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By Chris Oddo

(August 30, 2012) -- I hope you stocked up on Dramamine before the US Open because Day 4 was another roller coaster ride of epic proportions. With Andy Roddick’s impromptu retirement announcement on his 30th birthday, we have officially gone from the frying pan to the fire. And, sadness aside, we are loving every minute of it, aren’t we?

Here's 10 Random thoughts on Day 4:

1. Roddick Retires

Andy Roddick’s retirement announcement has created a massive buzz around the grounds, and fittingly so. The last American to win a Grand Slam elected to go out on his own terms -- still near his prime, mind you -- rather than slog through another year or two or three of mediocre tennis (by his standards).

Is it the right decision, or a reaction to a very long and painful spell of bad luck with his body? Roddick clearly can still play, and there were many -- including Roddick -- who felt that if the former Grand Slam champion could just get his body feeling good again that he’d once again be a threat to go deep in Slams on a regular basis.

Turns out that was just wishful thinking.

“I’m still processing it,” said his longtime Davis Cup Captain Patrick McEnroe. “I’m pretty emotional about it because obviously I was lucky enough to be able to spend a lot of time with Andy Roddick over the years. All he did, not just for Davis Cup but for American tennis, and all he put into his tennis, into carrying that torch by himself essentially. This guy handled that responsibility incredibly well.”

“He brought crowds into the match,” said John McEnroe, who was among the many talking heads that discussed Roddick’s surprise departure from the game. “And Andy Roddick is an extremely intelligent young man. He is going to have a lot of options.”

It’s true. Roddick is quick-witted and entertaining, and he enjoys the spotlight. Credit him for reading the writing on the wall, and viewing his retirement from tennis not so much as an admittance of failure, but as a lateral transfer into the other pursuits. With his supermodel/actress wife Brooklyn Decker by his side, Roddick certainly has the connections to make some waves in the entertainment world, and we all know that he would make a brilliant tennis commentator/ analyst should he wish to go that route.

Let’s hope that Roddick finishes this US Open with a bang (at least he can go deeper than Clijsters, right?) and hits the ground running on what is sure to be a fulfilling second career as an entertainer of some sorts.

2. Stephens and Malek redefine the tennis as torture ethos

If Chinese Water Torture is your thing, you would have loved Sloane Stephens' second-round tussle with German qualifier Tatjana Malek. This one had all the elements. Needle in your eye missed forehands? Check. Vice lock on your skull sun-drenched overheads? Check. Moonballs, forehand slice, and painfully obvious yet neglected tactical adjustments? Check. At the end of this two-hour, thirty-minute mashup of the grotesque, Sloane Stephens, that graceful, athletic 19-year-old American, proved to all in attendance on Armstrong that she can win ugly with the best of them.

Stephens will face Ana Ivanovic in the third round, and if what commentator Virginia Wade said about what it must be like to play against the eclectic stylings of Malek is true, she’ll be happy to face the pace of Ivanovic’s ground strokes, even if many of them whistle by her.

“I would absolutely hate to play somebody like Malek,” Wade said. “You just feel like you’ve got weights around your ankles.”
 
3. JJ-A-Rad rematch in round three

Fans of the old-school are drooling over a third-round matchup of cat-and-mouse specialists Agnieszka Radwanska and Jelena Jankovic. For those that are curious, Radwanska owns a 2-1 edge in the career head-to-head and she has bageled Jankovic in the third set of their last two encounters.

4. 5-set comebacks galore

When Mardy Fish fought his way back from a two-set deficit to take out Nikolay Davydenko this afternoon, it was already the 10th such comeback to occur at this year’s US Open. That’s a record for the event, but it is still four short of the Australian Open record of 14. (Stats provided by @bgtennisnation)

Considering we’re still not out of the second round yet, might we have a new Grand Slam record for comebacks on the horizon?

Whatever the outcome, it adds another element to the ongoing argument -- backed by Billie Jean King yesterday, and supported by many other big names since the Olympics provided such a shining example of the shorter format on a big stage -- that men should start playing best-of-three set matches at the Slams.

5. Wade critiques young players

Virginia Wade made a pretty good assessment of the mindset of today’s young players, which was echoed yesterday by Chris Evert on Wednesday (Evert feels that too many players are so concerned with “playing their games” to even notice what their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses are). Here’s what the always up front and honest Wade had to say:

“You see so many of them (young players) just hitting the ball magnificently from the baseline -- hard, hard and harder -- and as long as the ball is coming through to them fast they just can shut their eyes and step in and hit perfect shots. When you mess it around and do a little something different, they don’t have solutions to that.”

Agree, or disagree?

6. Klizan pulls the shocker of the tournament

It was only a week ago when we tabbed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as the player most likely to capitalize on Rafael Nadal's pullout in New York. What a difference a week makes. 23-year-old Martin Klizan of Slovakia put the screws to Tsonga on Thursday, shocking the No. 5-seeded Frenchman in four sets. Many were quick to wonder about Tsonga's health and emotional mindset after this upset, but full credit to Klizan for serving big, hitting big, and when Tsonga tried to rally from 4-0 down in the fourth set, the left-handed Slovakian was there to play some brilliant tennis to close Tsonga out. He deserved the win, and furthermore, he deserved his victory celebration with his camp, which included big hugs and one of his boys dumping a bottle of water over his head.

Klizan is looking like a pretty good candidate to serve double duty as a dark horse and French killer now, as he'll face Jeremy Chardy in the third round of a section of the draw that is pretty wide open until it collides with Andy Murray in the quarters.

7. Tsonga’s jaw-dropping stylings will be missed this year

Every Grand Slam I marvel at how much entertainment value Jo-Wilfried Tsonga brings to these events, win or lose. In the French Open this year, he produced what was probably the most dramatic moment of the event when he nearly upset Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals. At Wimbledon this year, he played a brilliant match in defeat against Andy Murray in the semis. At the Olympics, his marathon with Raonic was most certainly one of the top three moments of the event. At last year’s US Open his fourth-round match with Mardy Fish was another classic example of Tsonga’s prowess as not just a fantastic tennis player, but perhaps the most entertaining player in the game.

Today, Tsonga fell flat against Martin Klizan in a lopsided four-setter. What can you except say he will be missed? But as always, the flamboyant Frenchman didn’t get too burned up dwelling on the loss, saying “Yeah, so I'm disappointed, but anyway, you know, it's tennis.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Of course, it's always sad when you lose, but, you know, I will wait for another good moment.  I will forget it.”

8. Tweet of the day goes to NYT’s Ben Rothenberg:

9. Amen to that, Darren Cahill:

10. By the way, Andy’s not done yet

Here’s what Roddick had to say about his upcoming second-rounder against Bernard Tomic tomorrow: “I talked to Larry and Doug and said, I could come out and play great, or it could be the worst thing you've ever seen.  I don't know.  I've never done this before. I'm sure it will be very emotional.  I'm sure I'll still be nervous.  I don't know.”

My bet: He’ll play great and it will not be his last match.

 

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