open champion

Caroline Wozniacki Beats Maria Sharapova in Fourth Round of US Open

Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki  beat former  US Open champion Maria Sharapova  in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 Monday in the fourth round of the U.S. Open.

Sharapova, who won the 2006 title at Flushing Meadows, hurt herself with nine double-faults and a total of 36 unforced errors – 26 more than 2009 U.S. Open runner-up Wozniacki.

It’s the first victory for Wozniacki in three career meetings against Sharapova, who was seeded 14th this year in New York.

In the quarterfinals, Wozniacki will face 45th-ranked Dominika Cibulkova, who eliminated 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 7-6 (4) Monday.

FEDERER DEBUTS, GORAN PUKES, GILBERT IS UGLY, GUGA SAYS GOODBYE

May 25 is chock full of historic – and interesting – happenings in tennis history. Here’s a list as it appears in the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.TennisHistoryBook.com)

1999 – Ranked No. 111 in the world, 17-year-old Roger Federer plays in his first main draw match at a major tournament at the French Open, losing to two-time reigning U.S. Open champion Patrick Rafter of Australia 5-7, 6-3, 6-0, 6-2. Writes Rene Stauffer in the book The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection, “He (Roger) jumped out to win the first set against the world’s No. 3-ranked player who then was at the peak of his career. However, the sun came out and the conditions became warmer and faster. The clay courts dried out and balls moved much faster through the court. The Australian’s attacking serve-and-volley style seemed to run on automatic and he won in four sets. ‘The young man from Switzerland could be one of the people who will shape the next ten years,’ the French sports newspaper L’Equipe wrote during the tournament. Rafter shared the same opinion. “The boy impressed me very much,” he said. “If he works hard and has a good attitude, he could become an excellent player.’”

2004 – Frenchmen Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement finish play in the longest-recorded match in tennis history in the first round of the French Open as Santoro edges Clement 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 16-14 in 6 hours, 33 minutes. The match is played over two days and is suspended from the previous day with the two playing for 4:38 the previous day – stopping at 5-5 in the fifth-set – and for 1:55 the second day. Santoro saves two match points during the marathon – one on each day. The first match point comes with Santoro serving at 4-5 in the fifth set on day one and the second comes at 13-14 on the second day. Says Santoro, “I came very close to defeat, it’s a miracle. I tried to stay relaxed on the important points and if it looked that way, then I did a good job because I was very tense.” Santoro and Clement break the previous record – curiously held by two women in a straight-set best-of-three match – held by Vicki Nelson-Dunbar and Jean Hepner, who played for 6 hours, 31 minutes in the first round of the WTA event in Richmond, Va., in 1984, Nelson-Dunbar winning 6-4, 7-6 (13-11). Says Clement of establishing the new record, “”I don’t care. What do I get? A medal? There may be an even longer match tomorrow. I don’t play tennis to spend as much time possible on court.”

1976 – Adriano Panatta saves an astonishing 11 match points in defeating Kim Warwick of Australia 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 in the first round of the Italian Championships. The result becomes even more significant when Panatta goes on to win the title, defeating Guillermo Vilas in the final.

1958 – In one of the most spectacular comebacks in the history of the French Championships, Robert Haillet of France beats 1950 French champion Budge Patty, 5-7; 7-5, 10-8, 4-6, 7-5 in the fourth round after Patty serves at 5-0, 40-0 in the fifth set and holds four match points.

1993 – Three-time French Open champion Ivan Lendl experiences one of the worst losses of his career, losing 3-6, 7-5, 6-0, 7-6 (2) to No. 297th ranked qualifier Stephane Huet of France in the first round of the French Open. The match marks the first ATP level match victory for Huet, against Lendl’s 1,027 match victories. It was also Huet’s first Grand Slam match against Lendl’s 51 Grand Slam events.

1993 – Brad Gilbert wins his first match at the French Open in six years, registering a two-day 5-7, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 10-8 first-round victory over fellow American Bryan Shelton. Gilbert and Shelton share 87 unforced errors in the three-hour-and-52-minute match. Says Gilbert, the author of the book Winning Ugly after the match, “It was a chapter out of my book…Unequivocally ugly.”

