Week One at Flushing Meadows is done and dusted, but some of the stories it created will resonate throughout the tournament. Indeed some will find their way into those features, years hence, that recall names and events from past U.S. Opens.
First, there were two champions unable to defend their U.S. titles.
Then some pretenders to their crowns felt the sharp dagger of early defeat: Tomas Berdych, Ernests Gulbis, Nikolay Davydenko, Marcos Baghdatis, and Andy Roddick all had expectations of going deep into Week Two.
Jelena Jankovic, Li Na, and Agnieszka Radwanska, all with top 10 rankings, all out before the fourth round.
Federer set Arthur Ashe alight with a repeat of his 2009 between-the-legs winner—but then, to cap it, the sizzling Francesca Schiavone produced an even better hot-dog, and rushed to the net to finish off the point with a volley.
A few players put the wind up the tournament directors who feared some of their big box office names would vanish by first Wednesday. Robin Soderling, Novak Djokovic, David Nalbandian, Fernando Verdasco, Gael Monfils, and Mardy Fish all faced five-set, first-round scares, but hung tough to stroll through to Round Four.
As if the record-breaking temperatures were not enough, Victoria Azarenka collapsed, in second-round drama, not from heat exhaustion but from a concussion sustained during practice.
And by Labor Day weekend, the heat may have dropped from the 100s to the 80s, but the winds whipped up a storm. The Stars and Stripes blew horizontal but the tennis balls flew in bizarre and unpredictable arcs.
Through rain and shine, shock and drama, the 256 men and women have evaporated down to just half their number.
As Week Two gets under way, the top half of the women’s draw and the bottom half of the men’s vie for their places in the quarterfinals.
Each match has its own fascination, but top of the list for the women has to be the battle of the blonds: Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova.