Isner Bulldogs It To The Third

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY- Although John Isner is keeping a watchful eye on the other matchups today after his second round win over fellow American Robbie Ginepri, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4, his biggest concern is tomorrow’s big game.

It’s when his beloved Georgia Bulldogs take on Boise State.

“I’m just getting mentally prepared for that,” he said.  “I don’t watch too much tennis.”

He doesn’t need to keep watching after his strong performance on Armstrong today. The Georgia native has been on top of his game this year. This win will be his seventh in a row and that follows one that was what he thinks is an “eight or nine match” winning streak.

He took the Hall of Fame Tournament in Newport back in July and won in Winston Salem, just a few weeks ago to start his winning streak.

And what’s the secret of his recent success?

Why confidence, of course.

“It’s as high as it’s ever been,” he said. “You know, I don’t like to think too much about it, but, you know, I have won seven matches in a row now, and earlier this summer I won, I think, eight or nine matches in a row:  won Newport, made the finals of Atlanta.

“I’m just winning it a lot of matches and I’m very, very confident and I feel good.  I feel like I’m, you know, moving very well, you know, especially for myself.  I’m getting to balls and able to get a lot more balls back in play because I’m very comfortable out there.”

This is a different from the Isner we all have seen earlier this year, where he lost in French Open in the first round and Wimbledon in the second. He also had a disappointing loss in Chile during the Davis Cup.

“That was probably one of the biggest down points of my year so far, going down there and just not playing well and not really able to contribute to the team,” he said. “You know, I lost to a guy ranked pretty low in Davis Cup, and I just ‑‑ it all started once I got back to the States and started playing tournaments stateside.  Very comfortable over here.  It’s just, you know, once I won a few matches in a row ‑‑ at Newport I started ‑‑ you know, I knew my game was going in the right direction, because the first five months of the year frankly it was a disappointment.”

But the 26 year-old is now back and ready to continue on at the Open. Fortunately he has a the fifth set tie break here and there will be no repeat of his match last year at Wimbledon when he won a fifth set over Nicholas Mahut, 70-68, in a match that lasted 11 hours and five minutes.

“Every slam is different,” he said.  “To me, to be honest, I like the tiebreaker, because if it goes to a fifth set and it happens to go down to a tiebreaker I like my chances, especially with my serve.  You know, I beat Andy a couple years ago in a fifth set tiebreaker.  You know, I do like the system now.

“But, you know, I don’t think anything should change as far as the other tournaments go.  It’s just how the US Open does it.”

But that didn’t happen today – maybe later in the tournament. Right now, though, it doesn’t seem like he cares because his Bulldogs will take conter statge for him tomorrow.

And who is going to win?

“I’m partial to Georgia,” Isner predicted. “I think they’re virtually playing ‑‑ you know, they’re in their backyard playing in the Georgia Dome.  They’ll have the crowd support and it’s gonna be ‑‑ it’s a huge game to start the season, for sure.”

Spoken like a true Georgia alumni.

A Ray of Sunshine Through the Rain

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – If the Serena Williams/Kim Clijsters Semifinal was strange, then the other match going on last night was just surreal.

Because of the long rain delay, the Semifinal match between Yanina Wickmayer and Caroline Wozniacki was moved to Armstrong Stadium and with what was left of the crowd mainly stayed in Ashe to watch the other match, so there were about 300-400 people watching the contest.

Throughout the match, not a peep could be heard, except Wickmayer’s Flemish grunts as she whacked the ball.

This intimate setting didn’t faze the ninth seeded Wozniacki, who said she actually liked the quiet atmosphere.

“Maybe actually it was easier, because, you know, you didn’t really feel the thing that you’re in the semifinals,” she said. “You didn’t feel the pressure too much that actually you’re so close to being in a finals. Only two matches away.

“So I mean, I understand the people. We were waiting all day to get to play, and the weather really didn’t want everything like we wanted it today. But we got to play, and I’m very happy.”

Seats that would have gone for $10,000 dollars on Ashe were just general admission and many who would never be able to sit in the front row for a Semifinal, could do so with ease.

None of this mattered to 19 year-old Wozniacki, who beat fellow teen Wickmayer, 6-3, 6-3, to earn a date tonight with Clijsters in the finals.

“I’m in a Grand Slam final,” she exclaimed. “I mean, I’m in the US Open final. I cannot describe it with words. I’m so excited. I’m so happy I pulled it through today. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a dream come true to play the finals of a Grand Slam, and now I’m here. So I mean, I have absolutely nothing to lose.”

Right now, she’s playing with house money. Even though Clijsters is unseeded, she is a former champion. Actually the two know each other and played doubles together when Wozniacki was just 16 back in 2006.

Clijsters knew she was going to be a star.

“Just by the way she was hitting the ball, by the way that she was doing everything, you could just tell that she was going to be, you know, a rising star,” Clijsters said. “You know, she’s shown that in her results. She’s very consistent. You know, she’s a super nice girl, as well. I’ve been able to get to know her a little bit better. I knew her a little bit from the past, but then got to know her a little bit better over these past couple of weeks. She’s a very sweet girl.”

Wozniacki beat Wickmayer using the same strategy that she used against Melanie Oudin. She played a defensive game and let her less experienced opponent make mistakes. Although Wickmayer had a stronger serve, the Danish princess was able to play to her Belgian opponent mistakes.

“I think two night matches has really helped me,” Wozniacki said.”I mean, it’s the world’s biggest stadium we’re going into, and it’s different. But now I’ve tried it twice this year and I won two times. I won it one time against Melanie where the whole crowd was behind her. So I think I got some experience there, and hopefully that can help me tomorrow.”

The match started a little after 9 p.m. but was delayed because the court was still wet. Afterwards, Wozniacki was able to get the first break with the score 2-2 and then rolled to the first set.

Then in the second, Wickmayer was able to get up a break 3-2, but Wozniacki bowled over her opponent from there.

“She made not any mistakes,” said Wickmayer, who committed 40 unforced errors to 14 for Wozniacki. “She just kept bringing the ball back and back. … She was really fast.”

As was the completion of the match. With the crowd waiting to get in after Williams imploded over at Ashe, Wozniacki was able to serve for the win and then broke into tears, as her dream was finally realized.