Caroline Wozniacki continued her hot run of late toppling former champion Maria Sharapova in three tough sets in the hot, sticky conditions at the US Open Monday.
In the third set Wozniacki jumped out to a 3-1 lead and never gave back the break, clinching the match and moving into the quarters of a Slam for the first time in her last 11 Slam appearances.
“Maria is obviously a tough competitor,” Wozniacki said. “She’s won here before. She won the French Open this year. It was a really good win for me. Beating her here at the US Open is a tough task — I’m really happy to be through and have another chance to play in the next round.”
And I really see no reason – not even Serena – for her not win this title next Sunday.
In the quarters Wozniacki, a finalist in 2009, will face Italian Sara Errani, who wore down and ended the comeback run of Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-3, 2-6, 6-0.
“I like to run. I love running,” said Errani, will again need to put in some miles against Wozniacki. “I try to be consistent to run and be in every point. I want to fight. The other players have bigger strokes than me, but I try to stay in the match that way. It was a tough match, I felt good mentally.”
The other quarter from the bottom half will pit new Swiss star Belinda Bencic against Peng Shaui. The 17-year-old Bencic stunned Jelena Jankovic 7-6(6), 6-3 thumping an emphatic backhand winner on matchpoint. Bencic spoke afterward about how Martina Hingis is helping with her game.
“She told me to hold the rallies,” Bencic said. “I have to be aggressive. I had to pay attention to her backhand down the line. So I really knew she was doing that a lot. Her backhand is just amazing, so I tried to push it to her forehand.”
Turning to the men’s draw.
Gilles Simon and Marin Cilic set up a fourth round clash with wins on Sunday prior to the rains. Simon performed the unthinkable, wearing down Spaniard David Ferrer 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 in the heat.
“I feel it was one of the hardest days for me on the court because it was hot and it was so humid,” said Simon. “I never sweated like this in the past ten years! To play David in these conditions is really demanding physically. At one point I was really tired. I felt it would be difficult. But then I had more energy and I felt he was in trouble. It’s not very often that he and I are tired like this after just two hours.”
Ferrer was not forthcoming except to confirm the difficult conditions.
“There is a lot of humidity, very sun, and it was not easy for me,” the Spaniard said. “I was not good with my fitness. Nothing else, no? He was better.”
Simon is that good of player – and he’s better than his ranking – but that was a surprising result to me.
Cilic moved into the fourth round with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Kevin Anderson in the battle of big servers. Cilic is 0-4 career against the backboard-like game of Simon.
In the evening, Roger Federer got a well-timed 2-hour rain delay after falling behind early to Marcel Granollers before roaring back for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 victory. Federer was down 5-3 in the first and looked pretty bad against a very hot Granollers before the skies opened up. When they returned the Spaniard took the opening set but managed just three more games thereafter.
“Today conditions were much more humid so you could feel a little flat out there, but that wasn’t the case,” Federer said. “I was able to power through that. I’m happy I wake up every day and I’m ready to go. It’s also great to see Robredo fit as a fiddle at the end last night. I thought that was impressive, too. He’s my age, too. I think when you keep yourself in shape and train the right way, that’s how you do it.”
Federer now faces another Spaniard, Roberto Bautista-Agut, Tuesday night. Agut, who’s been a decent player on the year, handily knocked out Adrian Mannarino.
Federer’s prodigy, Grigor Dimitrov, had a similar match. Dimitrov lost the opening set 6-0 before finding his footing to win going away 0-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1.
Goffin’s had a heck of a summer winning something like 27 of his last 28 matches, but the majority of them came on his favorite clay surface. On hardcourt Grigor’s the better player these two 23-year-olds and it showed today.
“His game was just too good in the first set,” Dimitrov said. “It was just mind over matter a little bit at the beginning – especially at the beginning of the second set. But after that, after taking that second set, I knew eventually I was playing my game. I knew he pushed back a little bit, so he started struggling I think also with his footwork. His shots were not as accurate. I took charge of the game.”
In other matches, could this be the event for Gael Monfils? The acrobatic Frenchman appeared to be all business tonight in an easy 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win over 2013 US Open semifinalist and countryman Richard Gasquet.
Monfils, who next meets Dimitrov in what should be quite the “highlight reel” match, hasn’t lost a set in three matches.
“Well, it’s going to be a tough one,” Monfils said looking ahead. “He’s definitely the favorite. It’s the first time we switched. He’s the favorite; top 10. I think he’s very talented. He can hit every shot. But, you know, I think he have a great defense. It’s going to be interesting for me. But try play my game, be aggressive, and we’ll see how it’s going to be.”
I think he can beat Dimitrov. And beat Federer. And beat…well, let’s not get too far ahead. Anyway, with his talent, the guy is “due” for another Slam final weekend appearance. And he turns 28 on Monday.
Tomas Berdych was a winner after the rain as well. He’ll now face the lone unseeded player left in the men’s draw, Dominic Thiem. The 20-year-old Austrian who I think is the class of the next generation blew out Feliciano Lopez in straights.
“He’s a great player,” Thiem said of Berdych. “It’s going to be the first time for me when I play against him. Of course I know him from television and everything, but very tough match. I’m looking forward.”
As for thoughts on tomorrow, I like Djokovic and that’s about it. The rest you can flip a coin.
JW Tsonga v Andy Murray
Murray leads in this one 9-2 but he hasn’t beaten a Top 10 player since his Wimbledon title run and I think right now Tsonga is just the better, hotter player. The courts are fast and it’s expected to be warm again – and we saw what happened to Murray last week. Murray’s a former champion but I have to lean Tsonga here.
The pick: Tsonga in five
Milos Raonic v Kei Nishikori
If Nishikori was 100% healthy I’d take him. But I just don’t know and I don’t think even he knows if his body is okay. Does he trust it? Fact is, Kei’s simply a better tennis player than Raonic but the Canadian has the bigger weapon, namely that serve. And having that kind of a serve can take you places and win you majors. (Just ask Goran Ivanisevic, Richard Krajicek or Andy Roddick. Hell, Greg Rusedski made a US Open final!)
And Raonic’s has been in form this summer while Kei missed time due to a toe injury. So in a tight one…
The pick: Raonic in four
Stan Warwinka v Tommy Robredo
Another tough fourth round matchup. Robredo leads 6-2 but Stan beat him earlier this year en route to his Australian Open title run. And Stan also made the semifinals at the US Open last year. But I’m not convinced he’s playing confident tennis whereas Robredo, who beat Federer last year in this round, just looks like the sharper, more balanced of the two.
The pick: Robredo in 5
CBS will have live coverage during the day. ESPN will have the two night matches. Happy Labor Day!
MONDAY US OPEN SCHEDULE
Arthur Ashe Stadium 11:00am Start Time
Flavia Pennetta (ITA) vs. Casey Dellacqua (AUS)
Serena Williams (USA) vs. Kaia Kanepi (EST)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)
Arthur Ashe Stadium 7:00pm Start Time
Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) vs. Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs. Milos Raonic (CAN)
Louis Armstrong Stadium 11:00am Start Time
Bob Bryan (USA) vs. Bradley Klahn (USA)
Mike Bryan (USA) Tim Smyczek (USA)
Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) vs. Eugenie Bouchard (CAN)
Stan Wawrinka (SUI) vs. Tommy Robredo (ESP)
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