CHICAGO (September 9, 2012) – Wilson Racquet Sports (www.wilson.com), the official ball and stringer of the US Open, was omni-present at the women’s singles’ final with WTA no. 4 Serena Williams playing fellow Wilson player and world no. 1, Victoria Azarenka. Williams, fresh from her Olympic gold medal and playing with her Wilson Blade Team, continued her momentum with a hard fought win over Azarenka, playing with her Wilson Juice 100. Winning her 15th career Grand Slam and fourth US Open title, Williams defeated Azarenka 6-2, 2-6, 7-5.

Williams, who lost only 19 games in six matches leading into the final, took the first set with a dominating serve and precise groundstrokes. Azarenka broke Williams’ serve twice in the second set to level the score to one set apiece. The 23-year old Belarusian came out strong in the third, breaking Williams’ serve to lead 2-1 before Williams reversed the lead by breaking right back. Williams’ win here caps off a steady string of wins, sweeping Wimbledon and the Olympics.

“It’s incredible to win in front of a home crowd,” said Williams. “I felt their energy the entire match and thank all my fans for their support. Vika didn’t make it easy for me — she played a tough match, but I was able to hold on and achieve what I came here to do.”

This is Williams’ 45th WTA career title and tenth victory over Azarenka in their last 11 meetings, all played with Wilson rackets. Williams has won more major titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles than any other active player, male or female and is the second woman ever to win a Golden Slam.

“Serena showed incredible focus and we couldn’t be more proud,” said Renaud Vallon, global tour director of Wilson Racquet Sports. “She is incredibly passionate and shows the next generation what it takes to win.”

The Wilson Blade Team flex and pinpoint accuracy make it the racket of choice among top professionals, including Serena and her sister Venus. The larger head size provides more punch, while the lighter weight gives players greater maneuverability for hitting big shots with increased control. The Wilson Juice 100 features Amplifeel™, Wilson’s proprietary handle system, designed to increase power and spin for hard-hitting players.

Wilson won the US Open mixed doubles final with Bruno Soares and Ekaterina Makarova defeating Kveta Peschke and Marcin Matkowski 6-7(8), 6-1,12-10 in a tiebreak. Soares played with his Wilson Six.One 95 and Ekaterina played with her Wilson Tour BLX. Wilson also swept in juniors with Filip Peliwo (Wilson Blade 98) and Samantha Crawford (Wilson Tour BLX) winning the boys and girls finals respectively, and Kyle Edmund (Six.One 95) and Gabby Andrews (Wilson Juice 100) securing victories in the boys and girls doubles finals.

Wilson owns more Grand Slam titles than any other racket brand.

About Wilson: Wilson Racquet Sports is a division of Chicago-based Wilson Sporting Goods, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of sports equipment and owned by Amer Sports. Wilson designs, manufactures and distributes sporting goods throughout the world and focuses on making technologically advanced products which help players of all levels perform better. For more information, visit www.wilson.com.

Federer Stunned By Berdych

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – To paraphrase the late Howard Cosell: “Down goes Federer! Down Goes Federer!”

A shocker in the Men’s Quarterfinal saw Czech Tomas Berdych beat No. 1 seed Roger Federer in four sets  7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

For the first time since 2003, the Maestro will not be in the US Open Semifinal and went home pretty unhappy to say the least.

“I’m sure it was a combination of many things,” Federer said.  “I mean, obviously I rarely go through matches where I have no chances, you know.

“So obviously I missed some tonight again, but that’s normal.  When you end up losing at the end, you know, you always hope that you made every chance you had.  It’s just not possible.

“He probably created more than I did, and that’s why he ended up winning tonight.”

It could have been the extra rest Federer received when Mardy Fish pulled out of the Open on Monday that ruined his sharpness. Like a pitcher, most tennis players tend to like the regular rhythm of a tournament, but the Swiss Master was forced to sit out Monday’s match when he received a walkover.

Federer though didn’t use that as an excuse.

