US Open Day 4: Isner bids farewell, Jabeur battles on

The tears were flowing on Grandstand whilst waving goodbye to a modern-day American great.

John Isner & Michael Mmoh / 2e tour US Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Two rounds of US Open 2023 are officially in the books.

What a compelling opening few days, here's what you may have missed from around the grounds on Thursday at Flushing Meadows.

Saluting an ace career

14,450 times John Isner fired a serve past the reach of despairing opponents. The towering American holds the all-time aces record, but his career is much more than an aces tally.

His singles career came to a thrilling conclusion, you guessed it with tie-breaks and going the distance, surrendering match point in a 3-6, 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-6[10-7] lung-buster with compatriot Michael Mmoh.

Cue the standing ovation on Grandstand.

"Yeah it's tough," said the emotional 38-year-old, wiping away tears.

"This is why I've worked as hard as I have my whole life, to play in atmospheres like this. To have the support I have, is pretty special."

The top-ranked American for eight years, camped inside the Top 20 for a whole decade 2010-19, 16 career titles, not many can say that.

Isner also tallied victories against all of the 'Big Four' and prevailed in the longest match in tennis history, defeating Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the fifth set of an 11 hours, 5 minutes mind-boggling contest at Wimbledon 2010.

“Being the top American, just maintaining my ranking for a very long time, is something I'm very proud of,” said Isner.

“I think I've overachieved. I never imagined myself having this much success for this long… I don't have many regrets, that's for sure.”

Mmoh advances to take on Jack Draper after the Brit banished his injury demons to oust 17th seed Hubert Hurkacz 6-2, 6-4, 7-5.

Putting his vest foot forward

Channelling his idol Rafael Nadal in a vest top, Carlos Alcaraz's title defence moved on swiftly under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The world No.1 had too much in his artillery to take out Lloyd Harris 6-3, 6-1, 7-6(4) to book a Last 32 clash with world No.28 Daniel Evans.

"It's a really tough player. Good serve and volley, good net game. I will have to return very, very well if I want to win that match. Let's see how it's going to be," stated Alcaraz, 2-0 when facing Evans.

"Of course, his golf is much better than mine, that's for sure. We could play a little bit before Wimbledon. We had such a great time at the course!"

Elsewhere, recent Toronto Masters champion Jannik Sinner maintained his unbeaten status at 10-0 against his countryman.

The Italian dominated proceedings in straight sets with Lorenzo Sonego to book a Box Office third round with Stan Wawrinka. The Swiss, 2016 champion in New York, got the better of Tomas Martin Etcheverry 7-6(6), 6-7(7), 6-3, 6-2.

"I was feeling good on the court against a younger player," stated a positive Wawrinka.

"I'm playing against Sinner now, a really tough player. He kicked my a** twice this year already. Of course, I'm playing much better now.

"He's in full confidence. He won his first Masters 1000 a few weeks ago. It's going to be a really big challenge." 

No. 8 seed Andrey Rublev kept Gaël Monfils at bay over four sets to advance for another French test in the shape of Arthur Rinderknech.

Jabeur full of fight, full of heart

2022 runner-up Ons Jabeur fell sick last week and she continues to click into warrior mode to remain in contention at Flushing Meadows.

The Tunisian trailblazer had to dig deep to edge teenage prodigy Linda Noskova 7-6(7), 4-6, 6-3 from a break down in the deciding set.

"I think it was a great match for both of us. I do respect her a lot. I think she's the future in tennis, for sure," suggested Jabeur, progressing to meet another Czech Marie Bouzkova.

"Was nice to get the win, even though it was very difficult. We try to manage what my health is right now. I'm glad it was two matches, two tests for me.

"I was trying to push myself to see what I can do, getting out of the comfort zone. Hopefully will continue in a better shape and feel better for the next match."

WTA stars shining bright

World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka soared into the Last 32 with a 6-3, 6-2 scoreboard with Jodie Burrage to earn a third round with Frenchwoman Clara Burel.

America's leading light Jessica Pegula cruised 6-3, 6-1 past Patricia Maria Tig.

The No.3 seed will now collide with Elina Svitolina. The Ukrainian, 11-2 in Grand Slam play since returning from maternity leave in April, produced a compelling 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 comeback over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

“Elina is so tough,” said Pegula, with a 3-1 record over Svitolina, including a three-set triumph earlier this summer in Washington.

“I feel like every single match we play is always a really good battle. I feel like we play into each other’s games, where we make each other play better. 

"It’s great to see her back and playing at such a high level so quickly." 

Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova swept Martina Trevisan aside 6-2, 6-2 and 13th seed Daria Kasatkina reeled in a home hope from a set down again, navigating past Sofia Kenin 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Shot of the day  

2012 champion Andy Murray became embroiled in some gruelling early rallies with 2019 semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov.

Check out the video below, it's an archetypal point from the three-time Grand Slam winner. However, it wasn't enough, Dimitrov was in top gear, pinging hot shots for fun.

The 32-year-old posted 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 onto the draw sheet to meet Alexander Zverev next.

"I think even now at this stage of my career, I'm more appreciative of every single day that I get to wake up and feel like, 'Oh, I'm actually feeling good, the body is great so let's just go and play,'" revealed the Bulgarian.

"I'm trying to take things very naturally. Nothing is ever that good and nothing is ever that bad. I guess you can call it maturity a little bit."

Stat of the day

2021 champion Daniil Medvedev is never far from the title contender conversation.

The No.3 seed has now clinched a milestone 250th career hard court victory, with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-2 win over Christopher O'Connell.

Medvedev's hard court prowess has been portrayed by a 34-5 match record so far in 2023 and by winning four of his five titles this year on the surface.