Check-out time finally came for Jesse Witten, though he'll leave New York feeling like something much better than a third-round loser.
He spent two weeks at Flushing Meadows, the first working his way through U.S. Open qualifying and the second pulling off two upsets, then putting a scare into No. 4 Novak Djokovic before finally bowing out.
Could this run, which ended with a 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-3 loss to Djokovic on Saturday, be a career changer for the 276th-ranked player?
"I hope it is, because I mean, I don't want to deal with being ranked 200, 300 anymore," Witten said. "It would be nice to be able to use this."
Players ranked 200 or 300 travel alone, get few perks and often find themselves in the spot Witten was in earlier in the week, when he and a few buddies who came to watch him all crashed in his hotel room in Manhattan. A night or two, they figured. Instead, the stay lasted a whole week, the fan base grew and Witten found himself trying to parcel out his allotment of 22 tickets.
"Finally, I'm like, 'OK, I can't do it,'" he said. "I put one of them in charge of it."
Witten earned $48,000 for his trip through qualifying and into the third round. His ranking will rise about 70 spots, as well. It will keep him in the game _ not always a given for a 26-year-old four-time NCAA All-American from Kentucky.
"It makes me want to keep playing. It gives me some money to keep playing," he said. "I love tennis. I love competing. It's a tough lifestyle, obviously, when you're in the lower levels."
CHANGING CHANNELS: Talk about changing the channel.
TV coverage of John Isner's five-set upset of Andy Roddick at the U.S. Open on Saturday switched in mid-match from CBS to Tennis Channel _ meaning tens of millions of fewer homes could tune in.
This is the first year of the tournament's new cable deal with ESPN2 and Tennis Channel, replacing USA Network. Tennis Channel is regularly in about 25 million homes, although that figure roughly doubles during Grand Slam events.
Still, that is far smaller than the reach of CBS, which is in more than 110 million homes.
TRIBUTE TO PANCHO: Billie Jean King joined other celebrities Saturday for a tribute to former champion Pancho Gonzalez, describing the Mexican player as a star in the Roger Federer mode who finally got the recognition he deserved.
"He was a hero of mine as a child," King said. "I think he was misunderstood because he had a temper and I think times have changed for Hispanics. I don't think he was respected enough in those days and I think, being a woman, I can understood discrimination a bit."
The tribute celebrated Gonzalez on the 60th anniversary of his second consecutive victory in America's Grand Slam. Former players King and Charlie Pasarell, actors Benjamin Bratt and Jimmy Smits joined members of the Gonzalez family under a tent next to Arthur Ashe Stadium to remember a player they said was misunderstood.
"If he were alive today, if he was a young man today, he would own the tennis world," King said. "He would be pretty much like Federer."
WILLIAMS WORLD: Venus Williams had even more tape on her left knee Saturday than she had earlier in the week. If the knee was bothering her, though, it was hard to tell in her doubles match.
Venus and her sister, Serena, teamed up for a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Yung-Jan Chan and Katarina Srebotnik. They are now in the third round.
Much has been made over whether Venus, who hurt the knee in her first-round singles match, should stay in the doubles, but she has said on several occasions that a commitment is a commitment, she likes playing doubles and doesn't plan on dropping out.
The Williams sisters resume their singles Sunday. Venus faces Kim Clijsters and Serena plays No. 22 seed Daniela Hantuchova.
SAM'S SUMMER: Sam Querrey's nice summer came to a tough close, with a 6-2, 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-1 loss to No. 12 Robin Soderling.
The problem? Tension.
Not nervousness, but actual string tension in his racket.
"I don't know what it was," said Querrey, who moved up to No. 21 in the world rankings with his strong summer. "It's been like that the whole week."
He'll have a little extra cash to throw at the problem. In addition to the $48,000 he gets for making the third round, he'll get a $40,000 bonus because he won this summer's U.S. Open Series. But gone is the shot at the $1 million he would have received if he had won at Flushing Meadows.
"I haven't felt great these three matches," Querrey said. "But this is still pretty good. When you look at the summer as a whole, it was pretty good."
Associated Press writer Claudia Torrens in New York contributed to this report.