“I have been there before,” he said.  “Once I had six‑and‑a‑half days off and I ended up winning Wimbledon.  I don’t think this was the issue tonight.”

Federer looked off from the outset, after electing to receive in the coin toss, was put on his heels by Berdych, who blew the Maestro away in the tiebreaker 6-1 and broke Federer early in the second set.

Only late in the second did Federer look like the Maestro, but down two breaks was just too much for the Swiss Master and Berdych eventually was able to come through.

But then the third set came and Federer was able to break Berdych and take the set rather easily.

“I still was down two sets to one, so I wasn’t celebrating too much,” he said. “It was good.  The momentum switch no doubt gave me a chance, put the score back to zero, put him further away from winning, and made the match go longer, make it more physical, more mental.

“Yeah, so obviously I was excited winning the third, but the problem was the first couple of sets ‑ particularly the first one.”

At that point it looked like Federer was going to paint another masterpiece, but Berdych was able to break him in the middle of the fourth to end it quickly for the Master.

“The fourth set all of a sudden ended quickly,” Federer said.  “He played good the last couple of points on my serve I think at 30‑All.  But that’s always a danger with Tomas if you’re down in the score and he can take some chances.  He’s obviously a shot‑maker, so, yeah, it’s dangerous.

“I should never lose the first set.  But anyway, it happens.  Move on.”

It will be a very different Open now that both the biggest story in Andy Roddick and its biggest draw in Roger Federer are no longer playing.

It also gives Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray excellent chances to win the whole thing.


Sharapova Into Quarters With Help From Rain

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Maybe some higher power is looking favorably on Maria Sharapova, because the rain came at the right time tonight.

With the No. 3 seed down a break in the third set against Nadia Petrova, the sky’s opened for a 75 minute rain delay, and after play resumed, she took a 6-1 4-6 6-4 win to make the Quarterfinals for the first time since she won the Open in 2006.

“It’s a tough situation because I felt like there’s so many ups and downs between the beginning of the first till that break.,” Sharapova said. “She was up a break and it was a little bit difficult going in because I felt like I started getting a little bit of momentum back in the second set and then just didn’t really take my chances when I had them and played a sloppy game at 4‑5.

“But I didn’t really mind.  I have the experience of getting off the court and waiting a little bit and trying to start from scratch.”

Petrova called it Sharapova’s “lucky day” but you have to give Maria a little more credit than that. She has been on a tear this year, winning the French Open and looking determined to get  her second Open next Saturday.

And today, she grinded it out against her fellow country woman, who seemed to be a lot more psky in the second, with Sharapova making a ton of mistakes.

And Petrova had her on the ropes, but Sharapova came out pumped looking to end any threat.

“You’re playing a night match at the US Open, you have a rain delay, you come back, and all the same people that were there waited through for 45 minutes and they came back to watch the end of the match,” she said.  “So that energy in the stadium with the music and the cheering, it’s just unique.  You know, I think it really, really pumped me up and got me going.  I wasn’t going to leave that court without a fight.”

After she came out, she quickly put the set back on serve and gave Petrova no chance against her first service. Petrova’s great serve was shut down by the Russian in the final games.

“That was really important, especially against Nadia,” she said.  “One of her strengths is her serve.  You know, when it’s on and she’s holding easy, that obviously puts more pressure on the service game.

“You really try to concentrate on that, you know, be smart and mix it up a little bit more. Overall I’m really happy with the way it came out in the third.  I didn’t let that little letdown bother me.  I just kept on fighting.”

Now she will take on Marion Bartoli, who roars into the Quarters with a 1-6, 6-2, 6-0 win over Petra Kvitova.

“We haven’t played in a while.  It was a great win for her today, someone who has been playing really good this summer,” she said.  “Yeah, it’s nice to see her back in the quarterfinals of a slam.  I think she’s been a little bit up and down, but obviously her level has stepped up here.  Honestly, I haven’t watched any of her matches here.

“I played her before; I know her game style.  It’s always a little bit different, nontraditional.  But, yeah, it’s the quarterfinals and I’m excited.”

