Halfway through this year’s US Open, I thought I was really going to take a beating in my fantasy leagues. Rybakina, Samsonova, Wawrinka, Svitolina — all knocked out of contention. But then, somewhat inexplicably, I ended up winning both the men’s and women’s contests. (Well, not winning-winning. There were people that finished ahead of me. But I beat the LittleYellowBall followers who participated, and then I got to rub it in their faces. I don’t ask much more from life than that.)
Today, we’re going to do all the face-offs in one post. That’s three separate polls, so don’t quit until you’ve voted for the ugliest of the uglies.
The Best-Dressed Man Face-off
Nominee #1: John Isner
I’m sure I’ve shared before that I don’t enjoy watching Isner play. His brand of tennis, so reliant on aces and service winners, doesn’t make for compelling rallies. He moves with a lumbering, almost apathetic quality. He must have a passion for the game, but he doesn’t physically convey it. It’s not easy to cheer on his tennis.
It is easy to cheer him on as a person, though. The same unassuming, just-go-about-your-business quality that makes his tennis so uninspiring makes him downright lovable in interviews. I admit I got a little choked up listening to his heartfelt retirement speech.
I think I’m nominating this classic Fila outfit on its own merits, but it’s possible my sentimental tears are compromising my fashion integrity.
Nominee #2: Francis Tiafoe
Big guns in a sleeveless tank is a surefire way to get noticed here at LittleYellowBall. Another easy-to-love American, Tiafoe made it through to the quarters before bowing out to upstart Ben Shelton.
Some will say this Nike outfit is too busy, but I say poppycock. I love the rich teal shorts, the vibrant, tropical-vibe top, and the biceps, which, though not technically part of the ensemble, are nevertheless essential to pulling off the look.
Nominee #3: Alexander Zverev
I almost made this an all-American face-off with Ben Shelton as the third choice. He’s young and bold and highly watchable, and his hot pink side-stripe was very on-trend. But I keep coming back to this Adidas number. Adidas tried many variations of this colorway on both their men’s and women’s rosters, but this is the only version that works. It’s bright and energetic and bold and surprising while still managing to stay coherent. (For an example of bold and surprising and incoherent, keep on scrolling…)
The Best-Dressed Woman Face-off
Nominee #1: Aryna Sabalenka
With her statuesque frame and regal bearing, Sabalenka can elevate most outfits from the banal to something special. I can’t tell if I would like this Nike dress on another player, or if I would find it a bit drab. In truth, the color could be brighter, and I’d prefer a more open back. It’s possible the Belarusian earns her nomination thanks to an overall lackluster Slam for women’s fashion. But quibbles aside, I’d be thrilled to look this good, on or off the court.
Nominee #2: Leylah Fernandez
Leylah wasn’t on my fantasy team, which is fortunate because she was ousted in the first round. Will she ever again come close to her magical run to the 2021 US Open final?
In doubles, though, the Canadian made it to the quarters, partnering with new mom Taylor Townsend. Fernandez kept her cool in the late summer soupiness with this well-fitting, midriff-baring getup by Lululemon. The mirroring notched edges of the top and skirt keep the two pieces in conversation with each other and makes the exposed middle an essential element in the overall look. (Yes, I know that’s a weirdly specific compliment. I’m setting up a contrast with a later nominee. Bear with me.)
Nominee #3: The ball girls
Like I said, it was a lackluster Open where women’s fashion was concerned. But I did like these snappy little Ralph Lauren numbers the ball girls were wearing.
The Worst-Dressed Player Face-off
Nominee #1: Jessie Pegula
Do the people at Adidas have a grudge against Pegula or her family? Do they just hate the Buffalo Bills? This looks like someone fed Zverev’s shirt through the garbage disposal.
This isn’t the first time Adidas has done the American star wrong. Time to look for a new sponsor, Pegula!
Nominee #2: Caroline Wozniacki
Oh, Caroline. How we’ve missed you at Fashion Face-off.
We used to be able to blame Stella McCartney for Woziacki’s fashion fiascos. But this time, the Dane herself is claiming “credit,” remarking that as a mother of two returning to the tour, now was the time to be bold.
Bold is good. Ugly is not. Am I the only one who’s put in mind of a wrestler’s singlet?
Still, I am glad to see Miss Sunshine back on tour and playing remarkably well.
Nominee #3: Coco Gauff
I know, I know. How can I possibly nominate America’s darling? But let’s consider this outfit objectively. I’ve got no problem with a cropped top (see Leylah Fernandez above). But what is going on with this one? It looks more like a tank that’s bunching up on itself. Every time I see this shirt, I want to fix the front — unroll it, smooth it out, pull it back down. And, color aside, I don’t see any aesthetic correspondence with the skirt. Yes, Coco is adorable, but this outfit is a total whiff for New Balance.
Want to yell at me for being mean to Coco? Keep scrolling to find the comment section…