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U.S. Open Slice, Day 6: Little hope for U.S. men after Roddick loss

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First serve

There were looks of bewilderment all around Flushing Meadows on Saturday night.

Not just from John Isner, who could scarcely believe he had played the match of his life to reach the fourth round of the U.S. Open.

Not just from Andy Roddick, whose Grand Slam year was sawn off against an unheralded opponent and in a manner he could hardly have thought possible.

No, the confusion was apparent on every face that filtered out of Arthur Ashe Stadium after the huge-serving Isner tamed world No. 5 and Wimbledon finalist Roddick in five gripping sets.

American tennis couldn't figure out whether to laugh or cry. On one hand, the emergence of Isner, an engaging young man who battled mononucleosis earlier this year but maintained his faith nevertheless, is a tale steeped in feel-good factor.

Yet the sad truth is that Roddick's departure means that once more, the second week of a Slam begins without a realistic chance of a homegrown winner.

Roddick was the USA's only legitimate contender, and he felt he had the right fragments of his game locked into place to challenge strongly. Instead he failed to show any imagination or variety against Isner, who just refused to go away even after being pegged back from a two-set lead.

All the hours of soul-searching that Roddick suffered through following the Wimbledon final will surely be followed by more in the aftermath of this defeat.

Because this wasn't supposed to happen anymore. The Roddick of old - out of condition and with occasionally poor mentality - was prone to shocking results such as this. But the new and improved Roddick, the one we have seen for most the year, was supposed to be immune, capable of maintaining an elevated level of play and brushing aside less credentialed opposition.

Isner proved differently - and he marches on to carry the Stars and Stripes into Week 2. Roddick steps into emptiness, with little to look forward to but months of frustration and sorry reflection.

Drop shot

Sam Querrey's run came to a shuddering halt in the third round as the fast-improving American lost to 12th seed Robin Soderling. Querrey looked jaded from early on in the match and seems to have paid the price for his hectic summer schedule.

Clean winner

Fernando Verdasco was not short of people to celebrate with after he disposed of Tommy Haas in a five-set thriller on Louis Armstrong. Verdasco flew 12 friends and family members out from Spain for the tournament - all of them dressed in bright orange shirts and in fine voice as they cheered him to victory.

Upset alert

Juan Carlos Ferrero must be favored to take down No. 9 seed Gilles Simon. Ferrero is back in form after a long spell in the doldrums and should have too much class for Simon.

Match of the day

American teen Melanie Oudin's dramatic three-set victory over Maria Sharapova provided sensational drama, with countless breaks of serve and an outpouring of emotion on Arthur Ashe.

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