Hopefully, Sharapova won’t need the rain gods for this one.

Nadal/Gonzalez Suspended Along with Fans

A really good men’s quarter between Rafael Nadal and Fernando Gonzalez was suspended due to incoming rain. The entertaining match to take on previous winner Juan Martin Del Potro in the semis had already been stopped twice and apparently, reports of more rain made it impossible to complete before disappointed Ashe spectators who patiently waited it out.

What they did at least get were two high quality sets in which neither player broke with Nadal leading 7-6 (4), 3-2 in a second set tiebreaker. Despite a visit from the trainer along with a three-minute injury timeout to treat his strained abdominal muscle, the gritty No.3 seeded Spaniard was in front thanks to fighting off two set points in the 12th game of the opening set- getting a little help from Gonzalez who had a soft 92 mph second serve but misfired a return forehand.

The set went to a tiebreak where Nadal proved to be more consistent playing superb defense while Gonzalez self-destructed contributing a few of his 18 unforced errors including a wild forehand to give the six-time grand slam winner the set.

That’s when an ailing Rafa was visited by the trainer before action continued. Neither player changed their strategy much in a gunslinger second set where Gonzalez continued to pound away against the counter punching Nadal whose defense made it increasingly tough for the 11th seeded Chilean to find any momentum.

The first rain delay came at two all lasting exactly an hour. When they returned, it looked like they might get the rest of the set in which included three huge saves by Gonzalez to get out of trouble in the 10th game. He fought off three set points delivering with a pair of service winners and a monstrous forehand into an open court. Two more big forehands down the line allowed him to hold for five all.

Each then held to force another breaker. Unlike the first one which Gonzalez fell behind in 1-4, he and Nadal exchanged mini-breaks thanks to great defense forcing errors to make it 2-3. But with Gonzalez ready to serve, a few drops came making wild conditions which already included swirling winds impossible to continue.

The players first sat in their chairs hopeful it would pass but eventually went back to the locker room thanks to another rain delay.

As the clock struck midnight, returning fans clapped expecting the players to return to a dried court ready to do battle. Unfortunately, veteran chair umpire Pascal Maria delivered the bad news to some jeers and “Ohhhh’s and Awwww’s.”

Who could blame them? If only the USTA had enough common sense to plan ahead. Would it have really hurt to move the two doubles matches to Louis Armstrong?

What they could’ve done was keep the mixed doubles championship on Ashe while asking the Williams sisters to play on Armstrong due to the weather forecast. While that might not have been too popular a decision, at least it would’ve made sense with the popular Serena and Venus Williams playing a women’s doubles semifinal they prevailed in the old stadium so the men could at least get the final quarterfinal in.

Now, the winner will have to play consecutive days and potentially three which could really be a disadvantage the rest of the weekend. Had they been more prepared, it also wouldn’t have been such an inconvenience for fans who paid hard earned money to see a high quality match.

What happens now? They’re screwed because as Maria sadly announced, Session 22 was considered complete. On the official U.S. Open site, the following message reads:

We are currently planning to play the Friday day session # 23 as scheduled. Due to weather, we recommend you continue to check USOpen.org for weather and scheduling updates.

The big question is what does this do to the two women’s semis scheduled for later today with Caroline Wozniacki taking on Yanina Wickmayer while Serena battles Kim Clijsters. Originally, the first match between the ninth seeded Wozniacki and unseeded Wickmayer is supposed to go off at 12:30 today with the battle of champions to follow.

Why not move the ladies back allowing Gonzalez and Nadal to complete their match on Ashe? It all depends on the weather which while not expected to be as bad, could be sketchy with possible rain.

Complicating matters is that the men’s doubles final between fourth seeded Lukas Dlouhy/Leander Paes and third seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles was supposed to be played on Ashe at approximately 3:30 PM.

If you go by the emergency schedule, they list Nadal-Gonzalez not before 2 PM with a possible relocation to Armstrong. Apparently, that option is also available for Wozniacki-Wickmayer and the doubles championship.

