Tennis Week Staff's Picks for US Open winners
Winners and Why
By Tennis Week
Below are the complete U.S. Open “choices and reasons” Tennis Week staff provided for the “Taking a Chance at Love” article published in the August 19, 2003 Tennis Week.
Andre Christopher – Managing Editor
Women: Kim Clijsters would get my pick even if Serena Williams were playing (foolhardy though that might be). For all the matches she has played this year, Clijsters has managed to avoid injury, which is remarkable if for no other reason than the number of times she has done an all out split when stretching for a ball. She has been the most consistent player on tour, reaching at least the semifinals in every event she has played. Her collapse in the Roland Garros final on top of her letdown in the Australian Open semifinals gives skeptics every reason to doubt she has the mental toughness to step up and be a Grand Slam tournament singles champion. But that's the only reason to doubt her. I'll take my chances.
Men: Juan Carlos Ferrero very much wants to prove he's more than just a clay court master. He likely won't have many backers among the usual U.S. Open crowd, but that won't matter to him. However, being a fan of the upset, Ferrero is not the Spaniard I'd be on the lookout for. Carlos Moya is my pick. He hasn't done well in the lead-up to the U.S. Open, but with 32 seeds in a 128-draw, he'll have reasonable opportunity to play a couple of matches and get his confidence up. He was runner-up this year at Key Biscayne, semifinalist at the U.S. Open in '98 and runner-up at the Australian Open in '97. If you're going to expect the unexpected, expect to see Carlos Moya as the 2003 U.S. Open men's singles champion. (A colleague noted that Moya is due based on the ATP Entry System. No. 1 Andre Agassi won the Australian Open, the year's first major; No. 2 Juan Carlos Ferrero won Roland Garros, the year's second major; and No. 3 Roger Federer won Wimbledon, Grand Slam tournament No. 3 for the year. Although Moya will lose ground because of his performance at Cincinnati, where he was defending champion, he began the week at No. 4. Get the pattern?)
Terry Egusa – Art Director
Men: It’s going to be Roddick. He’s so close that I can’t imagine him not giving his all…and he’s so great.
Women: Venus is going to win. It’s like betting on a horse that hasn’t won for some time, but you know has the potential to win. And, without Serena there, she will feel the extra incentive to win for the Williams family.
Richard Evans – Senior Correspondent
Men: Nothing would be better for American tennis than an Andy Roddick victory, and there is no question that the young man who turns 21 during the first week of Flushing Meadows is capable of coming of age as a Grand Slam winner at this year's U.S. Open. However, now that he has the Wimbledon cup in his cupboard, Roger Federer should be able to utilize his all-around talent to win again. He will need to concentrate especially hard because the Open is a noisy, distracting sort of place but should the Swiss become champion, he would cement his position as the best player of his generation. And because of his beautiful style, that would be great for the worldwide game.
Women: There are four great players at the top of the women's game at the moment, and Kim Clijsters is the only one not to have won a Grand Slam title. This could be her chance. With Serena injured, the hard hitting Belgian should grab her opportunity to overpower her compatriot Justine Henin-Hardenne and prove herself capable of outlasting Venus Williams if they meet in the final. Venus, however, will be dangerous now that the responsibility of upholding family pride rests solely with her. But Clijsters can do it.
Steve Flink – Senior Correspondent
Men: Roger Federer is fully capable of replicating the dazzling tennis he played to win Wimbledon, but only Rod Laver in 1969, Jimmy Connors (1974 and 1982), John McEnroe(1981 and 1984), Boris Becker (1989) and Pete Sampras (1993 and 1995) have managed to sweep the Wimbledon/US Open double. My pick is Andy Roddick. He has made it to the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows the past two years, losing to Lleyton Hewitt two years ago and Pete Sampras in 2002. Hewitt and to Sampras went on to win those tournaments. This year, Roddick is the only man to make it to two semifinals at the Grand Slam events. The feeling grows that Roddick is ready to make his move and secure his first major title.
Women: Even before Serena Williams had to withdraw from the tournament to have knee surgery, I thought Venus Williams would win the Open. Venus should win her first major since she upended Serena in the 2001 U.S. Open title match. Twice, Venus extended Serena to three sets in Grand Slam finals this season. She has lost five of the last six major finals to her sister, but now she must be poised to resume her winning ways. Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters are both capable of stopping Venus. But Henin-Hardenne has already won a major crown this year at Roland Garros and Clijsters may not have the nerve to pull this one off at Flushing Meadows. It all points to a Venus Williams triumph.
Ed Goldman – Contributing Photographer
Men: My crystal ball thinks that Federer will follow up his Wimbledon triumph with a cool million from the USTA. He's in good health, is young and strong, and I think he's the man to beat over a 14-day grind.
Women: The orb is a little fuzzier about the women. I'll go with Henin-Hardenne since her confidence is riding high. She, too, is young and amazingly strong for her size, and she has more fire than Clijsters.
Fred Mullane – Contributing Photographer
Men: Andy Roddick. Wimbledon proved he was close. The relationship with Brad Gilbert is changing his game rapidly enough to provide him with the little he needed. My dark horse pick is Andre Agassi. What can I say? If he's playing there is always a chance.
Women: Kim Clijsters. She has the power and lately seems to be playing with more confidence. My dark horse pick is Ashley Harkleroad. It may be time for her work and training to show that she's more than just a pretty face.
Susan Mullane – Contributing Photographer
Men: Andy Roddick. The time and conditions are right if he stays healthy. The U.S. Open crowd may propel him through the draw. If he keeps snapping that rubber band, he may stay focused long enough to win. An added bonus for photographers...an unbelievable matchpoint! My dark horse pick is Paradorn Schrichapan. He's been slipping lately, but the heat, surface and crowds play into his game.
