It was an incredible day of tennis on the first Saturday of this U.S. Open. The biggest stories, of course, were John Isner and Melanie Oudin, but it was a day full of excellent matches, Novak Djokovic’s hardfought win over Jesse Witten among them. There was so much great play that by nightfall, it was hard to remember that the day had begun, nine hours before, with Lleyton Hewitt, the champion here in 2001, grabbing the first set from Roger Federer, who held Hewitt off to win, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.
Isner and Andy Roddick’s match stretched to 9:30pm, but another exciting five-setter was still going at Louis Armstrong Stadium as they began. Fernando Verdasco left the court to be treated by a trainer after winning only one game in the fourth set of his match against Tommy Haas. It must have done the trick, because he and his monster forehand raged back, winning the fifth set and the match, a 3-hour-45-minute marathon. The final score was 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (10-8), 1-6, 6-4. Haas remains a canny and powerful player, but as the match progressed, he shied away from the net game that was working for him early on. Two exhausted players–Verdasco and Isner –will meet in the fourth round.
Sam Querrey, who was looking great coming into the Open, was simply overpowered by Robin Soderling, 6-2, 7-5, 6-7 (6-8), 6-1. It’s one of those matches that can be summed up in one statistic: the two players had the same number of errors, but Soderling had 71 winners to Querrey’s 31. Two other top men’s players, Nikolay Davydenko and Radek Stepanek, advanced with relatively little trouble.
Sixth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetzova has successfully negotiated a week that’s claimed many of the top players in the women’s draw–she hasn’t even lost a set. She has a difficult fourth-round match ahead of her, though: she’ll face ninth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, who won today in straight sets.