Tennis Reacts To Roddick’s Retirement

The news of Andy Roddick’s retirement sent some shockwaves through the tennis world and many of his contemporaries gave their thoughts on what the 2003 US Open Champion meant to them.

James Blake was getting ready to play when the press conference happened. He wasn’t told by Roddick but did see the presser before his second round win.

“I had an inclination from the beginning of the year,” he said. “But I really thought his success at Eastbourne, success at Atlanta, the fact he was playing well again could have possibly changed that.

“To be honest, I thought it would have changed his mind when he beat Federer in Miami. To me that showed he could still beat the top guys.”

Serena Williams, said she knew about the announcement, so it didn’t come as a surprise.

“He told me a while ago, last year, this would be it,” Williams said. “I was at his house at Austin and we were talking about it.

“He’s been great for American men’s tennis, great for the US Open, doing so much and playing so well, just being a great player. A great attitude, incredibly fun to watch. You know, I know a lot of people look up to Andy Roddick. That’s who I want to be like.”

Sam Querrey also described him as his idol and a great help.

“He’s been my biggest role model the last 10 years playing tennis,” Querrey said. “He’s been a great guy, great leader to us all. Nice and kind. Real generous to the up-and-comers.

“For me, for [Ryan] Harrison, for the 18 year-olds now, he’s just been an unbelievable champion, a Hall of Famer, just a great guy, great person for the sport of tennis.”

Then there is Roger Federer, the man he just never could beat.

“Look you are always going to have someone around,” he said. “I had many guys who denied me many things. That was the last thing that came to my mind when he told me he was going to retire.

“He was happy to go into retirement. He had an amazing career. Some expected better; some expected worse. But I am sure he is happy with what he achieved because he achieved everything he wanted.

“Maybe to lose that Wimbledon title potentially, but let’s forget about that. He was in those Wimbledon titles. He could have gotten that title. That’s what I said when I beat him in ’09. He deserves this title as well. In my mind, he is a Wimbledon Champion as well, a wonderful ambassador for the game.

“I’m thankful for everything he’s done for the game, especially here for tennis in America. It’s not been easy after Agassi and Sampras, Currier, Chang, Connors, McEnroe, you name it.”

Harrison Shows He Belongs

FLUSHING MEADOWS – Is Ryan Harrison America’s Great Hope?

Well, he certainly hopes so.

“I mean, hearing the good stuff is always exciting,” he said. “But I think that those guys have obviously had such extraordinary careers.  They’ve done so well for U.S. tennis.  I’ve got such a long ways to go.  Hearing stuff like that doesn’t really come into play.  I mean, I’ve never made third round of a slam.  After that you got to get second week.  It only gets tougher from there.

“The closer you get to the top, the more difficult it gets.  I have a long ways to go.  I do believe I can get there ‑‑ and I’m going to do my best to get there ‑‑ but it’s not going to be easy.”

And it won’t be easy in the second round when he get Juan Martin Del Potro, after the young American beat Benjamin Becker 7‑5, 6‑4, 6‑2 to win a round this year.

 

“It’s going to start with my serve,” he said. “If I serve well, everything kind of becomes a lot less, I guess, pressure on the rest of my game because I can dictate and I can actually swing out on some return games and have a little bit of a crack because there’s not as much pressure.  It’s going to start with that.

“If things go my way, then I know I can return well enough to where I can put some pressure on him.  I play good defense, so with some of his shot‑making, I can make him hit a couple extra balls on some of his service games.

“Like I said, it’s not going to be easy, but I think I have the game to do it.”

That’s great confidence and he will need it to beat the No. 7 seed, but there is work to be done. Harrison has a goal to make the second week, but he knows the obstacles in front of him. Just 20, he has a long career ahead of him and can work on his game and make this Open a learning experience.

“Obviously you want to, but I’ve got a really tough opponent next round,” he said. “I know I can do well and I know I can win this match if I play well.  It’s going to be not easy, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

“It will be fun.”

Yes it will. Watching this American always is.

 

 

Sock Has A Bright Future

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – It was the past against the future. American tennis’s past darling in Andy Roddick against future star Jack Sock.

And when it was the master took on the apprentice today, Roddick showed experience wins out in a straight set win over his fellow Nebraskan, 6-3 6-3 6-4.

“I didn’t think I’d ever play another guy from Nebraska in my career,” Roddick said.  “You know, it was just cool.  I could draw so many parallels to what he was going through.  You know, but also I could draw on my experience a little bit.”

