Roddick’s fitting end; the women’s semifinals are set — The Friday Five
By Maud Watson
It may not have been a fairytale ending, but as Andy Roddick’s career came to a close at the hands of Juan Martin del Potro, it felt fitting. Roddick put together a good final run. He played some entertaining matches, beat the players he was supposed to beat, and succumbed to the higher seeded player. He put in a more than respectable performance against del Potro, going out in four sets that included two tiebreakers. His Argentine opponent also handled his victory in a very fitting manner. He applauded Roddick and quickly gave the American the stage to have his moment. Even Roddick’s post-match interview was fitting. There was no rehearsed speech. It was spontaneous, to-the-point, and honest. That’s professional tennis player Andy Roddick in a nutshell. He’ll be missed, but hopefully as he said at the end of his on-court speech, we’ll see him again.
The upper half of the women’s draw has produced a semifinal that will literally be a real scream as the two loudest players on the WTA, Azarenka and Sharapova, will slug it out for a berth in the US Open final. Based on form and seeding, Azarenka is the slight favorite. She’s had an easier road to the semis, with her only tough test coming against defending champion Stosur in the quarterfinals. She’s gotten the better of Sharapova on the hard courts this season, so she’ll be feeling confident. Sharapova won’t be an easy out, however. She’s one of the best fighters on tour, and she also seems to have been carrying a chip on her shoulder the last couple of matches. In addition to pumping herself up, she’s been throwing fist pumps and stare downs in the direction of her opponents. This has all the makings of an entertaining showdown, edge to Azarenka.
David vs. Goliath
It’s no surprise that Serena Williams has found herself in the semis of the US Open. She’s seemingly continued the form that took her to both a Wimbledon title and Olympic Gold. Her opponent in the semis, however, is a shocker. It’s Sara Errani, the tiny Italian who surprised everyone, including herself, when she reached the finals of Roland Garros earlier this year. She’s doing her best to prove it wasn’t a fluke by a strong showing in the Big Apple. Make no mistake – this match is in Serena’s hands. She has the bigger game, and with the way she’s serving, she’s apt to get more than her share of aces. But if Serena is a little off, Errani has the kind of game that can annoy and cause her problems. Kerber’s consistency proved too much in Cincy. Radwanska proved more troublesome at Wimbledon than either Azarenka or Kvitova. And we all remember the colossal upset Emily Loit nearly caused Serena at the Aussie Open years ago. So don’t write this one off just yet. Odds are heavily stacked in the American’s favor, but the Italian may have a few surprises left in her.
Walkin’ the Walk
Prior to his quarterfinal match with Federer, Berdych talked about how he had become a different player and was confident he could potentially pull off the upset. After seeing the way he played to hand Federer his earliest US Open loss since 2003, it’s safe to say he backed up the talk. Berdych has always been a dangerous player and had split his previous six meetings with the Swiss, so an upset wasn’t out of the question. But this victory over Federer felt different. The old Berdych would have panicked after getting broken straight out of the gates. After losing the break in the third and finding himself in a fourth set, the old Berdych likely would have become flustered and choked away the rest of the match. But as evidenced by his post-match press conference, Berdych is learning to see the big picture – that there are going to be momentum shifts and who’s on the other side of the net does make a difference. Keeping it in perspective is what helped him win that match. If Berdych continues to mature and grow mentally stronger, expect to see him at the business end of tournaments with greater frequency.
Moment in the Sun
To this point, it was the best men’s match of the tournament hands down. Two men frequently overshadowed by their more accomplished compatriots made the most of their moment to shine as Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic and Spain’s David Ferrer fought tooth-and-nail to reach the US Open semifinals. They battled for over four hours into the early evening, with the match appropriately concluding in a fifth set tiebreak. Both men deserved the standing O they received heading into the tiebreak, and both would have been a worthy winner. But in the end, it was Ferrer – who fought back from a 1-4 deficit in the fifth – who had a little more heart, stamina, and consistency to move onto the next round. Admittedly, I was afraid he’d crack under the pressure of filling the Rafa void when he took on the No. 4 seed. But he proved me wrong, and in a big way. What a performance by him and the vanquished Tipsarevic, and hopefully it’s a preview of the kind of tennis we can expect from both in the future.