sistaff
Tuesday September 6th, 2011

Top-ranked American Mardy Fish lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the fourth round. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

Do you know what they call a quarter pounder with cheese in Paris?

You normally don't see the guys jawing at each other on court, especially the top guys, but it seemed the pressure of being the top-ranked American got to Mardy Fish on Monday, and the whipping wind blew Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's brain out of his head. Tsonga kicked it off in the first set, complaining to the umpire that someone in or around Fish's box was being overly aggressive in his cheering/antagonizing of the Frenchman. Fish overheard the comments and told Tsonga that he would take care of it. How perfectly gentlemanly of the two.

But as the match progressed and the situation got tighter, fuses got a little short. Fish complained to the umpire about Tsonga's box and when the umpire asked him what they were saying, he replied, "I don't speak French, d****ss." To those watching at home, it sounded like Fish had directed the comment at his opponent, which he may have been. But he was contrite in his press conference.

"I was talking to the umpire," Fish said. "I probably shouldn't have said that. Like I said, we were fired up."

As it turned out, Fish was a little too fired up. He discussed his need to stay even-keeled on court two days ago, saying that he doesn't play well when he gets too amped up (see: Davis Cup). Well, after that incident, he dropped the set and Tsonga rolled in the fifth. And thus endeth Mardy Fish's campaign at the U.S. Open. It was a tough end for a guy who's been playing nonstop since Madrid, but even he recognized that falling to Tsonga wasn't a bad loss. That said, he had his chances, particularly in the fourth set to get it done. It just wasn't his day.

But thanks for the memories, Mardy. I've always needed a reason to bust out my Rosetta Stone jokes.

Anything you can do, I can do ... almost as well.

Clearly they heard my call to arms (not really). But on the eighth day, we finally got some drama from the men as they took center stage and delivered a memorable tiebreak and five-setter that even included some cattiness, often the province of the ladies. Less than 24 hours after Sam Stosur and Maria Kirilenko contested their record 32-point tiebreak, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Dolgopolov played the longest tiebreak at this year's Open, lasting almost 30 minutes, with Nole coming back from 0-4 to take the first-set breaker 16-14 on Armstrong.

With the wind swirling, Dolgopolov relied heavily on his backhand slice to frustrate a sluggish Djokovic, and actually led by a break in the first set. But that Djokovic aura is real, and regardless of the score the top seed kept plugging away as he scrapped through the first set and then coasted to victory 7-6 (14), 6-4, 6-2. How interesting has it been to see Djokovic transform himself from being a guy whom every other player thought they had a shot at regardless of the score (read: head case), into to a guy against whom everyone packs it in when they can't pocket the first set?

One's Slippery, the other one's Sveta.

Unpredictably predictable. That's the Svetlana Kuznetsova show. Being a Kuznetsova fan is like watching the last two seasons of Alias. Yeah, the show had become infuriatingly horrible, but it used to be so good and it gave you so many awesome memories that out of loyalty you just have to stick with it to see how it all ends. There were moments in this match against Caroline Wozniacki in which Sveta reminded everyone why she has two Grand Slam trophies on her mantel, hitting her groundstrokes with tremendous power and pace.

And then she reminded you why she had the two Grand Slam trophies that she has: the first was here at the U.S. Open in 2004, when she was a mere 19-year-old and simply didn't know any better. And the second was at Roland Garros in 2009, when she beat a mentally fragile Dinara Safina in the final. In each case, Kuznetsova simply didn't have the ability or opportunity to get in the way of herself. But against a consistent player like Wozniacki, Kuznetsova just can't hold it together. She was up a set and 4-1 in the second and couldn't hold on, finding incredibly creative ways to miss easy sitters. She finished the match with 78 unforced errors. Caroline Wozniacki will never hand you a match, and her capacity to compete is her most underrated quality. She's a slippery little sucker.

The world's biggest Federer fans.

They could be found hunkered down in the media center as Roger Federer took to the court about 11:45 p.m. ET. As rain threatened and stats started flying about possibly breaking the record for the latest finish at the Open (the 1993 Mikael Pernfors-Mats Wilander match ended at 2:26 a.m.), everyone was living and breathing with the scoreboard. I guess there's no better player you'd want to take the court in that situation than Federer. He mopped the floor with Juan Monaco in an hour and 22 minutes, dropping three games as he tried to beat the rain. Swiss efficiency and precision never looked so sweet.

Actually, Serbia is still the Serbia of tennis. Ana Ivanovic put in a valiant performance against Serena Williams in defeat, winning more games (seven total) than most would have any right to expect. While she bows out, Serbia continues its charge as a tennis nation, with Janko Tipsarevic and honorary Serb Andrea Petkovic making the quarterfinals. Petko is the only woman on Tour to make three Slam quarterfinals this year (Australian Open, French Open and the U.S. Open). Nice to see Nole isn't stuck waving the flag alone. Trust me, it's a heavy flag to fly.

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