted by Julian 09/16/2009 at 09:06 AM

Two quick points:

1) Serena seems to be garnering very little good will from her reputation as an incredibly fair competitor. The Williams sisters have always been known for refusing to complain about calls, which makes this action by Serena out of character. I think her actions aren't being covered that way because what she did fit into the stereotype Serena-haters have been waiting to compare her to. That's what stinks about this situation.

2) Anyone want to offer a reasonable comparison to Hewitt's racist statements about that line judge a few years back? Recent history of tennis shows that players get angry at line callers, tennis isn't the stale upper-crust sport you seem to worship. IMHO, channeling some anger toward an ump is a very human reaction in an individual sport where you can't vent with your teammates. Is the double standard becoming more clear? See why Bodo was wise enough to take a few days to think about the situation?

Posted by vv_varaiya 09/16/2009 at 09:12 AM

F- for Dick Enberg's crass behavior grudgingly allowing Del Potro to address the crowd in Spanish. Capitalism gone amok. The Usta is heartless corporate monster, and it shows. Are they a non-profit???

They should allow challenges to foot-faults. A player committing an infraction at any point in the match should be penalized, but only if it can be verified. Usta should change the rules.

Posted by Bhai Mirzai 09/16/2009 at 09:35 AM

My first reaction to Fed's loss was similar to many others fans who love Federer's tennis: its ok, he already has more than anyone else in history, Delpo played good, Fed had a bad serving day ...

This morning, I woke up with a much worse feeling about his loss because:
1. I wanted him to win this one, so that he would have a shot at 4 slams in a row (and I think that possibility is now gone forever for Fed)
2. His shots were going out by such a large margin (especially some of the backhand drives), that it left me with the impression that, for the first time, HE DID NOT CARE.

Posted by Corrie 09/16/2009 at 09:46 AM

I really enjoyed Ryota's summary on p.1. And goodness, for once I actually agreed with everything Azhadja said, about Djokovic. I've grown to enjoy watching Novak a lot more than I'll ever enjoy Murray so I hope he can get his act together. Is it because he's wanting approval in the US and chasing endorsements that he's trying to act sporting and saintly? Whatever, Novak has his appealing side.

The umpire was terrible, I don't blame Fed for getting angry over the ridiculous challenge times. He should have got MORE angry over the umpire letting a double fault be replayed, at such a critical point too. Umpires should be chosen on merit, not on being the right nationality.

As for Fed saying the s word, so what? He didn't stand over and menace a little helpless linesperson like Serena did. He simply got angry with an unfair and incompetent umpire who talked to him as if he was a school kid. Plenty of players do plenty of swearing, eg. A Murray, and many seem to accept that it's in the heat of the battle.

Fed's false image as a boring goody two shoes needed removing. I hope he does a bit more to remove it. I hope he's now thoroughly cursing himself for doing that stupid drop volley when two points away from 2 sets up, maybe beating himself on the head as Youzhny once did.

Posted by Elmers Glue 09/16/2009 at 10:07 AM

For Serena to virtually threaten to kill a lineswoman is a unique kind of tirade not comparable to merely using obsenities. For her to immediately resort to that kind of thinking tells me there is something wrong with her. What's worse, for her to be reluctant to apologize makes me think that she is a psychopath. She should be banned from tennis for 1 year. If she is only banned for a short period of time then she will pretend that she was going to take that time off anyway.

Posted by Elmers Glue 09/16/2009 at 10:11 AM

Don't the actions of Serena, pointedly threatening to kill a lineswoman, constitute a crime? Isn't she vulnerable to criminal prosecution?

Posted by CW 09/16/2009 at 10:29 AM

Serena never said she would kill the lineswoman thats why when she clearly said WHAT? I didn't say that? the woman took it back! The lineswoman added that little bit to it but no one mentions that (thats wrong!)

What else do you want from Serena? HER BLOOD? Tar and feather her? Come on! Get over it. I'm sure everyone's potty mouths here said worse. I know I have!

Posted by geikou 09/16/2009 at 10:37 AM

"He should have got MORE angry over the umpire letting a double fault be replayed, at such a critical point too."