It wouldn’t be fair to move the ladies to Armstrong as each has earned their place on center stage at Ashe. Something they’d never consider for Williams-Clijsters.

Shouldn’t the guys get theirs in as early as possible due to having to go on Super Saturday against a more rested Del Potro? One would think so. But that’s the dilemma facing the USTA due to CBS. With three networks covering the final grand slam, this shouldn’t be such an issue. But thanks to CBS who has exclusive rights the rest of the event including the women’s semis and men’s doubles final slotted between 12:30-6 PM, it’s a dicey situation for viewers.

Unless you have high speed internet access, you’re likely to get the shaft in terms of missing either the Nadal-Gonzalez conclusion or Wozniacki-Wickmayer which definitely isn’t fair.

Oh. CBS will do the best job possible moving between venues to update. But it kinda sucks if you’re a hardcore tennis fan.

These two weeks have been kind to New York with last night the first rain interrupted session. You almost never can make it through one slam without at least one of these situations arising.

We just wish the USTA had done a better job planning with the biggest weekend ahead.

Match Notes:

Gonzalez drops first set in tiebreak to Nadal 7-6 (4).

-Gonzalez hit big striking more than double winners (16-7) while also serving 5 aces to keep serve during tight set.

-But Nadal saved 2 set points with one huge Gonzalez forehand return netted on a 92 MPH 2nd serve.

-In tiebreak, Rafa took a 4-1 lead thanks to more consistency. Gonzalez miscues including a wild forehand handed him the set. Nadal made just four errors while Fernando committed 18.

-At end of set, trainer visited Nadal treating his injured abdominal muscle.

2nd Set

-Nadal and Gonzalez on serve 2 all when rain suspends play for first time all tournament.

-1 hour rain delay

-No breaks of serve

-10th game gusts fly up blowing things around and Gonzo stops to watch trying to stay in set. Nadal then plays amazing D getting to possible winners drawing an errant overhead for 0-30. Double hands Nadal 2 set points. 2 service winners save them.

-3rd set point on long backhand in memorable 10th game. On set point after great Gonzo save, tennis ball blows onto court for let. Weird. On let, Gonzo shows heart with forehand winner into open court saving another pumping self up. Gonzalez then wins challenge for forehand winner on line. Another cross court forehand gives him big hold.

-Nadal holds at love for 6-5 putting pressure on Fernando, who holds easily for another breaker.

-Rafa plays great defense forcing long forehand to earn mini-break for 2-1.

-Gonzo comes back drawing Nadal backhand miss to earn mini back for 2-2.

-At 3-2 Nadal, rain drops suspend play again and players go to locker room after waiting to see if it would stop.

-Over an hour delay again as they ready court with tiebreak on serve with Gonzalez to serve 2-3.

-With reports of more rain as the court was dry and ready to go with fans who stayed excited, play is officially suspended ending Session No.22 to the dismay of those who stuck around, throwing a wrinkle into Friday’s Session 23 that includes both women’s semis and the men’s doubles final.

Del Potro Ends Cilic’s Run

In his first grand slam quarterfinal, Marin Cilic gave it his best but ultimately it was the higher ranked Juan Martin Del Potro who proved too much. The 20 year-old sixth seeded Argentine continued to ride the wave, rallying from a set and break down to dispatch the No.16 Croat 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 at Ashe Stadium this afternoon in Flushing.

Del Potro advanced to his first ever U.S. Open semifinal improving on last year’s quarter result. Now, he’ll await the winner between Rafael Nadal and Fernando Gonzalez in tonight’s final quarter.

“It’s so beautiful playing in front of this crowd,” an excited Del Potro said acknowledging the fun atmosphere. “I’m so happy it happened this way.”

In the early going, Cilic dealt better with windy conditions looking intent on pulling another upset. Fresh off his straight set destruction of Andy Murray, he didn’t look out of place. Carrying momentum from that big win, the lanky 20 year-old who will move up in the rankings used the same powerful serve and huge forehand to give the favorite fits.

