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Pro Tennis Showcase
September 9, 2011

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US Open 2011, Flushing Meadows, New York, USA
September 9, 2011
Editorial by Jane Voigt.


Jane Voigt Photo
Jane Voigt

Fabulous Friday
September 9, 2011 -- As Super Saturday approaches retirement, if players can come to a consensus, here's a premature welcome to Fabulous Friday at the U. S. Open. Two top-notch matches, bright blue sky, and thunderous bursts of applaud.
First up ... Andy Murray, the #4 seed, versus John Isner, the #28 seed. Easy to tell them apart, if you weren't sure. Isner was the six-foot-ten player in a bright yellow Nike shirt.
Isner forged his way to his first-ever quarterfinal at a major by forcing opponents to deal with his serve. If they couldn't break it, they were doomed to failure in the tiebreak. Isner was 6-0, coming into his match this afternoon.
Murray, on the other hand, was the man to beat.
Fans were markedly behind Isner, the American. At points one wondered if anyone, except his support group, was cheering for the Scot. But no matter how loud fans celebrated, Isner couldn't give them the gift of victory. Murray won in four: 75 64 36 76(2). He marred Isner's record, leaving the big man with a imperfect tiebreak record, 6-1.
Second up ... American U. S. Open icon Andy Roddick, the #21 seed, and the defending champion and #2 seed, Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard hadn't dropped a set to the quarterfinals. Roddick only one.
John Isner could be a fast-improving American tennis star, but Andy Roddick cleared the path for him. At 29, the Texan's time on court will be curtailed much before Isner reaches mid stride. So the stakes for Andy against Nadal were much higher.
Back to the first match ... Murray played smart tennis the first two sets. He worked to break Isner and avoided the dreaded tiebreaker. He stayed near the baseline, moved Isner around, hit winners. His serve was a weapon. Then came the third set, Murray one away from a berth in the semifinals. Boom ... the bottom fell out.
No matter the superior spot Murray resides at on the ATP rankings, he showed nerves and relied on weary and familiar patterns. He kept the ball in play, being defensive instead of offensive. He had figured out Isner's game, but let him back in the match.
Murray, seemingly a master of his own undoing, began his usual foul-mouthed barking at his support team: Mom Judy, girlfriend and a host of coaches and physios. He surely had to grasp his lapse in judgement, but couldn't reverse the tumble.
Isner ran away with the third, as a result, swinging out on shots like the pro that he has developed into.
"I played pretty well. But not in the first two sets," Isner said. "Somewhere in the third I started to get more comfortable and I started playing better."
Murray created a mess for himself. He seemed to drift into his head, which you could pick up in his game. He backed behind the baseline. He miss-timed his ground strokes. Isner stayed with Murray. Tiebreaker time.
Fans went nuts ... here was the bridge over troubled waters for Isner. He would surely take it to five, his serve the pointed weapon that would lead the way. Although he was not hampered by any injury, Isner's movement fell off and his serve dulled.
He bricked a volley and displayed a dismal drop shot. Murray was two points away from victory. Isner could see the end of the tunnel, but the light only flickered.
"I would have really liked to have gotten that fourth set under my belt," Isner began. "I think the energy would have been even better at that point. You know, it's our home Grand Slam and the crowd's gonna support the Americans. That's what I felt like today. It helped me a lot, and I think it could have helped me even more had I been able to extend the match."
Final score: 75 64 36 76(2).
With his win, Andy Murray moves into the upper echelons of tennis history. He became the 7th player in the Open Era (since 1968) to progress to the semifinals of a slam in all four majors of the year. He can now cozy up to Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer. They arrived earlier to the same record room.
Back to the second match ... Nadal and Roddick entered Arthur Ashe Stadium to the sounds of Axle Rose's "Welcome to the Jungle." And it did turn out to be a jungle for Roddick. He had a dismal day because Nadal was too good.
The Spaniard was on the hunt for a straight set win, or else he had dinner plans in Manhattan. He won 62 61 63.
Nadal had two breaks in his pocket with only 12 minutes on the clock. His ground strokes had more pop than usual, which is saying something out of the world crazy fast. His anticipation oiled his foot speed. Roddick didn't have a chance.
Roddick's served was compromised, too. Nadal read it and returned it with interest. Andy scrambled along the baseline, tracking down shots, the inevitable seconds in front of him.
Nadal relished the zone. He had 35 winners to 13 unforced errors when he shook hands with Roddick at the net. "Sorry man," Rafa said. "It's okay," Roddick replied. Nadal didn't look sorry on court, although he does respect his fellow competitors.
Roddick hit his first ground stroke winner in the middle of the third set, a backhand cross court zinger. That's how good Nadal was.
With his win, the Sunday semifinals at the 2011 U. S. Open are set. At noon, Roger Federer will play Novak Djokovic. Can the Swiss maestro manage to defeat Novak for the second time this year in the semifinal of a major? And, not before 2:45 est, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray will vie for a coveted spot in the final.
This is the first time since 1992 that the top four seeds at the U. S. Open have reached the semifinals. And it's the second time this year that all four are in the semis. The other major ... Roland Garros.


[4] Andy Murray (GBR) d [28] John Isner (USA) {yellow shirt} 75 64 36 76(2)
John Isner 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Andy Murray 2011 US Open New York Tennis
2011 US Open New York Tennis
Michelle Obama 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Andy Murray 2011 US Open New York Tennis
John Isner 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Andy Murray 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Billie Jean King 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Andy Murray 2011 US Open New York Tennis
John Isner 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Andy Murray 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Andy Murray 2011 US Open New York Tennis

[2] Rafael Nadal (ESP) {blue shirt} d [21] Andy Roddick (USA) 62 61 63
Rafael Nadal 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Andy Roddick 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Rafael Nadal 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Andy Roddick 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Rafael Nadal 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Andy Roddick 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Rafael Nadal 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Andy Roddick 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Rafael Nadal 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Andy Roddick 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Rafael Nadal 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Michelle Obama 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Andy Roddick 2011 US Open New York Tennis
Rafael Nadal 2011 US Open New York Tennis

Earlier Columns from this Event:
September 7-8, 2011 US Open: They played - Djokovic, Tisparevic, Federer, Tsonga, S Williams, Pavlyuchenkova, Nadal, Muller, Isner, Simon, Murray, Young
September 6, 2011 US Open: Over The Years
September 5, 2011 US Open: The Big Stories - Tipsarevic, Ferrero, Djokovic, Dolgopolov
September 4, 2011 US Open: The Outliers - Nadal, Nalbandian, Roddick, Benneteau
September 3, 2011 US Open: Embellishments - Wozniacki, King, Monaco, Haas
September 2, 2011 US Open: Moving Closer - Pennetta, Sharapova, Isner, Ginepri
September 1, 2011 US Open: Will the Real Top Seeds Please Stand Up - Federer, Sela, S Williams, Krajicek
August 31, 2011 US Open: Big Day - Murray, Devvarman, Stosur, Vandeweghe
August 30, 2011 US Open: A Kid In a Candy Store - Nadal, Golubev, Blake, Huta Galung
August 29, 2011 US Open: The Youngsters, Plus One - Fish, Kamke, Dulgheru, Kvitova
August 28, 2011 US Open: Before It All Begins

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