Britain's Murray kisses trophy after defeating Serbia's Djokovic in the men's singles final match at the US Open  tennis tournament in New York

The moral degradation of society continues unabated. This isn’t about barbaric laws, athletes committing crimes or authority figures abusing their power.

Professional tennis has come to symbolize everything that is wrong with us.

What the hell are you talking about? 

Two things. First, the Sugarpova scare. From the beginning the notion that Maria Sharapova would change her last name for the U.S Open seemed like a publicity stunt that had no chance of actually happening. Sanity prevailed after Sharapova’s handlers sobered up, but the goal was accomplished. We were talking about Big Candy® because ‘Maria Sugarpova’ almost happened.

I think you’re overreacting.

Probably. The reason we all ran with it was because it was dumb, zany news that would make you click, laugh, cry uncontrollably etc. When Maria Sharapova becomes the next Willy Wonka we should remember this moment as she’s authorizing hits on rival candy barons because South Asia’s market share is really important. Mumbai is a Sugarpova town.

Alright, sure. What’s the other thing?

Victoria Azarenka’s victory in Cincinnati was big for the women’s game. Somebody needed to show the rest of the tour Serena Williams could be beaten on a hardcourt. In the days that followed their match, however, disturbing news emerged from the Azarenka camp.

That doesn’t sound good. 

In an interview with the New York Observer, Azarenka’s boyfriend, Stefan “Redfoo” Gordy, the American singer, dancer, DJ and rapper best known as one-half of the musical duo LMFAO, spoke about his relationship with the Belarussian star.

“I’m just really focused on being, like, the best cheerleader I can be. Do I get nervous? No way, man. I’m just constantly thinking about what does she need to do to win and what can I do?”


It gets worse.

“I was making some stuff, I needed some new sounds, and I had an idea to put her grunt in there. Her grunt is actually perfectly in the key of F.”

Good god. 

I told you.

The last slam of the year has heaps of plotlines to follow. Rafa Nadal’s summer tour de force could conclude with his second title in New York. Even after her loss in Ohio, Serena Williams is the heavy favorite on the women’s side, especially with Sharapova pulling out due to injury. The jackals that await the final demise of Roger Federer point to the next two weeks as the arbiter of truth.

We have all that, but the guy from LMFAO has left me with a nauseous feeling that several episodes of Arthur cannot erase. Bring on the meteor.

Who will not win 

Roger Federer

Federer enters this tournament with no expectations for the first time in over 10 years. A three set epic versus Nadal in Cincinnati proved he can still hang with the best on hardcourts when the Swiss star is operating at peak performance. But can he do it over five? The verdict is no.

He’s in Nadal’s quarter, meaning we could see their rivalry officially enter its twilight–they’ve never met at a slam QF. Pete Sampras was written off before he won his 14th and final major in Flushing Meadows back in 2002, but that was a different era. Federer will not be able to avoid guys like Rafa, Murray, Djokovic and Del Potro en route to the final. At this stage of his career, he can’t match their physicality.

 The New York Times goes to New York City

Back in April my friends and I travelled to New York for a bachelor party. We had a great time, but the damage inflicted on my bank account is still being felt today. NYC is a cash sinkhole when you don’t have a plan and set aside the majority of your time for binge drinking. The frugal traveler, Seth Kugel, has some tips to avoid my mistakes.

“A few weekends ago, I did just that, imagining a budget and itinerary I might recommend to a cash-poor friend crashing on my couch during a first visit to New York. The budget: $40 for food, $30 for culture, $20 for the subway and $10 for drinks.”

‘$30 for culture’ will be appearing at NXNE next year.

Truth be told I enjoyed the Big Apple. The Subway ride to Faux Yankee Stadium was great. New Jersey was also fun, aside from a brief altercation with a Devils fan that culminated with the insult “you have big teeth.”

You’d be surprised how much words hurt after consuming a small reservoir’s worth of terrible beer.

The Commentator That Will Make You Cringe

John Inverdale’s boorish remarks following Marion Bartoli’s triumph at Wimbledon sucked. Bartoli doesn’t look like Sharapova or Kournikova. Inverdale, paid for hard hitting analysis that makes you think, acknowledged this the way that guy on the bus that everyone strains to avoid eye contact with would.

The shockwaves created by Bartoli’s sudden retirement following her first round loss in Cincinnati are still being felt. Coy remarks regarding a possible comeback have already surfaced. For now, she joins Eurosport to provide commentary during the U.S Open. There is no blueprint for making the switch from player to broadcaster. They see the same people and travel to the same places as they did before

Some of these relationships are intriguing. Brad Gilbert has worked with a myriad of players currently on tour, as has Darren Cahill. Mary Joe Fernandez’s husband, Tony Godsick, is Federer’s agent.

Bartoli doesn’t need to be hyper critical, but there is a reason there aren’t more Wilander’s in the commentary box.

Sister Act 

Much of the attention this week will be on Federer and his ongoing battle with Father Time–FT is undefeated in all competitions–but there’s another veteran deserving of some love. Venus Williams, 33, continues to deal with back issues along with symptoms associated with Sjogren’s syndrome, an energy-draining disease. She’s drawn Kirsten Flipkens, the 12th seed, in the first round. Her chances of making it through to the quarterfinals are slim, but if she does a date with sister Serena awaits.

The same questions keep coming for both sisters. Why are you guys still playing? You’ve done it all.

When they play doubles, like they will at the U.S Open, the answer is evident. They’re still having fun, and winning, too.

A Blast From The Past

It’s still technically the big four, but the gap between the top three players in the men’s game and everyone else is widening. From playing against each other in the junior ranks to slugging it out for the biggest trophies in the world, the triumvirate of Nadal-Djokovic-Murray are the headliners in New York.

They, and we can include Federer here, seem to have a good relationship on and off the court, but recent comments made by Djokovic’s dad indicate otherwise. People change.

Britain's Murray kisses trophy after defeating Serbia's Djokovic in the men's singles final match at the US Open  tennis tournament in New York

The Contenders

Picking against Nadal and Serena is a fool’s errand at this point. Murray hasn’t been on court a ton since winning Wimbledon and Djokovic doesn’t look like the world beater we saw earlier this year. A possible Juan Martin del Potro-Djoker QF is a tantalizing prospect. del Potro’s recent form indicates he has a legitimate shot at making the final.

With arguably the fastest courts on tour residing in New York, John Isner and Milos Raonic–who sits in a quarter headlined by David Ferrer and Richard Gasquet; here’s your shot big fella–have a chance at collecting a big name scalp.

Though her loss to Azarenka was a reminder they can’t just give Serena the trophy on Monday, Williams still has a favorable draw. Petra Kvitova and Caroline Wozniacki have a reasonable chance at stopping Azarenka before the final, but I think we’re looking at a Cincy repeat.

The Picks

Nadal d. del Potro

Williams d. Azarenka