On the latest edition of the Beyond the Baseline Podcast, host Jon Wertheim and Jamie Lisanti discuss 10 early storylines and topics ahead of the 2019 U.S. Open, including: the dominance of the Big Three and what it means for the final major of the year; Serena Williams's quest for a 24th major title and her return to New York after last year's final; Naomi Osaka's season and what it will be like for her to return to the U.S. Open as the defending champion; the next wave of young stars, including Bianca Andreescu, Amanda Anisimova, Stefanos Tsitsipas and others; and much more.
Jon Wertheim: Obviously the draw is not out yet. We don't even have seedings, but we do have these tennis storylines and the twisty fable that is professional tennis. I think the No. 1 storyline in tennis right now is this ongoing GOAT race. This Federer, Nadal, Djokovic in every event, one way or another, no matter how the plot twists, has this real historical echo. I think sometimes we're very concentrated on the short term and we're looking at: who wins what match and could Federer beat Nadal and Djokovic in succession but we sometimes need to step back and say: Boy, there is a lot of history residing on a few select points here. So right now, it's 20 Federer, 18 Nadal, 16 Djokovic. And we are now headed to our fourth major of 2019.
Jamie Lisanti: And I feel like between those three, anyone could take it. We have a little bit of a favorite given Djokovic and where he's coming from out of Wimbledon, but really anyone could take it. I read Roger Federer saying something about him being half broken from Wimbledon and how he went away with the family and he tried to recover from it. And it's interesting to hear him say that. We touched on this when we talked to Pat [McEnroe], that that was really a critical match for him. It’s interesting to hear him say that he lost some sleep and that one really hurt.
JW: A little bit broken, I fear, is like a little bit pregnant. If their fractures there, that's not a good thing. It's funny because Paul Annacone, who knows Roger as well as anyone, says this all the time, that one of his great assets is—
JW: Forgetfulness, exactly. I don’t know if it’s good short term memory or bad short term memory. But basically he moves on. He does not look in the rearview mirror. He looks in the front windshield. And yet when you have match points, at age almost 38, with all this history on the line to win Wimbledon, the event that you've owned for 15 years on and off, and don't convert I don't know how a human being can put that on the sight and sort of exercise that easily. So Cincinnati is the first Federer appearance since that match. I noticed he was not especially effusive on social media. You sort of wonder where he was. I don't believe he granted any interviews in that time. I think this is a real storyline. I think you're right. I think you're your other point is well taken as well—Nadal looked terrific winning Montreal. You could say Federer and Djokovic weren't there and Kyrgios went out early and he beat a tired Medvedev in the final. But Nadal I thought look terrific. And Djokovic is Djokovic. Djokovic right now is really—even among the Big Three—playing the best of that trio.