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Andy Roddick beats fellow Nebraska native Jack Sock at U.S. Open

Roddick, seeded 21st, beats the 18-year-old in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. Maria Sharapova is upset by Flavia Pennetta, and Donald Young defeats Stan Wawrinka in five sets.

September 02, 2011|By Diane Pucin
  • Jack Sox unleashes a forehand return against Andy Rodduck during their U.S. Open match on Friday.
Jack Sox unleashes a forehand return against Andy Rodduck during their… (Matthew Stockman / Getty…)

Reporting from New York -- Jack Sock is an 18-year-old from Nebraska with a big forehand that goes places fast and a whipping backhand that gets his opponent all tied up. He'll use a drop shot and isn't unwilling to volley.

And for one night under the lights in Arthur Ashe Stadium at the U.S. Open, Andy Roddick, also from Nebraska, received all those shots and hit better ones himself.

Roddick, 29, who has been struggling for the last year with injuries and confidence, put Sock out of the Open with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 victory Friday.

But it was Sock who was the aggressor and the favorite of the raucous crowd of 24,674, just as Roddick had been back in 2003 when he won his only major championship.

Sock hit 42 winners to 27 by Roddick, who became a defender and the recipient of Sock's fist pumps and noise-causing joy in the stadium.

"I didn't think I'd ever play another guy from Nebraska in my career," said the 21st-seeded Roddick, who fell outside the top 20 of the rankings for the first time in 10 years this summer. "It was just cool. I had a good time."

And Sock had just as much fun. "Best tennis experience so far," said Sock, who is two months out of high school. "I went out there and I soaked up all the experience I could, learned a lot and had a good time."

There was a lot of U.S. Open noise Friday. It came from deep inside Maria Sharapova, her shrieks of effort growing louder as her forehands kept going farther and farther away.

It came from the stands of the newest court at the United States Tennis Center, where the chant of "Don-ald, Don-ald," gained volume on Court 17 while 22-year-old Donald Young created drama and earned belief.

Because of it, the Open received an energy jolt and the women's draw took another big hit.

Sharapova, seeded third, left as an upset loser to 26th-seeded Flavia Pennetta. Sharapova made 60 unforced errors and double-faulted twice in a row to start the final game in her 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 loss to the Italian.

Young reached the third round at the Open as an 18-year-old when he had already been a pro for three years and had been tabbed as the men's version of Serena and Venus Williams, an African American coached by his parents (Donald and Ilona Young) and filled with promise.

Since then Young's tennis potential had gone missing. Last spring he reemerged into the public consciousness because of an obscene Twitter message criticizing the United States Tennis Assn. for not giving him a wild card into the French Open main draw.

Young earned his way into the third round Friday, though. He fought from two sets to one down and from a service break down in the final set to upset 14th-seeded Swiss Stan Wawrinka, 7-6 (7), 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (1). It was the first time Young has won a five-set match, and he said this experience was a sign of growing up.

"When you're younger and your parents, or people period, tell you things, you're just, 'What?' Let me do it. You do it and you see what happens is not always great, but you learn.

"Some people have to learn from experience I was definitely one person that had to learn from experience."

Sharapova's experience was unhappy against Pennetta.

"I didn't feel comfortable with most of my game today," Sharapova said. "You get back in a position where you can win and start making errors again. It's just too inconsistent."

diane.pucin@latimes.com

twitter.com/mepucin

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