Watching the U.S. Open in between working today. Well, trying to watch the U.S. Open. The weather's not cooperating -- as it hasn't been all week -- and I really wish it would, because I'm not sure how much more I can take of The New and Definitely Not Improved Ivan Lendl. The man used to look like a Holocaust survivor. It depresses me to say that I prefer that look on him. Particularly when the alternative is this sweaty, bloated creation I see being interviewed right now.
There's been some good tennis in the first week. Nothing quite so mindblowing as last year's Nadal/Blake third-rounder and (especially) that Srichapan/Sanguinetti five-setter than no one seems to remember but me. I'd have given anything for USA to have replayed that one during the rain delays instead of the umpteenth Agassi/Pavel rerun. But there was some fantastic tennis on display this past week. Agassi/Baghdadis, to be sure. No one's going to let us forget how awesome that one was anytime soon. And for anyone who was fortunate enough to follow the coverage to CNBC last night, the Hewitt/Gasquet match featured the latter hobbling around on one giant knot of a cramped leg for the better part of a fifth set, making impossible shots, and coming up just short. Fantastic tennis.
So with the weather delaying fourth round/quarterfinal play today, I'll take the opportunity to run down who I'll be rooting for this week:
Andy Roddick -- I know, I know. It's lonely here on Team Roddick. And Jimmy Connors is bugging the shit out of me. But I always end up pulling for ol' Andy. Particularly since the backlash -- which had been inevitable, considering the fact that he's young, cute, and occasionally hot-headed, but which hit a fever pitch with a first-round loss at last year's Open. He seems like a good guy and he never seems like his mind is anywhere but on the court. I'm hoping he can pull it together and make a run at the finals.
James Blake -- I was always a big fan of the guy, and no one's happier than me that he's been able to turn his career around. He's got a tough fourth-rounder against Berdych, but if he can get past that, he could give Federer a match in the quarters.
Rafael Nadal -- If Roddick makes the semis and faces off against Nadal, all bets could be off. I would give my [clichéd body part here] to see those two in a match. And with Lleyton Hewitt and Mikhail Youzhney as the alternatives, I think CBS is probably with me.
Marat Safin / Tommy Haas -- I love a good comeback, and I've always liked these two. Their fourth-round match is weather-delayed as I type this, but I can see myself really pulling for the winner to continue their run. Plus, I think Marat may be legitimately touched in the head, and that always makes things more interesting.
Amelie Mauresmo -- I'm not sure if it's queer solidarity or what, but I'm always pulling for Amelie. Unassuming, to the point of boring, on the court, she always translated as unflappable to me. And now that she's managed to get some confidence, she's started to win the big ones. Not bad for a "mannish" lady, eh, Martina Hingis?
Dinara Safina -- She'll face Mauresmo in a quarterfinal matchup of women who'd run you the fuck over as soon as look at you. And she's Marat Safin's sister, so maybe crazy runs in the family.
Maria Sharapova -- Much like my affection for Andy Roddick, it's lonely on Maria's side. She's gorgeous and she's in advertisments that get played about a billion times over the weekend. Of course people hate her. But women's tennis will be better served with Maria in the elite. And she seems to be playing well enough to win this week.
Elena Dementieva -- She got beat today. And she's historically been a bugaboo at the Open for players I was rooting for (Davenport, Capriati). But she's also dating Sabres winger Max Afinogenov. So I would have been inclined to pull for her, just out of loyalty.
Lindsay Davenport -- My girl. Always. She may not have always been able to nab the championships when the lights got bright, but she was a joy to watch, and she's running on fumes at this point, but wouldn't it be kind of cool to see her go out on top? She runs into the Henin-Hardenne steamroller tonight. Hate her.
Best case scenarios for Saturday and Sunday? Blake versus Roddick (yeah -- homer, right here) and Sharapova versus Lindsay. Once again, I think the networks would agree with me.