Women: Justine Henin-Hardenne. With Serena out, she has a great chance. No one can beat her speed on the court. If we could just get her to leave the hat in the locker room... My dark horse pick is Svetlana Kuznetsova. While I admire the talent and efforts of Martina Navratilova, I believe Svetlana's talents have grown during the time partnering with her in doubles. Svetlana may have surpassed her mentor while enabling her to collect titles. After reaching the quarters at Wimbledon, she may be poised for greatness.
Kent Oswald – Editor
Men: It will be a bad tournament for the CBS network execs. My hunch is Roddick will again stop at the Slam Semi hurdle. Leaping over a few who I think will fall for one reason or another, and discounting as just too much of a longshot the guys for whom I root (El Aynaoui – whose presence and essence are good for the game, and Robredo – whose game I find the most fun to watch) I end up choosing between Schuettler and Coria as the men most focused right now. To pick one, I tap Schuettler, even though Coria is tearing up the tour. The former has proven he can focus for the two weeks and the latter still seems more of a claycourter – and his hot streak has to end sometime.
Women: Serena’s withdrawal and the injury plague would seem to have opened up the draw like never before, except that I still think it comes down to a Belgian finale. And, while there should be enough motivation, I don’t think Clijsters can get enough of her nasty on. Barring a shocking run from someone out of the top 10, I cast my vote for Henin-Hardenne. She is healthy and hungrier (and perhaps meaner) than her countrywoman (and perhaps everyone else on the tour until Serena returns).
Richard Pagliaro – Web Editor
Men: He may be the hardest-working man in tennis over the age of 30, so it's fitting Andre Agassi will give himself a raise after Labor Day. Barring injury, the 33-year-old Agassi will raise his third career U.S. Open title trophy on the tournament's final Sunday. Yes, the prospect of playing consecutive matches in Saturday's semis and Sunday's final may prove problematic for a man making his 18th U.S. Open appearance. But Agassi's commitment to conditioning, striking strokes and extraordinary execution, – combined with the fact that he has reached the Flushing Meadows final four eight times – make him the leading contender to claim his ninth Grand Slam crown.
Women: Kim Clijsters won't be building a tennis court at her new home, but the Belgian baseline battler has all the tools necessary to construct U.S. Open championship success. A two-time Roland Garros runner-up, Clijsters has advanced to at least the semifinals of the three Grand Slam events this season and with top-ranked Serena Williams sidelined after undergoing surgery, Clijsters is ready to reign at Flushing Meadows. In the past year, Clijsters has beaten every player in the Top 10 and, this season, has won five tournament titles (on three different surfaces) and reached 10 finals. Clijsters' competitiveness, consistency and quick court coverage will make her a first-time Grand Slam champion at the Open.
Suzi Petkovski, – Contributing Writer
Men: I like the way Andy Roddick has pushed out the boundaries of his game this year. Two Grand Slam semis, at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, tournament wins on clay and grass and the inspired choice of Brad Gilbert, maybe the smartest coach in the caper. Roddick doesn't have the gilt-edged game of Roger Federer – as we saw in their Wimbedon semifinal – but his firepower is at its most deadly on hardcourts, and he's such a whole-hearted competitor - nowhere more than at his home Slam. Roddick was unlucky – and a little immature – in the 2001 Open against Lleyton Hewitt, when he was undone by a dubious overrule late in the fifth. Two years on, he's a much more experienced and resilient character. Roddick carries the 'Great American Hope' tag with grace; he seems unaffected by the premature adulation and is hungry for that breakthrough Grand Slam.
Who would I like to see win it? Watching Federer is like a guilty pleasure. Never can get enough, but the Wimbledon-U.S. double is a very big ask. Sampras was the last to do it, in 1995, and Federer is not in the Sampras league just yet. No one tires of seeing Agassi win. His post-30 work ethic is astonishing, and the relationship he has with fans is almost spiritual: “The Dalai Lama of tennis.” Hewitt needs to fight a rearguard action and turn around an indifferent year. Let's just say Aussies will be watching with keen interest. Safin has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous since his 2000 victory. He smashed Sampras in the final and looked like “Da Man” of the new millennium. Now he increasingly looks like a one-Slam wonder. Tennis needs his big game and charisma. Moya has been disappointing at the Slams in recent years, but when fit and fired-up, this man has no weakness. He's so much more than your typical Spanish claycourter – a U.S. Open would be welcome proof of that.
Women: With Serena sidelined by the scalpel, and Venus and Amelie Mauresmo in the injury wars and iffy (doubtful), I'm going for Clijsters. While Kim is world No.1 and likely seeded No.1 despite never having won a Slam, which could be a distraction – if not a disorienting – situation, she will be keen to atone for the crushing disappointment of her 6-0, 6-4 loss to Henin-Hardenne in the French Open final, when she really let herself down. Although Clijsters again lost to her “Belgian sister” in the San Diego final, she has far more winning experience on American hard courts, with four of her 15 titles coming in the States. Clijsters leads the Tour this year with 11 finals appearances, winning six. Still only 20, she's a flinty competitor and has gained enough big-match experience to go the extra step.
Carolyn Thierbach – Associate Editor
This is the year of the breakthroughs at the U.S. Open.
Men: Andy Roddick has been on fire since the week before the French Open. He’s hungry for a major, and with Brad “Winning Ugly” Gilbert in his corner, he will claw his way to the title.
Women: Kim is tired of being the Belgian No. 2. She’s had a great year, with five titles, and she is not going to stand in Justine’s shadow any longer.