Another day, another women’s Top 10 seed — this time actually two — who made stunning exits on Friday at the US Open.
Former teen prodigy and now 32-year-old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia upset world No. 2 Simona Halep 7-6(6), 6-2, and Swiss teen Belinda Bencic shocked No. 6 Angelique Kerber 6-1, 7-5 in third-round play.
Bencic is into the second week of a Slam in her debut at the US Open, and will next meet former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic.
“It all started in Australia where I had a good run,” the Swiss said. “I qualified and I won a round, so from there I started believing that I can play with these players. From there my ranking just improved a lot. I came into the tournament, so I didn’t have to qualify so much. So it’s good that I can make points now.”
The former Wimbledon semifinalist Lucic-Baroni finds herself on a major stage again after a career of personal challenges and injuries left her off the tour more than on.
“This is incredible,” Lucic-Baroni said through tears afterwards. “I believed the whole time. After so many years, my God, this is just incredible. Every painful moment was worth it.”
China’s Peng Shuai was another upset maker, taking out another seed, this time No. 28 Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-3.
In the final night match, No. 5-seeded Maria Sharapova took out fellow IMG Bollettieri Academy trainee and No. 26 seed Sabine Lisicki 6-2, 6-4.
In the fourth round Sharapova will meet No. 10 seed Caroline Wozniacki in a battle of former No. 1s. The Woz moved into the fourth round after an impressively-routine 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 18 seed Andrea Petkovic.
“I feel like every match I’m playing better and better. I served really well today,” said Wozniacki who dropped four aces on her German opponent. “I just need to keep staying aggressive.”
Other players into the fourth round were No. 9 Jelena Jankovic rolling Swede Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-0; No. 14 Lucie Safarova outlasting No. 22 Alize Cornet 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-4; and No. 13 Sara Errani in a lopsided thriller edging No. 19 Venus Williams 6-0, 0-6, 7-6(5).
“It was a really tough match, even if I won the first set 6-0,” said Errani, who didn’t endear herself to fans with fingers to lips motioning the crowd to be quiet after winning big points, among other gestures. “She’s an amazing player. I just tried to focus on every point. I tried to keep going, not thinking too much about the score.”
No upsets of top seeds in second-round play on the men’s side Friday, but No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych needed five sets to fight off Slovak Martin Klizan 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
“I played well,” Berdych said. “He played really good tennis. That’s something what’s now nice about tennis. He played a first round which he was almost packing his bags going home. He come up from two sets down and then he won. Basically he has nothing to lose.”
Berdych will next meet unseeded Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili, who beat countryman Alexander Kudryavtsev 6-1, 6-4, 7-6.
Other Top 10 seeds advancing were No. 2 Roger Federer defeating giant-serving Aussie Sam Groth 6-4, 6-4, 6-4; No. 4 David Ferrer receiving a walkover against injured Aussie Bernard Tomic; and No. 7 Grigor Dimitrov who eased past Israel’s Dudi Sela 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.
“It’s been a tricky road so far,” Federer said of next facing Spaniard Marcel Granollers. “I’ve played him in the past and he plays tough, I’ll take it a match at a time.”
Four seeds were sent home Friday with Austrian Dominic Thiem coming from two sets down to shock No. 11 Ernests Gulbis 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3; France’s Adrian Mannarino having an easy time over No. 15 Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-4, 6-1; Spaniard Marcel Granollers derailing big-serving No. 25 Ivo Karlovic 7-6(6), 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-4; and Belgian David Goffin rolling No. 32 Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-2, 6-0.
“I think I started to return better in the third set,” said Thiem, who warmed up with his friend Gulbis before the match, on coming back from two sets down. “Also, of course his problems physically [cramps] started in the third set. This was a little bit the changing point.”
No. 12 Richard Gasquet led the remainder of the seeded winners, joined by No. 14 Marin Cilic, No. 17 Roberto Bautista, No. 18 Kevin Anderson who beat Jerzy Janowicz in four, No. 19 Feliciano Lopez who beat Tatsuma Ito in four, No. 20 Gael Monfils, and No. 26 Gilles Simon who bested Federico Delbonis in four.
Matches to look for on Saturday in Flushing Meadows are (1) Novak Djokovic vs. Sam Querrey, (1) Serena Williams vs. countrywoman Varvara Lepchenko, American (WC) Nicole Gibbs vs. (11) Flavia Pennetta, Aussie comer Nick Kyrgios vs. (16) Tommy Robredo, (13) John Isner vs. (22) Philipp Kohlschreiber, and an upset alert in Kaia Kanepi vs. (15) Carla Suarez Navarro.
SATURDAY US OPEN SCHEDULE
Arthur Ashe Stadium 11:00am Start Time
Flavia Pennetta (ITA) vs. Nicole Gibbs (USA)
Not Before: 1:00pm
Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Sam Querrey (USA)
Serena Williams (USA) vs. Varvara Lepchenko (USA)
Arthur Ashe Stadium 7:00pm Start Time
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) vs. Eugenie Bouchard (CAN)
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) vs. Tommy Robredo (ESP)
Louis Armstrong Stadium 11:00am Start Time
Petra Kvitova (CZE) vs. Aleksandra Krunic (SRB)
Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) vs. John Isner (USA)
Not Before: 6:00pm
Stan Wawrinka (SUI) vs. Blaz Kavcic (SLO)
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