If one of the game’s best returners couldn’t get a read on it, Del Potro certainly struggled with Cilic’s serve making for a tough opening set that saw the underdog hitting out taking it to one of the tour’s best hardcourt players. In the fifth game, he ran into trouble when after fighting off two break points, the Argentine couldn’t save a third thanks in large part to some great hustle from his opponent who made a running forehand pass to earn a 3-2 lead.

Continuing to get in a high percentage of first serves, Cilic backed it up with big forehands outplaying Del Potro. Though he put up a fight in the 10th game saving one set point due to a nice lob, the Argentine couldn’t get back on serve with a forced miss allowing a pumped up Croat to close the set.

It continued to look dicey early in the second set when following a quick hold, Cilic broke for 2-0. But Del Potro stayed in it by climbing out of a Love-30 hole in the fifth game. Upping the tempo, he took the next four points holding for 2-3.

Apparently, he was just getting warmed up. Indeed, Del Potro’s memory bank was still fresh with ESPN analyst Darren Cahill noting that in their only head-to-head meeting in a fourth round Australian Open match this year, he rallied from a similar deficit winning in four sets.

More focused, Del Potro started to turn the tables hitting with more pace including a big forehand that supplied several of his 27 winners. Two less than his opponent whose signature shot suddenly went off spraying three wild forehands in the sixth game to square the set at three apiece.

With renewed confidence, Del Potro broke again en route to running off the final five games. But before he leveled the match, Cilic made things interesting saving two set points with big backhands, eventually earning a chance of his own to get back on serve. Facing the pressure, Del Potro calmly served an ace up the tee, then took the next pair of points with a service winner drawing him even at a set apiece.

Could Cilic respond? The definitive answer was no as he was broken a third consecutive time in the opening game of the third set. Following an easy hold, Del Potro had taken seven consecutive games before a Cilic love hold finally ended it.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t keep it going dropping serve again two games later falling behind 1-4 due to Del Potro taking the last four points including a Cilic netted forehand.

Following a Cilic hold, the rejuvenant Del Potro easily served the set out at love clinching it on a Cilic backhand into the net. By that point, the difference was apparent with the more polished player dealing with over 20 mph winds better by keeping balls in while his opponent cracked committing 37 unforced errors to Del Potro’s 20.

“I was thinking, every point, do the same, try to put the ball in the court,” Del Potro pointed out after improving to 16-1 since a second round Wimbledon exit to Lleyton Hewitt with the only other defeat coming to the departed Murray who got him at Montreal.

“When you fight that way to the final point, you have many chances and that’s what happened today.”

Though five days separate their birthdays later this month, it’s the older Del Potro who showed his mettle, with his consistency proving too much for Cilic to overcome with the Croat finishing with 29 more miscues (53-24).

“He was not missing,” explained Cilic while also noting the difference in conditions as well as why he was more successful the other day.

“Andy [Murray], he doesn’t have as much power as Del Potro has,” Cilic said. “And it was a little bit hotter that day and the ball was going through the court more and jumping much more.”

With a first Open semi in sight, Del Potro used some great defense to save game point, eventually converting another break for 1-0 in set four. It only worsened for Cilic who was broken a sixth time thanks to more brilliant shotmaking from Del Potro, who this time came up with a perfect running backhand topspin lob delighting the crowd and himself.

Suspense all but ended when he broke for 5-0 making it 16 of the last 18 games before Cilic earned one last break so he wouldn’t get bageled. The only problem was it was his first since early in the second when he was still in control. Now, it had come way too late.

Having solved Cilic’s serve by stepping in on seconds, Del Potro fittingly closed it by making it a perfect eight for eight on break opportunities with a wide Cilic forehand insuring his place into the final four. He took 17 of the last 20 games.

Can he take it one step further and make his first ever slam final?

