Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Illustration for article titled Wrapping Up The First Week Of The U.S. Open

Dylan Stableford is filing occasional reports from the U.S. Open here in New York City. (Well, Queens.) Here's a missive from last night's epic James Blake-Fabrice Santoro matchup. (Trust us, it was epic.)

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The Open is heading into its middle weekend with few, if any, surprises — save for Roger Federer's sartorial choices (all-black, Roger? That's so un-Swiss of you!).

The best match of the tournament thus far happened last night: a three-and-a-half hour five-set-a-thon between James Blake and tireless, pesky Frenchman Fabrice "The Magician" Santoro, ostensibly the David Eckstein of tennis - that is, if Eckstein looked like Emilio Estevez, had a two-handed forehand and flick-returned everything.

Blake eventually dispatched Santoro 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 — Blake's first five-set win in 10 tries — but not before the 34-year-old Santoro — hobbled and cramping during much of the fifth set — won over the 17,000 at Arthur Ashe Stadium, despite the Connecticut native's inherited home-court advantage and raucous "J-Block" rooting section. (If you need proof New Yorkers like underdogs, look no further than last night: the J-Block couldn't even get a drunk Flushing crowd to chant along to "U.S.A.")

Blake followed another Sharapova snoozer (6-1, 6-0) that took 52 minutes. That's two matches in under two hours, in which she's lost a total of two games — proving once again there's absolutely no need to watch women's tennis until the quarterfinals. At the earliest.

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The matches to watch this weekend: Rafael Nadal-Janko Tipsarevic. Sorry ladies. Nursing a pair of knee injuries, Nadal will be lucky to get through any match, let alone set up the Roger-Rafat championship some Agassi-Sampras-pining tennis nerds want. Does this sound like a second-seed to you? "Practicing and last minute of practice, I felt something, don't know in English. I have pain. Maybe if another tournament, don't go to court today. But it's the U.S. Open. You saw the match. I didn't run too much. I tried to run as less as possible and try to win.''

Federer-John Isner. Isner is a 6-foot-9, 22-year-old South Carolinian who, since his graduation from the University of Georgia six weeks ago, has climbed to 192 from 839 in the rankings thanks to a deadly 140 m.p.h. serve. Federer in straight sets.

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