1928 – George Lott defeats China’s Paul Kong 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 in the Davis Cup second round in Kansas City, Mo., to become the first U.S. Davis Cup player to win a match without losing a game. Lott would register another triple-bagel in Davis Cup play in 1930 against Mexico’s Ignacio de la Borbolla. Frank Parker is the only other American to win a Davis Cup match without losing a game, turning the trick in 1946 against Felicismo Ampon of the Philippines.

1993 – Goran Ivanisevic overcomes throwing up on court in the first set to defeat Franco Davin of Argentina 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the French Open.

2005 – No. 2 seed Andy Roddick is eliminated in the second round of the French Open, blowing a two-sets-to-love lead in his 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 8-6 loss to Argentina’s Jose Acasuso.

2008 – Three-time French Open singles champion and former world No. 1 Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten bids goodbye to tennis, playing the final singles match of his career losing to Paul-Henri Mathieu of France 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the first round at Roland Garros. Kuerten plays the match wearing the canary yellow and blue outfit he wore when he won the first of three French titles in 1997, but due to the wear and tear at this ailing hip, the 31-year-old was unable to compete at the same level that saw him rise to the world’s No. 1 ranking in 2000. Says Kuerten following the match, “I think I’m very satisfied, especially with the memories that are going to stick with me from this match. I thought I played much better than I expected, and there wasn’t a single shot I didn’t make. I played forehand, backhands, serve, drop shots, volley. I did everything I think I was able to do in the past, just not with the same frequency. But at least I had the feeling to do it once more.”

JIMMY CONNORS WRITES FOREWORD TO CLIFF RICHEY BOOK “ACING DEPRESSION”

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Jimmy Connors, the five-time U.S. Open champion, has contributed the Foreword to the upcoming book “ACING DEPRESSION: A TENNIS CHAMPION’S TOUGHEST MATCH” written by his friend and former pro tennis colleague Cliff Richey.

Richey, who 40 years ago was the No. 1-ranked American tennis player and the hero of the 1970 championship-winning U.S. Davis Cup team, was the winner of the first-ever professional Grand Prix points title. In his book, due out in April, he discusses the most difficult opponent of his life, depression. Richey calls depression among adult males as “the silent tragedy in our culture today” and details his life-long battle with the disease that afflicts approximately 121 million people around the world. Co-written with his oldest daughter Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, ACING DEPRESSION ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.NewC

hapterMedia.com), profiles the life and tennis career of Richey, with his depression being a constant theme.

Writes Connors in the Foreword, “What made Cliff Richey what he was on the tennis court has certainly carried over into this book. His story has taken a subject, depression—which has affected him personally—and put it out there for everyone to see. Depression has been a subject that no one really talks about. Few people even admit to having such a condition. But Cliff is not afraid to be bold and reveal what he has gone through and what it takes to get a handle on this disease…Just as Cliff played tennis, he is studying how depression works; what its weaknesses are; and what strategies you can use against it. His hope is that people who read his story can learn—learn about the disease and learn that people who suffer can have a better quality of life. Things can get better. There is hope.”

Richey was known as the original “Bad Boy” of tennis, before there was John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase. His 26-year career was highlighted by a 1970 season where he led the United States to the Davis Cup title, finished as the first-ever Grand Prix world points champion and won one of the most exciting matches in American tennis history that clinched the year-end No. 1 American ranking. He won both of his singles matches in the 5-0 U.S. victory over West Germany in the 1970 Davis Cup final, while he beat out rivals Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Arthur Ashe and Stan Smith to win the first-ever Grand Prix world points title the precursor to the modern day ATP rankings. He won his second U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in 1970, while also won titles in his career at the Canadian Open, the South African Open, the U.S. Indoors and the Western Open (modern day Cincinnati Masters 1000 event).

At the 1970 Pacific Coast Championships at the Berkeley Tennis Club in Berkeley, Calif., he earned the No. 1 U.S. ranking when he beat Smith in a fifth-set tie-breaker, where both players had simultaneous match point in a sudden-death nine-point tie-breaker at 4-4. He also reached the semifinals of both the 1970 French and U.S. Opens, losing a famous match to Zeljko Franulovic of Yugoslavia in the French semifinals, despite holding match points and leading by two-sets-to-one and 5-1 in the fourth set.

