Tennis Server ATP/WTA Pro Tennis Showcase - US Open 2010 - Them - Rafael Nadal, Fernando Verdasco, Mikhail Youzhny, Stanislas Wawrinka
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September 9, 2010

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US Open 2010, Flushing Meadows, NY, USA
September 9, 2010
Editorial by Jane Voigt.

Jane Voigt Photo
Jane Voigt

Them
 
September 9, 2010 -- The two unknowns stood poised on Arthur Ashe Stadium -- Stanislaus Wawrinka and Mikhail Youzhny. They looked up at the spotty crowds. This wasn't the evening session with its glitz and notable celebrities. It didn't matter. What mattered was the occasion. That these two men, so evenly matched, would probably go the distance: five sets.
 
And they did. At exactly four hours from the time this quarterfinal match began to when it finished Mikhail Youzhny, seeded #12, walked triumphantly to the net. He had made it to his second major semifinal, defeating a scrappy Wawrinka 36 76(7) 36 63 63.
 
The defeat for Wawrinka had to have been a bitter one. He was up two sets to one; it was a decisive edge he didn't fully realize. However, he did the best he could, just like Sam Querrey did the best he could when he tried over five sets to defeat Wawrinka in the previous round. Small steps.
 
Wawrinka had stepped in new territory this afternoon. It was his first quarterfinal in a major. He'd been working toward a big moment like this since he dropped out of school at 15 to concentrate on tennis.
 
Mikhail Youzhny was no veteran of lofty rounds at a major, either. He made the semifinals here in 2006, defeating a younger and less polished Rafael Nadal on the way. And in January 2008, Youzhny played his way to the quarters at The Australian Open.
 
Wawrinka earned his semi spot by, most notably, defeating #4 seed Andy Murray in the third round. It was one of two upsets, leading to today. The other was Michael Llodra's defeat of Tomas Berdych -- the #7 seed -- in the first round. If all things in the perfect world of tennis draws had worked out, Murray and Berdych should have played on Arthur Ashe this afternoon, not them: Wawrinka and Youzhny.
 
The first set alluded to the battle ahead. You have to win three. Wawrinka, who always looks contained, took it and was happy. Being the 25th seed to Youzhny's 12th, a set ahead raised the stakes for the Russian.
 
Both men are loyal careerists. Youzhny hit the courts at 6, was a ball boy for Davis Cup ties, and has had one coach his entire career, which began in 1999, Boris Sobkin.
 
Wawrinka, too, grew up with one coach: Dimitri Zavialoff. However after Wimbledon this summer, they split. Stan hired Peter Lundgren. Lundgren coached Roger Federer from 2000-2003, a time when Federer had uneven match results and frequent on-court tantrums. Lundgren sat in Federer's players' box and watched him win his first Wimbledon Championships in 2003 and later the Tennis Masters Cup. They split at the end of that year.
 
Before Lundgren, Wawrinka also had volatile results. He'd been up and down the ATP Tour's rankings. He reached a career high of #9 in June 2008. Two months prior to that he was ranked #27, which he's ranked today.
 
The second set was anyone's bet. With the wind throwing curves from every direction, breaks of serve were aplenty. Ten between the two. But Youzhny was more efficient and drew them into a tiebreak. Wawrinka hit three aces, but Youzhny took bigger risks off the ground and was rewarded. It was 1-set apiece.
 
Lundgren's affect on Wawrinka was clearly apparent in Toronto at Roger's Cup last month. Wawrinka met Rafael Nadal in the second round and gave the tournament's #1 seed a run for his money. Wawrinka played aggressively from the baseline, showed versatility in shot selection, and didn't back down mentally. The first set went to Nadal in a tiebreak 14-12. The Spaniard defeated Wawrinka in two, but Rafa confessed to the press afterward, 'the match was difficult.'
 
Tonight Wawrinka ran to the baseline at the start of set three. He looked mad, angry, ready to hit the crap out of the ball. He bounded through the set, winning it in 35 minutes. He was one set away from Saturday's semifinal.
 
Lundgren's companionship has altered Wawrinka in a way far too complicated to describe. While waiting for transport one evening at Rogers Cup, Wawrinka gave Lundgren an ear bud to catch a couple bars of a tune. Their moment revealed a trust and friendship you don't often witness.
 
To keep Stan pumped today on court his team cheered boisterously, fist bumped after spectacular points, continually reminding him he wasn't alone... he was making progress... he was loved.
 
Set four was a reversal of fortune for Wawrinka. Youzhny was now the man with the attitude. He fiercely refused to give up his break, the only break chance for either man in the set. It was all he needed to bring the match to 2-sets all.
 
In a five set match time lassoes itself and evaporates in players' minds. Long rallies draw them deeper and deeper into the match. And, there were lots of long rallies. Beautiful shot making, slices, topspins, drop volleys, lobs.
 
At times they looked so exhausted. Wawrinka had his left thigh wrapped. He was now officially crippled with two injuries, one on each leg -- the other from the Murray match. But he never let on. Until the fifth set.
 
Youzhny's coach is a quiet man. His face revealed nothing through the five sets; he kept his mouth covered with his hand. His eyes darted around the court, following his pupil, studying his every move. When Youzhny took a giant stride, Boris stayed in his seat. He was proud. Youzhny knew it, as he pumped his fist in his direction.
 
The Russian broke in the first game. Wawrinka broke back. Youzhny would have nothing to do with it. He broke again in the fifth game. He was up 3/2, but Wawrinka stayed close, as games teetered back and forth -- deuce... ad... deuce... ad.
 
