With so many of the top male and female tennis players — Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, James Blake and Venus and Serena Williams — having competed in grueling matches halfway across the world in the just-concluded 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, many are wondering how crisp the quality of tennis will be at the U.S. Open.
The top-seeded American, Andy Roddick, and the number one-ranked women’s player, Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic, both decided to bypass the Olympics in order to concentrate on the U.S. Open which is a far more important event to a player’s career. It will be interesting to see whether being well-rested will prove to be a major advantage when they face the big names who did go to China.
I always get a kick out of seeing how long it will take traditional American has-beens, Robby Ginepri and Mardy Fish (both are in the twilights of mediocre careers), to get eliminated from the Open. The fact that some of their better ranked opponents may not be at their freshest will probably not help either of their chances very much.
Another player to watch is Elena Dementieva who won the gold medal for women’s tennis in Beijing. The statuesque Dementieva has always labored in the shadow of fellow Russian Maria Sharapova when it comes to success on the tennis court as well as getting the attention of the paparazzi and corporate endorsements. Sharapova will miss this year’s U.S. Open as she is recovering from an injured rotator cuff.
For those who want to check out tennis of a different sort, Beach Tennis U.S.A., a professional sport that combines the rules of doubles tennis and volleyball, will be holding their national finals at Long Beach this weekend. Admission is free. Beach Tennis has enjoyed a fast rise in popularity thanks to its matches being televised on the Tennis Channel, Fox Sports Net, and locally on SNY.
Athletic apparel giant Nike, whose growth can be traced to the increased interest in running over the last 30 years, is sponsoring 10K runs around the world this Sunday that the company is calling The Human Race that will raise funds for various charities. The New York event will take place at 6 p.m. on Randall’s Island. Expect plenty of runners who will compete in the 2008 New York City Marathon to take part.
The Mets did a classy thing last week honoring the memory of their director of corporate events, longtime Fresh Meadows resident, James Plummer. Plummer died unexpectedly this past June. The team will establish a James Plummer scholarship and will name a room after him at Citi Field.
Wouldn’t it be a great story, if pitcher Carl Pavano, who has done little to show for the $40 million, 4-year contract he signed with the Yankees in 2005, helps them make the playoffs? Pavano beat the Orioles last Saturday for his first win in two years. Hey, it’s a start.