ACING DEPRESSION is due out in April and is published by New Chapter Press – also the publisher of The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection by Rene Stauffer, The Bud Collins History of Tennis by Bud Collins, The Education of a Tennis Player by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli, The Lennon Prophecy by Joe Niezgoda, Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog by Susan Anson, The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According to Hoyle by Stewart Wolpin, People’s Choice Cancun – Travel Survey Guidebook by Eric Rabinowitz and Weekend Warriors: The Men of Professional Lacrosse by Jack McDermott, among others. Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is an independent publisher of books and part of the Independent Publishers Group. More information can be found at www.NewChapterMedia.com.

JUSTINE HENIN IS SCINTILLATING

By Melina Harris

The Rod Laver arena witnessed a scintillating 7-5, 7-6(8-6) win for comeback queen, Justine Henin over world No. 5 Elena Dementieva Wednesday. The match could signify the dawn of a new age for women’s tennis and possibly a coronary for Dementieva’s mother and coach, the omnipresent Vera who was uncomfortable to watch as she appeared to play every single shot for her gutsy daughter.

With US Open champion Kim Clijsters and the uber-talented former world No. 1 Henin back with a vengeance, the women’s tour has never held so much promise and wide spread appeal. This year’s Australian Open is panning out to be a classic for the WTA, undoubtedly helped by unseeded wild card Henin’s random placement in amongst the top seeds in the mouth-watering bottom half of the draw, which provided a second-round battle worthy of a final.

In my preview, I debated Dementieva’s mental fortitude which was sorely tested by Henin throughout. However, I do not believe Henin’s victory was down to a lack of fight from the Russian, who displayed admirable gut and determination to push Henin to the brink and back time and time again in this hotly contested second round match, rather it was Henin’s relentless resolution to come forward when playing the big points which caused the upset, marking her out as a true champion.

In her first tournament back in Brisbane, Henin fell at the last hurdle failing to close out the match against Clijsters by pressing too hard for victory, displaying a possible chink in her come back preparation.

However, today’s performance quashed any remaining doubt that Henin is ready to compete at the same level at which she left the game 20 months ago. Henin’s coach and mentor Carlos Rodriguez interestingly underestimated his diminutive pupil’s prospects in a recent interview with The Sunday Times prior to the Open, stating cautiously ‘I am not expecting her to be back at her best at the Australian Open or maybe a few months after that’ and expressed his surprise at her reaching the final in Brisbane because ‘she’s not certain about her game yet. Sometimes she’s too defensive, other times she goes on the attack when it is not wise. But those things come with time and matches. So far she has only played five.’

Perhaps this was a psychological tactic to relieve the pressure from Henin’s petite shoulders or a genuine miscalculation by the contemplative coach? Whatever the case may be, Rodriguez must be delighted with her swift progress which has shot her into contention at the Australian Open like a lightning bolt over the Rod Laver Arena, illuminating the women’s game with her unique style in comparison to the one dimensional baseliners who have dominated thus far.

Concerns about Henin’s serve, which Rodriguez cleverly modeled on the biomechanics of the Minnesota Viking’s quarterback, American NFL football star, Brett Favre were magnified in the first set, when Henin threw in six double faults. She often had to catch her first throw up which frequently veered disturbingly to the right, suggesting a possible lack of confidence in her new technique. However, by the second set as she got into her stride, those double faults reduced down to just two in a long and hotly contested set, with her first serve percentage at 48% in contrast to Dementieva’s at 65% across the total 2 hours and 50 minutes.

From the offset, the momentum of the match swung from side to side like a ship caught in a storm. In the first set, Dementieva’s depth and relentless pace of shot raged against Henin’s touch and variety resulting in copious break points for the Russian. At 5-4 with two set points for Dementieva, Henin produced a great drop volley to save the first and then constructed a brilliant point, resulting in a forehand approach and backhand volley winner to bring the game back to deuce to save the second. Henin broke back with an audacious drop volley leveling the set at 5 all.