I'm pretty sure that was a first serve by Delpo. Federer was then supposed to receive a second serve with the successful challenge, but Garner ruled that because so much time had passed and with so much commotion that Delpo would get another first serve. Of course, Federer should not have been allowed to challenge after so long in the first place. (Then again, Garner had allowed Delpo to take forever.) All in all, a huge mess. Also, Federer really ought to know the rules about what happens when someone in the audience yells "out". He was getting rather desperate and panicked at the time. (Although I think it's unfair that the player is simply SOL.)

Regarding whether Federer should have been warned or fined for his profanity, he was speaking in a normal voice, so the crowd that was there could not hear him. And it was during a commercial changeover, and as the name implies, stations generally go to commercial during that period. I think that Federer had a reasonable expectation that the cameras and mics were not on him at that time. Perhaps the players should be informed that not everyone goes to commercial during changeovers and then we can see how behavior changes.

Posted by Elmers Glue 09/16/2009 at 10:41 AM

The way Serena thinks reminds me of OJ Simpson. They both carry the desire to win way too far. OJ murdered his wife and her innocent friend rather than "lose" to her in some argument. Before that he beat her up multiple times for the same reason. To this point Serena has merely threatened to kill a lineswoman who Serena feels treated her unfairly. Serena's reluctance to apologize after such outrageous and credibly threatening behavior is what puts her in the same category with OJ. Any reasonable person in the position of the lineswoman would interpret Serena's tirade and her failure to offer a reassuring apology as a credible threat to do bodily harm up to and including murder.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 09/16/2009 at 10:46 AM

Apparently, Elmer's Glue cannot be used to affix a brain to a skull to prevent the brain from flying out and finding another home.

Posted by zolarafa 09/16/2009 at 10:46 AM

more grades:

US open live free streaming on A++
US Open was head and shoulders above other slams just for that. It showed that showing tennis on TV or the internet does not bring down the ticket sale as this year the ticket sales were record breaking.

Scheduling C-
I still don't understand why Rafa-Gonzo match was scheduled for Thursday night , knowing it was going to rain (magic umbrella?) and on top of that, knowing it was going to pour on Friday, asked the players to wait in the locker room all day!

Super Saturday F-
O understand the TV coverage issues ( and yes, we saw the sacrifices CBS made to show the matches! young and the restless over semis?)
why not shift the US Open one week back and have the final week on Labor day weekend? a Saturday Semis and Monday Finals?

Dick Enberg F- (again!)
beyond pathetic and embarrassing for not letting Delpo talk.

I also agree that if Serena's behavior is mentioned, Federer's cursing of the umpire should be mentioned too. No discrimination please! I was also surprised that Fed was allowed to challenge after about 5 minutes and a long discussion with the umpire, when it was him cursing the umpire, saying challenges should be withinn 3 seconds!

Posted by CW 09/16/2009 at 10:52 AM

@ elmers glue

Serena = OJ Simpson..... racist much?

Posted by manuelsantanafan 09/16/2009 at 10:53 AM

It seeemed clear that Federer delayed his challenge to del Potro's double fault because of the confusion created by the idiot spectator interjecting himself into the match.

Once, the confusion was clarified about the spectator and how the chair umpire was, APPARENTLY, handling the matter, Federer immediately challenged.

Bottom line. The review showed that del Potro double faulted.

A competent chair umpire would have given Federer the point.

And, had del Potro acted consistent with the concept of fair play, he would have accepted the double fault and moved on--not taken advantage of the poor judgment of the chair umpire.

Posted by Bobcat 09/16/2009 at 11:01 AM

Thanks Steve...Roger's box looks like Saturday in Monte Carlo and people we laymen will never ever know. JDP's box looked like the tramp steamer just arrived and they were given fake visas. I loved the difference even tho I am a true Fed fan. It's a shame Serena will get a light fluff and buff for her actions, she should give her winner's check to an anger management think tank.
It may be the passion that makes her win but should not be the passion that makes her who she is. Flashpoint is a direction many of us choose to avoid as it's eventual end's in a fatality both emotionally and character wise

Posted by geikou 09/16/2009 at 11:03 AM

The point in question in the 4th set tiebreak starts at ~3:30 here:

Starts off with a let. Then the serve. So yes, it was a first serve. Garner may have been a totally inept chair umpire, but at least he was right that it was not a double fault.

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