Australian Open: Andy Roddick, Williams Sisters Punctuate Week One

Allan WexlerCorrespondent IJanuary 21, 2008

The Australian Open, the first Grand Slam event of 2008, has produced many entertaining matches in the first week of play.  It has also raised, in my mind, questions about the grand old sport of tennis.

Why is there such an infatuation with Andy Roddick?  He is a one-dimensional tennis player who has won just a single Grand Slam while acting as though he totes 20 such titles.  He had a wonderful time at the U.S. Open interviewed by Justin Gimelstob (whom he had just beaten), and was seen as this wonderful ambassador of tennis.  But his behaviour at the Australian was abhorrent and even worthy of sanctions (which the ATP is unlikely to impose).

I am convinced that Andy Roddick is a product of the American press which made efforts to anoint him the Messiah even before he showed he had the ability to win consistently.  Take away his serve, and Andy would be teaching tennis at some country club.

For my money, the only American worth rooting for is James Blake.  He has always conducted himself with class (ask Lleyton Hewitt) and has the athleticism to compete at the highest level.  His consistency can be questioned, but not his heart, not the manner in which he carries himself.  James Blake is one of the good things to have happened to tennis.

For the first time in four years, Roger Federer looks beatable.  I don't think it's going to happen, but if he does lose, Novak Djokovic may be the guy to do it.  And I wonder if he'll do the Maria Sharapova dance to entertain the crowd.

Women's tennis needs someone like Djokovic, or at least someone who understands that tennis is part of the entertainment industry and that its actors must play the part.

We are now down to the quarter finals of the women's draw and there are still far too few competitive matches.  Last night Venus Williams beat a qualifier (albeit a good one in Marta Domachowska) to reach the quarters.  The women are heading for a Williams/Williams final, an event we haven't seen in a while. The likelihood of seeing a great match is still doubtful, and the only player really capable of knocking off the Williams sisters is Justine Henin.  What else is new here?

If I hear once more that Venus Williams is a great spokeswoman for the Women's tour, I'm going to vomit.  I can't think of a worse spokesperson.  Someone who skips tournaments after committing to them is not the epitome of any kind of representative.

Is it my imagination, or are the women more beautiful than ever?  This event is becoming a beauty contest and the women are complying by wearing outfits that could be part of the bathing suit competition or the gowns portion of a pageant.

And, is it coincidence that so many players default against Nadal?

The match between Baghdatis and Hewitt was a classic, with both players playing their hearts out.  These are two guys who always play hard and they gave the fans their money's worth while battling into the wee hours of the morning.

Can't wait until Week Two.