Posted: Saturday September 3, 2011 11:29PM ; Updated: Saturday September 3, 2011 11:29PM
Jon Wertheim

U.S. Open midterm grades

Story Highlights

Novak Djokovic's status as favorite has strengthened despite few men's upsets

With half of the top eight gone, Serena Williams is a very healthy women's favorite

The first week saw a U.S. resurgence as well as an over-30 men's presence

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Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic put Arthur Ashe Stadium on triple-bagel watch in his second-round match.
Carlos M. Saavedra/SI
2011 U.S. Open
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NEW YORK -- Irene came and left. So did Maria Sharapova, as well as the reigning female champs at Wimbledon and the French Open. Novak Djokovic has been dispensing bagels like a New York street vendor. And American tennis lives after all. After six full days of play at the 2011 U.S. Open, herewith, our midterm grades, all based on the University of Miami curve, endowed by Nevin Shapiro ...


Novak Djokovic: There have been no titanic upsets. And, still, Djokovic's status as the favorite burgeoned last week. Top seed allowed three games in first two matches.

Serena Williams: She was the overwhelming favorite before the event. And now that four of the top eight seeds are out, it's really hers to lose.

Donald Young: At last, the breakthrough. It's not simply that Young hit the middle weekend, in the process out-grinding Stan Wawrinka -- no small feat, that -- in a four-hour, five-setter. Young, suddenly, could not appear more charming and self-possessed, admitting to past missteps and projecting genial personality. Note too, he is the youngest player left in the men's draw.

American women: Apart from Serena, this has been a cotillion for Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens, Christina McHale and Irina Falconi.

Romania: Alexandra Dulgheru and Simona Halep both score big upsets while Monica Niculescu reaches round four.

USTA: So far, so great. Court 17 is a hit, not only a great venue but one that "relieves pressure" from other outside courts. The green initiatives are legit. By noon on the first Monday, you'd never know Irene loomed as a threat. As no less than Alec Baldwin put it, the organization did itself proud last week.

Maturity: 30 is the 20? At the writing, Federer remains in the draw, alongside older colleagues, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Juan Ignacio Chela.


Victoria Azarenka: Fourth seed got a bum draw. And after losing five games to Serena in 17 minutes, she showed some fight. Still, it's ultimately another disappointing major.

Venus Williams: Former champ had to withdraw after round two on account of Sjogren's Syndrome (which likely has never been as popular a Google search term as it was last week). The silver lining: it's treatable, and Venus will be back, her "fatigue mystery" presumably solved.

Gael Monfils: Loses a winnable classic against Ferrero. But wins over crowd with his diving and displays of sportsmanship.

Gael: A bittersweet tournament for Ireland. Conor Niland qualified but drew Djokovic in the first round and retired down 0-6, 1-5. Louk Sorensen qualified but then retired from his first-round match as well.

Li Na: Loses her first-round match as her slump for continues. But she did strike a blow for candor admitting, "I played like #$%&."


Injury mania: As of today, a record 14 players have retired mid-match with a range of injuries -- heads, shoulders, knees and toes. From the broken record aisle: might someone in a position of power care to investigate why this is the case and what can be done? As Andy Murray tweeted, "is the 18th pull out in the us open telling the tennis authorities anything?? No?? Thought not...."

Petra Kvitova: Wimbledon champion bounced in round one.

Japanese players: Kei Nishikori. Misaki Doi and Ayumi Morita all retire from first-round matches.

Scalpers: We all understand the rules of supply and demand. But when you put your passes to "Aces" on StubHub and eBay, you have crossed the line.

Aussies: Sam Stosur notwithstanding, some dismal results. Wimbledon semifinalist, Bernard Tomic, mustered three games against Marin Cilic, leading to a dress-down from Pat Rafter. Jarmila Gajdosova won two games against Vania King.
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