“I cannot start the match like today,” Del Potro accurately stated. “I was thinking about other things, and the weather was bad. But it was bad for both players. I just need to be in focus in the beginning of the match until the last point and play my game.”

We won’t know till Super Saturday.

Now Murray Has To Answer Questions

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – And now Andy Murray will have a few months to ask himself, what went wrong.

His straight set defeat to Marin Cilic, 5-7, 2-6, 2-6 was such a dismantling, you have to wonder what was wrong.

Was it his wrist? Well no.

“I had a problem with it for a week or so,” he said. :But regardless, I mean, you know, I just struggled today. I played poorly. You know, I’m obviously very disappointed. I mean, after, you know, the way that the last three Slams went I felt like I had actually played well and lost.

“And today, you know, it didn’t feel like I played well. I had my chance in the first set, and then, you know, struggled after that. I guess the momentum went with him, and I didn’t manage to get it back. So, you know, I wasn’t able to return well.”

The first set where Murray lost, but competed with Croatian opponent was the beginning of the end. After that set, Cilic was able to make his shots and put the Scotsman on his heels. There was no turning back for the No. 2 seed as he went quietly into the New York night.

“I didn’t find a way to get myself into the match,” he said. “There was very few long rallies after the first set, and normally, you know, I’m able to get myself into rallies.

“But, you know, I guess on the return, you know, every time I had a chance, you know, he would hit a big serve or I would hit a poor return, especially on the second serve. You know, just a lot allowed him to dictate the play.

“Normally the return is the one part of my game where, you know, even if the rest of my game is struggling, I find ways to break serve and get into points, and I didn’t do that.”

This was supposed to be Murray’s year. After going to the Finals in 2008, he was supposed to take that next step and compete with Roger Federer in these Grand Slams.

But he found nothing but disappointment. He went out in the fourth round in Australia, then the Quarters at Roland Garros. Sure he made the semi’s in Wimbledon, but couldn’t get past Andy Roddick.

Then here in Flushing, another disappointment.

Yet, to be a champion, you need to learn from the bumps in the road. And Murray made a vow to make sure this embarrassment never happens again.

“It’s been a good season,” he said. Could have been better in the Slams, but the rest of the season has gone well. I have to make sure, you know, I work on my game a lot to make sure that when I go into the Slams next year and the beginning of the year I’m ready to win one.”

Australia though is four months away and there’s plenty of time to think. He will still compete in the other tournaments around the world, but until he wins a Slam, there will always be questions about this young player.

Yet, that may be a good thing. Murray is a very smart man and seems to learn fro his mistakes. If he does then 2010 will be a good year for the Scot. If not, then expect the same disappointment from this rising tennis star.

Upsets Continue On Saturday Night

The upsets continued Saturday at this year’s U.S. Open. Both Andy Roddick and Dinara Safina exited stage left ending disappointing brief stays in NYC.

Off his impressive Wimbledon showing pushing Roger Federer the limit, the No.5 seeded Roddick was expected to carry that momentum into the final grand slam and make a run at a second Open. But six years after winning his only major in Flushing, the 27 year-old fizzled out in an epic third round falling to rising American John Isner 7-6 (3), 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 7-6 (5).

It wasn’t that he played poorly as evidenced by the steady 51 winners to just 20 unforced errors. But the 24 year-old lanky 6-9 Isner was just better using a lethal serve to crack 38 aces while also going bigger on his shots, finishing with 90 winners. That also meant 32 more errors but the strategy to shorten points paid off allowing him to build a two-set lead.
<blockquote>“<em>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,</em>” a thrilled Isner expressed after beating Roddick for the first time in three tries. “<em>But I  know I can really do some damage here. So I’m not satisfied just yet.</em>”</blockquote>
Neither player budged in the first set forcing a tiebreaker. But Isner took command early. Hitting with more belief while an unaggressive Roddick missed shots, he cruised 7-3 to capture the opening frame.

With the momentum, Isner continued to be the aggressor getting the better of the rallies. Backed by that huge serve Roddick failed to make a dent in, he went after one of the best servers finally earning the match’s first break early in the second when he drew Andy into the net before rifling a backhand pass down the line to a huge fist pump.

