OK, it’s over. Let’s wrap it up with a few highlights and lowlights.
Most Valuable Player: Roger Federer.
There were better stories, most notably Andre Agassi’s, James Blake’s, and Kim Clijsters’. But Federer continued to distance himself from the rest of the men and proved again he’s a champion for the long haul.
Most Irritating Player: Mary Pierce
Too flaky to hate, Pierce nonetheless is impossible to enjoy watching. Her resurgence at 30 seems more a mockery of the quality of women’s tennis than an Agassi-like late-career triumph.
Savior: Kim Clijsters
Just when women’s tennis was looking worse than ever—even a liberal New York Times columnist wondered whether they deserve equal pay with the men—Clijsters pulled out tough matches over Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova to finally show she could handle the biggest events.
Jump the Shark Award: Rafael Nadal
Nadal’s pirate pants, wide headband, and sleeveless shirts were distinctive. But the skintight, tucked-in shirt he sported at the Open made him look more fitness freak than pro athlete. Not what tennis’ newest icon should be.
AMEX’s Roddick campaign was a debacle, of course—too weird and not funny. But it did have one moment: “Mojo,” who seemed to represent Roddick’s inner metrosexual cowboy, telling Andy he would join him at practice around “eleven, eleven-thirty.”
Cutest Girl on Sideline
James Blake’s girlfriend had this locked up for most of the tournament, but she was upstaged on the final weekend by Andre Agassi’s daughter, Jaz. It was also nice to see her mom, Steffi Graf, making a rare open-air appearance to watch the final. One question, though: Why was Agassi’ trainer, Gil Reyes, wearing a tie without a jacket while he was watching? Does Andre have a dress code for the entourage?
Best Outfit: Daniela Hantuchova
Less will always be more.
Worst Outfit: Tommy Robredo
Euro sportswear designers never get it. Robredo sported an ensemble from Sergio Tacchini that, with its traditional short-shorts, would have looked fussy in 1985. The watch didn’t help either.
Controversial Rule that Should Remain: Best-of-Five Men’s Matches
I sat through a bunch of them and was rarely bored. Anything less just wouldn’t be Slam-worthy.
Controversial Rule that Needs to Change: Injury Timeout
First it was Novak Djokovic taking 10 minutes because he was tired, then it was Mary Pierce taking 12 because her body wasn’t performing at its best. Make it one 5-minute timeout per match, no more.
Second-Fiddle Award: Andre Agassi
Andre’s run made this Open, and his win over Blake in the quarterfinals will define it in the coming years as we see it during rain delays (how many people remember that it was Stefan Edberg, not Jimmy Connors, who won the 1991 Open?). But it ended almost exactly the way another run of his did 10 years ago. Andre was No. 1 in the world when he lost to Pete Sampras in the 1995 Open final, by very similar scores to yesterday’s match. It’s Agassi fate to labor in the shadow of all-time greatness.
Finally, this may go down as the best-looking Open ever. The weather was absolutely perfect, and the photography will show it. The late-afternoon sun made for tremendous pictures (to see one, scroll back to the amazing shot of Sania Mirza on this blog), and the blue courts helped everything show up better, both during the day and at night. It was a tournament to remember, and the photos will be there for years to help us do just that.