US Open – round 3rd
A favorite for the title in eyes of Mats Wilander and Goran Ivanisevic, Andy Murray faced one of his whipping-boys Feliciano Lopez on Louis Armstrong stadium. It was tough to predict that the Scot would win this match losing ten more points that the opponent (152-162). It’s not only that Murray possessed a 7-0 record against Lopez, but all those matches had won quite convincingly, including a beat-down last year at the US Open, in the third round as well (6-1 6-4 6-2). This time Lopez played his best tennis, Murray had a worse day, and three tie-break sets were required. In the first two, Lopez was two points away, he had very good chance especially in the second one as he led *5:3 and missed a forehand from a good position. Before the last tie-break, Murray withstood a break point at 5-all after a spectacular rally consisted of more than 20 flat shots with different spins and rotations. Well, Murray is one of the best tie-break players, and he always wins a tie-break leading 2-sets-to-1. In the 4th set he didn’t bother too much on Lopez’ service games, from time to time indicating a fatigue which in his case usually is a deceptive demeanor. Murray’s next opponent impresses with a consistency of serving aces in New York – Milos Raonic, regardless of a number of service games, delivers the same amount of aces, 30 in opening rounds, one ace fewer against James Blake during a 6-3 6-0 7-6 win on Grandstand. Blake lost this match as brutally as he won in the previous round against Granollers. Raonic had a short lapse of concentration leading 4:2* in the 3rd set, but once they entered the tie-break his dominance wasn’t questionable – no rallies, 4 aces and Raonic took it 7/3.
Andy Roddick secured himself one more opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere of the Arthur Ashe stadium overcoming Fabio Fognini in four sets in exactly three hours. The American was surprisingly out-aced (15-10) by the nonchalant Italian, but the serve didn’t let him down at the crucial stages of the sets he won. In the fourth round he takes on Juan Martin del Potro, presumably in the last match of career. Del Potro needed 3 hours 20 minutes to prevail a difficult three-setter (6-3 7-5 7-6) with a countryman – Leonardo Mayer. Del Potro saved a set point at 4:5 in the 2nd set on return, and two set points on serve in the tie-break, which he won 11/9 (on sixth match point). David Ferrer fought off five set points in a first set tie-break against Lleyton Hewitt, and it was a solid base to notch a 7-6(9) 4-6 6-3 6-0 victory. Ferrer won an amazing point at 9-all in the tie-break running from side to side, and finishing the helpless Hewitt off with a backhand passing-shot from the ad-court. I looked at Ferrer’s long tie-breaks, he has won the last nine of them when the score went at least to 7:7. It’s tremendous stats considering Ferrer’s serve, which isn’t a weapon producing free points, so helpful in long breakers. Hewitt was one out of four “wild card” players to participate in the third round – the Open era record at the US Open, three others “wild card” victims of the last 32 are Americans: Blake, 19-year-old Jack Sock  & three years older Steve Johnson . Both young Americans were ousted on Grandstand, but left good impression. Sock played three tie-breaks against Nicolas Almagro before fell apart in the 4th set, Johnson led 4:0 in the 1st set tie-break with Richard Gasquet, eventually losing 6-7(4) 2-6 3-6. Defeats of “wild card” Americans were calculated in minds of the local fans, but loss of John Isner must have been disappointed. Isner entered his match against Philipp Kohlschreiber with a 3-0 record, but all those matches were concluded in “the best of three” format. When it’s “the best of five”, the German is a different type of animal. Actually it’s some kind of mystery for me that he doesn’t choke in deciding 5th sets despite it happens to him in deciding 3rd sets quite often. Isner had four game points in the opening game of the 5th set, but was broken (three times in the match on just three opportunities for the opponent!) and Kohlschreiber never looked back, albeit Isner had his chance to break back in two return games. At 2:26 a.m. local time (tied the latest finish in US Open history – Wilander d. Mikael Pernfors in 1993), Isner made a characteristic forehand error as a cause of tiredness and Kohlschreiber won 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 in 3 hours 20 minutes – the only five-setter of the third round. Isner was eliminated this year in each major after a 5-set encounter.
Two best players in the world, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic destroy subsequent opponents with smiling faces. Their road to the fourth round was a piece of cake, neither of them found himself at 5-all at least in one of those nine sets which are already behind them. Djokovic said on his preparation to the Open: “My goal was, in these seven, eight days I had off after the Cincinnati final, to really try to recover, charge my batteries, work on some things in my game, and come out strong from the start. That’s what I’ve done. I feel great on the court. I’m really trying to keep that up.”
Longest match: 3 hours, 53 minutes. Andy Murray d. Feliciano Lopez 7-6(5), 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(4)
Most aces: 29 – Milos Raonic, defeated James Blake in three sets
5-set barometer: 14-5 Philipp Kohlschreiber; 4-9 John Isner
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