2005 US Open & US Open Series Preview, Cont.

February 24, 2005 12:15 PM

Agassi and Davenport Return
While the drama in 1881 was whether anyone could stop Richard Sears, who won the first U.S. title losing only 22 games in five matches en route to winning the first U.S. singles title, intrigue on the courts at Flushing Meadows in 2005 will surround Davenport and two-time champion Andre Agassi, who both may be competing in their final US Open Championships. Agassi, who will be 35 during his 20th US Open championship, has kept quiet on retirement talk, but has the intention, will, and form to win a third Open championship to go with his 1994 and 1999 men's singles titles. In 2004, Agassi gave eventual champion Roger Federer his toughest test of the fortnight, extending the talented Swiss to five tight sets in the quarterfinals.

Davenport, who will be 29 years old at the 2005 US Open, had more or less made the decision during Wimbledon in 2004 that the following US Open would be her final major. But after winning the US Open Series with tournament titles at Stanford and Carson - to go with her title in San Diego, the 1998 US Open champion decided to continue on the tour with injuries not factoring into her play as earlier in the year. A semifinal loss to eventual champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia in the semifinals ended Davenport's dream, but her final round showing at the 2005 Australian Open made the statement that Davenport will be a contender for the remainder of 2005.

The New Stars
In 2005, Federer will look to become the first player since Patrick Rafter in 1997-98 to repeat as the men's singles champion at the US Open. The 23-year-old native of Basel, Switzerland became the first man from his nation to win the Open title with a 6-0, 7-6, 6-0 thrashing of Lleyton Hewitt of Australia in the men's singles final. Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia will try to become the first woman to successfully defend her US Open title since Venus Williams won back-to-back titles in 2000 and 2001. Australian Open champion Serena Williams, the 1999 and 2002 US Open women's singles champion, leads a charge of American women who will look to put the U.S. Open women's trophy back in American arms for the first time since 2002.

In women's doubles, Virginia Ruano Pascal of Spain and Paola Saurez of Argentina will attempt to win their fourth-straight women's doubles title in 2005, the longest run of women's doubles titles since 1954, when Shirley Fry and Doris Hart won their fourth straight title.