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US Open 2013 Day 3: Venus ousted as Blake bids farewell

Venus Williams during her thrilling battle against Zheng Jie
by Alexandra Willis at Flushing Meadows
Thursday 29 August 2013

Wimbledon.com's highlights from the third day of play at the 2013 US Open in Flushing Meadows, New York...

Match of the day

Zheng Jie d. Venus Williams 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(5)

A rain-interrupted day was salvaged somewhat by a thrilling three-setter between two-time champion Venus and the diminutive yet never-to-be-underestimated Zheng. For a while it looked like the Chinese woman would thunder past Venus as she scorched through the first set, but Venus, with game-face firmly on, did some scorching of her own to take the second. Zheng went 4-1 up in the third, but again, Venus battled back to send it into a tie-break. Mirroring the set, Zheng led in the tie-break 4-1, Venus clawed her way back, until finally an errant backhand return gave Zheng the win. It was a cracker. It was also, at three hours and two minutes, the fifth-longest women’s singles match in recorded US Open history (since 1970). In 2011, a fourth-round match between Caroline Wozniacki and Svetlana Kuznetsova also went three hours and two minutes.

The longest recorded women’s match took place in 2011, when Samantha Stosur defeated Nadia Petrova, 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 7-5, in three hours and 16 minutes in the third round.

So long, farewell
James Blake. The American brought down the curtain on his 14-year career in the sport in some style, leading Ivo Karlovic by two sets to love before the tallest man on tour gathered himself and stormed back to win in a fifth-set tie-break. Credit to Karlovic for leaving the court so that Blake could have the audience of Armstrong, as the American thanked the crowd for their support. "It's hitting me now that I'll never have this again," he said. "I'm never going to have 15,000, 10,000, 20,000 people cheering for me, chanting U S A, screaming my name, that kind of I'm lucky enough to have had that for 14 years. I try to look at the positives."

He will be back to compete in the doubles with Jack Sock.

Villain of the day
The rain. Any tennis tournament's worst nightmare came true as players, public and press were left twiddling thumbs and looking at the skies as a four hour rain delay caused havoc to the schedule. By 5.30pm, just five matches had been completed, and organisers were forced to cancel a series of matches, including Serena Williams. Rain started falling again as the clock hit 8pm, with all courts suspended briefly. 2016 and the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof can't come soon enough.

The waiting game
You might think that having spent  four hours waiting around in the middle of his first round match, Juan Martin Del Potro might be keen to get it over and done with quickly. But no. The Tower of Tandil took until 9.30pm to see off Guillermo Garcia Lopez in four sets, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(9), in a match that had two rain delays, many arguments, questionable calls, and a celebration worthy of winning the title.

Quickly does it
Andy Murray had waited three days to play his first round match as the US Open defending champion, and when the moment finally arrived, he wasted little time in seeing off Michael Llodra in quick-step fashion in three straight sets, producing just five unforced errors throughout. "It was a fairly, I thought, high standard match," Murray said. "Lots of reactions and dropshots, and definitely tested my movement today. I thought I moved well. I didn't make too many errors. It was a solid match."

Sloane Stephens, who started against Urszula Radwanska at 11.53pm, the second-latest start for the second night match in US Open history, took the same approach, beating the Pole 6-1, 6-1 in 58 minutes. 

Dark horses?
Two players who got their wins in before the rain were Li Na, who zoomed past Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-2, and Agnieszka Radwanska, who had no trouble against Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor.

Others who cruised through to the third round before the rain struck were Carla Suarez Navarro, Marcos Baghdatis and Mikhail Youzhny.

Home hopes
Tim Smyczek saw off Australian James Duckworth in four sets to keep the number of American men in the second round looking respectable, but Brian Baker, playing his first Grand Slam match since tearing the meniscus in his knee, couldn't keep his unforced error count in check, losing a breakathon to Lleyton Hewitt. There were 17 breaks of serve during the 3 hours and six minutes match, with Baker producing 55 winners but 72 unforced errors.

Coco Vandeweghe departed, but Jamie Hampton had a tight but assertive straight sets win over Kristina Mladenovic.

Big win

Laura Robson d. Caroline Garcia 6-4, 7-6(5)

Earlier this year, this was a match Robson might have struggled to win, against a relatively unknown player on a smaller court. But she was impressively controlled and very clinical, taking her chances, and setting up a repeat of last year's third round against Li Na.

Quote of the day
Q.  There's some matches where you do quite a bit of gesturing and chuntering.  Felt like tonight you were poker faced.

LAURA ROBSON:  What?

Q.  Chuntering.

LAURA ROBSON:  Not many people use that word.

Tweet of the day
@darren_cahill: Juan Martin del Potro just broke the ball with the forehand. Well, if it's not broken, it should be. #cannon

Did-you-see of the day

Juan Martin Del Potro's somewhat exuberant celebration

Stat of the day
The start time of 9:55 p.m. for the Andy Murray vs. Michael Llodra match was the third-latest start for a US Open Night Session in recorded history.

The latest start took place in 2009 when a match between James Blake and Tommy Robredo began at 10:25 p.m.

Come back tomorrow for

ARTHUR ASHE
11am - Flavia Pennetta v Sara Errani [4]
FB - Serena Williams [1] v Galina Voskoboeva
FB - Roger Federer [7] v Carlos Berlocq

7pm - Caroline Wozniacki [6] v Chanelle Scheepers
FB - Rafael Nadal [2] v Rogerio Dutra Silva 

LOUIS ARMSTRONG
11am - Eugenie Bouchard v Angelique Kerber [8]
FB -  Roberto Bautista Agut v David Ferrer [4]
FB - Aleksandra Wozniak v Victoria Azarenka [2]
NB 5.30pm - John Isner [13] v Gael Monfils 

GRANDSTAND
11am - Christina McHale v Elina Svitolina
FB - Ana Ivanovic v Alexandra Dulgheru
FB - Adrian Mannarino v Sam Querrey [26]
FB - Pablo Andujar v Milos Raonic [10] 

ELSEWHERE
3rd on Court 17 - Dan Evans v Bernard Tomic
3rd on Court 13 - Alison Riske v Mona Barthel
4th on Court 11 - Daniela Hantuchova v Victoria Duval

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For all the reports and results from Flushing Meadows, visit the Official US Open website



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