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 No. 5-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."
How did Isner fare so well in such pressure-packed situations?
Particularly against a player, in Roddick, who tends to be as good as it gets in tiebreakers.
"Never panicked. If I lose that match, I have nothing to hang my head about. Played well. Maybe a little bit more the pressure's on him. He's expected to do so well here," Isner said. "Nobody expected me to win."
Isner who led Georgia to the 2007 NCAA team tennis championship lost in the first round at five consecutive major tournaments until this one. He missed three months this season from mid-April to mid-July with mononucleosis, but Saturday's victory will push him into the top 50 in the rankings.
"I was watching the French Open. I remember how ticked off I was at home," Isner said. "But I think it might have been a blessing in disguise."
Now Isner owns his first victory over Roddick in three meetings.
"It's obviously, hands down, the biggest win of my career. Nothing even compares. To do it at the stage I did it on is pretty spectacular," Isner said. "But I know I can really do some damage here. So I'm not satisfied just yet."
Next up is a match against No. 10 Fernando Verdasco of Spain with a quarterfinal berth at stake.
As for Roddick?
His quest for a second Grand Slam title will have to be postponed until next season.
And this defeat at a major tournament doesn't feel anything like that 16-14 fifth set against Roger Federer at Wimbledon.
"It's different. I wasn't anywhere close to winning this tournament yet," Roddick said. "There's not another chance a month and a half away."