Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Us Open Caps a Wacky 2013 Tennis Season

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Us Open Caps a Wacky 2013 Tennis Season

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -

A surprise Wimbledon champion one day, a retired player providing TV commentary the next, nobody's been in touch with the fickle nature of tennis in 2013 better than Marion Bartoli.

So, when asked if Serena Williams was a shoo-in to defend her title at the U.S. Open, which starts today, Bartoli's answer came as little surprise.

"In sports, at the end of the day, you can't write the story before it's over," she said.

Given all that's transpired in the lead-up to the year's final major, it would be foolish to try:

-There was the sudden retirement of Bartoli, the 28-year-old from France who realized a few weeks after Wimbledon that her body couldn't take the pounding anymore.

-There was the withdrawal of Maria Sharapova, ailing with a sore right shoulder and also still spinning from a whirlwind partnership with Jimmy Connors, who she hired, then fired, as her coach, after playing only one match.

-There was that strange, crooked number placed next to Roger Federer's name: a "7" - worst seeding at the U.S. Open for the five- time champion since 2002.

-And there was the sudden reemergence of Rafael Nadal, who, for the last year-plus, has made headlines with his injuries and early exits (along with, of course, another French Open title) but finds himself with a 10-0 record on hard courts in the lead-up to the U.S. Open.

"Nobody in my family, my team who is close to me seven months ago, thought about a comeback like this," Nadal said. "I feel very lucky. I feel very happy to be in this position."

Second-seeded Nadal, who missed last year's U.S. Open with an injured knee and the 2013 Australian Open with a stomach virus, came back to win the French Open, then was bounced from Wimbledon in the first round, opens his 2013 stay at Flushing Meadows on Monday with a match against American Ryan Harrison. …

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