Day 7: Halfway Home

by Jake Kring-Schreifels, Ben Kelly
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A Long day of Tennis, including some Party Rock Anthem

Just two days after what may have been Andy Roddick’s most emotional match, it wasn’t unforeseeable that Sunday could have been his last. Like a baseball team that plays lethargic on a Sunday afternoon following a late night walk-off win, Roddick had to quell Friday Night Lights residue. After four sets however, retirement was delayed once more.

Roddick defeated Fabio Fognini 7-5, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 and continued his fight against putting down the racquet. Once again, even in a half-filled Arthur Ashe stadium, the Flushing fans made their presence felt for their American.

“Yeah it was loud out there, about as loud as I remember,” said Roddick. “You know, they definitely established themselves out there. It was a lot of fun.”

“This whole process, I’m not trying to over think it. I’m enjoying it,” he continued. “You know, I’m trying to be I guess as simplistic as possible. I’m trying to enjoy the process. And when I get out there, I’m trying to compete also.”

Laura Robson, credited with defeating the other retiree Kim Clijsters earlier last week, fell short herself on Sunday. The young Brit, who made a charge after beating Clijsters and then advancing past Li Na, couldn’t find an answer against reigning US Open Champ Samantha Stosur’s serve, falling 4-6, 4-6.

It was a strong run for the 18-year-old who held her nerves well amongst some emotional nights. She later admitted in her press conference that she was glad she won after the Clijsters match, briefly noting, “It wouldn’t have been best.” Stosur meanwhile continues on cruise control and will now face #1 Victoria Azarenka.

Stadium Hopping

Prior to Roddick’s four-set victory over Fognini, the Arthur Ashe crowd watched the quick work of Novak Djokovic, who dismantled Julien Benneteau of France in one hour and thirty-seven minutes. Djokovic, the world’s second ranked player and defending US Open Champion, beat the 31st seed Benneteau 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. Roddick’s match lasted exactly three hours.

Louis Armstrong Stadium featured a diverse array of stars during its four-day session matches. First up was the fourth seeded David Ferrer of Spain taking on Lleyton Hewitt, the 2001 US Open champion who entered this year’s draw as a wildcard. The players split the first two sets, including a thrilling first set won by Ferrer with an 11-9 score in the tiebreaker. Hewitt claimed the second set 6-4, but could not hold on against the feisty Spaniard in sets three and four, which Ferrer won 6-3 and 6-0, respectively.

Armstrong’s second match featured the top-20 pairing of 18th seeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland and the 14th seed, Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine. Wawrinka scored the upset in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4,6-2.

Armstrong hosted the aforementioned matchup of rising British star Laura Robson and defending champion Samantha Stosur. Stosur ended the dream tournament of Robson in straight 6-4 sets.

The Louis Armstrong day session was capped by a sterling performance of the world’s top-ranked woman, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus. It was all smiles after she dispatched the unseeded Anna Tatishvili of Georgia, 6-2, 6-2.

Accompanying her into the press room and adding some levity for the media was Redfoo, otherwise known as Stefan Gordy of the pop band LMFAO.

“He’s just a big tennis fan. I’m a big music fan. So it goes together,” said Azarenka.

Gordy made sure everyone in the room knew that his famous shuffle step was a byproduct of watching tennis player’s footwork, and that his reason for being there was to scout out the best “fleet of foot” for his new video. When jestingly asked if his popular college song “Shots” was about tennis, he responded affirmatively. But Azarenka put things in perspective saying, “someone at the bar will think differently.”

The Grandstand also hosted matches rife with drama. Seventh seeded Juan Martin Del Potro, the last man not named Federer, Djokovic or Nadal to win a Grand Slam, defeated his countryman Leonardo Mayer in straight sets, but not before a dramatic third set tiebreaker that also went 11-9. American wildcard entrant Steve Johnson bowed out to the 13th seeded Frenchman, Richard Gasquet, 7-6, 6-2, 6-3. The fourth Grandstand matchup of the day saw today’s most significant upset when the 5th seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic was toppled by the 11th seeded Marion Bartoli, 1-6, 6-2, 6-0. Kvitova is the highest seeded woman to lose at the Open this year, matched by the fifth seeded man, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who lost in the second round.

Night Drama

There were two matches scheduled Sunday night, but their length could have equaled four. Beginning the evening was a battle of Russian “Ovas,” with #3 seeded Maria Sharapova and #19 ranked Nadia Petrova.

After splitting sets, drops of rain descended on the third that grew slowly enough to suspend play at 2-2 for over an hour. Petrova, who gained momentum by stealing the second set, had mother nature steal it away.

Instead it was the bronzed blonde Sharapova coming away with victory thanks to a re-energized serve. With her gentle two-dribble warm-up contrasting the echoing grunts and shrieks on each volley, she rallied herself with “C’mons” and intermittent fans spurting her name between each point. It’s her first time in the quarter finals since winning the final in 2006.

“Energy is the word I think of when I think of the US Open,” said Sharapova. “When it’s filled up and its night and you have the lights on, it’s just so special.”

It also means you can play all night, which felt like the case in the final match between strong American #9 John Isner and #19 Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Isner is prone to marathon matches (we all remember his marquee Wimbledon match against Nicholas Mahut) and Sunday, rather, Monday morning, was no exception. Kohlschreiber endured however, ending the match in five sets at nearly 2:30 in the morning, sending the dedicated (or loopy) remaining fans home. It also sent home America’s best shot in the tournament.

Thunderstorms are scheduled in the forecast this week. Things could get even more eery.

Listen

Roddick on using the crowd Roddick on playing Del Potro next Del Potro on what the atmosphere will be like vs Roddick Del Potro on what his focus will be on vs Roddick Sharapova on the rain Djokovic on his mindset vs Benneteau Stosur on playing Azarenka next

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