U.S. Open Update: Roddick, Sharapova, and Safina eliminated

Isner

Competition just got interesting at the U.S. Open as Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova, and Dinara Safina have all been eliminated.

Melanie Oudin’s face was flushed from a mix of exertion and excitement and maybe even a bit of bewilderment — “Yes, I DID beat Maria Sharapova!” running through her mind — when she stepped out of the U.S. Open locker room and saw Mom.

Several hours later, on the same court, another unheralded American who has lived in Georgia pulled off another upset of a past U.S. Open champion: 55th-ranked John Isner pounded 38 aces and eliminated No. 5 Andy Roddick 7-6 (3), 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 7-6 (5) to reach the fourth round at a major tournament for the first time.

Keeping with the day’s theme, No. 1-seeded Dinara Safina exited, too, a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (5) loser against 72nd-ranked Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic. After escaping the first two rounds with poorly played three-set victories, Safina wasted three match points Saturday night and finished with nine double-faults and 39 total unforced errors. Her departure means the Williams sisters are the only members of the top five women left in the field

On the plus side, at least Roddick was ousted by a fellow American. While I wanted to see Roddick take on Nadal in the final, I’m now completely rooting for this Isner character. The Georgia Bulldogs alum has yet to make his mark during his time on the ATP Tour. This looks like his chance.

Oudin’s story is even more exciting. Not only did she eliminate Maria Sharapova, but she upset Elena Dementieva, a two-time Grand Slam finalist and the Beijing Olympics gold medalist, in the second round. For the sake of diversity, I hope she makes it to the finals.

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U.S. Open Update: Everything taking its course

The third round of the 2009 U.S. Open has nearly finished amidst the surprisingly welcoming weather at New York’s National Tennis Center. So far, there haven’t been many surprises. The top 16-ranked men all advanced rather seamlessly. Serena and Venus have had an easy time as well. Unfortunately, they are in the same draw and will likely meet in the semis. The other top female players are, as always, playing below their rank, as upsets and narrow victories are happening left and right.

This has been a topsy-turvy U.S. Open for the women: No. 8 Victoria Azarenka’s 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 loss to No. 26 Francesca Schiavone on Friday came a day after No. 4 Elena Dementieva and No. 5 Jelena Jankovic were upset. All told, 11 of the 20 highest-seeded women are gone, and the third round is only halfway done.

No. 1 Dinara Safina made it to Saturday’s third round, but barely. She needed more than 4 1/2 hours to get through two three-set victories.

The best men have faced no such problems: No. 3 Rafael Nadal’s 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory Friday night in the last match of Day 5 means the men seeded 1-16 all reached the third round at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in the 41-year Open era.

Once again, the lovely Ana Ivanovic failed to perform well in a Grand Slam, losing to Kateryna Bondarenko in the first round. Maria Sharapova, however, has advanced to third round and is currently in the third set against American Melanie Oudin. It would be great to see the former No. 1-ranked star face Serena or Venus in the finals.

Nadal to play in Montreal

Nadal

After his two month absence from tennis because of knee injuries, Rafael Nadal will attempt to defend his title at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Nadal says on his Web site that he’ll arrive in Montreal on Wednesday to begin preparations for the Aug. 10-16 hardcourt event. He is the defending champion.

Nadal has been out of action with tendinitis in both knees since losing at the French Open on May 31. He also will play in Cincinnati ahead of the U.S. Open, the only Grand Slam tournament he has never won.

Rogers Cup spokesman Louis-Philippe Dorais says organizers expect to hear from top-ranked Roger Federer in the next few days on whether he will play.

This is great news, especially since the U.S. Open is less than a month away. Though this year in tennis has belonged to Roger Federer, it’s been exciting to watch Andy Roddick regain some clout on the court. Since Roddick is pretty much the only male American representative tennis has, that’s the guy I’ll be rooting for. Still, the ATP needs more than two stars. Hopefully Nadal hasn’t lost a step and the Rogers Cup will be a good indication of whether or not he’ll be able to hold his ground at the U.S. Open.

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