Sock’s inexperience showed when he missed a few break points in the first, which could have changed the complexion of the match. It is something that will come in time for the 18 year-old, because this was such a learning experience for him.

“After watching him I knew that he kind of plays a lot from the baseline, maybe a little bit behind the baseline, makes a lot of balls, is steady,” he said.  “I felt like I could go out there and try to dictate points and try to hit a lot of forehands, try to move the ball around as much as possible, and then attack when I could.

“I felt like I did a decent job of that.  I mean, like I said, it comes down to him getting back in the court and retrieve and be able to hit passing shots how he wants, like standing still or not on the run. I felt overall like I played a pretty good match.”

But it still wasn’t enough for Roddick who came in knowing his opponent would be a little nervous playing in the big bowl for the first time in his career. According to the 21st seeded player he has participated in 27 night matches at Ashes, so tonight was just old hat.

Yet, Roddick knows this won’t be the last he sees of Sock. In fact the 2003 champ feels Sock will be one of the “legit prospects” along with fellow American Ryan Harrison. And after the match Roddick invited him to his compound in Texas to practice with him, the same way Andre Agassi did back in the early 2000s with the current American star.

“I certainly feel the need to pay it forward,” Roddick said. “This game has been great to me.  It’s pretty much an impossibility for me to do it. But as far as leaving it better than when you came, when I came it was the best generation that has ever existed in a country.

“But I enjoy having the young guys at home.  I think I can help them.  It’s inspiring for me.  You can kind of feed off of their hunger a little bit.”

And that’s how American tennis will come back. It will be a cumulative effort. Although Roddick shown Same Querrey and Harrison the same hospitality, Sock, coming from the same background in Nebraska, may have some real success working with Roddick.

Plus he has the skills. With a 135 m.p.h serve, the talent is there, so all he now has to do is hone it in and learn about the intricacies of the game that only come with experience. When that happens, Sock will move up the ranks and become a star in this game, muck like Roddick did about 10 years ago.

So this is only the beginning and soon you may see the student teaching his teacher a thing or two.

Fish and Isner Put The U.S. In Great Position

Not taking any chances, United States Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe made a switch to the veteran Mardy Fish to replace young Ryan Harrison on day two of the U.S. Davis Cup World Group Playoff with Colombia.

And it worked. Teaming with John Isner, the duo beat Robert Farah and Carlos Salamanca of Colombia, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3, on Saturday to give the United States a 2-1 lead in the Davis Cup World Group playoff in Bogotá.

“I just went out and gave my best,” said Farah to reporters in Bogota. “Unfortunately, it was not good enough. They (Fish and Isner) played just too good today. I always knew that Mardy Fish is a great doubles player, but I was surprised just how hard John Isner served. I mean there was some balls that I could not even see. Except for losing, I really enjoyed the experience. The environment was just magical.”

McEnroe took a big risk by leaving the Bryan Brothers off the Davis Cup team. The World No. 1 Doubles team did not make the trip because of the high altitude of Bogota, which is at about 8700 feet.

“The altitude had a lot to do with it (absence of Bryans),” McEnroe said to reporters. “I felt that we might need a couple of extra singles players. Fortunately, Mardy gives us choices as a great singles and doubles player.”

With the win today, the United States needs one win in reverse singles tomorrow to avoid relegation and stay in the World Group.

Fish will go again for the U.S. facing Santiago Giraldo. In the second match, Sam Querrey — or Isner, if the United States captain, Patrick McEnroe, makes a change — will face Alejandro Falla.

Asked if he would be tired Sunday, Fish replied: “Not at all. This is what we train for. That’s why we got here early.”

If Fish wins his match Sunday, it would be the first time an American won three times in a Davis Cup contest since Pete Sampras in 1995.

