Safina, Roddick fall by the wayside

Oudin packs off Sharapova on day of upsets; Serena advances

Safina,  Roddick fall by the wayside


 Petra Kvitova, of the Czech Republic returns shot to Dinara Safina, of Russia during the third round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York on Saturday. AP Photo

On a day when Russian world number one Dinara Safina's luck and patience finally ran out, Isner and Oudin sparked off celebrations in their hometown of Georgia after showing off their "bulldog" spirit to full effect.

Big-serving Roddick came face-to-face with a 2.06-meter-tall (6-foot-9) player he had mentored up the ranks and as a way of thanks Isner boomed in 38 aces to trample the fifth seed 7-6, 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 7-6.

"I'm happy for him. I'm mad that obviously it came at my expense," summed up Roddick who had hopes of going all the way this year following his runner-up finish at Wimbledon.

While number 55 Isner was delighted to pull off the biggest shock of the men's draw, Oudin followed up her win over world number four Elena Dementieva by thumping another Russian.

The 17-year-old Oudin had the honour of ringing the opening bell at the NASDAQ exchange earlier this week and her stock rose even higher on Saturday as she carved out a heart-pounding 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 third-round win over 29th seed Sharapova.

As some 23,000 fans hollered inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, those who could not cram into centre court watched transfixed on the giant TV screen in the main fountain plaza.

Standing ovation

When Oudin sealed the three-hour triumph by belting a forehand winner, spectators inside and outside the arena leapt to their feet to give her a standing ovation.

Oudin simply looked dazed as she dropped her racket before raising her weary arms to acknowledge the cheers.

"I just kept fighting as hard as I could. I can't believe it," the 70th-ranked Oudin gasped in a courtside interview as she tried to blink back tears.

"I just had a blast playing there today," added Oudin, who will aim to bump another Russian, Nadia Petrova, in the last 16.

Isner summed up her feat as: "She's so gutsy. She plays with her heart out there. We really kind of have the same attributes. We got a little Bulldog in us. We fight really well."

Safina has long been famed for her fighting spirit and on many occasions has come from match point down to stifle her opponents.

But on Saturday, 72nd-ranked Czech teenager Petra Kvitova took a leaf out of Safina's Houdini manual and saved three match points before stamping her mark in New York with a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 win.

A clearly irritated Safina then took a swipe at organisers for bumping her off the Ashe arena, where the day's schedule had over-run by almost three hours, and rescheduling her match to the smaller 10,000-seat Louis Armstrong Court.

"I'm number one player in the world, why did they move me?" asked Safina, who had survived three-set sweat-fests in her first two matches. "This is not excuse but I don't think it's a fair decision they made."

As the women's field continued to be decimated -- with no seed left in the top quarter -- Isner finally burst the bubble in the men's draw as until his win over Roddick, it looked as if all 16 top seeds could reach the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time.

Serena in quarterfinals

Champion Serena Williams marched into the quarterfinals with a ruthless 6-2, 6-0 victory over 22nd seed Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia on Sunday. The second seed won 10 straight games from 2-2 to overpower Hantuchova in 64 minutes and reach the last eight without dropping a set.

Hantuchova started brightly but as soon as Wimbledon and Australian Open champion Serena  found her range, the match was as good as over.

The American broke twice in the first set and three times in the second to set up a quarter-final against either Russian seventh seed Vera Zvonareva or 10th seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy.

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