Clay is meant for playing on. Well, we could be wrong… that might not be clay. But does that much matter? Whatever the trophies that Maria Sharapova and Andy Murray hoisted yesterday are made of whatever material has been sacrificed to the gods of Midwest art (read: too much Sears’ sale collection, not enough Ikea faux trendiness). But, we understand: trophies don’t have to be trendy. But could they at least illicit some sort of excitement from the winners? We’re guessing Sharapova was told: “Don’t worry, Maria! This one doesn’t have a lid! But it’s full of some guy from Toledo’s ashes! CONGRATS!”
Now Maria and Andy can add their names (more confidently) to the list of US Open hopefuls as the year’s final major is set to start in just one week’s time. Maria’s conquering of Jelena Jankovic in Cincinnati is rather significant in the sense that Sharapova double faulted to finish out the first set. Game, set and match? Not quite. Nice to see Maria fight back to win 4-6 7-6 (3) 6-3. And — nice to see Jelena fight back herself. Just a week ago, 37% of TSF readers voted that JJ would “settle into the top 20 to 40″ with the way she’s performed in the recent past. Is she herself a valid candidate for the title in Flushing? 2008 calls.
And the boys, too. For Murray it was a great end to a rather underwhelming summer. The Scot showed us flashes of his post-Australian Open slump, including a 6-3 6-1 loss to Kevin Anderson in Montreal last week. But this week he was the man who didn’t succumb to the heat, an injury, himself or just plain, bad tennis. A recipe for success in New York City? Certainly could be. A 6-4 3-0 win over an injured Novak Djokovic (shoulder) puts Murray with Roger Federer as one of two gents to beat Djoko this year. More importantly? The top four all have legit shots to win a seventh match inside Arthur Ashe.
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