WORLD GROUP SEMIFINALS

FRANCE defeated ARGENTINA 3-0
Venue: Palais des Sports de Gerland, Lyon , France (hard – indoors)

Michael Llodra (FRA) d. Juan Monaco (ARG) 75 46 75 63
Gael Monfils (FRA) d. David Nalbandian (ARG) 64 26 64 63
Arnaud Clement/Michael Llodra (FRA) d. Eduardo Schwank/Horacio Zeballos (ARG) 64 75 63
Gael Monfils (FRA) v Juan Monaco (ARG)
Michael Llodra (FRA) v David Nalbandian (ARG)

CZECH REPUBLIC leads SERBIA 2-1
Venue: Belgrade Arena, Belgrade , Serbia (hard – indoors)

Radek Stepanek (CZE) d. Viktor Troicki (SRB) 46 62 64 64
Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) d. Tomas Berdych (CZE) 75 62 26 76(5)
Tomas Berdych/Radek Stepanek (CZE) d. Novak Djokovic/Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) 36 61 64 61
Viktor Troicki (SRB) v Tomas Berdych (CZE)
Janko Tiparevic (SRB) v Radek Stepanek (CZE)

WORLD GROUP PLAY-OFFS

COLOMBIA level with USA 1-1
Venue: Plaza de Toros La Santamaria, Bogota , Colombia (clay – outdoors)

Mardy Fish ( USA ) d. Alejandro Falla ( COL ) 46 61 64 36 64
Santiago Giraldo ( COL ) d. Sam Querrey ( USA ) 62 64 75
Robert Farah/Carlos Salamanca (COL) v Mardy Fish/John Isner (USA)
Santiago Giraldo (COL) v Mardy Fish (USA)
Alejandro Falla (COL) v Sam Querrey (USA)

* ISRAEL leads AUSTRIA 2-1
Venue: Nokia Stadium, Tel Aviv , Israel (hard – indoors)

Dudi Sela (ISR) d. Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT) 64 61 63
Jurgen Melzer (AUT) d. Harel Levy (ISR) 64 63 63
Jonathan Erlich/Andy Ram (ISR) d. Jurgen Melzer/Alexander Peya (AUT) 76(2) 64 64
Dudi Sela (ISR) v Jurgen Melzer (AUT)
Harel Levy (ISR) v v Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT)

* being played 16, 17, 19 September

GERMANY defeated SOUTH AFRICA 3-0
Venue: TC Weissenhof Stuttgart, Stuttgart , Germany (clay – outdoors)

Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) d. Rik de Voest (RSA) 64 64 64
Florian Mayer (GER) d. Izak van der Merwe (RSA) 63 36 61 76(6)
Andreas Beck/Christopher Kas (GER) d. Rik de Voest/Wesley Moodie (RSA) 64 36 63 64
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) v Izak van der Merwe (RSA)
Florian Mayer (GER) v Rik de Voest (RSA)

SWEDEN leads ITALY 2-1
Venue: Sparbanken Lidkoping Arena, Lidkoping, Sweden (hard – indoors)

Potito Starace (ITA) d. Andreas Vinciguerra (SWE) 62 62 62
Robin Soderling (SWE) d. Fabio Fognini (ITA) 61 63 62
Simon Aspelin/Robert Lindstedt (SWE) d. Simone Bolelli/Potito Starace (ITA) 57 67(0) 76(4) 63 75
Robin Soderling (SWE) v Potito Starace (ITA)
Andreas Vinciguerra (SWE) v Fabio Fognini (ITA)

BRAZIL leads INDIA 2-1
Venue: SDAT Tennis Stadium, Chennai , India (hard – outdoors)

Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) d. Rohan Bopanna ( IND ) 67(2) 76(7) 75 46 108
Ricardo Mello (BRA) d. Somdev Devvarman ( IND ) 46 62 67(3) 62 64
Mahesh Bhupathi/Leander Paes ( IND ) d. Marcelo Melo/Bruno Soares (BRA) 64 76(5) 61
Somdev Devvarman (IND) v Thomaz Bellucci (BRA)
Rohan Bopanna (IND) v Ricardo Mello (BRA)

AUSTRALIA leads BELGIUM 2-1
Venue: Cairns Regional Tennis Centre, Cairns , Australia (hard – outdoors)

Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) d. Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) 76(4) 75 26 64
Olivier Rochus (BEL) d. Carsten Ball (AUS) 64 64 76(5)
Paul Hanley/Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) d. Ruben Bemelmans/Olivier Rochus (BEL) 61 62 64
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) v Olivier Rochus (BEL)
Carsten Ball (AUS) v Ruben Bemelmans (BEL)

KAZAKHSTAN defeated SWITZERLAND 3-0
Venue: The National Tennis Centre, Astana, Kazakhstan (hard – indoors)

Andrey Golubev (KAZ) d. Marco Chiudinelli (SUI) 64 64 64
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) d. Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 36 61 64 16 63
Andrey Golubev/Yuriy Schukin (KAZ) d. Yves Allegro/Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 64 63 63
Andrey Golubev (KAZ) v Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI)
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) v Marco Chiudinelli (SUI)