In the following game, Henin matched Dementieva shot for shot by producing deeper and more penetrating ground strokes. A gutsy movement forward with a convincing volley at the net, secured a 6-5 lead. Indeed, it was her intuitive awareness of when to move forward to finish the point which pegged her back level at 30 all in the next game, which she then went on to win with an impressive forehand, hit on the rise, following a powerful first serve at deuce.

Dementieva opened the second set with another difficult hold of serve and followed with what appeared to be the beginnings of an impressive fight back, breaking Henin in the second game. However, with the grace of a ballet dancer Henin passed Dementieva at the net in the next point and went on to force a double fault from the uncharacteristically stoic Russian on break point.

Henin produced a magnificent game, maneuvering the Russian with deft precision around the court at 2-1 down to level the set at 2 all. Dementieva won two games in a row and appeared to have the upper hand as she went 4-2 up in the second. However, the tides turned once again as Henin went for the jugular and won the next three games to go 5-4 up, but lost her first match point in the next service game with a tight forehand into the net. Sensing Henin’s nerves, Dementieva took advantage and secured the break with a punishing backhand down the line.

At 5 all, Henin broke the Russian’s serve once again to set up yet another opportunity to serve out the match. While the crowd’s cheers reached a deafening crescendo, Rodriguez motioned animatedly to Henin radiating positivity and determination, while in contrast Dementieva’s mother and coach looked unnervingly at her daughter and then as if she were praying to the Gods for help.

Rodriguez must have been concerned (even if his face was a picture of confidence) as Henin once again failed to close out the match seemingly straining a quad muscle while serving. An impressive fight back from Dementieva secured the break to take the second set to a mouth watering tie break.

Despite racing to a 3-1 lead, Dementieva succumbed to Henin’s variety of shot and willingness to risk all on the important points (possibly in fear of a punishing third set) and like a true champion won the match on a serve volley; glaringly symbolic of what women’s tennis has been missing since her retirement from the game.

Henin is destined to meet Clijsters in the quarter finals (if they both proceed as predicted) in a repeat of the recent Brisbane final. What another great advert this would be for the women’s game and also as evidence for their inclusion in the proposed Tennis World Cup if the stars contrive to place these brilliant Belgian rivals together once again.

The Friday Five – Marat the Enigma

By Maud Watson

Farewell, Marat! – In a city that he loved, and at a tournament where he had always enjoyed great success, Marat Safin played his last professional match at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris.  He lost to current US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro in a tight three-set struggle that featured vintage Marat Safin, with smiles, cries of anguish, and yes, a broken racquet. Having won two Grand Slam singles titles, achieving the No. 1 ranking, and winning the Davis Cup, Safin accomplished more in his career than most players ever will. Despite these accolades, however, many critics have called him an underachiever. For the amount of talent Safin has, maybe those critics are right…but then again, his erratic play is what made him the enigma that is Marat Safin.  And that enigma has been a fan favorite wherever he went. Because at the end of the day, it didn’t matter whether or not Safin was playing top-flight tennis. What mattered was that he treated it like a game. He let you know what he was feeling, he was brutally honest on and off the court, and he always had a certain charm and wit about him. Marat Safin broke the mold, he will be missed, and he should be congratulated on a successful career.

Loose Lips – Within the next month, Frenchman Richard Gasquet will learn whether or not he’ll be serving a longer ban from tennis for testing positive for cocaine. Earlier this year, Gasquet served a 2 ½-month ban when he tested positive for the recreational drug, a substance he alleged entered his body when he kissed a woman in a nightclub who supposedly had cocaine in her system. Hopefully Gasquet’s case will be decided on its own merits, and not on pressure put on the CAS to make up for what happened with Agassi 12 years ago.

Stop the Madness – It would seem that the WTA and the ATP Tours have finally said enough is enough when it comes meting out punishments relating to doping in tennis. The reason for this chatter stems from the fact that Belgians Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse have each been handed a one-year ban for violating WADA’s “whereabouts” rule, which has long been considered one of the sport’s most controversial rules. As Stacey Allaster, the new WTA Chairman and CEO explained, it’s difficult for players to tell WADA three months in advance where they will be for one hour out of each day during competition, as they don’t know when their match will be scheduled, when they will practice, etc. It’s murder on the players, and it’s a joke that a player can lose an entire year of his or her career without even testing positive for any banned substance.

