Move over Melanie Oudin, there's a new breakout American star at the U.S. Open.
John Isner, ranked No. 55 in the world, stunned 2003 U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick in a five set marathon Saturday evening at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Despite heavy cramping before the final set, the 24-year old Isner held on to win the final set tiebreak. (Which is still the worst rule in sports.)
The result was a huge surprise, obviously, but even more so than the rankings and reputations of the two players would suggest. Because even though Roddick was down two sets to start and faced a match point in the fourth and appeared fresher than the cramping Isner, it never felt like he was going to lose. Roddick seemed in control of the match, even as it was slipping away. When he went up 30-0 on Isner's serve in the first game of the fifth set, a runaway seemed like a distinct possibliity.
But Isner loosened up and kept hitting winners and aces (128 total, to Roddick's 71). Depite breaking Roddick just once in the entire match, Isner was able to pull off the biggest upset of the 2009 U.S. Open.
It's another disappointing end to a Grand Slam for Roddick, who had been playing some of his best tennis of late. The loss to Roger Federer at Wimbledon was hard for him to take. Losing a match he should have won may be just as difficult.
For Isner, it's the first time he's advanced to the fourth round of a major. He'll face No. 10 seed Fernando Verdasco on Monday.
Check back later tonight for Martin Rogers' analysis of the match.