ROMANIA defeated ECUADOR 3-0
Venue: Centrul National de Tenis, Bucharest, Romania (clay – outdoors)

Victor Hanescu (ROU) d. Ivan Endara (ECU) 62 62 62
Adrian Ungur (ROU) d. Giovanni Lapentti (ECU) 67(2) 46 63 64 61
Victor Hanescu/Horia Tecau (ROU) d. Ivan Endara/Giovanni Lapentti (ECU) 62 62 62
Victor Hanescu (ROU) v Giovanni Lapentti (ECU)
Adrian Ungur (ROU) v Ivan Endara (ECU)

EUROPE/AFRICA ZONE GROUP I SECOND ROUND PLAY-OFFS

SLOVAK REPUBLIC leads BELARUS 2-1
Venue: Republic Olympic Training Center for Tennis, Minsk, Belarus (hard – outdoors)

Uladzimir Ignatik (BLR) d. Martin Klizan (SVK) 76(9) 62 62
Lukas Lacko (SVK) d. Siarhei Betau (BLR) 60 64 64
Michael Mertinak/Filip Polasek (SVK) d. Uladzimir Ignatik/Max Mirnyi (BLR) 76(5) 76(6) 36 46 64
Uladzimir Ignatik (BLR) v Lukas Lacko (SVK)
Siarhei Betau (BLR) v Martin Klizan (SVK)

POLAND leads LATVIA 2-1
Venue: Olympic Sports Centre, Riga, Latvia (carpet – indoors)

Michal Przysiezny (POL) d. Andis Juska (LAT) 63 64 64
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) d. Jerzy Janowicz (POL) 64 64 36 62
Mariusz Fyrstenberg/Marcin Matkowski (POL) d. Andis Juska/Deniss Pavlovs (LAT) 63 64 76(4)
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) v Michael Przysieszny (POL)
Andis Juska (LAT) v Jerzy Janowicz (POL)

AMERICAS ZONE GROUP I SECOND ROUND PLAY-OFF

CANADA leads DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 2-0
Venue: Rexall Centre – Grandstand Court, Toronto, Canada (hard – outdoors)

Peter Polansky (CAN) d. Jhonson Garcia (DOM) 76(4) 46 63 63
Milos Raonic (CAN) d. Victor Estrella (DOM) 57 62 36 76(3) 97
Frank Dancevic/Daniel Nestor (CAN) v Victor Estrella/Jhonson Garcia (DOM)
Peter Polansky (CAN) v Victor Estrella (DOM)
Milos Raonic (CAN) v Jhonson Garcia (DOM)

ASIA/OCEANIA ZONE GROUP I SECOND ROUND PLAY-OFF

KOREA, REP. leads PHILIPPINES 2-1
Venue: Chanwon Municipal Tennis Courts, Changwon , Korea , Rep. (hard – outdoors)

Yong-Kyu Lim (KOR) d. Treat Huey (PHI) 67(8) 62 76(7) 76(4)
Suk-Young Jeong (KOR) d. Cecil Mamiit (PHI) 06 16 63 60 62
Cecil Mamiit / Treat Huey (PHI) d. Hyun-Joon Kim/Jae-Min Seol (KOR) 63 64 64
Yong-Kyu Lim (KOR) v Cecil Mamiit (PHI)
Suk-Young Jeong (KOR) v Treat Huey (PHI)

EUROPE/AFRICA ZONE GROUP II THIRD ROUND

LITHUANIA leads SLOVENIA 2-1
Venue: SEB Arena, Vilnius , Lithuania (hard – indoors)

Richard Berankis (LTU) d. Blaz Kavcic (SLO) 36 62 76(9) 64
Grega Zemlja (SLO) d. Laurynas Grigelis (LTU) 63 76(4) 63
Richard Berankis/Laurynas Grigelis (LTU) d. Grega Zemla/Luka Gregorc (SLO) 57 46 61 63 63
Richard Berankis (LTU) v Grega Zemlja (SLO)
Laurynas Grigelis (LTU) v Blaz Kavcic (SLO)

PORTUGAL level with BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA 1-1
Venue: Centro de Tenis Do Jamor, Cruz Quebrada, Portugal (clay – outdoors)

