A different world.
It’s occurred to me that I’ve just taken my longest break from tennis in 3 years. I left amidst the Wimbledon hype, with Roger Federer given the top seed and barely No 2 by a few hundred points, with Serena Williams performing her usual disappearing act between Roland Garros and Wimbledon, oddly under the radar while filling the role of the defending champion for the first time in almost 6 years.
I returned. To a country in the midst of an election campaign, a prime minister I’m not used to seeing as prime minister. A world where ranking orders are reshuffled, and those with – ahem – no slams but busy schedules sit pretty at No 2.
A world in which Justine Henin’s in doubt for the US Open, as is Serena Williams, triumphant, reigning supreme, yet hobbled and dressed as if she was auditioning for the 4th season of Gossip Girl.
A world that hits me with the headline “Fish may have surpassed Roddick as America’s best tennis player” (clickey). Miami was 4 months and a lifetime ago. So, Andy? What have you done for me lately?
A world that puts forward Farty Dish and Anna Chak as weekend winners (what is this? 2006?).
A world where Marion was booted out of Masterchef over the consistency of her Satay sauce and Roger Federer is described in the media as “ailing”, rotting away at a “mere” No 3 in the world. I can’t quite decide which one is more of a travesty. Probably the satay sauce.
By the way, in this brave new world, Roger Federer has a “coach” and Andy Murray doesn’t, and no one is quite sure whether Juan Martin del Potro actually exists or was he merely a figure of our collective imagination. A magical realism, of sorts.
And yes, I’m still waiting for the part where it all makes sense.
Here’s what does make sense.
- Hobbled she may be, Serena Williams was spotted in LA with Christina Milan, walking without crutches.
- Over in Stanford, Ana Ivanovic has stooped to the point of needing wild cards to enter tournaments, but she showed she’s capable of winning matches, snapping a 7 tournament losing streak to take out Kleybs in straight sets. Post-match, Miss Muffin expressed a desire to bulk up, Serena-styled. Riiiiiight … because clearly her problems were physical.
- While Ivanovic at last scored a much needed win, Dinara Safina fared less fortunately, bowing out to Kimiko in 3 sets. This time last year, she was No 1 in the world and rocking the Slovenia Open. But that is yet another world away. This plunge into tennis oblivion is all too Marat-like.
- Better news for the WTA Gen-Y: Maria Sharapova defeated Zheng Jie (No 23) in a dominant 64 75 win, marking her first top 40 victory since Beijing 2009. With 2 fourth round losses to Henin and Serena at the last 2 slams, things are looking up for Masha. Even if you wouldn’t know it on paper.
And what of the rest of the US Open series? With the exception of 2009 when Elena Dementieva and Sam Querrey took home the money, the USOS has always been a good indicator of US Open performance. Will Sharapova stay en-slammed in even numbered years and bring home the last major of the season? Will Ana Ivanovic win more than 2 matches in a row once in a while? Is Dinara Safina headed down the same meteoric path of her brother Marat? Will Justine Henin get her supposed comeback fairy tale back on track in New York? And where the hell is Kim Clijsters?
Stay tuned, ’cause the post-Wimbledon slumberers are slowly awaking.