One For The Ages
World #1 Roger Federer continued his inexorable march towards "Greatest of all Time" status by not only reaching his sixth consecutive Grand Slam final, his fourth of the 2006 calendar year, but for the second time in his career winning three of the four major titles. In fact, by defeating a resurgent Andy Roddick 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 yesterday he completed a "triple-double": Roger Federer became the first man in history to win Wimbledon and US Open titles in three consecutive years. In the final, And he is just 25 years old. Of course, at that age Bjorn Borg had already won 5 Wimbledons and 6 French Opens, but who's counting? The Swede was out of the game soon afterwards, a tragic early retirement.
Won For The Agents
An early retirement for Maria Sharapova is quite unlikely. After capturing her second Grand Slam title on Saturday by defeating Justine Henin-Hardenne on Saturday night 6-4, 6-4 the golden It Girl of international tennis and the world's most highly paid female athlete will most likely continue her inexorable march towards Celebrity Superstardom. And she is just 19 years old.
One For The Aged
Speaking of age, Martina Navratilova is going to be 50 years old next month (October 18) but she also just won another Grand Slam title, her fifty-ninth, the 2006 US Open Mixed Doubles title with fellow lefty Bob Bryan. She announced that was her last professional match, and retired from tennis (for the third time). Martina, who is also openly lesbian (as is Billie Jean King) is probably the greatest tennis player, ever, male or female. She ended her career with an astonishing 178 doubles titles and 167 singles titles (including 18 Grand Slam singles titles: 3 Austrlian, 2 French, 9 Wimbledon, 4 US).
Most Improved Player/Player To Watch (Female)
Jelena Jankovic shocked many by getting to the semifinals of the 2006 US Open. This is the same player who lost 10 matches in a row earlier in the year. However during the summer she beat V. Williams (the then defending Wimbledon champion at Wimbledon!), S. Williams (well into her comeback from injury) and then at the US Open rolled through Top 10 players S. Kuznetsova, N. Vaidisova and E. Dementieva. She was 5 points away from defeating J. Henin-Hardenne and her first Grand Slam final when she had a mental breakdown following a verbal altercation with the umpire.
Most Improved Player/Player To Watch (Male)
Andy Roddick made a believer out of me again by cavalierly dismissing his arch-nemesis Lleyton Hewitt in the quarterfinals and taking a set from Roger Federer in the closely fought final match. If a few points had gone his way in the second set, we could have seen some really interesting tennis from Federer being force to win from two sets to one down, whch I do not doubt he would have done. With the addition of 8-time Grand Slam champion Jimmy Connors as "coaching consultant" Roddick has regained his swagger and increased the "pop" on his serve and, more importantly, his shaky two-handed backhand. All these things, combined with being the #1 American male player should bode well for Roddick's next 6-12 months. And he's just 24 years old.