No huge upsets on Wednesday at the US Open as world No. 1 Novak Djokovic capped the night session off by beating on unseeded Austrian Andreas “Don’t Be a” Haider-Maurer 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.
“I never played Andreas on a hardcourt, so it took time to get the positioning,” said Djokovic, who was forced to do an uncomfortable dance with a fan by uncomfortable ESPN on-court interviewer Brad Gilbert. “[Andreas] has a big serve. These are the kind of humid conditions you’re getting ready for so luckily I have enough shirts.”
Other Top 10-seeded winners on the day were No. 7 David Ferrer who straight-setted Serb Filip Krajinovic 7-5, 7-5, 7-6(4); No. 8 Rafael Nadal who put down diminutive Argentine Diego Schwartzman 7-6(5), 6-3, 7-5; No. 9 seed and defending champ Marin Cilic who defeated Russian Evgeny Donskoy 6-2, 6-3, 7-5; and No. 10 Milos Raonic who put down a threat from Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(1).
ESPN commentator John McEnroe derided Nadal for being “pushed around” in the match, but Nadal says he is happy with his progress from a summer season where he failed to win a U.S. summer hardcourt match for the second year in a row.
“Today I felt that I was practicing great before the match, and yesterday, too,” Nadal said. “I fought well. I fought until the end. I came back, even if I had lot of opportunities the real thing is I was a break down in both sets and I came back well to win both sets. That is an important improvement for me and I’m happy for that.”
Nadal will next meet No. 32-seeded nemesis Fabio Fognini, who on Wednesday defeated Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
The defending champ Cilic said he enjoyed playing under the new roof structure on Ashe.
“It was very hot day, very humid,” he said. “Evgeny is kind of player that’s very, very quick. Gets a lot of balls back. I had to work a little bit extra in some points. But overall, really satisfied with my tennis, and with serving performance today. So glad to be back on the Arthur Ashe with good tennis, for sure.”
Lower-seeded players into the third round on Wednesday were No. 14 David Goffin who beat Ricardas Berankis 6-1 in the fifth, No. 18 Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez who saw a cramping Mardy Fish into retirement 6-3 in the fifth, No. 19 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 23 Roberto Bautista Agut who outlasted Spanish compatriot Pablo Carreno 6-4 in the fifth, No. 25 Andreas Seppi who defeated Teymuraz Gabashvili in four, No. 26 Tommy Robredo, and No. 27 Jeremy Chardy.
Fish said the cramping loss was an even more difficult way to go into retirement considering his earlier chances to put the match away.
“I don’t feel that great just from the match,” Fish said. “So it takes a little bit away, you know, just — I don’t know. I mean, it will probably sink in a little bit later when I start feeling a little bit better.”
Unseeded winners on the day were France’s Benoit Paire topping Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan in four, Ukraine veteran Sergiy Stakhovsky beating countryman Illya Marchenko in four, and Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin upsetting No. 17 Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 in the fifth.
The women’s side of the US Open righted the ship on Wednesday after a slew of upsets the first two days as world No. 1 Serena Williams, the lone Top 10 seed on her side of the draw, defeated hard-hitting Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens 7-6(5), 6-3 to move into the third round in her quest to secure a calendar-year Grand Slam.
“Today I just said, ‘One point at a time,’” Williams said. “When I get down, I tend to get really relaxed and I start to play a little better. But yeah, I’m just taking it one moment at a time.”
She will next meet fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who defeated CoCo Vandeweghe 6-2, 6-1, after Vandeweghe had upended seeded fellow American Sloane Stephens.
“She’s playing great,” Mattek-Sands said of Serena. “Right now she’s on a mission to get a record, and I’m here playing my game. I think it’s going to be a battle out there. I’m going to do my best. Right now I’m giving myself the best chance I can to play well, that’s all I can ask for.”
Serena says she knows what to expect from the all-court net-rushing Mattek-Sands.
“Knowing that she’s capable of having big wins kind of relaxes me because I know she’s going to come out and I know what to expect,” Williams said. “She’s going to give 300 percent. She’s a huge fighter. I have to start out strong if I want to stay in the tournament. If not, I can go on vacation.”
