No. 8 seed Madison Keys was the bigger hitter and favorite on paper Sunday, but unseeded Caroline Wozniacki gave her a lesson in controlled aggression and the mentality of a champion as the former No. 1 upset the American 6-3, 6-4 to move into the quarterfinals at the US Open.
“It’s been a good week,” said Wozniacki, who covered the court like her days at the No. 1 ranking. “I’m really happy about the way I played. Obviously Madison is a strong player. She hits the ball really hard. But I managed to really play well, get a lot of returns in. I served well, which I was pleased with.”
It was another difficult loss for Keys, whose huge game has propelled her into the Top 10 on the WTA rankings, but whose mental game has prevented her from going deep into any of the four grand slams.
“I definitely felt like I got off to a bad start, and then I felt like I was trying to catch up from there,” Keys said. “I definitely don’t think I was playing my best. I mean, I think she played really, really well today. I think it was just a combination of me not playing my best and not playing super smart and her playing really well. I feel like the match just got away from me.”
Wozniacki in the quarterfinals will face an even bigger surprise, No. 48-ranked Latvian Anastasija Sevastova who on Sunday upset No. 13 seed Johanna Konta 6-4, 7-5.
“I’m just fighting and fighting in my head,” said Sevastova, in a slam quarters for the first time.
Konta has powered past opponents with her serve and off the ground during this US Open, but against the Latvian looked to have trouble establishing a rhythm due to her opponent’s mix of slices, drop shots and net approaches between penetrating ground strokes. The Brit was also looking to make the quarters at the US Open for the first time.
“I was injured on and off and it was hard to play,” said Sevastova, who un-retired at the beginning of last year after quitting the game due to injuries. “But now, I’m back.”
World No. 2 Angelique Kerber kept her hopes for the No. 1 ranking alive with a 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 14 seed Petra Kvitova to reach the quarters.
Kvitova went for it during the match, but his 43 unforced errors trumped her 32 winners, and the Czech double faulted on match point.
“I think it was a tough match, Petra is a really great player. It’s really nice to be back here, it’s a special tournament,” Kerber said. “Everything started for me here in 2011, reaching the semifinal, and this time I feel like a new tennis player, enjoying every single moment and taking every challenge to play my game.”
Kerber will next meet last year’s surprise finalist and No. 7 seed Roberta Vinci, who in the windy conditions on Sunday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center beat Lesia Tsurenko 7-6(7), 6-2.
Both players competed with taped legs, and Vinci appeared gassed at times.
“I was crying [after the match] because it was a great match today and I had some physical problems and I fight a lot and the important thing was to win,” she said. “I love to play here, I love this crowd. I always play so good here maybe it’s the crowd the atmosphere, the food…everything.”
Matches on Monday at the US Open will be (6) Venus Williams vs. (10) Karolina Pliskova, (1) Serena Williams vs. Yaroslava Shvedova, (4) Aggie Radwansla va. Ana Konjuh, and (5) Simona Halep vs. (11) Carla Suarez Navarro.
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