Djokovic, Shelton Surprises Paul At US Open; Alcaraz, Zverev v Sinner

by Staff | September 3rd, 2023, 11:10 pm
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Novak Djokovic wasn’t in peak form but did enough to eliminate qualifier Borno Gojo in straight sets 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the US Open quarterfinals.

Djokovic dominated early but the Croatian started to get into form late in the first. And that carried over into the second to break. Djokovic would level and then break late to grab the second, then get up early to win his 9th straight match.

”I knew that Borna had a big game, even though we hadn’t faced each other at the tour level,” Djokovic said. “I was watching him play qualifying and also the last couple of rounds of the main draw and I saw that he has big weapons with his serve and forehand and that he moves pretty well for a big guy. One of the keys to the match was to neutralize his serve, try to reduce the number of aces and winners from that shot.”

The Serb advances to his 13th US Open quarterfinal and 57th Major final eight where he will take on the hot-handed Taylor Fritz.

The American No. 1 knocked out Swiss qualifier Dominic Stricker 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-4. Fritz, into his second career Slam quarterfinal and first in New York, connect on 17 aces and 35 winners while dropping serve just once. Fritz, who’s had a terrific draw, hasn’t dropped a set all event.

“I’m really happy. I feel like from the ground I’ve been playing good tennis all week,” said Fritz. “Then I feel like in the second and third sets today, serve started coming together. I feel like how I closed out the match, the last two sets, I feel like my serve started feeling the best it’s felt.”

Djokovic leads Fritz 7-0 winning 15 of 17 sets.

“Novak’s Novak. It’s tough,” Fritz said. “I said it on court, he’s gotten me seven times. There’s no one on Tour that has any kind of a record like that against me, so I’m hoping one of these times I’ve got to get him. US Open quarters would be a pretty good time to get him.”

Said Djokovic about the match: “Taylor has been an established Top 10 player for the past couple of years and he’s been playing some terrific tennis, particularly on home soil in hard-court tournaments here in the States,” he said. “He’s improved so much over the years. Obviously the matches will only get tougher from here onwards, and I’m ready for the challenge.”

During the day, Ben Shelton served his way past Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

In the match, Shelton finished with 16 aces, gave away nine doubles, was 6 of 8 on break chances and broke serve six times in the match.

Paul, who beat Shelton in four at the Australian, was up big early leading 3-0 but missed five break chances to go up two breaks at 4-0. And those misses would change the course of the match as Shelton got some energy and Paul lost his serve.

“I learned to be mentally tough,” Shelton said of Melbourne. “When I was playing in Australia after a long week I was looking at my box saying ‘My legs are dead, I am tired, I can’t go anymore’. I realized how important it is to believe in myself. That I can go the full way emotionally and physically and now I have that belief here.”

Shelton led 4-1 in the third before Paul got back into running off five straight games. Shelton would break his compatriot to win and reach his second Slam quarterfinal this year.

There will be an American in semifinal again as Shelton will take on Frances Tiafoe. The 2022 semifinalist rolled past Australian wildcard Rinky Hijikata 6-4, 6-1, 6-4. Tiafoe has now won 9 of his last 10 matches at the US Open.

“He is ‘Bugs Bunny’. He has got crazy energy, great energy and he is going to come after me and I am going to come after him,” said Tiafoe of facing Shelton on Tuesday. “It is going to be a great battle and we are going to compete really hard. It will be in the big house and I plan to be in the semis.”

On Monday, matches include in fourth round play with No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz meets Matteo Arnaldi, in a first-time tour-level battle

No. 3 Daniil Medvedev faces No. 13 Alex De Minaur, Medvedev leads De Minaur 4-2 in their tour-level contests. De Minaur was victorious in their last contest in the 2023 Canada Masters QF.

No. 6 Jannik Sinner locks up with No. 12 Alexander Zverev. Zverev leads 3-1 winning the last three but they haven’t met in well over a year. And also No. 8 Andrey Rublev will battle British lefty Jack Draper.

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