Other seeded winners on Wednesday were No. 15 Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 12 Belinda Bencic coming from a set down to defeat Japan’s Misaki Doi, No. 13 Ekaterina Makarova, No. 17 Elina Svitolina, No. 19 Madison Keys, No. 23 Venus Williams needing three sets to beat fellow American Irina Falconi, and No. 25 Eugenie Bouchard attempting to turn around her horrendous season with a three-set win over Slovenia’s Polona Hercog.
“[Irina] played a great tiebreaker and produced a lot of great shots,” Venus Williams said of her fellow American. “In the third set I felt like I had a lot more clarity, and I had the crowd behind me.”
Radwanska will next face off against Keys.
“We really had great match at Wimbledon, and hopefully we have the same kind of game here at the US Open,” Radwanska said. “For sure different conditions, different surface, so different story. So we will see how it’s going to be on hard court. It will be a really tough third round. She’s playing home.”
Keys says the Pole’s game does not exactly fit into her game.
“I think I have always kind of struggled with Radwanska’s game a little bit,” Keys said. “She just seems to always kind of get that extra ball back. I think going into that match just a little bit more patient but still going for my shots.”
In the lone upset of the day, Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit toppled No. 31 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 7-5, 6-4.
Matches to look for on Thursday in Flushing Meadows are former No. 1 and (20) seed Victoria Azarenka vs. the resurgent Yanina Wickmayer, (3) Andy Murray vs. Adrian Mannarino, (2) Roger Federer vs. Steve Darcis, (13) John Isner vs. Mikhail Youzhny, (5) Petra Kvitova vs. American Nicole Gibbs, Camila Giorgi vs. (24) Sabine Lisicki, (24) Bernard “The Tank Engine” Tomic vs. Lleyton “The Lawnmower” Hewitt, (6) Tomas Berdych vs. Jurgen “Tuna” Melzer, and an upset alert in Nicolas Mahut vs. (31) Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
Nick Kyrgios needs to get over the need to look at his player’s box after every point like a 15-year-old WTA player…Anyone else feel their soul being sucked out of their body when ESPN’s Hannah Storm does her fake-friendly banter?…Esurance commercial where the old guy stands in for a Bryan brother and wants to “get money on these fools”? Brilliant…Journalists don’t call players “buddy,” Brad Gilbert…American Madison Keys on her funniest moment of being recognized in public: “I think the funniest one was in L.A. A woman recognized me as she was driving and hit her brakes and rolled the window down and screamed out of her window. She was freaking out and rolling down her window, and I was like freaking out and [she] screaming my name and was like, ‘I love you.’ I’m like, ‘Okay. Don’t crash. Bye.’”…So sad to watch these male coaches during the summer having to come out during the change-overs to tell the WTA players strategy on how to win their matches. Or the rare female coach. Time to abandon this sad experiment and return to players having to figure it out for themselves — like actual tennis. So glad the Slams said no to that ridiculous shit…Two years ago Belinda Bencic was winning junior Slams, now she’s beating world No. 1s…When are the ATP senior tour and Jim Courier’s champions/Powershares tour going to combine and create a real worldwide senior tour that means something?…Pete Sampras speaking to the ATP Champions Tour on Rafael Nadal: “When I was struggling, I still felt I was like the best player in the world. When Rafa struggles, I think he feels like his career is over, just with some of the things he says.”…And Pete Sampras on Serena Williams winning the calendar year Grand Slam at the US Open: “It will be different for her just because of the attention and the media attention. But when you are the best player in the world, you are the best player in the world, no matter what is going on. I wish her nothing but the best, and it would be great for tennis, great for American tennis, and I hope she does it.”…Former No. 1 Justine Henin on her ‘Greatest Generation’: “When I was playing, I had the feeling that if you were the last 16, really everyone could win the tournament. It was a great generation. Venus and Serena pushed a lot of players to raise their level. I mean they put the game to another level, and it was fantastic to be part of it because we had to push ourselves all the time to get better. And there was Kim Clijsters, there was a time of Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati. There was Martina Hingis. There was the Williams sisters, all the Russian girls coming on the tour. There was Amelie Mauresmo, Maria Sharapova coming. That was a fantastic time.”
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