NEW YORK -- Possibilities are statistics in training.
All those rainy-day delays raised the possibility, for instance, that much of the remaining U.S. Open action would be jammed into one day. And that indeed came true on Wild Wednesday and Thrilling Thursday.
The flag-friendly Andy Roddick-James Blake final is no longer a possibility, of course, but other scenarios could play out over the next three days. So, here are five possibilities to keep your eye on as the U.S. Open moves to the skinny end of the draws.
1. Grunts will drown out the airplanes. Watching men's semifinalist Mikhail Youzhny take down No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal was a contrast in vocal stylings. If you closed your eyes, you could barely tell Youzhny was hitting the ball when compared with Nadal's enthusiastic exclamations. On occasion, in fact, it sounded like Nadal was grunting after he had hit the ball. What's that do for you? It didn't do much for Tatiana Golovin when she played Maria Sharapova later that night.
"Yeah, it was kind of loud out there," she said. "It is kind of distracting. You don't need to be screaming that loud."
concerned about how her screaming grunts affect her opponents?
"I don't worry about it," she said, giving her shortest answer of the press conference.
Don't worry, Maria or no, the grunts will echo through the weekend.
2. An all-Russian final. Sure, it's a stretch, but if Youzhny manages to sneak past Roddick and Nikolay Davydenko passes Roger Federer, it will make for an all-Russian final in the U.S. Open. That Cold War chill you feel is the air cooling off interest in New York. (A final with Sharapova and Jelena Jankovic, who hails from Serbia, would set up a similarly Iron Curtain call.)
But don't think the Russians would gather to gloat about such possibilities. Davydenko said the Russian men hang around only at the Davis Cup, and the men and women barely mix outside of the Grand Slams and the tourney in Key Biscayne, Fla. (aka the "Glam Slam").
Besides, Sharapova is a "passport Russian," Davydenko said. "She's American, already."
By the way, Roddick, who faces Youzhny in one of Saturday's semis, is 3-1 in Grand Slams against Russians, 11-6 overall.
3. Martina will really, really retire. And this time she means it! Martina Navratilova has played her last women's doubles match, but even if her and partner Bob Bryan win the mixed-doubles title, she's unstringing the racket. And the game will be short yet another legend.
4. Come Sunday, someone will cry. And we're not talking about Andre Agassi. But emotion will surely flow over during a ceremony to honor the newest members of the Court of Champions, Don Budge and the aforementioned Navratilova.
5. Roger Federer will win his third straight U.S. Open. Roll that up with your quarters and take it to the bank. If he does, Federer will take home an oversized check for $1.2 million and join John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl as the only threepeaters in the Open Era.
Paul Grant is a senior coordinator at ESPN.com