US Open

It re­mains to be seen whether Shara­pova is fit enough to last the fort­night. Then again, it’s a query that ap­plies to all hope­fuls. When the bat­tlesmoke cleared in the first round, Halep, Ker­ber, and Wim­ble­don semi­fi­nal­ist Jo­hanna Konta — three of seven p

Business World - - WORLD SPORTS - AN­THONY L. CUAYCONG

The best of the best fight­ing for hard­ware is in­vari­ably what ten­nis fans want, es­pe­cially in ma­jor events, so it could not have been good for them to see the likes of Novak Djokovic and Andy Mur­ray bow out of the United States Open with­out hav­ing hit a sin­gle ground­stroke. That said, the ab­sence of the usual sus­pects breez­ing through early rounds makes for in­ter­est­ing fare from the get-go. Un­pre­dictabil­ity reigns at Flush­ing Mead­ows, with the tro­phy and, for the re­main­der of the ac­knowl­edged elite, the top spot in world rank­ings at stake.

On the distaff side, the re­turn of Maria Shara­pova to ac­tion brings to the US Open much-needed lus­ter. With peren­nial fa­vorite Ser­ena Wil­liams side­lined due to preg­nancy and de­fend­ing cham­pion An­gelique Ker­ber still suf­fer­ing from a slump, the five-time ma­jor cham­pion fig­ures to be in the lime­light, never mind her wild-card sta­tus and 19-month lay­off from Grand Slam com­pe­ti­tion. And if her ster­ling show­ing against sec­ond seed Si­mona Halep the other day is to be a gauge, she de­serves the in­ter­est she has gen­er­ated; even as she dis­played oc­ca­sional rust borne of her pro­longed sus­pen­sion due to the un­ap­proved in­take of the banned sub­stance mel­do­nium, she looked much like, well, her­self — still ag­gres­sive with ev­ery hit, still think­ing be­tween points, still pow­er­fully com­pelling.

Granted, not a few quar­ters have ques­tioned Shara­pova’s pres­ence via an ex­emp­tion in one of the sport’s most sig­nif­i­cant stops. Given the cir­cum­stances lead­ing to sanc­tions im­posed on her by the In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion, pun­dits won­dered if the de­vel­op­ment sent play­ers the wrong sig­nals, ar­gu­ing that all and sundry would have been bet­ter served had she in­stead worked her way up from her cur­rent stand­ing of 143rd in the world and into the tour­na­ment. Then again, her per­for­mance against Halep, who left noth­ing in the tank, un­der­scored her worth.

It re­mains to be seen whether Shara­pova is fit enough to last the fort­night. Then again, it’s a query that ap­plies to all hope­fuls. When the bat­tlesmoke cleared in the first round, Halep, Ker­ber, and Wim­ble­don semi­fi­nal­ist Jo­hanna Konta — three of seven play­ers who hitherto had a chance to be­come World Num­ber One — were gone. Mean­while, 37-year-old Venus Wil­liams con­tin­ues to fight, as do sup­pos­edly past-prime states­men Rafa Nadal and Roger Fed­erer. All told, the US Open’s liv­ing up to its name, with

fickle fate slated to re­ward the most de­ter­mined.

AN­THONY L. CUAYCONG has been writ­ing Courtside since BusinessWorld in­tro­duced a Sports sec­tion in 1994. He is the Se­nior Vice-President and Gen­eral Man­ager of Ba­sic En­ergy Corp.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.