What's in store for 2007

The U.S. Open has come and gone, and with it, so much has changed but so much remains the same. For some, like Andre Agassi, next season will bring new challenges and endeavors. For others, like Roger Federer, there's no reason to think 2007 will be any different from 2006. Here's a look at the top story lines from this year's U.S. Open and how they might translate into next season.

Agassi bids farewell

Agassi's retirement had been anticipated the moment he announced at Wimbledon that the U.S. Open would be the last tournament of his 21-year career. And Agassi did not disappoint. He won his first-round match against Andrei Pavel and followed that up with a five-set win over No. 8 Marcos Baghdatis, bringing back memories of Jimmy Connors in 1991. Agassi needed four injections -- including one cortisone shot -- in the first week. All that stood between Agassi and a fourth-round match with fellow American Andy Roddick was Benjamin Becker. They split the first two sets, but Agassi was showing signs of pain. In the end, Becker won in four sets, which set off an emotional tribute and sendoff by the capacity crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

What to expect in 2007
So who's the next to hang it up? Lindsay Davenport's retirement plans have been shoved to the back burner lately, thanks to her recent renewed form.

Although she hasn't played much this year because of injuries, the former No. 1 player in the world has shown she still can compete with the very best. She knocked off two seeded players en route to the U.S. Open quarterfinals before Justine Henin-Hardenne ended her run. Like Agassi, Davenport is known as one of the best ball strikers to ever set foot on the court. Although she turned the big 3-0 in June, her penetrating groundstrokes are still a lot for her opponents to handle. Despite playing in just six tournaments this season, Davenport did make at least the round of eight in four. However, she has disclosed little about what her future holds.

Sharapova goes bananas
After a two-year hiatus from victory lane at a Grand Slam event, Maria Sharapova announced to the tennis world that she is not a one-hit wonder. Her win over No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo in the semifinals made a huge statement, as she won the first and third sets without dropping a game. She followed that up with a straight-sets win over No. 2 Henin-Hardenne for the second Grand Slam title of her career. That's when the fun began. In the post-match news conference, before she could even sit down, Sharapova said "Let's make this a positive session tonight -- please, por favor."

The 19-year-old beauty was not in the mood to answer questions after the television broadcast that showed hitting partner Michael Joyce holding up four fingers much the way a catcher signals to his pitcher. Furthermore, her father Yuri was signaling to her to eat a banana and drink water. As it turns out, the USTA said such motions did not constitute coaching, thus no infractions had been committed.

What to expect in 2007
This season the WTA began experimenting with on-court coaching at select events. At the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Conn., and at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, coaches were allowed on the court once per set, plus between sets. WTA CEO Larry Scott is always on the lookout for cutting-edge ideas, but he is unsure whether coaching will be allowed full-time. Like instant replay, this would mark one of the most dramatic changes ever made in professional tennis.

Instant replay a success

The electronic review technology made its Grand Slam debut at this year's U.S. Open after having been around for a few years just for the benefit of the television audience. For the first time, players were allowed to challenge calls at the two biggest stadiums at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. When all was said and done, 88 matches were played on the two courts, with an average of 2.44 challenges per match. A total of 215 challenges were issued, and 32 percent of those decisions were overturned. The women were slightly more successful than the men, winning 36 percent of their challenges compared with 31 percent for the men.

What to expect in 2007
The overall feeling from the players has been positive. "I like everything about it," said Roddick, who lost to Federer in the final. (Roddick, by the way, won just two of his 10 challenges throughout the fortnight.) There are indications that Hawk-Eye will be used during the Australian Open in January. However, some of the players believe chair umpires are more hesitant to overrule calls because they don't want to be embarrassed by the technology. Regardless, the innovation has given players some recourse and the fans more excitement.

Federer Express adds to his trophy mantle

The numbers are overwhelming. Roger Federer, who is just 25, has nine career Grand Slam titles. He became the first player in the Open era to win three Grand Slams in a season twice and the first to pull off the Wimbledon-U.S. Open double three consecutive years. The Swiss lost just two sets in two weeks and, after he wiped through the field with minimal effort, it appears no one is going to stop him. His win at the U.S. Open clinched the No. 1 ranking, and there are still more than two months left in the season.

What to expect in 2007
More! It's absurd to think Federer won't win at least two more Grand Slam titles and finish the year No. 1 again. The question is: Who will step up? We all know Rafael Nadal has had Federer's number, but will that be enough to legitimately challenge for the top spot on the ATP Tour? Since his run to the Wimbledon final, Nadal has failed to reach the semis in any of the three events he has played. Although Nadal has shown signs of brilliance on hard courts, it's still too early to say whether he can dominate on anything but clay. It's also unrealistic at this point to say anyone else -- even a rejuvenated Roddick -- will make a move in 2007.