Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal moved one step closer to a quarterfinal showdown Wednesday night at the US Open. During the day Nadal ripped Ivan Dodig 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 to win his 18th straight match on hardcourts this year, 22nd since losing to Roger Federer at 2012 Indian Wells.
In three matches thus far Rafa hasn’t been broken in 37 service games. It’s true that he’s played a bunch of hacks but it’s still an impressive run.
“[My serve] is working, but I am not serving at 130 miles per hour every time,” said the 2010 champ Nadal. “So it’s working because I am playing well from the baseline. It’s working because I am serving with the right percentage. It’s working for the first three matches. We’ll see if I am able to keep working.”
In the evening, Federer crushed lefty Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 in a total mismatch. Like Nadal, Federer also hasn;t played anyone worth a lick so far, so it’s hard to read into the Swiss’s game.
But maybe that changes in the next round when he meets what could be the first of two Spaniards in Tommy Robrebo. The 31-year-old Robredo needed five sets to put away British qualifier Dan Evans.
“I think he’s a very good player,” Federer said of Robredo. “Mentally and physically really tough. I think he showed that in Paris this year. I think he won three five setters in a row. He’s done very well for many, many years until he got some injuries and stuff. He’s also a player I’ve known since a long time. He came through the juniors with me. He’s only a year younger than I am. I know his game well. He knows mine really well. We have played I think over 10 times on the tour. I think he’s got a great forehand, so I have to be wary of that always against him.”
Robredo isn’t what he use to be (then again neither is Roger), but he will finally provide Federer with some opposition before Nadal. So that should help.
Elsewhere, American John Isner lost again to Phil Kohlschreiber. It was the same round a year ago when the German edged the giant in five sets, but this time it only went four. Isner actually broke Phil in the fourth but couldn’t serve it out, eventually losing in a breaker.
Isner then admitted that he actually got tired from trying to rev the crowd up. What was that John???>
“I felt like I wore myself out getting charged up out there,” Isner said. “It’s hard to explain, but I used too much energy doing that.
“But really, I didn’t have much left. If I could have held on, not gotten broken there at the end of the fourth set, I would have liked my chances in the fifth. But in that tiebreaker I was pretty gassed.”
What isn’t hard to explain is that John overplays then all but gets a TKO in the Slams. Has anyone played more this summer than Isner?
And has anyone admitted to tiring from trying to charge the crowd up? The job is to win, not to entertain. I guess you got some Gael Monfils envy?
Isner’s countryman Jack Sock also lost, succumbing to Janko Tipsarevic 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-1, 6-2. Like Isner, the 20-year-old Sock seemed all but gassed after losing that second set breaker. And it’s a good win/draw for Janko who’s had a horrid season to date.
Meanwhile, David Ferrer had no trouble with his tank on a hot day in New York, ousting Mikhail Kukushkin in four sets. The draw it starting to set up for Ferrer to return to the semifinals. Unless… Richard Gasquet and Milos Roanic both won setting up a fourth round encounter. Might one of them beat Ferrer?
The losses by Isner and Sock leave just Tim Smyczek as the lone American left in the draw. That’s what American tennis has become, Tim Smyczek!
In the women’s event, No. 2 Victoria Azarenka overcame a set hole to Alize Cornet to win 6-7, 6-3, 6-2. Azarenka has history of issues in the heat, but today she showed some resilience in an impressive comeback performance.
“I’m glad that I could turn things around in the second and third set,” Azarenka said. “There was more me playing, more finding the rhythm. I felt much better in the third set than in the first set, which is, you know, going, you know, past the two hour mark. It’s pretty good, so I’m happy with that.”
American Alison Riske upset the slumping Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-0. I don’t know what Petra’s eating but I don’t want it. The former Wimbledon champion who admitted to having a fever during the match made it to one fourth round at a Grand Slam this year! Then again she also had a fever when she lost at Wimbledon. Trend?
“Yeah, that’s a life,” remarked Kvitova. “It’s not only in the tennis. These challenges, is not always happening. It’s something I hope that can help me and make me a little bit stronger.”
Riske’s countryman Christina McHale served for the match against former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic before faltering; while another No. 1, 2009 US Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki lost to Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi 4-6 6-4 6-3. But the Dane is in love with Rory McIlroy, so who cares?
“Just when the ball came, just hit the ball in the corners,” explained Giorgi of her tactics.
The loss also means we’ll have an Italian, maybe two in the quarters unless Simona Halep can spoil it, which I think she can and will.
Looking ahead to tomorrow, the men’s third rounders are straight forward with Novak Djokovic, my tournament pick Andy Murray and the rest of the favorites winning I think, including Lleyton Hewitt.
As for the women, the big showdown is between Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens. Sloane beat Serena at the Aussie when Serena was hampered by a back/ankle injury. The current World No. 1 is beatable and Sloane has really played well since that harrowing first round escape, but it’s hard to see Serena losing again. Though, like a car crash wouldn’t it be intriguing to watch?
CBS will have live coverage during the day before making the hand off to the Tennis Channel at night.
SUNDAY US OPEN SCHEDULE
Arthur Ashe Stadium 11:00 am Start Time
Bob Bryan (USA) vs. Daniel Nestor (CAN)
Mike Bryan (USA) Vasek Pospisil (CAN)
Not Before: 1.00pm
Andy Murray (GBR) vs. Florian Mayer (GER)
Serena Williams (USA) vs. Sloane Stephens (USA)
Arthur Ashe Stadium 7:00 pm Start Time
Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Joao Sousa (POR)
Jelena Jankovic (SRB) vs. Na Li (CHN)
Louis Armstrong Stadium 11:00 am Start Time
Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) vs. Marcos Baghdatis (CYP)
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) vs. Angelique Kerber (GER)
Tommy Haas (GER) vs. Mikhail Youzhny (RUS)
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) vs. Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)
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