Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the second week of the 2017 US Open.
Entering this US Open, this is what we expected and it’s what we’ve gotten. Funny how it works sometimes, no?
With the slew of absences due to injuries and withdrawals on both the men’s and women’s sides, we were expecting as wide open a US Open as we’ve seen in recent memory—and that’s exactly how the first week has unfolded. The quarterfinals are just ahead, and we have only a handful of favorites making it through.
Where do things stand as we close in on the finals? Let’s look at the week 2 power rankings of this 2017 US Open.
1. Tennis fans
Do you know who the big winners are from this first week? As cheesy as it sounds, it’s all of us tennis fans. We’re just at home watching on TV, or maybe we’re lucky enough that we’re on hand in Flushing Meadows, and we’re getting great and compelling matches with surprising results. But it’s not just that; we’re seeing surprises left and right, yes, but there’s still the comforting Roger Federer/Rafael Nadal semifinal match looming. Win-win.
Would-be 1. Denis Shapovalov
Canadian Denis Shapovalov came in and crashed the American Grand Slam party and very nearly managed to keep the good times rolling before bowing down in the fourth round against Pablo Carreno Busta in three sets of 7-6(2), 7-6(4) and 7-6(3). He’ll be fine, and over time he’ll manage to split a trio of tiebreakers against an opponent like Carreno Busta. He had the world in his palm, and he will again.
2. Roger Federer
It might be a tad unfair, but this US Open will likely dictate whether we remember this 2017 season as one for the ages from Roger Federer, or simply as a pretty good one. A potential US Open title, Federer’s third Grand Slam of the season, would definitely make it all the more memorable. Federer’s road to the quarterfinals, with matches against Mikhail Youzhny, Feliciano Lopez and Philipp Kohlschreiber, was fairly easy but he’ll definitely have to earn his spot in the final.
3. Petra Kvitova
We’re firmly in the Petra Kvitova camp and have been for some time, especially with the near-tragedy she’s suffered this past offseason. And now we can finally rank her at or near the top of these power rankings for on-court results.
— Petra Kvitova (@Petra_Kvitova) August 28, 2017
5. Karolina Pliskova
One of the most underrappreciated aspect of this 2017 season on the women’s side as been the Race to World No. 1. Entering the US Open, as many as eight players could end up at No. 1 depending on the results. We’re down to only two right now, with Karolina Pliskova in the driver seat: make the final in Flushing Meadows, and you’re at No. 1.
America gonna America, we said last week, and it means different things depending on the context but one constant remains: there’s no greater joy to Americans than seeing Americans play well and win. (In that, American fans aren’t really different from anyone one else.) With no fewer than five of the 16 quarterfinal slots occupied by Americans, the US is loving it.
8. Juan Martin Del Potro
Watching Juan Martin Del Potro play at the US Open will always be fun and memorable.
Meanwhile ladies and gentlemen
— Sir Roger Federer! (@RogerXVIII) September 5, 2017
10. Sloane Stephens
The 2017 season has been a lost cause for Sloane Stephens, who was sidelined until Wimbledon after a foot surgery. But the American has managed to make the most of her five tournaments played, with two semifinals at the Rogers Cup and the Western & Southern Open, and a quarterfinal (or better?) berth at the US Open.
12. Kaia Kanepi
Speaking of comeback stories, did you hear that Kaia Kanepi is alive, well, and finally winning tennis matches on the WTA again? After she came so close of ending her career because of injuries, it’s nice to see.
.@KanepiKaia is back!
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 31, 2017
16. Diego Schwartzman
You know, at every turn in life, someone has to be last and in our mind, it’s Diego Schwartzman’s turn this week. Being last here still means you’re among the final 16 at a Grand Slam. Not too shabby.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG