A day after Novak Djokovic fell to a Swiss on Ashe, so too did World No. 1 and defending champion Naomi Osaka who was eliminated by No. 13 seed Belinda Bencic 7-5, 6-4 under the Ashe roof.
Bencic beat Osaka twice before this year at Indian Wells and Madrid, and this afternoon was no different as the Swiss star jumped out early and never let go of the top seed.
“I don’t change anything very specific,” Bencic said. “Obviously I always adapt to my opponent. That’s just how I play. I don’t have the biggest power, don’t have the most winners or most aces. But I think I can really read the opponent’s game well. I definitely try to do that against anyone, not only against her.
“I think just taking the ball early and anticipating her, and I think just my game probably matches up well against hers.”
Osaka, who played so well Saturday night against Coco Gauff, had no answers for Bencic.
“I think she played pretty clean,” Osaka said. “I think she had, like, a specific plan she wanted to execute.
“Right now I have this feeling of sadness, but I also feel like I have learned so much during this tournament. Honestly, of course I wanted to defend this tournament.”
Bencic will now meet first-time Slam quarterfinal Donna Vekic. The 23-year-old Croatian won the biggest match of her Grand Slam career saving a match point to deny Julia Goerges 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-3.
Goerges served for the match at 5-4 in the second when she also held a match point. But she tossed in three doubles faults in that game, then melted down in the third set, missing a chance at her second Slam quarterfinal.
“I’m happy to win and I’m happy to win saving match points, happy to be first time in the quarterfinals. I’m just happy right now,” Vekic said.
“I think I definitely had the momentum on my side after second set. I knew she was going to be thinking about her match point,” she added. “But I’m happy that I could break her and then serve it out.”
Vekic had never before beaten Goerges in three tries.
“I think definitely I change a lot mentally this year,” Vekic said. “I improved a lot in believing I could win at any given moment even when I’m match points down.
I think in Toronto against Madison, that was just a whole ‘nother level. I was like one foot in the locker room already.”
Elise Mertens rolled again, winning her fourth straight match with ease this time beating American wildcard Kristie Ahn 6-1, 6-1. Mertens has lost serve just twice and hasn’t lost a set to reach her first US Open quarterfinal.
She’ll await the late winner between Taylor Townsend and Bianca Andreescu.
Tomorrow, seeking a 13th US Open semifinal, the big favorite Serena Williams returns to face first-time Slam quarterfinalist Qiang Wang.
Earlier, it will be the hot-handed Elina Svitolina against British star Johanna Konta. Neither have been to a US Open semifinal before.
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