American men had a great day on Day Three at the 2012 U.S. Open. Top-seeded American John Isner fought through Xavier Malisse and won in four tough sets 6-3, 7-6, 5-7, 7-6. Behind strong support from the pro American crowd on the Grandstand, Ryan Harrison won easily in straight sets against Benjamin Becker 7-5, 6-4, 6-2. A third American male to advance was the reborn Brian Baker. Baker who left the tour and has now returned to Flushing Meadows at the age of 27 won his first round match 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Lastly, the night cap was a thrilling five set victory on court 17 for another young gun Bradley Khlan. Khlan who is a Senior at Stanford University dropped the first set to Jurgen Melzer of Austria before bouncing back to win the next two. The fourth set went to Melzer. In the fifth and final set, Khlan used the energy of the crowd to pull out the victory 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4.
Here are some post-match comments from the American contingent ...
Did it feel good to get the first round under your belt and advance through fairly routinely and get comfortable on the surface here?
Harrison: Yeah, absolutely. It was a really good match. I started a little nervous, but I got things rolling and was able to get a straight set win. I felt really confident out there, especially toward the end, so it was a really good start.
Can you tell me what you did well.
Harrison: Well, at the beginning I was serving well. That kind of kept me in it. I got down a break early. I wasn't playing great, but I was serving well enough where it was competitive.He gave me a slight chance at 5-3 serving for the first set. I took it; I broke him. From then on out I was in pretty good control. My nerves let up on me a lot. I was able to swing out and get in control of things after that. I never really got in any trouble. The only service game I was in trouble was 3-0, double break up in the third. I was in a comfortable position, he played a good game, but I was able to hold anyway and finish it out.
Do you find it tougher winning Winston Salem before coming here, you have no preparation time, and the first match sneaks up on you?
Isner: I don't. I find it easier. I'd rather play a tournament in my hometown all the way up until Saturday rather do than be here practicing, to be honest. I don't like to spend that much time here on site besides match days. That's what I didn't do this year. I didn't do it last year as well. I won that tournament last year also. A hard court is a hard court. The court or the conditions didn't surprise me at all today. I just had a very tough match.
There's no mental drain or anything on you?
Isner: No. For me the mental drain is being here for a few days, you know, practicing and sort of getting ready. I'd rather be playing. That's what I was doing. I came off of a big tournament for me and I got her pretty late, which is what I wanted to do.
Considering your ranking, your form coming in, I'm sure you can understand why people think you could be primed for a deep run here. The way you look at things, round by round, is that you managing expectations to some extent, or is that more making sure you don't lose the details?
Isner: It's both. I have to manage round by round. There's been some instances this year
I know in Indian Wells this year my draw sort of opened up. It was hard not to realize, you know, I would have played Mardy Fish. He didn't play so well in the round before. Andy Murray lost and I was in that section, so a lot of people had me going to the semis even after my first match. I try not to focus on it too much. I feel like I have done a better job, especially this year when situations have come up like that where it seems like I may have a good draw, I may have an opening. I don't look ahead. I just focus on who my next match is.
How are you different as a player today from when you last set foot on the court here?
Baker: Well, seven years older. That's one. No, I definitely think I'm more mature. Handled the ups and downs a little bit better in the match. I've got through a lot of adversity over the years, and every match you're going to have adversity. How you deal with that can sometimes mean the difference between winning and losing.
I'm better in that aspect. I think my serve and my forehand are a little bit better. I proved that today on my serve, but I also feel like just a little bit stronger. I think the last time I played here was 19, 20 years old; being 27, just a little bit stronger.
Do you have a greater appreciation for the opportunity to play in Grand Slams as a 27-year-old than you did, say, as a 20-year-old?
Baker: Oh, for sure. I think just being older and, you know, knowing how easy the game was taken away from me, it's very easy to appreciate it a lot. I don't take anything for granted.
I remember several years watching it on TV wishing I was here, so just to be here is an awesome feeling. And then at the same time, the competitive side kicks over and I want to do really well.