The Dark Knight Returns

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – With his one handed backhand and quick ability to attack the net, Roger Federer looked superior, almost like a super hero fighting a henchman early in the story.

And his dismantling of Santiago Giraldo, 6-4 6-3 6-2, may look like an easy win on paper, but it really added something to the Federer lore. He’s not just a super hero, he’s the Dark Knight of the Open.

Much like Christian Bale’s title character from the movies, Federer does his best work at night, under the lights when the pressure is on.

“[The crowd] can’t wander around to different courts and say, Okay, on Court 2 we have this going on; Louis Armstrong we have that happening,” said Federer, who with tonight’s win has tied Andre Aggasi tonight for most wins in majors at 224. “No avoiding that limelight.  You do feel that pressure as well.  When you miss a stupid volley, you go like, Yeah, everybody saw it.  I’m a bit of an idiot here right now.  Better don’t miss that next time because on TV everybody’s watching, in the stadium everybody saw it.

“So you do feel that pressure.  Yes, you do.  That’s why I think Giraldo did well tonight.  Also you’re thinking about me, but think of the other guy who is playing a top guy in that stadium.  It’s also not that easy.  Surely he can swing freely, there’s nothing to lose, but also he does feel that big stage.”

Being Federer, who has seen it all, craves the excitement of the night in Queens. The Maestro said he likes the rock and roll atmosphere of the Open as much as tones of other tournaments.

“When you have some success, you actually start enjoying different types of atmospheres:  loud, you know, crazy, to very proper and never applauding on a mistake like you have in Japan,” Federer said.  “Then you go to England where they know exactly what is a good shot and what is a bad shot.  Then you go to Switzerland where it’s also very proper again.

“So I like that, you know, difference we have.  Music played on the change of ends.  They’re showing all sorts of stuff on the big screens; whereas in other places it’s just complete silence.  So I like that change.

“Here, this is a huge tournament which I like a lot and have had such amazing success that obviously every year I will come back here to New York I’ll feel that it’s a place that’s very special to me and where I usually do actually play my very best tennis.”

Federer feels this year’s Open may be a little different. The court speed in Flushing has always been known as notorious fast surface, but he sees it as a little slower this year.

“It’s definitely slower,” he said.  “Obviously, night sessions always maybe play a touch slower than the day clearly.  I really have the feeling conditions are slower this year than last year here at the Open.

“So it takes I think some getting used to.  You’re not getting as many free points maybe with your serve.  Maybe that was part of the inconsistent play I had early on in the first couple of sets.

“As the match went on, I think I started to get more solid and better, and that’s a good feeling to have.  But the ball really gets used after a while, I have to say.  I was quite surprised.”

Yet, this is Roger Federer and the Dark Knight of tennis is used to all surfaces no matter what the changes are. He attacked the net more in his match tonight, especially against Giraldo, whose best surface is clay, while also taking changes, simply because, well he’s better.

And isn’t that why the super hero always wins?

“Why am I successful?,” he pondered.  “I guess because I’m a pretty good player and I’m usually the favorite when I go into these matches, so I expect myself to win.  I should win these matches, thank God, and I more often do than don’t.”

The Dark Knight rises in the second round against Israeli Dudi Sela.

Fish Finishes Off Columbia As The United States Advances

Mardy Fish lost 30 pounds over the last year.We all know that by now.What we don’t fully realize is that Fish may be the best player in the United States right now.Certainly the Colombian Davis Cup team would not disagree with that as Fish became the first American in 15 years to win three David Cup matches in one tie.

Fish defeated Santiago Giraldo of Colombia,3-6,6-3,7-5,4-6,8-6 in Bogota today on red clay to clinch the victory.There is no fifth set tiebreaker in Davis Cup tennis.

With the win,the United States advanced to the World Group.Only once in history has the United States not advanced to the World Group.Columbia has never advanced to the World Group.

Isner won his opening match in 5 sets against Alejandro Falla and teamed with John Isner to win the doubles.Isner dropped his opening singles contest to Giraldo.

It has been quite a year for Fish.He won at Newport and Atlanta and lost in the finals at Cincinnat to Roger Federer after beating Andy Murray.

Fish had two wrist surgeries in 2005 and fell to #341 in the world.That is long forgotten.

The win allowed Patrick McEnroe to keep advancing as United States Davis Cup Captain.He had announced at the US Open that he would step down as davis Cup Captain after this Davis Cup year is over.

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.