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Expected and Unexpected Moments from the 2009 US Open

By Neil Edward Schlecht

From between the baselines to between players' ears, here is USOpen.org's annual round-up of the expected and unexpected moments from the 2009 US Open.

Tall, big-hitting dude in a baseball cap is last American man standing
That man, 55th-ranked and 6-foot-9 John Isner, not former champ Andy Roddick or even Sam Querrey
A mom makes a triumphant return to women’s tennis
That mom is Kim Clijsters, not Lindsay Davenport
Feisty 5-foot-6 woman takes on the big babes
Justine Henin remains in retirement; Melanie Oudin takes her place
Serena outspoken in press conferences
Bold t-shirts do most of the talking (“Servin’ Up Some Hot Damn”; “You Can’t Spell Dynasty without Nasty”; “Vicious! Ambitious! Delicious!”)
Last year’s finalist, Andy Murray, picked by many to win, uses wily game to lull opponents into errors
Lulls self to sleep in meek and flat performance, losing in 4th round against Marin Cilic
Nadal’s relentless play suffers from nagging injury
Abdominal strain, not patella tendonitis in his knees
Maria Sharapova unveils sophisticated night and day cocktail dresses
Looks more like an underage junior in committing tour-record 21 double faults in loss to Oudin
Vera Zvonareva struggles with knee injury
Has on-court meltdown and engages in shocking bout of self-mutilation
Two Andys enter Open on a roll, anticipate challenging Federer for title
Neither makes it as far as the quarterfinals
Tantalizing matchup of two men’s semis & women’s final all on one day
Downpours push Super Saturday to Stunning Sunday
One tall American man remaining in final
Lo & behold, he’s a South American, from Argentina
Attendance records broken in first week
Fans enjoy nothing but perfect blue skies and almost autumnal weather
Hottest media buzz focuses on a bubbly blonde with unflinching self-belief
That’s Melanie Oudin, a 17-year-old from Marietta, Ga., where she still helps clean up around her local tennis club
Oudin, not expecting to stick around, books only a few days at NYC hotel
Booted to the curb by hotel, scrambles to find new place to stay after extending stay @ Open into second week
Fans go crazy when Nadal strips off shirt
Man, not teenage girl, charges on court to kiss the Mallorcan and blurt “I love you!”
Fashion again takes center stage
In curious twist, style all about players’ self-designed, garishly colored shoes
Upsets happen
All over the place, decimating the top half of the women’s draw
Jesse Witten, a 27-year-old University of Kentucky All-American ranked No. 276, considers giving up pro tennis
As unheralded qualifier, crushes 29th seed Igor Andreev and streaks to third round, where he scares the daylights out of No. 4 seed Novak Djokovic
Dinara Safina again questioned as legitimate No. 1
Flames out to 72nd-ranked Czech Kvitova after nearly losing in first two rounds
Russian women in abundance in draw, threaten for title
None makes it past the fourth round
Kim Clijsters’ reappearance after two-year absence sparks thoughts of “What If?”
Justine Henin rumored to hang up singing career, follow countrywoman on the comeback trail
New faces add freshness, excitement
Top half of the women's draw all first-time quarterfinalists, two teens in semifinal
Powerful unseeded Belgian woman battles through to semis
Name: Yanina Wickmayer
Mixed doubles highly entertaining as usual; defending champions Cara Black and Leander Paes again in final
Winners an untested wild-card American team, Carly Gullickson and Travis Parrott, who’d never played together before and only teamed up two days before the tourney
Bryan brothers No. 1 seeds and doubles favorites
For second time in 2009, fail to make it to final of major, losing in semis
Roger Federer and Andy Murray win Masters Series tune-ups on way to the Open
Upstart Sam Querrey, ranked No. 22, the Olympus US Open Series champ
Roger Federer in semis of a major yet again
Extends streak to impossible-sounding 22 straight major tournaments; Ivan Lendl a distant second with 10 straight
Taylor Dent entertains home crowd in night match
Returning to tour after back problems and fears he might never play tennis or even walk again, Dent wins splendid fifth-set tiebreak of rare serve-and-volley match, grabs the umpire’s mic and thanks Grandstand crowd before two laps of high fives
American men comfortable playing on Flushing Meadows’ hardcourts
Not nearly comfortable enough; none makes it as far as the quarterfinals, first time ever in the Open Era
Rafa Nadal, as he has at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, has to play a marathon of successive days of matches
Roger Federer relaxes comfortably in midtown hotel with several days off and monogrammed pillowcases
Two 6-foot-6 players square off in men’s quarters
Juan Martín del Potro towers over Marin Cilic
Novak Djokovic returns to delighting night crowd with impersonations of other players
A disheveled Johnny Mac scrambles down from the TV booth to defend his honor, plays in long-sleeve dress shirt and pants
After rainiest summer on record in New York, fans and officials nervous about weather
First 10 days of tournament: not a drop of rain
Two Belgian women make semis
Clijsters unranked after 2 years off tour, and Wickmayer ranked 50th
Gisela Dulko encounters both Bondarenko sisters in successive rounds
After beating higher-ranked Alona, blanked by younger sis Kateryna, 6-0, 6-0
Marat Safin plays final Grand Slam event at US Open, where he captured one of his two major championships
Goes out with a whimper, neither his great talent nor great temper on display
Fabrice Santoro, the two-handed magician, also retires
No tricks left in the bag for US Open fans
Flavia Pennetta many observers’ dark-horse pick coming in
Confirms high level by losing just six games total in first three matches, averaging just 58 minutes on court
Fourth-round match-up between Kim Clijsters and Venus Williams a highly anticipated nail-biter
In two weird sets, each player wins one 6-0 before Clijsters takes tight third
2009 marks 25th anniversary of Super Saturday, 12 hours of tennis, with both men’s semis and the women’s final going the distance
2009’s longest day spent waiting for someone, anyone, to take the court on final Friday
Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters in scintillating battle worthy of a final
In shocker, Clijsters defeats Williams when Serena forfeits match point after hostile outburst directed at line judge
Wheelchair women’s champ Ester Vergeer streaks to title again, now closing in on 400 straight victories
In shocker, actually loses a handful of games along the way
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