USO Day 6: Black Saturday.
There was something wild and burning in NYC today, leaving many of the top seeds singed, scorched or flat-out cremated.
Black Saturday got off to an ominous start as Roger Federer, seemingly in control of the first set serving at 4-2 40-0, lost serve with a string of forehand errors and a double fault.
From then on, as Roger put it himself, “the wheels came off“. Federer couldn’t make a single winner to save his life for the next 15 minutes, and conceded the first set 6-4 with 24 unforced errors.
After all my efforts in pretending that the early hard court season never happened, the suppress memories Key Biscayne came rushing back. Roger cleaned up his game slightly in the next 3 sets, but it was B+ stuff, resulting in a relatively close 4-set win.
Credit to Rusty though. Give the guy so much as a half-chance and he’ll take it from you in a blink and scream “C’MAWN” in your face.
I don’t know how I feel about Hewitt these days. On the one hand, it’s hard not to hold his foul behavior as a youngster against him. On the other, could it really be that I’m finally feeling something for Hewitt that I never felt during the first part of his career: respect?
I mean, the guy’s accumulated a fortune over the years. He’s won two slams, spent a decent number of weeks as the No 1, been there and done that. He’s gotten himself a soapy wife, two kids and a tax-haven nest. He shouldn’t feel like he has anything left to prove.
Lleyton doesn’t have to be out here grinding away against younger and flashier prototypes. As Wertheim pointed out this week, Rusty could’ve easily “done a Safin” and rode off into the sunset, broken hips and all.
But Lleyton Hewitt is still out there, battling away for – oh I don’t know – the sheer love of competition? How do you not respect a guy like that?
While Feduruh dueled with Hewitt on Ashe, over on Armstrong, Djokovic hardly resembled the World No 4 that he is, battling past Jesse Witten, ranked 267 in the world 6-7 (2) 6-3 7-6 (2) 6-4.
You gotta give it up to these journeymen, people like Greul and Witten, for taking it to the top guys and relishing their prime time moment. At the sam time, Djokovic was just far too passive during the match, with only 31 winners to Witten’s 42, 53 unforced errors to Witten’s 62, and 8 double faults to Witten’s 11. It wasn’t exactly world class stuff.
It’s the end of a feel-good story for Jesse Witten, whose third round performance revived his passion for tennis.
“This makes me want to keep playing. It gives me some money to keep playing. The biggest thing usually is I feel like I don’t belong . . . I never said it or tell people that. Just in my mind, I don’t know how good I am, so it’s good to see I can play with these guys.“
Cinderella or Uncle Toni’s lovechild? You decide:
As Djokovic wrapped up his marathon against Witten, Maria Sharapova was being bundled out by the new American sweetheart Melanie ‘Oudini’.
Given all the upsets on the women’s side of things, I’m thrilled that we at least have a feisty little teen battling her way into everyone’s heart.
But I won’t pretend it wasn’t painful to watch Masha Fierce double fault 21 times and committ 63 unforced errors and lose the match. The serve, which had been fine during her first two matches, unravelled so spectacularly that it began to corrupt the rest of her game.
Q. When you’re having trouble like you were serving, how hard is it to hold onto your groundstrokes?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: With the amount of errors I made from both my groundstrokes and my serve, to be able to get it to three sets is not bad. So if I didn’t make those errors, those double faults, I certainly would have won the match.
So that gives me some confidence.
Saddened, but not crushed.
Just when you thought the Tennis Gods were done with the upsets, lo and behold – John Isner and Andy Roddick locked themselves into an epic ace-fest.
Must admit I was gunning for Izzy to pull off an upset – he won me over a few weeks ago in Washington where he took ARod to 3 sets. Apparently, dude has more than just a serve. He committed himself to volleying the entire match, forcing Andy to come up with passing shots, which he couldn’t.
Even so, when ARod came back from a 2-set deficit to level for a fifth, I thought he had it in the bag. Isner was supposed to have run out of extra gears. He was supposed to be physically ailing, nervous, and floundering in self-doubt. Except he wasn’t.
Q. Were you as calm on the inside as you appeared on the outside throughout that match?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I really was. Never panicked. If I lose that match, I have nothing to hang my head about. Played well. Maybe a little bit more the pressure’s on him. He’s expected to do so well here. Nobody expected me to win. Kind of looked at it that way. Just went out there and, you know, just played free. Didn’t think too much.
Q. Did you expect to win?
JOHN ISNER: I did. Yeah, I knew I had a shot. Once I got that first set, I definitely knew I had a shot. I played really well in the second set. Obviously, when you’re up two sets to love, you’ve only got one more to go, so…
Q. Can you articulate what this win means to you?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I don’t really know how to describe it just yet. It’s obviously, hands down, the biggest win of my career. Nothing even compares. To do it at the stage I did it on is pretty spectacular. Maybe it will sink in a little bit more tomorrow.
But I know I can really do some damage here. So I’m not satisfied just yet.
I like this kid. He can join my bandwagon. I’ll save him a mono-infested seat right next to Fed and Mario.
Tough for Andy to lose such a close match, even tougher that he should end his fantastic slam year with a third round showing.
So … who picked Dent and Isner as the last two American men standing?
The freaktastic day of upsets was then topped off by Dinara Safina, who lost to the World No 72, Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, 6-4 2-6 7-6 (7-5).
And watching the match, you would’ve never known who was the top seed. Petra was gutsy from the start, firing 47 winners and 59 unforced errors. Dinara made 12 winners over a 3 set match, and never looked like she wanted to dictate proceedings.
TWELVE winners, that’s about 4 per set. Are you fucking kidding me?!
Never mind, I’ve vented enough during the match. Thanks Petra for putting us out of our misery.
Blackened and burnt,