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New system has sucked the life out of women's draw
Posted: Sunday September 02, 2001 7:50 PM
Updated: Monday September 03, 2001 1:41 PM
By Marc Lancaster, CNNSI.com
At least Tracy Austin is happy.
We know that from the former player's incessant yapping about the positives of the new Grand Slam seeding system during USA's broadcasts of the U.S. Open all week. Over and over, Austin gushed about the "depth" of the women's field, and how the seeding was more "fair" to the top players.
All well and good, Tracy, but here's the thing: On the women's side, the first three rounds could hardly have been less exciting.
Of 112 matches in the first, second and third rounds, 77 were decided in straight sets. Even in the third round, when competition should have been heating up, only four of 16 matches went to three sets.
Want more numbers? Well, you're getting them anyway.
The situation only gets worse when you examine the elite players. Through the first two rounds, none of the top five women's seeds had lost a set, and none of their matches had taken longer than 63 minutes. Of 152 total games played, the top five seeds lost only 32.
That does not make for quality viewing -- in person or on television. Go to the concession stand or bathroom, and chances are you've missed an entire set.
But then, the Grand Slam organizers aren't all that interested in the first week, are they? The purpose of the switch was to protect the elite players as long as possible, so as to create more high-profile matchups in the second week.
Will it be worth the wait? We'll let you know when we wake up.
| Get a grip, Lleyton |
Love him or hate him, Lleyton Hewitt is one of the more exciting players on a men's tour composed of emotionally deficient players. But his actions in Friday's match with James Blake were inexcusable. You know the details by now: After a pair of foot-fault calls by the same black linesman, Hewitt argued with the chair umpire, saying "Look at him, mate. Look at him and tell me what the similarity is." Blake, of course is also black. Hewitt claimed there was nothing "racial" about the comment, and the ITF and USTA meekly backed away from at the very least censuring Hewitt, saying evidence was inconclusive. One question, then, for the governing bodies and Hewitt: What in the world could he possibly have meant by "similarity" other than skin color?
| Hey, I know that dude... |
Such labels are always debatable, of course, but the second-round slugfest between Marat Safin and Ivan Ljubicic might be a good choice for match of the week honors. The pair pounded away for 3 hours, 27 minutes with the defending U.S. Open champ prevailing 7-6 (5), 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5). A test like that may serve to toughen up the mercurial Safin as he enters the second week, but the best news of all for the Russian is the way his draw has played out. He is in far and away the most favorable quarter, joining fourth-round opponent Thomas Johansson, Mariano Zabaleta and Xavier Malisse in the running for a spot in the semifinals.
Daja Bedanova -- The only exception to the rule in the women's draw is the lone remaining unseeded player after upset wins over Meghann Shaughnessy and Monica Seles.
|| DOUBLE FAULT
Michal Tabara -- Before Hewitt's verbal misstep grabbed the headlines, Tabara's spitting incident after his loss to Justin Gimelstob was the lowlight of the first week.
Jack Brasington -- The ultimate underdog, this American qualifier showed all kinds of guts in beating Gianluca Pozzi on a fringe court, then making Andy Roddick work under the lights in the big house.
|| DOUBLE FAULT
Kim Clijsters -- Yes, it made the most sense for her in the grand scheme of things, but it's a shame she pulled out of doubles before a match was played, denying partner Ai Sugiyama a chance to defend her title in the event.
Iva Majoli -- She had Martina Hingis, her victim a few years back in the French Open final, on the ropes, but couldn't close the deal. Still, it was the best match so far in the women's draw.
Hey, who says they can't play on cement? A record six Spaniards made their way into the third round of the men's draw.
Roddick, who turned 19 on Thursday, is the youngest player remaining in the men's field, while Andre Agassi, 31, is the oldest.
Has anyone pried Ashley Harkleroad out of that outfit yet? Kids these days...
A fairly significant upset already in the men's doubles draw: eighth-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan falling in the second round to John-Laffnie de Jager and Robbie Koenig. Who? One thing's for sure, that won't help the Bryans' chances of making the U.S. Davis Cup squad for the India tie.
The Tennis Channel? Bring it on, baby.
For the second year in a row, the first Saturday produced an attendance record at Flushing Meadows. A total of 55,111 people attended the day and night sessions, eclipsing the mark set Sept. 2, 2000.
In case you missed it, journeyman Slava Dosedel called it quits on his 12-year career after falling to Roddick in the first round.
| "He spit at me? Pretty unprofessional. He'd better not be in the locker room when I get back. Unless he grows about another foot by the time I get back in the locker room, he's in trouble."
| Gimelstob, when informed of Tabara's expectoration.
| "I've played four or five of the top 10. She is easily the most impressive player I've been up against. The others at least allow you to play a bit. Against her, I could never get into the match."
| Emilie Loit after a 6-0, 6-2 second-round loss to Lindsay Davenport. ||
| This week - ATP Tour |
|The U.S. Open concludes at Flushing Meadows.|
| This week - WTA Tour |
| The last Grand Slam of the year winds down. |
| Next week - ATP Tour |
Three tournaments vie for attention, with the new ATP event in Brazil joining Tashkent and Bucharest on the slate.|
| Next week - WTA Tour |
|Two hardcourt events are on tap, one in Sao Paulo and one in Hawaii.
Come back every Monday for a new Tennis Week at a Glance.
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