Midterm Grades: Fisticuffs in the stands, dumb scalpers, some tennis
Despite negative pre-tournament talk, the top women seeds are playing well
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal just keep rolling on the New York hardcourt
Fights in the stands and stupid scalping have dimmed the event's luster
Hurricane Earl came and went. There were fisticuffs in the bleachers. An accountant was arrested for scalping tickets NEXT TO THE WILL CALL BOOTH. There were concussions, repercussions. There was oppressive heat and digressive wind. And, oh yeah, they played some, too, at the U.S. Open. Herewith, our midterm grades through Saturday. All marks handed on the North Carolina football program's grading curve.
Women's field: The negative talk before the event has been neutralized by strong play from the top seeds. Caroline Wozniacki is playing like a top seed (and then some), dropping three games in three matches. Kim Clijsters is looking like a defending champ; Maria Sharapova is looking like a former champ. Ana Ivanovic back in the picture. No real holes in the draw and lots of enticing matches to come.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal: Rolling, rolling, rolling.
Spanish Armada: The world's new sports powerhouse nation sends nine men into the round of 32.
Andrea Petkovic: Made it to the fourth round, and you gotta like the footwork.
Mirjana Lucic: Get back on the board, eight-plus years after her last major win, projecting poise and confidence.
Age: Venus Williams, Michael Llodra, Patty Schnyder -- all north of 30 --march proudly on.
Ryan Harrison: Let's just hope the 18-year-old recalls this event for beating a seed and sticking with a solid player for 7-6 in the fifth set, and not for squandering three match points. Without going full-throttle on the hype, a lot of reason for optimism here.
Beatrice Capra: No Capraesque ending -- losing, as she did, 6-0, 6-0 to Sharapova -- but an encouraging run to the middle weekend.
Kei Nishikori: The Japanese workaholic is out with a groin injury, but not before scoring a big-time five set win against Marin Cilic.
Dustin Brown: Didn't offer much against Andy Murray, but a fun player to watch and an easy one to pull for. Never mind an overdue endorsement from the Jamaican Federation. If I'm Nike, I'm getting my hooks in here.
Melanie Oudin: A far cry from last year's magic. But she loses with grace, and now she can shed the Cinderella shroud and get on with her career.
Janko Tipsarevic: A tremendous performance against Andy Roddick. Then -- despite Roddick's encouragement to back up one win with another -- his game and body betray him against Gael Monfils.
Andy Roddick: Not his finest week. A listless second-round exit coupled with an undignified tantrum. New rule: if you insist on picking a verbal fight during a match, start it with someone other than an official who's forbidden from talking back to you.
Tomas Berdych: Follows up a run to the Wimbledon final -- coupled with suspicion he was finally through with the yo-yoing results -- with a first-round exit.
Tennis' reputation as a patrician sport: It officially died Thursday night. You know, just don't see this in the stands at Monte Carlo:
The scalping accountant: You're illegally selling U.S. Open tickets next to ... the U.S Open ticket office.
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