- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 6, 2009

NEW YORK | Andy Roddick’s U.S. Open is over much sooner than he expected.

Coming off a close-as-could-be loss in the Wimbledon final, Roddick came to Flushing Meadows with a rebuilt game and some serious self-belief. Running into strong-serving, 6-foot-9 American John Isner in the third round proved to be too much to handle.

The 55th-ranked Isner smacked 38 aces to beat the fifth-seeded Roddick 7-6 (3), 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 7-6 (5) Saturday.

It’s the first time Isner has reached the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament. Roddick, in contrast, won the 2003 U.S. Open and has been the runner-up at a major four times, most recently at the All England Club in July.

“It’s tough. I mean, I don’t know if I’ve come to a tournament with as much confidence - into a Slam - as I did with this tournament,” Roddick said. “Leaving earlier than I want to.”

His loss marked the first significant upset of Week 1 of the men’s tournament: The men seeded No. 1 through No. 16 were 38-0 before Roddick and Isner stepped on court.

Perhaps what bothered Roddick the most was that he played quite well Saturday.

He broke Isner’s serve twice and was only broken once himself. His groundstrokes were clean, with only 20 unforced errors - 32 fewer than Isner. And then there was this little detail: Roddick won 162 points, Isner 155.

But Isner came through in the tiebreakers.

“I mean, there’s a lot that’s out of your hands with the way he plays. I said it before: You can’t really teach 6-9, especially coming down on a serve,” Roddick said. “You try to fight it off as much as you can. Sometimes you can, and sometimes it’s completely out of your hands.”

On the women’s side, 17-year-old Melanie Oudin provided the shocker.

Gritting her way through a shaky third set, the 70th-ranked player from Marietta, Ga., pulled off her second upset of the Open, defeating a more seasoned, more famous, more successful opponent - 29th-seeded Maria Sharapova, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

“I don’t even know what to say right now,” Oudin said, choking back tears in her postmatch interview in Arthur Ashe Stadium. “Thank you so much for cheering for me.”

Sharapova, who has won this tournament once, usually gets those cheers. But on this cloudless day in Queens, the fans were rooting for a new potential queen - the one who stamped the word “Believe” on her shoes but probably didn’t see this coming so soon.

“My goal was to make the top 50,” she said. “But if I keep playing like this, who knows? Hopefully, I can get as high as anything.”

She added this upset to one over No. 4 Elena Dementieva in the second round and a win over former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic earlier this year at Wimbledon.

In men’s play, No. 1 Roger Federer extended his winning streak to 37 at the U.S. Open, overcoming some shaky play for a 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 victory over No. 31 Lleyton Hewitt.

It was Federer’s 14th straight victory over Hewitt, a former No. 1 who won the U.S. Open in 2001.

“I just had to believe that I could still turn this around,” Federer said. “And with the great streak I have against him, I knew that if I could get back into the match then I could get back on a roll, because I’ve done it so many times against him.”

Other winners on the men’s side included 15th-seeded Radek Stepanek, eighth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko and fourth-seeded Novak Djokovic, who ended 276th-ranked American Jesse Witten’s surprising run. Also gone is 22nd-seeded Sam Querrey, a 6-2, 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-1 loser to No. 12 Robin Soderling.

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