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.

McHale’s Navy Attacks In Full Force

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Two years ago, people started to “Believe” in Melanie Oudin and her Cinderella run.

This year the New York crowd may be ready to board McHale’s Navy.

Nineteen year-old Christina McHale, stormed to the third round with a straight set win over No. 8 seed 7-6 (2) 6-2 to become the darling of this year’s open.

“I knew that like I had to try,” the New Jersey resident said.  “I couldn’t play like any sloppy games.  I had to try and compete really hard in the second set because I knew she was going to try even harder, too, to get the second set because she lost the first.

“When I went from 3‑Love to 3‑2, I was like, C’mon, Christina, don’t let it get back to 3‑All.  That game was a big game to get it to 4‑2.”

McHale isn’t any stranger to upsets. She slayed World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in Cincinnati last month in the first round and then proceeded to beat Aleksandra Wozniak in the first round.

This win may have topped it off for the young American.

“I think they’re different wins.  I had never really, at the Grand Slams, made it past the second round,” she said.  “Yeah, that was a good win for me, too, but I think to have it happen here at the Grand Slam is exciting for me.”

Two years ago, during Oudin-mania McHale quietly win her first round match against Polona Hercog but lost to Maria Sharapova. Now, though, she seems poised to take on the bigger names in the sport on her rise to the top.

Yet, she is trying to not to get too tied up in the hype and become a long term disappointment like Oudin.

“I try not to think about that too much,” she said.  “I mean, when I go out there every time on the court, I’m going to try my best, try to compete really hard.”

Being from New Jersey means this is her hometown match. For years as a teenager she came to Flushing as a fan to watch the greats competed for the title.

Now she is getting the same treatment she gave to her heroes.

“Someone asked me this the other day,” she said.  “I don’t remember a particular match.  I just remember we’d all get here when the gates opened and we’d literally spend the whole day here, all of our friends, running from court to court, trying to get an autograph, a picture.

“It was so much fun for us.”

Almost as fun as winning the second round of the Open and if she beats the 25th seed Maria Kirilenko in the third round, then McHale’s Navy may be in full force.

All Aboard!