Frederico Gil (POR) d. Amer Delic (BIH) 63 64 67(14) 36 97
Aldin Setkic (BIH) d. Rui Machado (POR) 64 63 16 61
Frederico Gil/Leonardo Tavares (POR) v Amer Delic/Aldin Setkic (BIH)
Frederico Gil (POR) v Aldin Setkic (BIH)
Rui Machado (POR) v Amer Delic (BIH)

AMERICAS ZONE GROUP II FINAL

MEXICO leads VENEZUELA 2-0
Venue: Rafael El Pelon Osuna, Delg. Miguel Hidalgo, Mexico (clay – outdoors)

Daniel Garza (MEX) d. Roman Recarte (VEN) 62 62 62
Cesar Ramirez (MEX) d. Jose De Armas (VEN) 61 63 63
Bruno Rodriguez/Miguel Angel Reyes Varela (MEX) v Jose De Armas/Piero Luisi (VEN)
Daniel Garza (MEX) v Jose De Armas (VEN)
Cesar Ramirez (MEX) v Roman Recarte (VEN)

ASIA/OCEANIA ZONE GROUP II FINAL

NEW ZEALAND leads THAILAND 2-1
Venue: National Tennis Development Centre (LTAT), Nontheburi , Thailand (hard – outdoors)

Michael Venus (NZL) d. Weerapat Doakmaiklee (THA) 63 62 76(1)
Jose Statham (NZL) d. Kittiphong Wachiramanowong (THA) 46 76(5) 61 76(2)
Sanchai Ratiwatana/Sonchat Ratiwatana (THA) d. Daniel King-Turner/Michael Venus (NZL) 06 67(6) 60 63 64
Kittiphong Wachiramanowong (THA) v Michael Venus (NZL)
Weerapat Doakmaiklee (THA) v Jose Statham (NZL)

Fish and Querrey Split Against Colombia

Patrick McEnroe wanted to make a statement with this Davis Cup team. Instead of going with the veterans, who have helped him over the past 10 years, he decided to make his swan song with youth by taking Ryan Harrison, John Isner, and Sam Querrey with him to Bogota.

Yet, it was the old man of the team in Mardy Fish who save the United States in their Davis Cup match against Colombia.

The 28 year-old Fish, who has made a tremendous comeback this year, pulled out a five set thriller over Alejandro Falla 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the best-of-five.

And it came in handy, because Querrey was not able to pull off the sweep, being downed Santiago Giraldo, 2-6 4-6 7-5.

“We’ve been in this situation before a few times — in a relegation match at 1-1 going into doubles,” McEnroe said to reporters in Bogota. “I feel good about our doubles. We have three players who have played together so there are a lot of options. I like that we have three or four players available tomorrow and Sunday.”

Both Fish and Querrey seemed to have problems adjusting to the altitude. At an estimated 8700 feet, it is the highest elevation either player has played. And McEnroe believes the higher elevation was the reason both players dropped the first set of their respective matches.

“The first set of both matches was pretty rough for us,” McEnroe said. “We practiced well all week, but you can’t simulate match conditions. Moving forward I think we’re in good shape now that the guys have gotten a match under their belts at the altitude.”

Querrey also said he was caught off guard during his match.

“I wasn’t surprised how well he (Giraldo) played,” Querrey said. “I have seen him play before and he hits the ball low and flat which is perfect for these conditions. It is difficult to adjust to the altitude.”

Fish, though, was able to adjust to the heights and even took the send and third sets in the match, but couldn’t close it out in the fourth. It took a veteran’s fifth set for Fish to pull out the match.

“The key was staying ahead in the fifth set,” Fish said. “I had some tough games to hold but was always able to stay ahead of him. When he (Falla) had to serve to stay into it at 5-4, that’s when all the pressure kicked in.”

It was also difficult to get adjusted to the surface. After two months on the hard courts, this series will be played on red clay, something most of the Americans consider their worst surface.

“He (Falla) hits the ball flat and I think he would have preferred a hard court,” Fish said. “We both would have preferred to play on a hard court. Maybe the tennis would be a little bit better.”

Tomorrow it may be as doubles take place. Colombia is expected to field the team of Robert Farah and Carlos Salamanca. The Americans have announced they will counter with Ryan Harrison and John Isner, although Fish said to reporters after his singles victory that he would be ready to step in.

Reverse singles are Sunday.

If the U.S. loses this quarterfinal, then it will be eliminated from Davis Cup play in 2011, only the second time in the country’s history.

