The Cramps should have been the headline act at Glam Slam, the US Open kickoff party. It looks like the men are setting a record for number of five set matches and number of players going down with cramps.

Paradorn Srichaphan rolled around the court in obvious pain during his four hour and twenty-four minute match with Davide Sanguinetti. After Sanguinetti won the third round match, he hugged Srichaphan as if they’d been through a war together. Nicolas Massu barely made it to the end of the longest match of the tournament, a four hour and thirty-two minute fight with Guillermo Coria in the fourth round. The two almost came to blows after Coria mocked Massu’s gimpiness. Coria won the match but it took a lot out of him. He double faulted on Robbie Ginepri’s fifth match point in their quarterfinal match and served 14 double faults altogether.

Ginepri got another gift in his previous match when Richard Gasquet ran out of gas in the fifth set and lost it 0-6. Interesting to note that the oldest guy here, Andre Agassi, has not slowed down or cramped up. In his first ever five set tiebreaker at the US Open, he beat James Blake in one of those matches you feel fortunate to have watched. Two Americans, Aggasi and Ginepri, will meet in a US Open semifinal for the first time since 1996.

The women play best of three matches, not best of five, and they’ve played plenty of three set matches but also plenty of short, two set matches. The parity in the men’s game is not as apparent in the women’s draw. Today we’re going to look at a match that lasted only one hour and five minutes.

We’ve been picking Amelie Mauresmo’s psyche apart here lately. Let’s look in on her quarterfinals match with Mary Pierce and see how she does. Pierce has been in three consecutive grand slam quarterfinals and made it to the finals at the French Open. She’s playing the best tennis of her career. It should be a tough match but Mauresmo beat Pierce in their two previous meetings this year.

Pierce likes to slam the ball and she starts the match by taking the game to Mauresmo. She hits hard, flat shots that keep Mauresmo from attacking, gets to the net and finishes points off with a funky two-handed backhand volley. She breaks Mauresmo in the first set to go up 4-2.

Mauresmo needs to seize the momentum somehow. She holds serve with an ace, two service winners and a serve and volley then hits four passing shots to break Pierce and get back on serve, 4-5. Pierce applauds Mauresmo’s passing shots. It’s not like Coria and Massu, or Coria and Hewitt – Coria slammed an overhead at Hewitt during their Davis Cup match and mocked his celebrations, or Coria and anyone else these days, for that matter. I notice that Coria made a point of high-fiving Ginepri during their match. That was probably an attempt at image management.

Hitting passing shots is a good idea but it’s not exactly a display of power. Mauresmo has often been faulted for her lack of mental toughness but she also suffers because she doesn’t have a power game. She can serve aces now and then, but she doesn’t have one weapon that anyone fears. Roger Federer is a finesse player too, but the racket speed he generates on his forehand is fearsome and his serve, while not as fast, is just as effective as Andy Roddick’s rockets.

Mauresmo is in the unfortunate position of having the game for red clay, good defense and natural topspin strokes, but not the stomach to deal with the expectations of her fellow citizens in France where the red clay grand slam is played.

Then there is that lack of mental toughness. She gives the break back with two double faults and an error and loses the first set in thirty-seven minutes, 6-4.

The second set is more of the same. Mauresmo double faults twice in her first service game. Two points away from going down 1-5, Mauresmo sets up an easy overhead then hits it at least three feet beyond the baseline. You can hear the collective groan all the way from Flushing, NY, to the Champs d’Elysée. Pierce beats Mauresmo, 6-4, 6-1, in one hour and five minutes.

Mauresmo is in the unfortunate position of having the game for red clay, good defense and natural topspin strokes, but not the stomach to deal with the expectations of her fellow citizens in France where the red clay grand slam is played.

Consider a player like Elena Dementieva. With that serve of hers, she has to be very mentally tough to make the most of everything else in her game. During her quarterfinal match later in the evening with Lindsay Davenport, she sent the third set into a tiebreaker with a double fault when she could have won the match if she’d held serve. It must be brutal to have to play Dementieva. You never know where that serve is going and the second serve snakes away from you after she hits the ball with that low sidearm sling.

And Davenport, she had twice as many errors as Dementieva and couldn’t hit the side of a barn all evening – she only won one game in the first set – then pulled out a marvelous point with three deep shots to alternating corners to draw herself even in the tiebreaker. She was winning more points on Dementieva’s serve than her own. Dementieva managed to pull it together one more time and hit a drop shot then a backhand winner to take the match and get to the semifinals for the second year in a row after serving 12 double faults.

Looking at the power of veteran players like Pierce and Davenport and the power and mental toughness of young players like Dementieva, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Mauresmo gets her grand slam victory.

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