- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 29, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - Xavier Malisse stomped over to his chair after losing the second set to John Isner and launched into a tirade at the chair umpire.

“How many bad calls can I get in one tiebreak?” he ranted, with some expletives mixed in.

While Malisse was directing his ire at referees and fans, Isner kept his cool to pull out a four-set victory in his first-round match at the U.S. Open. The top-ranked American man at the Open, Isner won 6-3, 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (9) in just under 3 hours Wednesday.

Isner is 19-3 with two titles since his first-round loss at Wimbledon.

“A lot of times I win matches on very close margins,” he said. “Sometimes it can go against me. But I try not to feel that pressure of being a top-10 player. As cliche as it is, you have to take it one at a time. But I’m in a good place at this tournament right now. I’ve won a lot of matches since Wimbledon. I know in the nitty-gritty times of a match, I always have that confidence and all those wins in my back pocket.”

Malisse was left to lament what might’ve been had his shot not been incorrectly called long when he led 5-3 in the second-set tiebreaker. After it was overturned on review, the point was replayed, which he lost.

“I get a short ball _ not saying it’s going to be 6-3, but there’s a good chance,” Malisse said after the match. “Then you have to replay the point because they make a mistake. She could’ve let the ball go. If he wanted to challenge, he could challenge.”

Still, Isner is tough to beat in tiebreakers no matter the score. He improved to 37-13 this year.

“It’s important points,” Malisse said. “If I win the second set, it’s a different match.”

As he seethed to the chair ump after that second set, “What are you going to say now? `Oh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’ Who cares, man. I’m two sets to love down.”

This one ended in eerily similar fashion to Isner’s victory in the Winston-Salem final Saturday. At 9-9 in a tiebreaker in the last set then, Tomas Berdych had a chance for a winner, but his forehand hit the net cord and bounced out, giving Isner match point. On Wednesday, Malisse pushed an easy backhand volley into the net at 9-9 to hand Isner match point.

Malisse took his dismay out on a ball, chomping on it as if it were an apple.

He insisted later he wasn’t suggesting that the American was getting favorable calls at home, though he conceded he was tempted to think that at times. It’s to be expected that the New York fans yell at the players a lot, Malisse said, but he didn’t appreciate the derision for making challenges that turned out to be successful.

“Half of the crowd doesn’t understand what’s going on,” he said.

“After a while, it’s frustrating,” Malisse said of the number of times he had to challenge calls that wound up being overturned. “I feel like it was only me challenging the whole time. I hit a serve wide this much” _ he held out his hands an inch apart _ “the referee goes straight away out. Then Isner hit two serves this long” _ holding his hands a foot apart _ “nothing gets called. Lucky there’s Hawkeye, because otherwise it would’ve been a total fiasco.”



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