Fish Leads Off US Davis Cup Action

Mardy Fish makes his return to Davis Cup action tomorrow as a pivotal player in the United States’ quest to return to the World Group. Fish opens against Alejandro Falla in the first match of the Davis Cup World Group Playoff against host Colombia on the red clay of the Plaza de Toros La Santamaria in Bogota.

It is a critical tie for the USA, which must win to avoid relegation. If the USA loses, next year will mark the first time since 1988 that it is ineligible to play for the Davis Cup championship.

The 19th-ranked Fish and Falla have split two prior meeting, both on hard court in 2008.

Sam Querrey will play Santiago Giraldo in Friday’s second singles match. Itis the first first match between the 21st-ranked Querrey and World No. 61 Giraldo, who is playing in his hometown.

The tie marks a beginning and an end for American tennis.

Patrick McEnroe will lead the U.S. in his last match as captain.  McEnroe has been the United States Davis Cup coach since 2000 and led the team to its record-extending 32nd Davis Cup title in 2007.

Ryan Harrison, who knocked off Ivan Ljubicic at the US Open, makes his Davis Cup debut on Saturday, partnering with John Isner in the doubles against Robert Farah/Carlos Salamanca.

McEnroe opted against selecting US Open champions Bob and Mike Bryan for the tie, citing the high altitude in Bogota in preferring to pick four players who can play singles and doubles.

It is the first time since 2005, and just the fifth time since the World Group was instituted in 1981, that the U.S. has had to compete in the play-off round.

The U.S. is 3-1 in World Group Playoffs, having defeated Belgium on red clay in its last appearance in the World Group Playoff.

The World Group Playoff against Belgium in 2005 was the first of 10 consecutive U.S. Davis Cup ties that featured the lineup of Andy Roddick, James Blake and the doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan, shattering the previous U.S. record for most consecutive ties with the same lineup. The previous record was three consecutive ties by eight different combinations.

In Sunday’s reverse singles, Fish plays Giraldo and Querrey closes the best-of-five match tie against Falla.

WORLD GROUP PLAY-OFFS

COLOMBIA v USA
Venue: Plaza de Toros La Santamaria, Bogota, Colombia (clay – outdoors)

Mardy Fish (USA) v Alejandro Falla (COL)
Sam Querrey (USA) v Santiago Giraldo (COL)
Ryan Harrison/John Isner (USA) v Robert Farah/Carlos Salamanca (COL)
Mardy Fish (USA) v Santiago Giraldo (COL)
Sam Querrey (USA) vs. Alejandro Falla (COL)

Richard Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

Carroll: Very little U.S. at U.S. Open

It has not been a secret that Americans have not been dominating the world of professional tennis since the days when Andre Agassi would routinely battle Pete Sampras in the finals of Grand Slam events.
American futility on the men’s side was clearly in evidence at the U.S. Open as the fading Andy Roddick and the perpetually mediocre Taylor Dent, Donald Young and Robby Ginepri were all eliminated before Labor Day weekend. James Blake managed to survive until Saturday when Novak Djokovic disposed of him with ease in straight sets.

Things were not brighter for the red, white and blue on the women’s side as Venus Williams was the only American left at the tournament’s halfway point, though it’s safe to say that her sister, Serena, would have been there as well had she not hurt her right foot and missed the tourney. Melanie Oudin, the teenager from Atlanta who went deep into the Open last year, was gone by the second round. This year’s Cinderella story, Maryland’s Beatrice Capra, was slaughtered 6-0, 6-0 by Maria Sharapova in a third round match.

A United States Tennis Association executive looked as if she was about to cry in the press room when 18-year-old Louisiana native Ryan Harrison lost a grueling five-set match that required a tiebreaker to Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine. Harrison blew three match point opportunities in the tiebreaker. If he were a more seasoned player, the media would have called it a “choke,” but since he is young, and was quite mature in his post-loss press conference, everyone was charitable.

James Blake is a huge Mets fan, and he frequently wears a Mets baseball cap into Interview Room 1 at Arthur Ashe Stadium. He became far more passionate about the Mets’ woes than about his tennis game when he was asked what the team needs to do next year. “I believe that they need to make changes at the top,” he said, referring to Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon, General Manager Omar Minaya and Manager Jerry Manuel.

Blake chatted with me briefly after the formal press conference. “They need to blow the whole team up and start over,” he added emphatically, meaning that he would not be averse to seeing such core players as Jose Reyes and David Wright traded. When I mentioned that it would highly unlikely Jeff Wilpon would leave anytime soon since he’s the son of team owner Fred Wilpon, Blake replied somewhat forlornly, “I know.”

