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Wertheim's Midterm Grades
By Jon Wertheim
After a relatively upset-free first week, USTA, USA Network earn top kudos
Posted: Monday September 6, 2004 12:56PM; Updated: Monday September 6, 2004 4:02PM
Standing all of 5-foot-5, little Oliver Rochus has pulled off the biggest upset of the U.S. Open so far.
Spell checker doesn't recognize the word formful but, through seven days of play, it's a pretty good adjective to describe the 2004 U.S. Open. Genuine upsets have been few and far between, and the brightest stars are still shining. With a full dose of Princeton Grade Inflation, here are my midterm marks:
Star power: Organizers, networks, sponsors and -- oh, yeah -- the fans, have to be pretty happy with the slate of names that remain in the draw.
USTA hospitality: By placing Roger Federer front and center on the marketing drive, toasting Olympic gold medalists from Belgium and Chile and putting Amelie Mauresmo and Lleyton Hewitt back-to-back for a night session, it's a vast improvement from the all-Americans, all-the-time m.o. of the past.
Andy Roddick: He's been untouchable (if atrociously attired) through three rounds.
Oli Rochus: The little big man upset No. 3 seed Carlos Moya in a terrific five-setter in third round on Saturday. In between flicking winners and running down every ball, Rochus conceded a point in the fourth set. Put simply: It's Rochus time, baby.
Shikha Uberoi: If only everyone would lose with such grace.
Male qualifiers: Ten of the 16 won their first match.
Sargis Sargsian: The Armenian vet has played 13 sets in three rounds already, but he's still around.
Todd Martin: The ATP's dignity quotient went down with his retirement announcement.
Wayne Ferreira: After playing in his 56th straight Slam, the South African veteran called it a career
USA Network: Now that's how you broadcast a tennis tournament. A week of judicious coverage choices and entertaining commentating may have peaked when Michael Barkann brandished Nicolas Massu's smashed racket during his sideline coverage.
Jarrell Benavidez: The Federer of ballkids.
Daniela Hantuchova: She lost a third-round heartbreaker to Patty Schnyder, but, thankfully, the elevator appears headed in the right direction.
Tatiana Golovin: The 16-year-old came up short against Serena Williams, but is there any doubt she's destined for the top 10?
Mike Youzhny and Paul-Henri Mathieu: Twinned forever after their 2002 Davis Cup match, both were eliminated over the weekend, but not before turning in encouraging results that were long overdue.
Nicolas Massu: The Olympic gold medalist lost a classic five-setter to Sargsian, but after his marathon in Athens, it's amazing he was even in the match.
German tennis:Tommy Haas and Nicolas Kiefer both have a real shot at the semifinals. Now about Boris Becker's stint in USA's broadcast booth ...
Maria Sharapova: Her post-Wimbledon swoon continues but she handled herself with real dignity and maturity after losing to Mary Pierce.
Mardy Fish: We're impressed that he went yard while taking batting practice with the Mets, but te could have used more big cuts the following day, losing to 149th-ranked qualifer Michal Tabara in the second round.
Olympic medalists:Justine Henin-Hardenne (women's gold) and Mauresmo (silver) are still alive, but Alicia Molik (bronze), Massu (men's gold), Fish (silver), and Fernando Gonzalez (bronze) failed to survive the second round.
Wild cards: Only one of 16 (Amer Delic) won their first-round match.
Marat Safin: "Head case" doesn't begin to describe it.
Concessions: Whatever incremental revenue you get charging $7.50 for a substandard hamburger is vastly outstripped by the bad publicity and bad feelings it engenders. The grade would be lower were it not for the Indian joint abutting Court 7.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Jon Wertheim covers tennis for the magazine and is a regular contributor to SI.com.