We are now into the second week of the season's final Grand Slam event and like most years, there was no drama lacking in Week 1.
Much like his friend Andy Roddick last year, James Blake announced that he was retiring before playing a match at the Open. The U.S. Open was to be his last tournament. Blake cited moving to the next chapter of his life and spending more time with his Family and Friends. But that did not stop an emotional farewell by the Classy American. Blake met Ivo Karlovic in the first round and seemed to have things in control, winning the first two sets. But the Croatian fought back taking the match in 5 sets. Blake had to fight back the tears addressing those who were sitting in his box and the fans of New York. The American has been a great ambassador of the sport and will certainly be missed on the tour as evidenced when Andy Murray, Juan Martin Del Potro and others waited until his match finished, late in the evening, for a congratulatory greeting.
Speaking of Americans
Once again, the question arises....Where are all of the Americans?
It was an encouraging start for the American Men with a number of young players advancing early. Tim Smyzcek and Jack Sock were successful making it to the third round where Smyzcek fell to Marcel Granollers while Sock was dropped by Janko Tipsarevic. Rajeev Ram defeated 16 seeded clay court specialist, Fabio Fognini in the first round before falling to Granollers in a tough 5 setter. Donald Young and Denis Kudla joined the list of Americans into the 2nd round. Ryan Harrison drew an unlucky draw facing Rafael Nadal right out of the gate. That did not go well for an American who has seen improvement this summer.
And then there were the top two Americans in John Isner and Sam Querrey, who came into the tournament ranked 17 and 31 respectively. Isner entered the tournament having played solid on the hard courts leading to the Open. After a first round win, Isner found himself against popular Gael Monfils. After taking the first two sets, the New York crowd turned decisively behind the Frenchman. Isner held on to win the match but clearly was disappointed in the crowd as he spoke in the press conference afterwards but turned his focus to Phillpp Kohlschreiber. The German defeated Isner in the 2012 U.S. Open and history repeated itself in 2013, with Kohlschreiber advancing to the round of 32 in four sets.
Meanwhile, Querrey never found his groove in the tournament falling to unseeded Adrian Mannarino in four sets.
No American Men made it to the Round of 16.
Fountain of Youth
A healthy and inspired Lleyton Hewitt, a former U.S. Open Champion, advanced to the round of 32. Hewitt defeated Juan Martin Del Potro in the second round. The match featured two former tournament Champions and went the distance with Hewitt winning in 5.
Next up for Hewitt, another veteran in Mikhail Youzhny. With a victory, Hewitt could see the top seed, Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals.
Top Four Seeds still Intact
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and David Ferrer have all advanced to the round of 16. Top seeded, Djokovic has yet to drop a set blitzing through Ricardas Berankis, Benjamin Becker and Joao Sousa. 2nd seeded Nadal has been impressive likewise. He has not been close to losing a set.
Andy Murray has been solid and Ferrer who has been struggling with some health issues, has had a bit of a bumpy road but has yet to see a match go beyond 4 sets in his victories.
Ferrer and Nadal have interesting matches next as they look to advance to the quarters. Nadal will meet 22nd seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber while Ferrer will face a dangerous but recently slumping Yanko Tipsarevic, the 18th seed.
There are some dangerous players left in the draw. Two will meet each other next round in 5th seed Tomas Berdych and 9th seed Stan Wawrinka. Both players are capable of upsetting one of the top 4 seeds as history has evidenced.
Another player to keep an eye on is Milos Raonic of Canada. The 10th seed has had an impressive tournament thus far cruising to the round of 16 where he will meet 8th seeded Richard Gasquet.
Federer vs. Nadal?
Two old rivals are one win away from facing each other in the quarterfinals. The pair who have battled in some of the greatest Grand Slam matches ever would not normally meet this early but with Federer recently dropping to 7th in the World, this match up is likely.
Both still have some work to do. Federer must get by a dangerous Tommy Robredo, the 19th seed while Nadal must defeat 22nd seed Kohlschreiber.
WIlliams vs. Azarenka Inevitable?
In a draw filled with upsets, it appears that the path is cleared for top seed Serena Williams to meet 2nd seed Victoria Azarenka.
Williams has cruised through the draw leaving two bagel sets and three breadstick sets along the way.
Meanwhile, Azarenka has been impressive despite dropping one set to Alize Cornet in her last match.
There is only one top 10 seed left in the draw outside of Williams and Azarenka.
The one top 10 seed left besides Wiliams and Azarenka is Na Li. She has been solid defeating 9th seeded Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-0 to advance to the quarterfinals. Earlier she defeated 30th seed Laura Robson in two sets.
If you are looking for someone other than the top two to cause waves, look no further than Li. The crafty veteran is a fighter playing at the top of her game and is one win away from a potential match up against Serena Williams.
One of the most hyped match ups in the tournament turned out to be a dud. Up and coming American Sloane Stephens fell hard to Serena Williams in the round of 16, 6-4, 6-1. Much had been made of Stephens victory over Williams at the Australian Open. It took 8 months but Williams got her payback.
Two young Americans have made a name for themselves in the 2013 U.S. Open. Even though it only lasted one round, 17 year old Victoria Duval gutted out a 3 set victory over Major Champion Sam Stosur in the first round, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. Stosur was the 11 seed and a player many targeted to battle Azarenka in the bottom half of the draw. But Duval played as well as she could while acknowledging that Stosur did not. Veteran Daniela Hantuchova eliminated Duval in the second round.
Alison Riske of the United States is another player who has made a splash defeating two ranked opponents in route to the round of 16. Most notably, defeating 7th seed Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-0. Earlier the unseeded American advanced past 28th seed Mona Barthel 6-4, 6-2.
The Second Week should feature a number of interesting and intriguing match ups.