Bondy: Top ten players to watch – and avoid – at U.S. Open

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiCorey Sipkin/New York Daily News If you don’t love watching Roger Federer play, you don’t like tennis.

Roger Federer is an artist. Novak Djokovic is a technician. Lleyton Hewitt is a jackhammer operator.

Some players are a joy to watch, others an endless ordeal. Such judgments are subjective, we know. Some people actually enjoy seeing Maria Sharapova squash opponents with her scowl. But those people don’t get a vote in these lists. Here’s one columnist’s ranking of the most watchable and unwatchable players at the U.S. Open:


1. Roger Federer – Liquid tennis. If you don’t love watching Fed, you don’t love the sport. We hope he hangs around forever, just for the sight of one more angled forehand.

2. Agnieszka Radwanska – She lost on Wednesday, which is a shame. Lacking any power, the little Polish star is one of the last players on the women’s tour capable of building points vertically. A throwback to Martina Hingis, an all-time favorite.

3. Ana Ivanovic – Didn’t always enjoy her game, but she’s really become aggressive lately, finishing points early while going for the lines. Unfortunately, she missed too many of those lines on Thursday and won’t be around on Friday.

4. Venus Williams – Not what she used to be, yet Venus still has the grace and arm span to produce some impressive points at the net.

5. Jerzy Janowicz – Most fun of all the big guys because he has a nasty temper and a McEnroe-like persecution complex. Can explode at any moment.

6. Andy Murray – Yes, he can be whiny. But Murray has the most varied, unpredictable game since Miloslav Mecir – another of our Watchable Hall of Famers. Love the drop shots, whether or not they blow up in his face.

7. Gael Monfils – Never seems to win the big ones, yet plays circus points with great enthusiasm and usually extends matches to their limits.

8. Grigor Dmitrov – Federer in training. Loses a few ranking points because he’s dating someone from the least watchable list.

9. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – An infectiously positive player who can compete from the baseline or net. Seems like he’d be fun to have over for dinner.

10. Jelena Jankovic – Versatile player and a loose cannon on tour. Don’t assign her to a small sidecourt, or she’ll rip your whole tournament.


1. Lleyton Hewitt – Yes, it’s admirable that he’s still playing. But he dumped sweet Kim Clijsters and we can’t forget the nasty James Blake incident. We don’t really want to watch this Aussie hang around the baseline, dash about like a waterbug and scream, “Come on!” Too self-involved.

2. Maria Sharapova – She screeches, she clomps along the baseline, she takes baby steps between points and her service toss is too high. She never smiles. She wins on sheer doggedness. We hate sheer doggedness.

3. Caroline Wozniacki – Very nice woman, and we feel bad about Rory McIlroy. But stylistically, she is a human backboard who relies solely on others’ errors. Became very watchable, however, when her hair was caught in her racket.

4. Ivo Karlovic – Giant serve and volleyer who rarely needs a volley. Benoit Paire, his opponent recently in Washington, said it all in French: “This isn’t tennis.” Turned out, Karlovic spoke French.

5. John Isner – Not his fault. An inch shorter at 6-10 than Karlovic, he’s gotten everything he can from his big serve and limited game. But one more tiebreaker and we’ll scream.

6. Milos Raonic – Big Canadian looks like he doesn’t care one way or the other that he’s out there, so why should we? Basically, just a more talented Isner.

7. Sam Querry – A smaller, less talented Isner.

8. Flavia Pennetta – Representing all Italian baseliners here, Pennetta has driven top-ranked opponents as crazy as fans.

9. Bryan Brothers – Hey, it’s doubles, and they dress alike to confuse both opponents and media types alike.

10. David Ferrer – The high seed you don’t want anywhere near the final weekend. Just another jackhammer operator.

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