Here are my favorite storylines from the '05 U.S. Open
Posted: Monday September 12, 2005 11:45AM; Updated: Monday September 12, 2005 11:45AM
High drama at the Open, such as the men's final between Andre Agassi and Roger Federer, proved tennis is alive and well.
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Outspoken tennis pro Justin Gimelstob competed in men's singles, doubles and mixed doubles at this year's U.S. Open. Click here to read all of his commentaries from the tournament.
The 2005 U.S. Open is in the books and, as usual, it resulted in some incredible tennis and storylines.
American tennis is alive and well. Despite Andy Roddick's shocking first-round exit, the torch was carried proudly and successfully by Andre Agassi, JamesBlake, Robby Ginepri and Mike and Bob Bryan.
Agassi showed amazing endurance and shot-making ability while thrilling the New York crowds for the 20th consecutive year. Blake inspired many with his comeback from illness and tragedy to make a run to his first Grand Slam quarterfinal, and Ginepri broke through to his first Grand Slam semi. Meanwhile, the Bryan twins captured their first U.S. Open doubles crown in convincing fashion.
Roger Federer is on his way to becoming the greatest ever. Federer is playing tennis at a level that never has been seen before. On Sunday, a month after turning 24, he won his 23rd consecutive final and his sixth Grand Slam. The most impressive part of his dominance is how easy he is making the game look against the greatest players in the world.
Agassi summed it up best when he said, "Federer doesn't have a weakness and he has a few great shots, so that equates to a problem." Agassi also went on to laud Federer as the best he's ever played. That says it all when you consider Andre's long career and the scope of players against whom he has competed. If you look at the statistics, they're mind-boggling: Against the greatest returner in the history of tennis, Federer nailed 76 percent of his first serves, hit 19 aces and didn't double-fault once. He hit more than 60 winners over four sets.
I've had the privilege of playing against Federer twice, both matches early on in his career: in Heilbronn, Germany, in 1999 and Miami in 2000. Even then it was apparent how physically talented he was. It was obvious to me that his future success would hinge on his ability to rein in his arsenal of weapons on the court and figure out how to best use those technical and physical skills. The only other variables were how well he would deal with adversity and the emotional challenges of confronting greatness.
I'd say he's done all right. He has mastered completely all aspects of the game. His forehand and serve are devastating. His volleys are among the best in tennis and his backhand -- which is his weaker side -- has improved so much that there is no area for opponents to attack. But what really sets him apart is his movement and his understanding of the game. His speed and court coverage give him more time to hit the shots he wants, and his court vision allows him to use his variety to perfection.
Kim Clijsters got the "best player never to win a major" monkey of her back when she dismantled Mary Pierce in the women's final. I'm really happy for Clijsters and I believe that with the confidence of this breakthrough, many more Grand Slam wins are in her future. Kim is a great sportswoman and role model to young girls. She is a tough competitor on the court, but down-to-earth and amiable off it.
In closing, I want to thank everyone that supported my blog these last few weeks. My intention was to provide insight into professional tennis, discuss a few interesting topics, and entertain with my opinions. Hopefully you enjoyed it.