Molto Bene – In all the hullabaloo of the Agassi interview on 60 Minutes, the fact that Italy defeated the U.S. in the Fed Cup final was lost.  Hats off to Italy who claimed just their second Fed Cup title since the competition began in 1963.  Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone are putting Italian tennis back on the map, and for Pennetta, who earlier this year became the first Italian female to reach the Top 10, it was the perfect way to cap off a stellar year.

It’s On! – In a dramatic day three at the Paris Masters, Rafael Nadal saved five match points to advance to the third round, while Roger Federer suffered a shock loss to elated Frenchman Julien Benneteau.  Federer’s early loss coupled with the fact that Nadal can only gain points at the ATP World Tour Finals means that the year-end No. 1 ranking is still up for grabs.  Who says that there isn’t a little bit of excitement at the end of a long tennis season?

Tennis Etiquette- Where Has it Gone?

By Kimberly Minarovich

The 2009 US Open concluded and has added another chapter in the tennis history book. Juan Martin de Potro ended Roger Federer’s reign as five-time defending US Open champion to win his first major title. Kim Clijsters’ comeback not only gave her a second trophy, but also put her on record to become the second woman after Evonne Goolagong to win a major after in almost three decades after returning to the game after motherhood.

We honored Arthur Ashe by inducting him into the US Court of Champions. We remembered the contributions made by Jack Kramer after his death. We celebrated the 40th anniversary of Rod Laver’s 1969 Grand Slam sweep (For more on his life story, refer to The Education of a Tennis Player, by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, published by New Chapter Press.)

But, with all of this remembering, have we forgotten our tennis etiquette? Sadly, it seems as though we have. The recent surge in popularity has brought in a record number of attendees to the US Open in 2009 (about 1million for the entire tournament). Unfortunately, these spectators are not only newbies to the game, but are also newbies to tennis etiquette, which has been so closely associated with this gentlemen’s sport.

During this year’s tournament, I was struck by the number of attendees who were infants and toddlers. While I was watching Tommy Haas’ match on one of the outside courts, I was stunned to see a mother carrying two toddlers – one on her back and another slung across her chest. Thankfully for Tommy and the rest of us sitting on the small, intimate court that it was naptime for those little ones. But, what about the ones who wail, scream and cry during match play when their parents are sitting so close to the court? Kids under a minimum age are not allowed to attend live concerts and Broadway performances – both are also live events. So, why are they allowed onto the grounds? I am not shutting kids out of the game, but would mind boosting attendance at Arthur Ashe’s Kids Day! It is no secret that US tennis is losing its competitive edge. So, are we starting these kids young by bringing them to the courts while they are still in diapers? I was so curious why any parent would subject their little one to the hot blazing sun and the crowds that I asked a young couple who opted to bring their two month old to the men’s semi final matches which began with Rafa at noon and ended with Federer’s victory over Novak Djokovic over seven hours later. The father glared at me and said that he had two words for me. “F&%k off!” he told me. (And people were outraged over Serena’s language?) His display of sportsmanship was not ideal. I retaliated and had three (not two!) words for him. “Get a babysitter,” I shot back.

And, what about the cell phones, iPhones, and Blackberrys that ring during match play? And, the ensuing conversations that take place during match play! Are you joking? Should an announcement be made to turn these devices off before of after the rules of the challenge system are detailed? Maybe so.

How about those fans strolling around the stands when a player is in the middle of a first serve? Well, some of those fans look like they should stroll more, but around the track and not around Arthur Ashe Stadium Court. Has waiting for a changeover become a pastime like the all-white tennis garb that was clad by players of yesteryear? I’d like to bring both of those pastimes back, actually! After such poor etiquette from that the last fan that I questioned, I did not dare to ask another fan why that hot dog and beer were so necessary at that very moment rather than in a mere ten or fifteen minutes. Maybe the ushers can help us out on this front. Please do a better job keeping the fans in their seats (our in the waiting areas) during match play. If that is not possible, please direct these people to CitiField across the boardwalk. Maybe they are better suited to sit over there.

