NEW YORK -- There really aren't enough opportunities to use the word "hapless," which is why we all owe Kim Clijsters a debt of gratitude for pummeling hapless Vera Zvonareva on Saturday night to a 6-2, 6-1 mess for the U.S. Open women's title.
It was, in fact, the shortest final in recorded history, dating to 1980.
Still, the last 24 hours might leave a tennis fan with a sense that something is missing, such as the other half of a tennis match for their $173 ticket. Maybe a junior quarterfinal? Co-ed exhibition match? World TeamTennis warmup?
It wasn't just that Clijsters wrapped up the title so quickly, her adorable daughter was able to join her for the trophy presentation just before a toddler's summer bedtime. It was that the match was so lopsided, that there was no American favorite like Venus Williams, no heavy-hitting No. 1 like Caroline Wozniacki in the prime-time "final." At least let some lions into the arena when things get too slow; I understand that crowds have historically enjoyed that.
And face it, just a few hours earlier New Yorkers had the dream men's final ripped out from underneath the glass-flecked pavement. Rafael Nadal will play in his first U.S. Open final against ... Novak Djokovic? Any pure tennis fan can say that the Serbian earned the spot by the way he beat Roger Federer on Saturday. And any fan of pure comedy can say that his impersonation of Maria Sharapova is so dead on it's scary.
But the people wanted a Federer-Nadal final Sunday for the first time in Open history. Paris and London and Melbourne get to have one, why shouldn't the greatest city in the world? And if you think that's misstating it, perhaps you're right. New York is the greatest city in the universe. Including dark matter.
But the U.S. Open finals this year didn't come made to order. Perhaps we are just a bunch of spoiled Americans who can't understand the subtleties of the game so we are transfixed on the celebrity status of a player.
Wait, did I have you going with that one?
Hopefully, Djokovic will open with some impressions.