Insults my favourite guys, hmm.. how about we make the US open for US players only? Here's the article
. Maybe he needs to take up tennis
The US Open kicked off Monday, bringing excitement - and fans - to Flushing for the first time this year. And, yes, that was a dig at this borough's professional baseball team.
Yes, the grounds of the National Tennis Center were buzzing for opening day of the final leg of tennis' Grand Slam. And on the courts were some of the most noticeable names in the sport. On the women's side there were Jennifer Capriati and Serena Williams while Andre Agassi, Todd Martin and Fabrice Santoro played.
Fabrice Santoro? Who's that guy?
Or how about Nicolas Kiefer, Igor Andreev, Paul-Henri Mathieu? They all played, too.
But don't fret. On Tuesday Alex Lopez Moron, Shinobu Asagooe, Joachim Johansson and Ivo Heuberger all took the court.
That's the sorry state of men's tennis these days - when you need a pronunciation guide and a headshot to try to figure out who is featured.
It hasn't always been like this. No, just a few years ago the men's tour was bursting with personality, with charisma. There was John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Boris Becker, Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendl, Jim Courier as well as a long-haired Agassi.
But now the only recognizable players on the men's tour, at least to the casual fan, are Agassi, Andy Roddick and perhaps James Blake. Knock those three guys out in the first week and you have the possibility of the always exciting Alexander Popp/Jurgen Melzer final on Sept. 12.
The women? Well, they're a different story. You have the Williams sisters - Venus and Serena - as well as their always-controversial father, Richard. There's Capriati, Lindsay Davenport, Anna Kournikova, Wimbledon winner Maria Sharapova and recent gold medal-winner and top-seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne.
Don't get me wrong, I actually love the Open. I've been to about 10 tournaments, first working as a stockboy through high school and now covering it as a member of the media. Sure, I've never had to pay for a ticket or take out a loan to buy a burger and a beer, but I love the pulse of the crowd, especially at night. I'd put watching a fifth set under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium up against any other moment in all of sports.
I've been fortunate enough to watch some of the best matches in Open history - I was in the upper deck for the Patrick McEnroe/Jimmy Connors first-round clash in 1991, as well as the Connors/Aaron Krickstein Labor Day battle the same year. Although it only went four sets, I was fortunate enough to witness the Sampras/Agassi match three years ago where neither player lost serve once in the four-set thriller.
Now the biggest thrill of the tournament comes when it rains and those classic matches are shown on the big screens throughout the grounds and to those watching at home.
What's even sadder is how those who run the tournament continue to depend on McEnroe. Last year they had him play Boris Becker before the women's final and this year they're honoring the Douglaston native with an on-court ceremony. It seems whenever they are looking for some excitement, they bring out old Johnny Mac again and again and again.
Why the change? There's a bevy of reasons. The players today with their light aluminum rackets hit the ball faster than a Roger Clemens' fastball. As a result, most of the men's players sit on the baseline, smacking the ball back and forth until someone makes an error. The days of the beauty of the serve and volley game - a game that the aforementioned McEnroe played brilliantly - are almost extinct.
Bring back the wood racket, try and build up some rivalries and please bring back the drop shot in the men's game. This way I won't have to do a rain dance to watch some really great tennis.
Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com
or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.