US Open – round 4th
Bottom half of the draw (Wednesday)
Due to rain the postponed fourth round matches were delayed almost two hours. Philipp Kohlschreiber  had overcome three tough rounds in the first week of the tournament, in contrary to Janko Tipsarevic , who was admittedly two-sets-down in the first round, but won the last three sets easily then (against Rufin). A different level of energy was visible during their match in front of rather empty Grandstand. The German made a small pursuit in the 2nd set going from 3:5 to 6:5* (30/15), but missed an easy volley wasting a chance for a set point, which significantly helped the Serb to obtain a 6-3 7-6(5) 6-2 victory. He advances to the US Open quarterfinal second straight year. Tipsarevic’s compatriot, Novak Djokovic  had even an easier passage to quarterfinals because Stanislas Wawrinka  retired on Louis Armstrong stadium trailing 4-6 1-6 1-3. Juan Marin del Potro  functions as a tennis Cerberus 😉 Three years ago he sent into retirement a 2000 US Open champion Marat Safin in Paris, today he sends there a 2003 US Open champ, Andy Roddick  by a 6-7(1) 7-6(4) 6-2 6-4 margin, in more than three hours (the only four-setter of the fourth round). Roddick fought bravely, but his double fault in the second point of the second tie-break was crucial. The American entered the 3rd set losing his serve twice and his chances to make an upset dropped drastically. During the post-match speech, his eyes were wet, he stated that a long road with many ups and downs came to an end. Until 2009 Americans had every year at least one representative in quarterfinals, in the last four years none of them has reached that stage thrice. This trend may worsen in the next few years because other best Americans of “Roddick’s generation”, Mardy Fish, Robby Ginepri and James Blake are supposed to retire soon.
Bottom half of the draw (Tuesday)
Day 9 was unfortunately rainy… I mentioned during the last Canadian Open that Richard Gasquet  isn’t able to compete with the most reliable baseliners: Djokovic, Nadal and David Ferrer . In his today’s match against the latter Spaniard, he demonstrated that it’s not only a matter of patience and physical preparation but also a psychological issue. Gasquet was playing really good match over two opening sets, but he simply couldn’t step up when it was needed the most. He led 5:4* in the 1st set, and 5:2* in the 2nd – instead of continuing offensive and risky game he became way too passive being close to finish the sets off. Ferrer withstood four set points at 4:5 in the 2nd set, including a triple set point, only one of those four points he won taking the initiative – Gasquet made errors at three other points. It’s third consecutive match in which Ferrer wins a set saving set points (3 – Sijsling, 5 – Hewitt, 4 – Gasquet)! The last set (twice interrupted by long rain-breaks) didn’t bring any chance for Gasquet, and Ferrer converting his fifth match point, won 7-5 7-6 6-4 in almost three hours. His consistency this year is praiseworthy, he has advanced to quarterfinals of each major… Shortly after Ferrer’s advancement to the quarterfinal, rain came again and halted matches on other courts: Juan Martin del Potro vs. Andy Roddick on Arthur Ashe stadium (6:6 in the 1st set) and Janko Tipsarevic vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber on Grandstand (5:2, deuce in the 1st set). At 10 p.m. local time, officials decided to postpone these matches on Wednesday as well as a match between Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka (they played just two games on Louis Armstrong stadium).
Top half of the draw (Monday)
Ten tie-break losing streak must have been a bit overwhelming for Tomas Berdych . Who could be a more comfortable opponent to snap it than Nicolas Almagro ? Berdych had beaten the Spaniard this year in Melbourne winning three tie-breaks in a row, had also won their tie-break in Rome just before the bad streak started. On Louis Armstrong stadium until the 1st set tie-break they were winning service games with an extreme ease, Berdych made a mini break at 1:1 – it was the first point he won in the set on Almagro’s first serve (!) and it decided – Berdych delivered four aces and a service winner to take the tie-break 7/4, and when he broke Almagro at 3-all in the 2nd, the match was virtually completed. The Spaniard had won three tough matches en route to the last 16, sore legs, and no hope to come back from 0-2 against a more solid guy. Berdych joins Ivan Lendl and Petr Korda as the third Czech in the Open era to reach quarterfinals of all Grand Slam tournaments. Other great Czech player, Jak Kodes never played at the Australian Open, during his best years (early ’70s) Europeans didn’t fly willingly to Melbourne. Mardy Fish  advanced to the fourth round after overcoming Gilles Simon in a strange match, in which the Frenchman was struggling physically throughout, but Fish couldn’t take advantage of it quickly. The American had his personal health issues too – they allowed him to win that match but prevented from entering the court against Roger Federer  # It’s the fourth time as Federer receives a walkover at majors, Fish for the third straight time leaves the US Open at the same stage.
Due to Fish’s withdrawal, Martin Klizan  – the only unseeded player in the last 16 – had a privilege to play his first match on Centre Court in a major. And he paid the price of being a debutant at the new territory. He played two decent sets but nerves let him down when things got tighter. At 4-all in the 1st set had a double break point but couldn’t reply on Marin Cilic‘s  standard second serves, then serving to stay in that set, made a couple of careless forehand errors. In the 2nd set wasted a 4:2* lead, and again facing a loss of a set delivered forehand unforced errors, including a pathetic one on set point down. Cilic was fully in command in the 3rd short set, obtaining ten consecutive games in total (7-5 6-4 6-0). In my opinion Klizan has technically similar potential to Thomaz Bellucci, so I expect to see the Slovak making upsets sometimes in the future at the biggest events and his steady progress in the ATP ranking. “I’m very, very happy and thrilled to be back in the quarters,” said Cilic. “The last two seasons since playing the semis at the Australian Open, I’ve been having lack of results at the Grand Slams. This just shows I had a really good summer, [playing] consistently.” In the ESPN studio, John McEnroe said before the Andy Murray  vs. Milos Raonic  night session match that the Canadian has the best serve ever and with improved net-skills would be a Top 5 player next year. Of course Raonic’s serve is a huge weapon, Murray is an awesome receiver, but Big-Mac has a tendency to exaggerate own opinions as well. This match exposed Raonic’s weakness – his inability to construct points when more balls backs on his side than usually. Murray did what on a normal basis should do against Raonic also Nadal and Djokovic, namely broke him several times, holding all service games not facing a break point, and notched a 6-4 6-4 6-2 win in exactly two hours, avenging a surprising loss from Barcelona earlier this year. Murray was magnificent: focused on every game, using wisely dropshots to mix up the pace and showing off fantastic backhand passing-shots. Raonic will have to work hard on his game to be a serious threat at majors, that’s for sure…
# Walkovers that Federer received at majors:
US Open 2004: Andrei Pavel (4th round)
Wimbledon 2007: Tommy Haas (4th round)
Australian Open 2012: Andreas Beck (2nd round)
US Open 2012: Mardy Fish (4th round)
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