Originally Posted by bunk18bsb
Grading on a curve
Time to hand out the mid-term grades for the Australian Open
Updated: Monday January 26, 2004 1:04PM
When was the last time we were a week into a Major and the men's draw was less denuded than the women's?
Through three rounds, none of the top four male seeds has been tested. Meanwhile, among Lisa Raymond, Tatiana Golovin, Nathalie Dechy or Patty Schnyder, one is guaranteed of being a semifinalist.
In any case, here are our mid-tournament grades for the 2004 Australian Open. (All marks distributed on the Missouri Tigers basketball curve.)
Male seeds: Andy Roddick, Roger Federer, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Andre Agassi and David Nalbandian have thus far waltzed (Matilda-like) through the draw.
Kim Clijsters: Ankle injury? What ankle injury? With the possible exception of Amelie Mauresmo, no female player has looked sharper -- and that includes top-seeded countrywoman Justine Henin-Hardenne.
Lisa Raymond: Sure, tennis' equivalent of ring rust played a role in Venus Williams' exit. But credit Raymond -- as well-liked a player as you'll find -- for her go-broke shotmaking, her dead-on game plan, and mental strength.
Comebacks kids: Absent (or it just seemed that way) in 2003, Marat Safin, James Blake, Andrei Pavel, Hicham Arazi and Willie Canas all made the round of 16.
Brad Gilbert: Unless you've been living rural Mongolia, you know about his partnership with Roddick. But Gilbert's first steady work after parting with Agassi was with ... Tatiana Golovin, who reached the round of 16 before falling to Raymond.
Venus Williams: This event prompted more questions about Venus than it answered. But credit Williams the Elder for being exceptionally gracious in defeat. (Now let's hope she keeps her vow to play a full schedule in 2004.)
Italian women: The best of the bunch, Francesca Schiavone, lost early. But both Sylvia Farina-Elia and little-known Mara Santangelo reached the round of 16 -- as many Donnas represented as Russians.
Lindsay Davenport: She hasn't looked particularly sharp and dropped a set to Emilie Loit in the second round. But the 2000 champ is still around -- which is, ultimately, what matters most.
Todd Reid: Aussie prospect was thoroughly outclassed by Federer in the third round. But he's come out gangbusters this year and his boot-and-rally, second-round episode against Sargis Sargsian endeared him to the fans.
Daniela Hantuchova: Things are getting ugly for Hantuchova. A legitimate threat to win the tournament a year ago, she now has trouble simply winning matches. Can an active player receive a protected ranking?
Pat Cash: Oh, how I long for the measured, level-headed diplomacy of John McEnroe.
ESPN's coverage: When it comes to tennis, the "worldwide leader" has a curious concept of "world." Airing Lisa Raymond-Venus Williams for the second time at the expense of Lleyton Hewitt-Rafael Nadal -- the most egregious unforced error in a week full of them -- was as insulting as it was short-sighted.
I liked this. Wertheim writes very witty and insightful columns. I did agree with him about ESPN. They sure put a new spin on "worldwide".