Q & A With Sam Querrey

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – It doesn’t always seem likely, but with Ryan Harrison and John Isner going today, Sam Querrey’s straight sets, 6-2 6-3 6-4 win over Marcel Granollers seemed to be overlooked. As such, I was the only one in the post-match presser asking the No. 20 seed any questions.

Below is the Q & A

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  In the on‑court interview afterwards, you said your arm felt loose on your serve.  How did that affect your serve?

SAM QUERREY:  No.  My serve, I was getting great pop.  Every time I was hitting it flat down the T or out wide on the ad, it felt like it was somewhere between 135 and 140, so that’s a little faster than normal.

Q.  Did you catch any of the Harrison match?

SAM QUERREY:  Yeah, I watched pretty much the entire fourth and fifth set.  It was pretty exciting.  I was in the lunchroom.  Everyone had their eyes glued to the TV.

I felt bad for Ryan, but still a great tournament.  I’ve been hitting with him for three or four years.  He’s going to be good.

Q.  When you see an up‑and‑coming kid make some way in the Open, does that harken you back to a time when you were in that position?

SAM QUERREY:  A little bit, yeah.  I know what the feeling is like.  At the same time it motivates me a little bit.  I don’t want him taking away the limelight.  I want to go out there and play well.

Yeah, when you’re 18, first Open, I mean, I remember when I was doing mine.  It’s exciting.  Ryan played great.  He should be really happy with qualifying, making the second round.

Q.  Seeing that Roddick is out, it’s just you and Isner and Mardy Fish, the American crew there.  You’re one of the top Americans left.  Does it give you any extra push to say, I have to carry the mantle for the United States?

SAM QUERREY:  I’m not feeling any pressure or anything.  I think the four of us left are all doing our best.  To have four guys in the round of 32, it’s pretty good.

Hopefully we can have four in the Round of 16.  I think we’ve got a great shot to do that.  Hopefully they’ll put some of us on center court.  Not a huge fan of the scheduling this week (laughter).

Q.  That is center court.

SAM QUERREY:  We have a lot of Americans here.  None of us play on center court.  If you go to the French Open, they have Gasquet, Benneteau, Monfils; they’re on center court every day.

Is Isner America’s Best Hope?

FLUSHING  MEADOWS, NY – With Andy Roddick and now Ryan Harrison out of the tournament, is John Isner America’s best champ in bringing back the Men’s Singles championship to the United States?

If his ankle holds up, then sure, but that’s a big if.

“Yeah, it’s definitely been tough,” said Isner who beat Marco Chiudinelli in four sets, 6-3 3-6 7-6 6-4. “You know, I started feeling it in the third set of my first match.  I felt great.  I actually felt pretty good right from the get‑go of my first match.  I was thinking, Hey, this is a good omen.

“But then kind of hit me in the third set, and really throughout the whole match today I was feeling it.  I don’t feel like I had the pop on my shots that I normally would out there today.”

“So, yeah, I’m struggling a bit physically.  But, you know, I’m going to have to do my best to get myself up to 100%.  I’m getting stronger.  Although I’m out there and playing these long matches, I feel like I’m getting stronger, and I should be better for the next one.”

The winner of the Eternal Match back in Wimbledon hurt his ankle back in Cincinnati and what was originally thought to be torn ligaments turned out to be just a sprain and he was cleared to play just a few days before the Open.

So without any practice or conditioning, the 18th seeded Isner is taking it one match at a time and hope he will be continue to get into better game shape.

“Yeah, I am going to need that,” he said.  “I think, you know, the focus, the rest of today and all day tomorrow, is going to be just to try to rejuvenate my body as much as possible to get me feeling as good as I possibly can going into that match.

“I’m going to have to play really well, do the same thing essentially today:  serve well, hit my forehand well.  Those are my two strengths.  That’s no secret.

“He’s just ‑‑ I played him in Montreal last year and it was three sets.  But, you know, he kind of ran me off the court the last two sets.  When he’s on, he’s really, really tough.  For me, I kind of hope he’s not on.”

Even with his own problems to deal with, the 25 year-old is still keeping his eye on the up and comers like Harrison, especially after he lost that five-set heartbreaker today.

“Yeah, it’s so tough,” he said of Harrison.  “I mean, personally I don’t know how many fifth set sets I’ve played in.  I think I’ve played in two this year, maybe four or five in my career, so it’s not that ‑‑ I’m not seasoned at it, either.  It’s something that obviously with maturity and the more times you’re in that situation, the better you’re going to be.

