NEW YORK — If the U.S. Open is the best show in New York City, Act II has a lot to live up to now that Act I is complete.
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Week one of the last major of the 2015 tennis calendar was as dramatic and unexpected as they come, setting the stage for what should be a fantastic finish. Here, a rundown of the seven days down and a look at the seven to come.
A Grand Quest.
Serena Williams is still on track. Four matches into the tournament she’s just a handful away from the calendar Grand Slam, not done in this sport since Steffi Graf swept all four majors in 1988. There has been struggle for Williams, however, including a come-from-behind three-set win over Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the third round, 3-6, 7-5, 6-0. And what next? Sister Venus, the two meeting for a 27th time and first at the U.S. Open since 2008. If anyone is to end Serena’s drive for the Grand Slam then the best option would be Venus, wouldn’t it? Serena thinks so.
Serena Williams turns it up a notch, gets Venus in quarterfinals.
Bizarre Goodbyes: Woz, Rafa, the Bryans and Genie.
Caroline Wozniacki. Rafael Nadal. The Bryan brothers. Genie Bouchard. They each went out in different fashions and at different stages, but their exits from the U.S. Open share a common thread: The “Wait, how did that happen?!” Thread.
Wozniacki held match points before succumbing in the second round to Petra Cetkovska, victim to the Czech and Wozniacki’s want to play the safe ball. Nadal, meanwhile, led two sets to love before the fabulously entertaining Fabio Fognini mounted his own comeback, electrifying a Friday night crowd inside Arthur Ashe stadium as one of tennis’ favorite sons was shown the door. Mike and Bob Bryan lost to Americans Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey in their first round, meaning they didn’t win a men’s doubles major this year for the first time in a decade. And Bouchard, seemingly buoyed by consecutive wins for the first time in months, looked primed to go deep, only to slip and fall — in the locker room. An unexpected (and ill-timed) concussion first put her out of women’s doubles and mixed doubles and then out of singles altogether, the Canadian arriving Sunday to site wearing sunglasses and looking painfully out of it.
Eugenie Bouchard out of U.S. Open singles match with concussion.
Maria, Over and Out.
Before this tournament even began it lost one of its biggest stars, with Maria Sharapova withdrawing Sunday in the late afternoon with a leg injury. It was the second time in three years that Sharapova was forced out of the U.S. Open before it even began, a tournament she hasn’t won since 2006.
Let’s Talk About This.
When Pam Shriver approached CoCo Vandeweghe after she won the first set against Sloane Stephens in the first round, many thought something had gone awry. It hadn’t, however. ESPN, the new host broadcaster for the U.S. Open, was introducing a new initiative in mid-match player interviews. The Vandeweghe chat went seamlessly, but the idea didn’t seem to catch on. No player has done a mid-match interview since.
ESPN gets kudos, criticism for first mid-match interview at U.S. Open.
Humid conditions and 90-degree weather meant a record number of mid-match retirements, too, over the course of round one, 12 in total. American player Jack Sock brought the total to 13 for the tournament when he suffered from cramps midway through his second-round match, slumping into the arms of a tournament trainer as he was forced to quit playing. In all, 15 players have retired while on court in the singles draw, still two matches short of the Grand Slam record of 17, set in 2011 at the U.S. Open.
Marching … Quietly.
Novak Djokovic. Roger Federer. Simona Halep. Petra Kvitova. They’ve all been marching, and doing so rather quietly. Djokovic is into his 26th consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal, while Federer, Halep and Kvitova will look to join him there on Monday.
John Isner, Donald Young lead Americans into second week of U.S. Open.
A Grand (Last) Stand.
With the famous Grandstand court being shuttered after this U.S. Open, it deserved to go out in style. That it did on Saturday in the late afternoon, when American Donald Young electrified a capacity crowd with a come-from-behind win over Victor Troicki in five sets. It meant that two American men (Young and John Isner) were into the fourth round at a Grand Slam since this tournament three years ago, and it also meant a fitting farewell for the show court that has been a host to classic after classic throughout the years.
It wouldn’t stop with Sharapova. Hours into Day 1, the U.S. Open lost No. 4 seed Kei Nishikori, the 2014 runner-up and still the highest men’s seed to go out. The women’s top half wasn’t immune, either. No. 7 seed Ana Ivanovic went down, No. 8 Karolina Pliskova barely won a game, and seeds Carla Suarez Navarro, Sloane Stephens and Jelena Jankovic all crashed out as well.
Players share memories of beloved Grandstand before its demise.
Don’t Go, Champs.
Mardy Fish and Lleyton Hewitt were both playing in their final U.S. Opens, but each of them had the chance to play on. Fish served for the match against Feliciano Lopez in the second round, a day before Hewitt did so against countryman Bernard Tomic. But neither could convert, both saying goodbye to a tournament where they’ve created plenty of memories, Fish done effective immediately and Hewitt set to play one final Australian Open.
Does Act II have what it takes to write something even better? And we didn’t even mention the drone in our week one rundown. Week two really does have a lot to live up to.
Follow Nick McCarvel on Twitter @NickMcCarvel.
GALLERY: BEST OF THE U.S. OPEN.