Isner backed up the break holding to capture the second set suddenly putting Roddick’s stay in serious jeopardy. With the fans sensing the upset, the atmosphere intensified. It seemed to help the fifth seed who began to return and hit better. Finally putting some sting on his shots, Roddick finally broke midway through the third when during an extended rally, he hit a running backhand winner up the line, pumping his fist to a delighted crowd.

He served it out forcing more tennis. Though he was dictating more points, Roddick still served second in the fourth and nearly slipped up. Trying to stay in the match, his only double fault setup match point but quickly erased it with clutch serving to get out of trouble. Earlier, he also dug out of Love-40.

Playing more heady, Roddick broke a weary Isner who began spraying shots. He earned the one break needed to level the match when a nice running backhand setup a forehand into an open court. With the big guy cramping, Andy had little trouble serving it out, polishing it with an ace.

With the crowd starting to sound like they had for Melanie Oudin’s huge upset of Maria Sharapova, the two American men headed for a deciding set. The question was would Roddick’s experience pay off against a tiring younger foe? After Isner badly dropped the first two points on his serve, it looked like he might pack it in. But drawing energy from rocket serves and a whipping forehand winner, he took the next four points and pumped himself up.

After holding for 3-2, Isner finally got some treatment for the cramps on a changeover. He also had a special water energy drink that aided him. With Roddick continuing to hold, it became a game of cat and mouse. Who would bend first? Neither cracked with the elder statesman using some more clutch serving to get out of a 15-30 game two points from defeat.

When they reached the breaker, the packed house gave them a standing ovation. It didn’t take a genius to guess that whoever lost their serve first would probably go home. Leading 3-2, Isner got the minibreak he needed when he nailed a backhand pass, pumping his fists at his corner.

Roddick didn’t go away saving two more match points to make it 5-6 forcing Isner to close it out. He didn’t end it with an ace. Instead, Roddick got back a wide serve but the short reply allowed the imposing Isner to approach the net where he’d hurt Andy all day going 42 of 67. A forehand volley sunk low enough that Roddick netted a forehand giving the big man the biggest win of his career.

“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,” Isner said after making the Round of 16 for the first time in a slam. Two years ago, in the third round, he got the first set against Federer before losing in four. “Nobody expected me to win.”
<blockquote>“<em>I mean, there’s a lot that’s out of your hands with the way he plays. I said it before: You can’t really teach 6-9, especially coming down on a serve,</em>” a dissappointed Roddick  said while also giving plenty of credit to the victor. “<em>You try to fight it off as much as you can. Sometimes you can, and  sometimes it’s completely out of your hands.</em>”</blockquote>
His last two slam defeats have seen Roddick drop serve twice. Once in an epic final versus arguably the game’s greatest and once yesterday against an up and comer in a much lower round. Sometimes, it’s the luck of the draw.

Credit a valiant Isner for continuing to fight despite cramps. He believed he could win and got A-Rod in the tiebreak twice. Ultimately, that along with his more aggressive nature was the difference.

“It’s tough. I mean, I don’t know if I’ve come to a tournament with as much confidence—into a Slam—as I did with this tournament,” assessed Roddick. “Leaving earlier than I want to.”

It’s different. I wasn’t anywhere close to winning this tournament yet. “There’s not another chance a month and a half away.”

Isner next faces No.10 seeded Fernando Verdasco for a spot in the quarters. Verdasco rallied from a break down to comeback and oust German vet Tommy Haas 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (8), 1-6, 6-4.

Novak Djokovic is also still around in that section after eliminating American qualifier Jesse Witten 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-4. The No.4 Serb will next face No.15 Czech Radek Stepanek, who defeated German Philipp Kohlschreiber in four sets.