“But, I didn’t see the match today.  I don’t want to say that ‑‑ I mean, probably just have to give credit to Ryan’s opponent.  Ryan, he’s obviously playing well and he’s a huge future in this game.”

Harrison’s time is in the future, but right now, Isner may be America’s great hope.

The Promise Is There for Harrison

FLUSHING MEADOWS – To quote another Harrison: “My Sweet Lord.”

And much like George, who were the least known of the Beatles, 18 year-old Ryan Harrison us definitely the least know of the American’s at the US Open.

A native of Shrevenport, LA, Harrison is playing in his first main draw at the US Open after winning a qualifier and his first round win over Australia’s Peter Luczak, 6-3 6-7(4) 6-3 6-4, but the young man on the map.

Today he almost became a star.

Unfortunately, though, these great stories don’t always work out and despite having three match points in the fifth set tiebreaker, Harrison couldn’t convert against the Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky, 6‑3, 5‑7, 3‑6, 6‑3, 7‑6.

“I mean, it was a great experience,” said the young Harrison.   “I mean, the whole last week and a half almost two weeks now has been incredible for me.  I mean, I’ve always believed in myself and I’ve always believed that I could come in here and compete at this level.

“But to go out there and actually execute and to win some of the matches I did, you know, I’m extremely happy about and extremely proud of.  But in all honesty, I could have lost second round quallies.  I mean, I was in full leg cramps down 3‑0 in the third set, and I fought through that and had a good match and then played one of the best matches I’ve ever played in my life.  Just got a little bit tight whenever I needed to come through.”

Now that he got his name on the map, it will be interesting to see what this young man does. Last year, everyone had Melanie Oudin as the next great thing and that hasn’t turned out as expected. And even great things were expected of John Isner, Sam Querrey, James Blake, and even Andy Roddick, but those varied expectations have been tempered.

And now we have Harrison, who seems to be having a nice time at the Open, but we don’t know if 2010 is a stepping stone or just a shooting star in sky.

Harrison, though, seems very grounded and has learned from some of the top Americans when he served a practice partner for them at the Davis Cup quarterfinals in 2009.

“That was incredible for me,” he said. “To go with the Davis Cup team ‑‑ Andy ‑‑ whenever I went, Andy had just finaled Wimbledon and lost 16‑14 in the fifth to Federer.  Now I feel about 1/10th the way he felt after that match.

“There was Mardy, James, and then the Bryan brothers.  Those guys were just ‑‑ you know, entire time I was there ‑‑ the first four days I was there, actually the other hitting partner Devin Britton was experiencing a shoulder problem.  I was on the court for probably like four, five hours a day every day, I mean, just working, going straight from practice to practice.  I was involved with every single practice.

“Those guys were extremely helpful, trying to teach me how to play.  You know, the stress and pressure of Davis Cup is one that I’m sure you don’t understand until you’ve actually been in that situation.  But watching those guys, and ‑‑ you know, I watched Mardy, I watched James, how they go about trying to execute during those times.  You know, of course I’ve tried to learn from them and pick up as much as possible.

All of that is great, but these players are also opponents, and not guys he leans on. Rather, Harrison looks towards someone else.

“I mean, my dad has been a great role model for me my entire life,” he said.  “He’s literally explained everything to me from the time I was a little kid.  You know, just this is what’s important in life; this is what you always have to do, you know, no matter what.

“The moment I got out of here, you know, on the day I beat Ljubicic, the entire conversation with him was staying humble and preparing for the next round.  I’ve had a great support system.  I have a little brother and little sister, and they both look up to me.  I just try to set a good example for them.

“You know, I’m just go out here and work as hard as I can, and hopefully be a steady player that’s a contender in these tournaments.”

But until he does, Harrison has this year’s Open and it was his greatest learning experience.

“You know, I’ve always not been one to say, like, top 10 and top 5, all that stuff,” he said.  “Because my general personality has always been, you know, if I’m top 10 in the world and I’m 10 in the world, there’s still nine guys ahead of me.  So I’ve always had the mentality where I’ve wanted to be the best and I’ve always wanted to, you know, be the top, to win Grand Slams.

“But with that being said, it’s a ways away.  You know, this was the breakout run of my career, and in the round of 64, you know.  So I’ve got to really keep working and hopefully try and improve.  And guess it’s just been a great experience.”