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Guest Blog

A new low for U.S. men; a rare high for Aussies

3rd round


January 20, 2012 | 10:07 PM

This would sound like the old days if we were talking about the second week of the Open with Aussies and Yanks making news. Instead, we're talking about the 3rd round in which the last Yank standing (ISNER) was eliminated in 5 sets, and the hopes of the Aussies for a new star to replace the fading Hewitt were fanned by the end of a 4 hour evening centerpiece between Bernie TOMIC and #13 Alex the Dogman Dolgopolov.

Isner, who'd played 5 sets and over 4.5 hours in his previous match (winning a 10-8 5th set over Nalbandian in a mere 99 minutes), went the distance with Lopez in just under 4 hours in spite of nursing bloody feet. He managed to get to the net even more than Lopez, a serve-and-volleyer (1 of 3 points in the match was won or lost at the net, another reminder of former days). The surprise: Lopez broke Isner 6 times on 11 chances, and only surrendered his serve on 1 in 4. After 500- minutes of tennis in 3 days, the marathon man went down 6-1 in the 5th, leaving a field free of American males at the earliest point in Major history during the Open era.

Score: 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-7 (0), 6-1.

We don't yet have our eye on our Tomic (Harrison's our best hope), but everyone down under knows Bernie now that as a teen he's reached the 4th round of the home tournie and the quarters of Wimbledon. Like Lopez, Bernie benefited from taking two tie-breakers (the first was 7-0), without which he wasn't playing well enough to win: he hit half the winners of Dogman's 80, and 2/3 the errors, broke serve only 4 times versus 6 for Dogman, and won a lower percent of return points and serve points. Score: 4-6, 7-6 (0), 7-6 (8), 2-6, 6-3.

Tomic now has 2 huge problems:

1. He's playing Federer (for second time; lost in 4 sets on grass last month in Davis Cup in Australia)

2. He'd played just two 5 setters before this week's two in a row (5 sets against Verdasco, from down 0-2; plus

4 sets to beat Querrey) .

Bernie's not the only Aussie left: at almost 31 with a ranking of 181, Leyton Hewitt is riding high after a 3 set upset of Andy Roddick in the 2nd round. He'll face Raonic in a night match tonight for a spot against Joker in the 4th round.

Our WOMEN aren't in much better shape now that Vania King is out to Ivanovic and SERENA is the last American in either draw. Fortunately for Serena, she's in a bracket which keeps getting leaner: 7th seed Zvonareva was defeated by Makarova (wasn't that a dance once upon a time?) in straight sets, meaning Serena will not face a seed before the quarters when #4 Sharapova (easy winner tonight), #14 Lisicki or #18 Kuznetsova will await her.

Rick

Australian Open 1.20.12


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