New York

Bites from the Big Apple.The U.S. Open…so far.

By James A. Crabtree

So yes, it is still in the very early stages.

But am I just imagining this or has there been an absurd amount of five set matches, thirteen at last count. Absolute proof the game is decided not only by the power of a serve but as much by a will of nerve.

Milos Raonic was made to work and work against Santiago Giraldo, but his big serve came in handy. Janko Tipsarevic scraped through as did fellow seed Marin Cilic who next faces Daniel Brands another five set survivor.

Surely these guys, after such a gruelling day at work deserve an immunity pin or something.

But reality TV this is not. You lose and you go home. No chance of a recall here just because you are a fan favourite.

Speaking of recalls how long has Radek Stepanek been around? Surely he remembers the better movie Total Recall with Arnold Schwarzenegger over the latest disappointment with Colin Farrel. Anyway poor old Radek lost a tough four setter, dressed in a shirt paying homage to the statue of liberty, finding no such liberty from 11th seed Nicolas Almagro. Gilles Simon was more successful in his tough four setter against another old guy, thirty four year old Michael Russell.

Remember back in the eighties when they said to be a great tennis player you had to be dominating the tour before you needed to shave or were legally allowed to drive. How and why has it changed so much? Are we going to see players play to a Ken Rosewall and Pancho Gonzalez vintage? Will we ever see the likes of a teenage Boris Becker or Michael Chang again? Or is it simply because the older guys employ an improved diet and fitness regime whilst the younger guys play on their iPads and update their FaceBook status. It’s complicated.

Interestingly the only teenie within the top 100 currently is Bernard Tomic. Now correct me if I am wrong but Bernard is most certainly an old school name and the young Australian does play quite a flat forehand and uses the almost antiquated slice backhand to a devastating effect. Maybe that is the secret, be young but play old. This is getting confusing. Anyway he is playing the old Andy Roddick next.

Now, speaking of confusing Andy Murray did escape losing a set in his match to Alex Bogomolov Jr and Ivan Dodig. However, as has become quite normal for the Scot we had to witness his usual facial pains of distress and sudden hamstring grasps. If it were not for the score line you could have sworn he was down and out, not safely into the next round. Typical whinging Brit ;)

And a bit more whining.  I am so disappointed in Grigor Dimitrov. If your style emulates Roger Federer we want the same results as Roger Federer. Is that really too much to ask ? Oh yes, Marcos Baghadatis is playing Alexandr Dolgopolov in his next- that should be a good one. Remember when Baghadatis made the 2006 Australian Open final.  Feels like more than half a decade ago. Actually it was.

Ok, enough of  all that. Bring on the next round.

Murray and Nadal Ready for Semis Battle

Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal are set for another Grand Slam semifinal showdown after they negotiated tricky quarterfinals against John Isner and Andy Roddick respectively in the blazing New York sunshine.

Optimistic locals were hoping for an all-American semi, but their dreams were quickly distinguished as both players managed to only take one set off their higher-ranked opponents between them.

It was world number four Murray and Isner who took to the court first and a gruelling four-set encounter was played out before our eyes.

The big serving American continued to cause Murray problems for three and a half hours. But his serve and forehand let him down on key occasions as a single break of serve was enough to take the first two sets in the Scot’s favour.

With their only previous meeting, a thrashing for Isner at this year’s Australian Open, fresh in his memory the 26-year-old North Carolina native moved 4-1 ahead in the third, capitalising on some Murray errors, and took it. But his own mistakes again began to creep in during the fourth and Murray was able to grind out a hard-working 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2) victory.

“I’m really happy to get through,” said Murray. “He started serving very well as the match went on and it came down to a few points.

“I played really well, especially in the fourth-set tie-break. I went for my shots, served well and returned well.

“Three-and-a-half hours in that heat isn’t easy. Hopefully they [Nadal and Roddick] will have a long one too so both players are in same boat tomorrow.”

Unfortunately for Murray they did not. Any hopes Roddick had of one last assault on the US Open, his sole Grand Slam coming here in 2003, were quickly evaporated by a dominant Nadal in a 2-6, 1-6, 3-6 demolition.

The world number two and defending champion raced in to a 4-0 first set lead and the writing appeared to be on the wall early on for Roddick who was struggling to match the power, drive and intricate shot selection of the majestic Spaniard.

Having produced a fine display to see off David Ferrer and banish some of those home-town blues from his painful defeat at his hands in the Davis Cup in Austin earlier this year, it was another Spaniard who wasn’t even on duty that day that ended his hopes this time around.

Nadal’s winner count of 35 dwarfed the 15 mustered by Roddick, and as the 30-year-old’s error count outweighed his winners there was only going to be one victor.

“It’s always a pleasure to play Andy [Murray], he’s one of the players with the most talent on the tour,” Nadal said of the upcoming semi. “It’s always exciting against him and a big challenge for me. I lost to him in the 2008 semi-finals and I will have to play aggressive, play my best tennis.

“If I play like I did today then I’ll give myself a good chance.”