September 5, 2009

"I Thought All Along I Would Win Today"

That's what John Isner said in his post-match news conference after his semifinal loss to heavy favorite Andy Roddick at the Legg Mason Classic last month.

He didn't win then, but he sure did today.

I missed most of the match because (expletive!) CBS isn't nearly as diligent as they should be and mistakingly decided to air (expletive!) Ghost Whisperer instead of the most exciting match of the U.S. Open to date. (Not that I'm annoyed or anything.) But thankfully the Slam's official site does provide some live streaming, which I discovered in time to see that Roddick, after falling to a two set to love deficit had clawed his way back and was now tied at four games apiece in the fifth. He held serve to force the tiebreak, but that's where his run for a fifth straight Major fourth round would come to and end.

Instead former University of Georgia star Isner took the first mini-break to bring a 4-2 lead into the changeover. After that he didn't look back, holding three match points before eventually advancing with a 7-5 score in the decider. It was his first win over Roddick and just another indication of how he's grown as a player. In D.C. he had several chances to make the final, and while I was afraid he might not be able to regroup in time for the Open, he proved his maturity and finally triumphed over his nemesis on the grandest of stages -- the same stage, incidentally, where Roddick won his only Grand Slam six years ago.

Isner must have had a little bit of inspiration from a young girl named Melanie Oudin, who in the match just before his took out 2006 champion Maria Sharapova in a thrilling 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 shocker. It was her second big upset of the tournament, and her third of the year. And though she said she couldn't "believe" she'd notched the upset over Elena Dementieva earlier this week, the slogan etched in her sneakers reminded her otherwise, and she again kept her cool over a much more experienced -- and decorated -- player to move on to her second consecutive fourth round.

Isner will next face Fernando Verdasco -- he might be a bit disappointed as the Spaniard ousted Tommy Haas in another five-set squeaker, as John's beaten the German a few times already in his short pro career. Melanie will get Nadia Petrova -- a woman who herself must be excited that she won't face Sharapova for the fourth time this summer. But their opponents should be carefull not to allow themselves any false sense of security. In my latest poll, you guys voted John and Melanie the most likely of all this year's standouts to advance well into their respective draws. So far they've proved you right, and now that they have just a little more confidence, and a lot more belief, both should be considered legitimate threats for the remainder of the Open.

It might still be premature to say either could bring home the ultimate trophy at the end of this week, but you can be sure I'll be rooting for them the rest of the way!

1 comment:

Grant Day (gday76) said...

Good take on the US Open, I also enjoy your tweets. This one is hard to call on either side (other then doubles).

Grant Day