The bittersweet day for Americans continued with James Blake (21) falling in straights to Tommy Robredo (14) 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-4. Blake blew a chance to serve for the first set and missed a few chances to break back late in the second. Instead, some money serving allowed Robredo to escape. The vet Spaniard finished Blake’s Open with a 10th ace, concluding a disappointing season for the inconsistent Yonkers native.

Our quarter pick Sam Querrey (22) also lost to French Open finalist Robin Soderling (12) 6-2, 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-1. Soderling next plays Russian Nikolay Davydenko (8), who prevailed in straight sets over Marco Chiudinelli.

Federer also moved on needing to comeback from a set before disposing former champ Lleyton Hewitt 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4. He gets Robredo next with either Soderling/Davydenko waiting in the quarters.

As for Safina, her luck finally ran out against 20 year-old Czech Petra Kvitova. Playing to win, the blonde southpaw pulled out a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (5) upset of the enigmatic top seeded Russian who despite losing will remain No.1. Remarkable.

A much more aggressive Kvitova jumped out to a set lead by cashing in on Safina’s passive play. She also led 2-0 before coming undone in the second.  However, the No.1 ranked younger sister of Marat Safin couldn’t maintain the momentum dropping serve to fall behind 0-2 in the deciding set.

But Kvitova struggled with nerves allowing Safina to get the match back on serve. Despite only 12 winners along with 39 unforced errors and nine doubles, the Russian amazingly still had a chance to advance for a third straight match from a set down.

But the high wire act wasn’t to be. Even if Kvitova blew a chance to serve for it up 5-4 before having to fight off three match points just to reach a tiebreaker. Two big first serves along with a money forehand winner allowed her to stay alive.

In the breaker, it was Kvitova who jumped out 4-2. She was rewarded for her desire to win while Safina- who actually complained about being moved to smaller Louis Armstrong due to the length of the Roddick-Isner match- got what she deserved for playing so conservatively. This time, an opponent didn’t hand it over. And when the Czech outhit her in a rally punctuating the match with a forehand winner, victory was hers.

She finished with 35 more winners (47-12) to make the fourth round of a slam for the second time this year, also advancing that far at Roland Garros. Kvitova should have a good chance to make her first quarter if she can get by another 19 year-old in Belgian Yanina Wickmayer, who bested Italian Sara Errani, 6-3, 6-4.

Amazingly, all that’s left of the upper half of the ladies draw are unknowns like Kvitova, Wickmayer along with Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko, who earned a spot in the Round of 16 with a 7-6 (4), 6-4 win over Anastasia Rodionova. Bondarenko next faces Argentine Gisela Dulko, who ended Yaroslava Shvedova’s run 6-3, 6-4.

One of those four will make their first semifinal in a slam. The name on the other side could be more familiar if Svetlana Kuznetsova (6) continues to play well under the radar. The 24 year-old Russian who has won here and earned her second major over Safina earlier this year, beat Israeli Shahar Peer 7-5, 6-1. She next plays hitting partner Caroline Wozniacki (9), who posted a 6-3, 6-2 win over Romanian Sorana Cirstea.

The Wozniacki-Kuznetsova winner plays either Oudin or Russian Nadia Petrova (13).

On tap for today’s Round of 16 are defending champ Serena Williams (2) taking on Slovak Daniela Hantuchova (22). The winner gets either seventh seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva or No.10 Italian Flavia Pennetta.

Francesca Schiavone (26) battles Li Na (18) with the winner drawing whoever comes through between Venus Williams (3) and 2005 champ Kim Clijsters. Clijsters has done well so far in her comeback. But can she eliminate a Williams in NYC? It should be a high quality match.

Meanwhile, the men will complete Round Three. Highlights include Rafael Nadal (3) taking on fellow countryman Nicolas Almagro (32), seventh seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga facing Julien Benneteau in a French battle and Tomas Berdych (17) facing Fernando Gonzalez (11).

The highlight though could be American comeback story Taylor Dent testing No.2 seeded Andy Murray in the night session. Can the energetic 28 year-old serve-and-volleyer continue his run against one of the game’s best returners? The atmosphere should be electric.