US Open Day 1: Remember the fallen.
As Day 1 of the US Open draws to a close, we’re all still reeling from the disgusting talent of Roger Federer. But let us spare a moment to remember those taken from us too soon.
Goodbye, Evgeny Korolev (ret v Nishikori 67 25). This world needs more Baby Marats.
Au revoir, Dimitry (lost v Melzer, 46 26 63 63 64 26). This world needs more Tursunov tales.
And Gonzo, for whom years of grind, wear and tear has resulted in some bodily payback.
James Blake. Technically not out of the tournament. Not yet. But as I watched him being honored during Monday night’s opening ceremonies for overcoming scoliosis, I felt a pang of sadness. Not just because he looked like a bald Obama. But for his fall from relevance. You wish that every tale of resilience and will came with a Hollywood ending.
And at the end of the day, even Hewitt can’t keep winning grueling 5 setters forever. He lost to Mathieu 6-3 6-4 5-7 4-6 6-1. This was – after all – no real surprise. Even in health and good form, PHM would be a tough first round draw for Rusty, but he made a match of it. In typical Lleyton fashion, he took it to five sets when he had no business losing it in any way other than straight sets. What more can you ask for from a veteran you’ve grown used to, or even like, in the past few years?
But with this loss, very sombre questions are being raised in the Australian media surrounding Hewitt’s future (example). No one enjoys watching a player with 41 wins at Flushing Meadows (bettered only by Fed’s 51 among current players) humbled in the first round. Especially not his home country, for whom Hewitt still represents our best hope at men’s slam glory, which equates to no hope at all.
No. If there is that one last hurrah left in Lleyton, it lies not in an Ivanisevic-like miracle, but in something completely different: in a tournament more prone to upsets, more uplifting at times, though mostly insignificant these days. The Davis Cup.
They say history has a funny way of repeating itself. What they don’t mention is that most of the time, we are absolutely powerless to stop past mistakes from unfolding.
Dinara Safina is taking the same miserable, self-tortuous path that her brother Marat took not so long ago. The only difference is that Marat got over himself long enough to win a slam or two before he headed for the wild moors of tennis exile.
For Safina fans, her results last week in New Haven sparked some hope, when she beat Dani Hantuchova – her conqueror today. But today, there was no such magic. Even Hantochova’s attempts to implode in both sets couldn’t aid Safina in her quest to reestablish a presence in women’s tennis.
I think we’re done with her for the rest of the year. Possibly the next too. Or even …
Alas. Against the dying of the light, in nostalgia or in the futility of rage, we will remember you.