Combustible Characters, Karaoke and the Crip Walk

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123918359FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y. — It was arguably his best chance at a Grand Slam title.  But Mardy Fish‘s five-set 6-4, 6-7(5), 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 loss to Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round can’t take away from the fact that the Floridian was one of this summer’s standout performers.

On Monday, Fish said he can “look myself in the mirror” and “sleep pretty well” nowadays knowing that he’s getting the most out of his abilities, and he’ll take some real positives from the last few months.  What sticks out for him the most?  “I think I’ll remember beating Rafa most.  I’ll remember being very close, again, to getting that Masters 1000 title in Montréal, winning a tournament.  I don’t win tournaments every week.  I’m not Djokovic and these guys, so I don’t win all the time…I couldn’t have hoped for a better summer.  And to make the fourth round here is not a terrible result for people.  I lost to a great player today.  There’s just no way around it.”

Fish was clearly disappointed in the outcome, but said it wasn’t close to being the toughest loss of his career.

“It doesn’t even pale in comparison to Davis Cup,” said the No. 8-ranked American.  “It’s not even the same sport, feels like. On one end, you lose and you’re obviously disappointed.  I had a great opportunity here…That’s just a great experience and moment that you could play in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open [he last reached the quarters in New York in ’08]. But, on the other hand, it’s been a long three months since really Madrid starts.  You just go.  I only had eight days off after the French because I didn’t play Queen’s.  Then I went straight from Wimbledon to Davis Cup.  Then I went home for four days and then I went to Atlanta.  Then I went back to L.A. and played.  I had four days and then I went to Montréal.  So, I mean, I’m spent. Obviously I’m disappointed that I didn’t go further here.  But, like I said, you could see the good in both, I guess, because now I get to take a little bit of a break and reenergize and try to make the [ATP] World Tour Finals, which is a huge goal.”

BITTER TWITTER: Asked if his expletive-filled Twitter message aimed at Patrick McEnroe & Co. at the USTA was a good idea, Donald Young said, “Definitely not.”

WIMBLEDON GUY: Asked if he’s getting to be known as John Isner instead of “the Wimbledon guy,” Isner said, “Probably more so right now ‘the Wimbledon guy.’  Making the Round of 16 is nice, but you don’t get remembered for making the Round of 16.  You have to keep going.”

SERENA THE INTIMIDATOR: On whether she makes a concerted effort to intimidate her opponents, Serena Williams said, “Yeah.  I walk out there, do the Crip walk and try to intimidate them. No, I don’t try.  I just am.  I am who I am.  I don’t know whether that’s intimidating or not.  I am just me.”

SERENA THE KARAOKE STAR: Confessed karaoke addict Serena Williams told reporters, “We sing our hearts out.  We’ve sung till 8 o’clock in the morning.  I was like, ‘Oh, my God, the sun’s coming out.’  I look out and see the sun.  We keep singing and singing and singing and singing.  It’s magical.”  Her genre of choice?  “Everything.  I’m big into the ’80s and ’90s.  Sometimes I’ll start rapping some of the latest songs. Just depends what’s out.  My favorite thing to karaoke is definitely Rihanna.”  Can we see her on YouTube?  “I’m going to start posting some on my website. I’m a little nervous because my voice isn’t the best.  My performances are probably the best.  I do a full routine.  It’s amazing.”

NOLE THE NEUTRALIZER: Mats Wilander was stumped when asked for advice on how to beat Novak Djokovic, telling Inside tennis, “I would it find it very difficult to know how to play Djokovic.  You just grind him down, somehow.  But how do you grind him down?  It has to be a mental battle.  He’s just such a neutralizer in all his shots.  He’s not necessarily as good as Federer and Nadal on defense, but he doesn’t really put himself on the defensive much.  It’s not as crafty as Nadal and Federer, but Djokovic is just quicker, so he doesn’t have to be crafty.”

NOLE THE POPULARIZER: Ana Ivanovic said Djokovic’s incredible run has made him the most popular personality in their native Serbia.  “He’s definitely most famous person,” said Ivanovic.  “We do have so many followers.  Tennis, it became the No. 1 sport in Serbia.  No matter how old the person is, they know about Novak or Janko or Viktor or myself or Jelena. It’s exciting. That’s what drives young kids to take up sport.”

NOLE THE IMPERSONATOR: Asked if Djokovic ever impersonates her, Ivanovic recalled, “One of the first professional tournaments that we played together, I think was in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in Holland, and he was in the player lounge doing impersonations of all these players.  I said, ‘Come on, do an impersonation of me,’ and then he started banging his leg against the floor.  I was like, ‘Do I really do that?’  It was kind of embarrassing.”  As for her trademark mini fist-pump, she said, “Yeah, of course.  Even the guy in Starbucks did that.”

A-ROD ENCOURAGED BY ‘GOT-NEXT’ GENERATION: Andy Roddick says he’s encouraged by the push of young Americans.  Said the Texan, “There’s a healthy jealousy going on right now, which is good.  It’s only going to help.  If Donald Young sees Ryan Harrison play well in the summer, he’s going to not want to fall behind.  That’s what you saw with that golden generation is that they were able to push each other. It’s a great thing to see.  You just feel there’s a little bit of momentum.  There is a bit of a snowball effect at times if it goes the right way.  Seems like there’s some of that right now.”

A-ROD ON D-YOUNG: Roddick says Young’s biggest improvement may just be his self belief: “He’s not focusing on what’s going wrong, which is a big thing,” said Roddick.  “I’ve seen him a couple times.  I’m just really happy for him.  I mean, he’s a shy kid.  He’s a nice kid. I feel like he’s gotten a little bit of a bum rap because he does have a temper and has been reactionary with his words at times.  But I think he is a sweet, sweet kid.  He’s shy.  I think he might be coming out of that shell a little bit.  I hope he is.”

HEADLINES

You Can’t Cramp Nadal’s Style

THE NUMBERS

4: American men who moved into the second week at the U.S. Open.

1: Woman who has reached three Slam quarterfinals this year — Germany’s Andrea Petkovic.

32: Points played in a tiebreaker between Samantha Stosur and Maria Kirilenko, making it the longest ever in a Grand Slam women’s singles match. (Kirilenko prevailed in the breaker 17-15, but lost the match 6-2, 6-7(15), 6-3.)

QUOTEBOOK

“You have your highs and lows in tennis.  I’ve definitely had the lows.” — Donald Young

“I’m seeing less and less inner conflict with him.  He’s getting out of his own way.” — Donald Young’s mother, Illona.

“He was a prodigy at 15, a washout at 20, a poster child for the perils of premature celebrity for most of his life, the emotional extremes leaving him on the brink of quitting the sport before he was even of legal age.” — The Daily News’ Wayne Coffey on Donald Young

“You don’t often see Rafael Nadal flat on his back — unless he’s winning Grand Slam titles…To watch the physically imposing Spaniard grimace and slide down his chair offered a public window into how physical the game has become and how crippling the athletic scourge known as cramping can be.” — USA Today’s Doug Robson on Rafa’s caught-on-TV cramping incident at the U.S. Open

“Serbians actually have quite a combustible character…Maybe that’s something that drives us.” — Ana Ivanovic

“I gave a bit of a fight, but I still need some work.” — Alexandr Dolgopolov, who pushed Djokovic in a first-set tiebreaker for the ages before falling 7-6(14), 6-4, 6-2.

“I’m a fighter.  I fight for every point no matter what the score is.” — Caroline Wozniacki