Venus Williams

*Americans looked to be on a roll on Day 4 of the 2012 US Open.  Mardy Fish rose from the nearly dead and shut down Russian former top ten player, Nicolay Davydenko; Serena Williams figured out the puzzling game of lefty Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez (ESP) on Ashe and sent her packing in straight sets; Sloane Stephens – simultaneous with Serena’s match – recovered from close-out jitters on Armstrong against qualifier Tatjana Malek (GER) and clenched the win in a topsy-turvy three-setter; and veteran James Blake breezed by Spaniard Marcel Granollers in straights.

It was all sort of downhill from there, though.  As Serena Williams was finishing off Martinez-Sanchez, former US Open champion and former top 10 fixture Andy Roddick announced during an impromptu press conference that he plans on retiring from the ATP tour.  The tennis star’s last match at this year’s US Open will be his last period.   It was a shock to many, but he had shared the news with his good friend, Williams, much earlier at a private gathering.

“He told me a while ago, last year, that this would be it,” Serena said. “I was at his house in Austin . . . I was just thinking, ‘Change your mind, Andy, change your mind.’ ”

4-time Slam Champion Kim Clijsters, also retiring, just played her final match the night before.

Andy Roddick

Roddick has struggled for the better part of 2012 with health issues and finding his once dominant form again once he returned; these challenges made him question both his ability and commitment to continuing on at the professional level:

“I’ve never been one to want to just hang around on tour,” he said of not being at his best.  “I thought long and hard about it and it’s the right thing to do.”

The tour and fans will miss Roddick’s big serve, sometimes heated passion and buoyant spirit.

Later in the evening of Day 4, another star, Venus Williams took to the massive court at Arthur Ashe stadium in a round 2 matchup against 6th ranked German, Angelique Kerber.  Predictions were that the match would be tough for the declining elder Williams sister, since she’s been defeated by Kerber the last two times they’ve met (Madrid, London), but most bets were in favor of Venus due to the magnitude of the occasion.

At the start of the match, Venus was a mere shadow of herself, not able to hold serve and sending routine groundstrokes and overhead shots sailing past the baseline, which caused her to drop the first set … and the second set started out much the same way. Williams immediately dropped serve, but as Kerber neared the finish line, something clicked for her.  She drew from her Grand Slam veteran arsenal and reeled off enough games to square up the match, taking the set 7-5.  The crowd was in it then and cheered the Venus train back on the tracks.

Venus then began rolling fast and furiously toward an impressive comeback win, but stumbled with unforced errors at just two points from taking the match in the third.  Kerber, known for her consistency and resilience, capitalized immediately and closed the match out, 6-2 5-7 7-5.

After 2 hours and 46 minutes,  Venus Williams’ 2012 US Open singles campaign was over.  She made 60 unforced errors, had 16 double faults and won only 19 of her second-serve points.  It was her first ever second round exit at the tournament in her illustrious career.

As is the case for retiring champion, Kim Clijsters, Venus still has a shot at leaving Flushing Meadows with hardware, though, being that she and Serena are also competing in the doubles draw (Clijsters is teamed up with fellow Belgian Kirsten Flipkens).  The sisters register their first round win on Day 3 of the Open, smothering out (names) 7-5, 6-0.

Other Day 4 results for Americans:

Sam Querrey def. Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo (ESP) 6-3 6-4 6-3
Jack Sock def. Flavio Cipolla (ITA) 6-2 6-2 6-4
Janette Husarova/Magdalena Rybarikova def. Sloane Stephens/Timea Babos (HUN) 5-7 6-4 6-2
Melanie Oudin/Jack Sock def. Katarina Srebotnik and Nenad Zimonjic 4-6 6-3 1-0(13)
Liezel Huber/Lisa Raymond [1] def. Eleni Daniilidou/Casey Dellacqua 6-4 6-7(8) 6-4
Tim Smyczek lost to Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-2 6-2 6-4
Varvara Lepchenko (USA) /Donald Young(USA) def. Vladimira Uhlirova (CZE) /Jonathan Marray(GBR) 6-1 6-3
Bethany Mattek-Sands/Sania Mirza (IND) def. Alberta Brianti(ITA)/Sorana Cirstea(ROU)
Andrea Hlavackova (CZE)[6] /Mahesh Bhupathi(IND)[6] def. Samantha Crawford (USA) / Mitchell Krueger(USA) 6-2 6-4
Jesse Levine (USA) /Marinko Matosevic(AUS) def. Chase Buchanan (USA)/Bradley Klahn(USA) 6-2 6-4