In all seriousness, let’s do our part to preserve the integrity of the game. But, the USTA can also help by changing some of the rules and reminding us all of proper tennis etiquette. They acted quickly towards Serena’s behavior so let’s hope they act quickly on improving the behavior of some of the fans. Off-court and on-court etiquette should be back in the sport.

Federer’s Last US Open Loss

Roger Federer’s reign as US Open champion is over. The Swiss maestro’s quest to win a sixth straight US Open men’s singles title came to an end Monday as Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro defeated the world No. 1 3-6, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 in the championship match. “Delpo” and David Nalbandian account for “Argentine book-ends” as the two countrymen combined to be the only two players to beat Federer at the US Open since 2003 – Federer winning 40-straight matches between losing to Nalbandian in the round of 16 of the 2003 US Open and losing to del Potro in the 2009 US Open final. Rene Stauffer, in his book THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.RogerFedererBook.com) discusses Roger’s loss to Nalbandian in 2003, when Roger was first on the verge of becoming the No. 1 player in the world, in this exclusive book excerpt below.

The US Open, the final Grand Slam tournament of the year, presented another opportunity for him to seize the top spot. As the tournament be­gan, Federer seemed in the best position to capture the No. 1 ranking as he was the player with the least amount of points to defend from the previ­ous year among the contenders for the No. 1 ranking. He survived the first three rounds without being seriously challenged, but in the round of 16, once again, his opponent was none other than Nalbandian.

Media and tennis insiders tagged the Argentinean as the arch-nemisis of Federer. The two players played four times as professionals, with Nalbandian winning all four times. Federer, however, rejected the idea that Nalbandian was the player he feared the most.

“That bothers me because I’ve never said that and I don’t see it that way either,” he told reporters almost defiantly in New York. “I’ve never lost to him decisively and I’ve even beaten him in the juniors.”

The second week of the US Open became an ordeal as rain created a sched­uling chaos. The round of 16 matches that were scheduled for the second Tuesday of the event did not start until 3 pm on Thursday. After four hours of play and two more interruptions due to rain, Federer had—for the fifth time in five professional matches—succumbed to Nalbandian 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-4, 6-3. The Argentinean was still a mystery to him.

“I find it difficult understanding why I take the lead or fall behind,” Federer said after the loss. “I knew that I had to play aggressively. But I just don’t know how much I should risk when serving against him. He gets to many balls quickly and is great at reading my game. I don’t know what to make of him.” Federer could only watch from a distance as Nalbandian reached the semifinals, where he lost a heart-breaking five-setter to Roddick after leading two-sets-to-love and holding a match point. Roddick went on to win the championship, defeating Juan Carlos Ferrero, who assumed the No. 1 ranking by virtue of his runner-up showing. The American wept after his first Grand Slam title just as Federer had two months earlier at Wimbledon. Roddick won the tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati earlier in the summer and moved to No. 2 in the world rankings.

Oudin Mastering Russian at US Open

NEW YORK – Yes, it’s the US Open, but Melanie Oudin has used her exciting run to the quarterfinals to master Russian.

The 17-year-old from Marietta, Georgia, played – and beat – four Russians to become the youngest American to reach the women’s singles quarterfinals at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center since Serena Williams in 1999. Williams went on to win her first of three US Open titles that year.

Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki cut off Oudin’s Russian lessons by reaching her first quarterfinal Monday night when she eliminated sixth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 2-6 7-6 (5) 7-6 (3).

Oudin completed her Russian sweep with a 1-6 7-6 (2) 6-3 upset of 13th-seeded Nadia Petrova. She had advanced to the fourth round with victories over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, fourth-seeded Elena Dementieva and Maria Sharapova, the 2006 US Open champion who was seeded 29th this year.

At number nine, Wozniacki is the lone seeded player left in the top half of the draw.

Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium will take on Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine in the other top-half quarterfinal, Wickmayer advanced by whitewashing Argentina’s Gisela Dulko 6-0 6-0 and Wickmayer outlasting Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 4-6 6-4 7-5.