No one loses a match on one point. However, time does run out. Wawrinka missed a cross-court backhand on a break point for Youzhny. He took command. He would serve for the match. Wawrinka was pissed. He slapped his Head racquet on the court and walked toward the chair. He picked it up and smashed it, earning a racquet abuse warning. The gesture revealed only the tip of his displeasure.
 
Someone has to lose in a tennis match. It's an unfortunate reality. Youzhny has a losing record against the man he will face in the semifinal -- Rafael Nadal. It doesn't matter. It's the occasion that will count.
 

 
[12] Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) {blue shirt} d [25] Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 36 76(7) 36 63 63
 
Wawrinka Youzhny Scoreboard US Open 2010 Tennis
Stanislas Wawrinka US Open 2010 Tennis
Stanislas Wawrinka US Open 2010 Tennis
Mikhail Youzhny US Open 2010 Tennis
Stanislas Wawrinka US Open 2010 Tennis
Stanislas Wawrinka US Open 2010 Tennis
Stanislas Wawrinka US Open 2010 Tennis
Mikhail Youzhny US Open 2010 Tennis
Stanislas Wawrinka US Open 2010 Tennis
Stanislas Wawrinka US Open 2010 Tennis
Mikhail Youzhny US Open 2010 Tennis
Stanislas Wawrinka US Open 2010 Tennis
Stanislas Wawrinka US Open 2010 Tennis
Mikhail Youzhny US Open 2010 Tennis
Stanislas Wawrinka US Open 2010 Tennis
Stanislas Wawrinka US Open 2010 Tennis
Mikhail Youzhny US Open 2010 Tennis
Stanislas Wawrinka US Open 2010 Tennis

 
 
[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) {black shirt} d [8] Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 75 63 64
 
Nadal Verdasco Scoreboard US Open 2010 Tennis
Fernando Verdasco US Open 2010 Tennis
Rafael Nadal US Open 2010 Tennis
Rafael Nadal US Open 2010 Tennis
Rafael Nadal US Open 2010 Tennis
Rafael Nadal US Open 2010 Tennis
Fernando Verdasco US Open 2010 Tennis
Fernando Verdasco US Open 2010 Tennis
Rafael Nadal US Open 2010 Tennis
Fernando Verdasco US Open 2010 Tennis
Brad Gilbert US Open 2010 Tennis
Rafael Nadal US Open 2010 Tennis
Fernando Verdasco US Open 2010 Tennis
Fernando Verdasco US Open 2010 Tennis
Rafael Nadal US Open 2010 Tennis
Fernando Verdasco US Open 2010 Tennis
Fernando Verdasco US Open 2010 Tennis
Rafael Nadal US Open 2010 Tennis
Fernando Verdasco US Open 2010 Tennis
Fernando Verdasco US Open 2010 Tennis
Rafael Nadal US Open 2010 Tennis
Fernando Verdasco US Open 2010 Tennis
Fernando Verdasco US Open 2010 Tennis
Rafael Nadal US Open 2010 Tennis
Fernando Verdasco US Open 2010 Tennis
Kim Kardashian US Open 2010 Tennis
Fernando Verdasco US Open 2010 Tennis
Rafael Nadal US Open 2010 Tennis
Fernando Verdasco US Open 2010 Tennis
Rafael Nadal US Open 2010 Tennis
Fernando Verdasco US Open 2010 Tennis
Rafael Nadal US Open 2010 Tennis
Fernando Verdasco US Open 2010 Tennis
Rafael Nadal US Open 2010 Tennis
Rafael Nadal US Open 2010 Tennis
Fernando Verdasco US Open 2010 Tennis
Fernando Verdasco US Open 2010 Tennis

 
Earlier Coverage from this Event:
 
September 8, 2010 US Open: Below Par - Novak Djokovic, Gael Monfils, Caroline Wozniacki, Dominika Cibulkova, Roger Federer, Robin Soderling, Vera Zvonareva, Kaia Kanepi
September 7, 2010 US Open: A Precious Win - Stanislas Wawrinka, Sam Querrey, Venus Williams, Francesca Schiavone
September 6, 2010 US Open: The Important Stuff - Novak Djokovic, Mardy Fish, Robin Soderling, Albert Montanes
September 5, 2010 US Open: Seeing The Light - Rafael Nadal, Gilles Simone, Fernando Verdasco, David Nalbandian, Francesca Schiavone, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
September 4, 2010 US Open: Favorites - Mardy Fish, Arnaud Clement, Maria Sharapova, Beatrice Capra, Jurgen Melzer, Juan Carlos Ferrero
September 3, 2010 US Open: The Virtual U.S. Open - Ryan Harrison, Sergiy Stakhovsky, John Isner, Marco Chiudinelli
September 2, 2010 US Open: Way Below The Radar - Roger Federer, Caroline Wozniacki, Kai-Chen Chang, Andreas Beck, Robin Soderling, Taylor Dent
September 1, 2010 US Open: The Word - Andy Murray, Lukas Lacko, Venus Williams, Rebecca Marino, Gael Monfils, Igor Andreev
August 31, 2010 US Open: What's Age Got To Do With It? Arnaud Clement, Marcos Baghdatis, Novak Djokovic, Mardy Fish, Jan Hajek, Viktor Troicki
August 30, 2010 US Open: And Away We Go - Melanie Oudin, Kim Clijsters, Andy Roddick, Olga Savchuk, Greta Arn, Stephane Robert
August 29, 2010 US Open: Who's In, Who's Out
 

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