Our weekly guide to who’s hot and who’s not in tennis:
Roger Federer: Is this going to be the summer when Federer ‘retakes’ New York City, when he can plant an ‘RF’ flag on a grassy knoll in Central Park? For five summers, from 2004 to 2008, Federer was unbeatable at Flushing Meadows. New York was very much Federer’s town; the hotel where he stayed renamed his rooms the Roger Federer Suite. And, on the freeway from Manhattan to Queen’s, no one had more billboards than the Swiss, giving rise to the thought: had Federer been American, how much more of a global superstar would he be? But Federer hasn’t been the US Open champion for four years now. He arguably should have won the 2009 final, since he led Juan Martin del Potro by two sets to one, and the past couple of summers he’s had match points in the semi-finals against Novak Djokovic.
This season he looks well set to win on the Arthur Ashe Stadium again. Ohio saw a dressed-down, collarless Federer; America’s Mid West also saw Federer near the top of his game as he won a (presumably-gluten-rich) bagel set against Djokovic in Sunday’s final. The second set was much closer – won on a tiebreak – but it was Federer’s week, and he goes into the final slam of the year as the world No 1 and as many people’s favourite. Win the US Open and he would well placed to end the year at the top of the rankings.
Li Na: Hubby, her former coach, has come off the payroll. What better way to start her working relationship with Carlos Rodriguez than to win the Cincinnati title. “The husband is the husband and the coach is the coach, otherwise it’s too tough for my mind,” Li has said.
Angelique Kerber: This time last year she was around 100 places lower down the tennis food chain; she’s now up to sixth in the world, after a fine week in Cincinnati.
Juan Martin del Potro: The most worrying sight of the week in Cincinnati was of Del Potro slicing his backhand rather than swinging through the shot. It is to be hoped that the Argentine’s wrist allows him to cuff tennis balls in New York, on both wings.
Rafael Nadal: It is not beyond the realms of possibility that he could win the 2013 Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic: Losing to Federer was one thing; choking on a bagel was quite another.