“I don’t think they had weaknesses,” Oudin said of her Russian opponents. “I believe all the matches I’ve played have been really close, and it’s just been – I’ve just been able to pull them out.

“Every single match has been so competitive and so close, and I’ve been able to pull it out in the end.”

Using her quickness to run down the ball and her powerful ground strokes to hit winners or force her opponents into mistakes, Oudin once again dropped the opening set before rallying for victory. So far this year Oudin is 17-4 in matches where she has lost the first set.

“Going into the tournament I did believe that I could compete with these girls, but it was just figuring out a way to win in these tough matches and these pressure situations actually coming through and winning,” she said. “So now, even if I get a set down, I like believe in myself and my game. I know that if I fight as hard as I can, do the best I can, hopefully I can do it.”

The women’s quarterfinals will begin Tuesday when Williams, seeded second this year, takes on No. 10 Flavia Pennetta of Italy and Belgium’s Kim Clijsters, the 2005 champion, continues her comeback when she faces No. 18 Li Na of China.

Oudin made her US Open debut a year ago, losing to Australia’s Jessica Moore – in three sets, naturally. She suffered a first-round loss at the Australian Open in January, then made Wimbledon her coming-out party, shocking Jelena Jankovic on her way to the fourth round on the grass on SW 19.

Prior to her Wimbledon run, Oudin won consecutive USD $50,000 tournaments on the USTA Pro Circuit. She entered the US Open ranked number 70 in the world, making her the third highest ranked American behind sisters Serena and Venus Williams.

Her run on the hard courts in Flushing Meadows has boosted her already high confidence.

“I know that I can compete with the best in the world now, and I will know that forever,” she said.

“I think it’s just mentally I’m staying in there with them the whole time, and I’m not giving up at all. So if they’re going to beat me, they’re going to beat me, because I’m not going to go anywhere.”

For the first time in the Open Era no American will reach the men’s singles quarterfinals. The last American standing, John Isner, was eliminated by 10th-seeded Fernando Verdasco of Spain 4-6 6-4 6-4 6-4.

“I’m a little bit disappointed,” Isner said. “You know, I wanted to go further. But I played pretty well. Maybe I could have played a little bit better, but I just got outplayed today.”

The big-serving Isner eliminated America’s top player, fifth-seeded Andy Roddick, in the third round.

“We got a lot of people to the round of 32,” Isner said of the American contingent. “Then obviously I played Andy, so that assured one of them was going to move on and one was going to stay back. … It’s just unfortunate we couldn’t get that many past that.”
Besides Verdasco, other fourth-round winners in the men’s singles during the day were top-seeded Roger Federer and No. 12 Robin Soderling.

Ma Clijsters Continues Hot Play at US Open

NEW YORK –Ma Clijsters took another giant step for motherhood Sunday and moved closer to regaining her women’s singles title at the US Open.

Playing in her first Grand Slam tournament since giving birth to her daughter, Kim Clijsters out-gunned Venus Williams 6-0 0-6 6-4 to advance into the quarterfinals of America’s premier tennis event.

“I’m not trying to get carried away with it all,” Clijsters said of her surprising run into the second week of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. “Just trying to focus on what I have to do because the tournament’s still going. I just want to keep focusing on my tennis without having to worry too much about what’s going on around.”

Two years ago, Clijsters retired from the sport. She got married to an American basketball player and gave birth to their daughter. Earlier this year, she decided she wanted to return to the tennis tour and is playing the US Open for the first time since she captured the title in 2005. She was injured when the 2006 US Open came around, and retired the following year.

This is her third tournament back since retirement, and it’s as if she had never been away. She reached the quarterfinals at Cincinnati and the third round in Toronto, losing in the latter to Jelena Jankovic.

“Although I lost to Jankovic, it really helped me a lot knowing that I was capable of taking her to a 5-3 in that third set,” Clijsters said. “That’s where after Toronto I felt like, OK, I feel at this moment I can compete with those best players. … I had a good feeling that I can have a chance against these girls. That’s something that I didn’t have before I went to Cincinnati.”

She was almost perfect in the opening set against the third-seeded Williams, a two-time US Open champion, but the last title coming in 2001. Williams turned the table in the second set, needing only 23 minutes to run through the six games, allowing Clijsters to win just nine points.

