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US Open Diary - Dent Is Living The Dream

Day 5

Taylor Dent© Getty ImagesTaylor Dent needed four match points to clinch his victory.

Match Of The Day
Taylor Dent and Ivan Navarro turned back the clock on Grandstand Friday evening as they put on a serve-and-volley feast for fans, who are accustomed to seeing baseline battles. The players combined to make around 250 net approaches, with both players successful more than 60 percent of the time. Dent had not previously seen the Spaniard play, but expected to face a baseliner. It was only after he got the heads up from former pro Justin Gimelstob that Navarro was a serve/volleyer than Dent firmed up a game plan.

Dent and Navarro also brought the heat on their first serves, with Dent firing the tournament’s fastest serve of 147 mph; Navarro got as high as 130 mph. One of Dent’s thunderbolts snapped the net strap, forcing a seven-minute delay to the match, which ultimately ticked over the four-hour mark. In a serving shootout, Navarro put an astonishing 81 percent of first serves into play; Dent made 71 percent of first serves. Dent fired 20 aces and topped 140 mph around 10 times during the match.

At the conclusion of the most exciting men’s match of the tournament to date, Dent rode the support of rowdy home fans to a 6-4, 5-7, 6-7(1), 7-5, 7-6(9) win after saving one match point in the tie-break. After shaking hands Dent grabbed the umpire’s microphone and screamed, “You guys are unbelievable. I love you!”

Dent, who is playing his first US Open since 2005, was told by doctors that his career was over after two back surgeries in 2006 and 2007. He underwent the surgeries to have a better quality of life, not to resurrect his career. Confided to bed for a year total after the two surgeries, he passed the time by reading up on religion and politics, by studying for his real estate licence and playing computer games. Two years ago he was at the US Open doing television commentary for the world feed and working for the official tournament web site.

Not only is Navarro an unusual character as a serve/volleying Spaniard, he has a quirky habit of changing racquets each game, using one racquet for serving and another for returning. In the fifth-set tie-break he kept a second racquet at the back of the court.

Video: Dent Talks About His Comeback

Open 'Closed' To Walk-ups This Weekend
If you’re planning to attend the US Open this Memorial Day long weekend, don’t expect to find a ticket easily. Day and night sessions on Saturday, Sunday and Monday are sold out. Limited tickets are available from Tuesday on. On Friday a record 61,554 fans attended the day and night sessions combined.


Santoro’s Top 20 Greatest Hits
Fabrice Santoro, whose Grand Slam career came to a close Friday when he lost a first-round doubles match at the US Open, holds the distinction of having played 20 of the 24 players who during their careers held the No. 1 South African Airways ATP Ranking. Santoro, who flies out Saturday to reunite with his wife and eight-year-old daughter in France, recalled a memorable discussion he once had with former No. 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, whom he never beat in six meetings.

Yevgeny Kafelnikov is a Russian and he loves the game and loves to talk,” Santoro said. “At a time when he had won all three or all four of the matches we had played, he came to me and said, “Fabrice, you will never beat me. Even if you start to play well, or even if my ranking starts to slip, you will never beat me. And he was right! I never beat him. The next time we met on the court I said I was going to beat him, but I didn’t. I didn’t take offence at what he said; that’s just Yevgeny.”

In contrast to his 0-6 career record against Kafelnikov, Santoro enjoyed a healthy 3-4 record against Pete Sampras, who famously dubbed him ‘The Magician,’ after a 2002 battle in Indian Wells, a 3-3 record against Andre Agassi and a 7-2 record against Marat Safin.

John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Ilie Nastase and John Newcombe are the only No. 1s whom Santoro did not play. The first player to have ranked No. 1 whom Santoro went up against was Jimmy Connors in Vienna in 1992, late in Jimbo’s career. Santoro and Marat Safin are both expected to play their final tournament at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris in the last week of the season.


Fresh Legs Help In Five-Setters
German Philipp Petzschner and Ecuador’s Nicolas Lapentti both played back to back five-setters in the first two rounds... and both ran out of legs in their second-round matches Friday.

Petzschner, who defeated Sergiy Stakhovskiy in the first round, had a two-set lead on Juan Carlos Ferrero Friday before the former World No. 1 rallied to win 1-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4. Lapentti, who upset 19th seed Stanislas Wawrinka in five sets in round one, suffered a heartbreaking 2-6, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(4) loss to Uzbekistan ‘s Denis Istomin.

Inspired by singing and chanting Latino fans on a packed Court 4, Lapentti somehow found the legs to save two match points on his serve at 5-3 in the fifth set and then broke Istomin to level at 5-5. In Istomin’s next service game Lapentti was within two points of victory at 15/30, but Istomin’s relative edge in fitness proved telling in the end and he won the ensuing tie-breaking 7/4.
It was Lapentti’s third consecutive five-setter at the US Open. In 2008 he lost in five in the first round to Yen-Hsun Lu.

On Tuesday Lapentti became just the 13th player in the Open Era to notch six or more comeback victories from two sets down. Aaron Krickstein tops the list with 10 comebacks from 0-2 down. Lapentti has now played 45 matches that have gone five sets, placing him 10th on the list of most five-set matches played. His five-set record is 30 wins and 15 losses, one of the highest winning percentages of the Open Era.

On Monday Lapentti’s younger brother Giovanni also suffered a heartbreaking five-set loss, 11 points to nine in the tie-break.

Mom Is The Boss
Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin, who is through to a Grand Slam third round for the first time, has an interesting back story: He is coached by his mother, Klaudiya. “I am happy she is my coach. [I know] she wants to see my results, not [just] take my money. She works with me because I am her son,” Istomin says.

It’s a rarity for any ATP World Tour player to have a female coach, let alone a mother as his coach. American Donald Young works with his mother Illona, Marat Safin was coached early in his career by mother Rausa and Jimmy Connors was coached early by his mother Gloria and grandmother Bertha.

Former Russian player Andrei Chesnokov was coached by Tatiana Naumko and, during the 1980s, Tim Mayotte traveled with Billie Jean King.

Read More Istomin in DEUCE

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