Absent Stars Are Taking the Steam Out of Series
By Lisa Dillman, Times Staff Writer
It appears that the so-called "Hottest Reality Series" of summer just got a little too real.
People are not showing up for work, phoning in at the last minute with suspect excuses or spending so much time on other projects, they can't pay attention to their day jobs, and one thing is clear after three weeks: Tennis, indeed, has begun to mirror real life in this year's U.S. Open series.
It was supposed to feature the top players, creating story lines and subplots to elevate interest in the tournaments leading up to the U.S. Open, which starts Aug. 29. But tennis' Real World has had plenty of vacancies.
Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi have taken turns playing tournaments but have yet to appear at the same time or even in the same city. Roger Federer and his luggage may show up later this month in Cincinnati.
Maria Sharapova, Australian Open champion Serena Williams, French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne and defending champion Lindsay Davenport all withdrew from this week's $1.3-million Acura Classic in Carlsbad because of injuries.
Instead of playing this week or at the JPMorgan Chase Open next week in Carson, Venus Williams is flying to Stockholm, Sweden for a $140,000 Tier IV event next week. Davenport, hindered by a back injury, is considered doubtful through the whole U.S. Open series.