Wednesday at the US Open was a day for Top 3-seeded upsets, former No. 1s taking out Top 10 players, and teenage breakthroughs that thrilled the home crowd.
The two seeded scalps on the day came courtesy of Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova stunning world No. 3 Garbine Muguruza 7-5, 6-4, and former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki posting one of her biggest wins of a terrible year thus far by upsetting No. 9 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-4.
“I was shaking a little bit,” said Sevastova after ousting the French Open champ Muguruza. The Latvian came back to tennis after quitting the game from 2013-14 with back injuries. “It’s amazing. In Ashe [stadium], in night match? What’s going to be bigger? I have to solve my head, myself, all the thoughts — what could be? What could not? I am so happy.”
For Wozniacki it looked like more of the same of her ongoing shite season, going down 0-4 and a game point for 0-5 in the first set before ripping off seven straight games en route to the straight-set win over the former world No. 2 Kuznetsova.
“At one point I was like, ‘We’ve been playing for 30 minutes and it’s 4-0 for her, it’s not looking good for me,” Wozniacki said afterwards. “I wanted to give the crowd a little more tennis to watch today.
“It’s been a tough year, I’ve had a lot of injuries, but I feel like I belong at the top. I just beat someone who’s been playing really well this year, so that’s definitely gonna build my confidence.”
The Dane will have a further chance to build confidence in the third round when she meets Monica Niculescu.
World No. 2 Angie Kerber, looking to unseat world No. 1 Serena Williams during this two weeks in New York, led the charge of Top 10-seeded players in action, hanging on to defeat Croat veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-2, 7-6(7).
Lucic-Baroni came back from 1-4 in the second set to make it a match, letting three set points slip away before finally losing the second-set tiebreak.
“I think she was playing better and she was going for it,” Kerber said of the second set. “Then she was not making too many mistakes like in the first set. For me, I was a little bit short then, so she had the chance to go for it.”
Kerber will next face American teen wild card Cici Bellis, who beat countrywoman Shelby Rogers from a set down 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.
“Actually, I’m looking forward [to playing an American],” Kerber said. “I mean, the crowd is great here. They are supporting everybody. To play against an American, it will be a challenge, but I’m looking forward.”
The 17-year-old Bellis is in the second round for the second time after first reaching the stage two years ago as a 15 year old. “I played a little bit better today than the last time [we played],” said Bellis who received strong crowd support.
Other Top 10-seeded winners were last year’s finalist and No. 7 seed Roberta Vinci handling American Christina McHale 6-1, 6-3, and No. 8-seeded American Madison Keys dashing the hopes of countrywoman and wild card Kayla Day 6-1, 6-1.
Lower seeds into the third round were No. 12 Dominika Cibulkova coming from a set down to beat Russian Evgeniya Rodina; No. 13 Johanna Konta who despite collapsing on court with breathing issues and blurred vision beat Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2, 5-7, 6-2; No. 14 Petra Kvitova; No. 22 Elina Svitolina who needed three sets to beat American Lauren Davis; and No. 24 Belinda Bencic.
Kvitova will next meet Svitolina, and Konta will meet Bencic as the seeds start to meet in the third round. One marquee match will be Keys against the Japanese upset-maker Naomi Osaka who has already knocked out a touted American in CoCo Vandeweghe.
“I don’t think they’ll be cheering for me,” Osaka said of the crowd when she faces Keys. “It’s funner if I’m like the underdog sort of. It takes pressure off me…I practiced with [Keys] once before. I’m kind of familiar that she hits really hard. But like I feel the past two people I played, they sort of warmed me up if I do play her, because they both had good serves and hit really hard.”
Thursday’s matches to watch for in New York include (1) Serena Williams vs. fellow American Vania King, (5) Simona Halep vs. veteran Lucie Safarova, (6) Venus Williams vs. the big-hitting German Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges, (11) Carla Suarez Navarro vs. former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic, (26) Laura Siegemund vs. the streaking American Nicole Gibbs, and (19) Elena Vesnina who will have her hands full against German riser Annika Beck.
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