Two Grand Slam champions won third-round matches on Friday at the US Open to set up a blockbuster fourth round with No. 1 ranking implications.
No. 3-seeded Garbine Muguruza continued her torrid run through the draw, beating Magdalena Rybarikova 6-1, 6-1, while No. 13 Petra Kvitova continued her fine form, beating No 18 Caroline Garcia 6-0, 6-4.
“Tough match, actually,” said Muguruza of facing Kvitova. “I think she’s an incredible player. It’s going to be interesting. It’s a good fourth round to play. We played before and I won, she won, so I’m expecting a good match.”
“I know her pretty well,” the Czech said. “We played a few times already, last time in Beijing. She has a great game. She has a good confidence right now, as well. I think she’s really going for the shots and playing her best, for sure. It’s nice to play someone who won a Grand Slam this year. I’m really looking forward for the big stage and for that match.”
They will face off in Muguruza’s ongoing campaign to take the No. 1 ranking from Karolina Pliskova by the end of the US Open.
With Muguruza’s win, she moved ahead of Simona Halep for the top spot and also eliminated Venus Williams from the running. Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina, both playing Saturday, can still chase her down.
Two Americans moved into the fourth round Friday when No. 9 Venus Williams defeated Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-3, 6-4, and Sloane Stephens beat Aussie Ashleigh Barty 6-2, 6-4.
“She’s tricky to play because she does a lot of different things,” Stephens said of Barty. “I was happy that through everything that she kind of gave to me, I was able to just stay consistent and play my game.”
Venus refused to answer questions about her sister Serena’s new baby during her post-match conference, asking that questions be relegated to tennis.
“My best tennis this year has come at the majors,” Venus said. “I don’t play nearly as much as some of my contemporaries, but this year when I have played, it’s definitely been quality tennis. That’s exactly what I want, and obviously to play my best tennis at the Big 4.”
Williams will next meet unseeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro, who defeated Ekaterina Makarova 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. Stephens will meet the No. 30-seeded Julia Goerges, who cruised past Aleksandra Krunic 6-3, 6-3.
In the final night match Maria Sharapova defeated American Sofia Kenin in a battle of wildcards 7-5, 6-2. The 18-year-old Kenin, who was born in Russia and moved to Florida, played Sharapova tough early on, but couldn’t maintain her form late.
The Russian in the next round will meet No 16 seed Anastasija Sevastova, who beat Donna Vekic 6-2, 6-3.
Saturday highlights at the US Open include (1) Karolina Pliskova vs. (27) Shuai Zhang, (10) Aggie Radwanska vs. (20) CoCo Vandeweghe, (15) Madison Keys vs. (17) Elena Vesnina, and (4) Elina Svitolina vs. Shelby Rogers.
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