“I just said to myself, OK, forget about what happened this last hour,” Clijsters said. “You start from zero and just make sure that you stay aggressive, keep serving well, and it worked.”

The mother broke Williams in the third game of the final set, then held on to hold her own serve for the rest of the match. In the final game, Williams won three of the first four points before Clijsters, pounding the ball deep into the recesses of the court, won the final four points to grab a spot in the quarterfinals.

Clijsters is trying to become the third mother to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open Era, after two Australians, Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong.

Clijsters will next face 18th-seeded Li Na, a 6-2 6-3 winner over Italy’s Francesca Schiavone. Li is the first Chinese player to reach the quarterfinals at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The other quarterfinal in the bottom of the draw will pit second-seeded Serena Williams against No. 10 Flavia Pennetta of Italy, who staved off six match points before beating No. 7 Vera Zvonareva 3-6 7-6 (6) 6-0.

Williams is 0-6 in her career after losing the first set at love. The last time she lost a 6-0 set at the US Open was in the final in 1997 against Martina Hingis.

Serena Williams began Sunday’s play by crushing Daniela Hantuchova 6-2 6-0, winning the last 10 games of the match.

“I traditionally play well in fourth-round matches,” Serena said. “I want to keep this level, stay focused and play well my next match. I enjoy every moment. I enjoy walking out there and I like to battle.

“I’m blessed to be in this position, to travel the world, play tennis and do something I love every day.”

Third-seeded Rafael Nadal grabbed a fourth-round spot in the men’s singles in an early match, beating Nicolas Almagro 7-5 6-4 6-4.
In other early third-round matches, seventh-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Julien Benneteau 7-6 (4) 6-2 6-4; No. 11 Fernando Gonzalez ousted No. 17 Tomas Berdych 7-5 6-4 6-4; No. 13 Gael Monfils advanced when Jose Acasuso retired with a left knee injury while trailing 6-3 6-4 1-0; No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro beat Daniel Koellerer 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-3; No. 24 Juan Carlos Ferrero upset No. 9 Gilles Simon, who retired with a right knee injury while trailing 1-6 67-4 7-6 (5) 1-0; and No. 16 Marin Cilic stopped Denis Istomin 6-1 6-4 6-3.

Federer Serves Bagels To Hewitt At 2004 US Open

Roger Federer is looking for his sixth straight US Open men’s singles title at the 2009. The first of his five straight titles in New York came in 2004 when he defeated Lleyton Hewitt, his third-round opponent in 2009, in the final. Rene Stauffer, the author of the Federer biography THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.RogerFedererBook.com) details the 2004 US Open final between Federer and Hewitt in his celebrated tome. The brief book excerpt is seen below…

Awaiting him in the final was another of his past nemeses, Lleyton Hewitt, the 2001 US Open champion. The Australian skipped the Olympic Games, but won the two ATP tournaments played concurrently to the Olympics in Washington, D.C. and in Long Island. Entering his match with Federer, he won his last 16 matches and did not surrender a set in his six-match run to the final.

It only took 17 minutes for Federer to hand Hewitt his first lost set of the tournament, losing only five points in a near perfect execution of tennis. When Hewitt won his first game of the match after Federer led 6-0, 2-0, the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium gave him a standing ovation. Federer contin­ued to be the much stronger player, until a lapse of concentration and a run of errors and missed serves allowed Hewitt to win four straight games after trailing 2-5 in the second set.

“If he had managed to win the second set, it would have turned out to be an entirely different match,” Federer said. “I forced myself to keep positive. I said to myself that I only got this break because I was playing against the wind and I was serving with old balls. When I changed sides, everything actually did go easier.”

Federer held serve at 5-6 to force the tiebreak and won that 7-3. The two-set lead broke Hewitt’s resistance and Federer plowed through the final set 6-0 to win his first US Open championship.

“First I was surprised that Lleyton was no longer getting to the ball,” Federer said of his moment of victory. “Then I was suddenly lying on my back, look­ing into the sky at the lights of the stadium. I thought, ‘That’s unbelievable.’ Once again I was close to tears.”