Pegula, Jabeur Fall As More Upsets Hit US Open, New No. 1 Sabalenka Rolls; Gauff Seeks Revenge On Ostapenko

by Staff | September 4th, 2023, 9:18 pm
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A day after Jelena Ostapenko sent shockwaves with her stunning win over No. 1 Iga Swiatek sent shockwaves through women’s tennis and the US Open, two more Top 5 seeds fell on Monday as the fourth round wrapped up.

American No. 1 Jessica Pegula fell and fell badly to Madison Keys 6-1, 6-3 in the opener under the roof on Ashe. Keys stormed out to a quick opening set and then got the job done in an hour for one her best matches in years. Keys, a finalist in 2017, hit 21 winners and allowed Pegula to win just 33% of her second serves.

“Honestly, I just really focused on trying to keep rallies short, just because Jess is so good. The longer the rally gets, the better Jess seems to get,” said the 28-year-old Keys.

“I was just trying to focus on hitting the best ball that I could in the first one or two balls of the rallies and luckily things just kind of went my way.”

Pegula’s wait for a first Slam semifinal continues.

“I thought Maddie played lights out, serving, returning, hitting the ball so clean,” Pegula said. “I mean, she was painting the back of the line. There really wasn’t that much I honestly could have done.

“I don’t think I played my best, but at the same time she never really gave me a chance much to get back in it. Every time I felt like maybe there was a window, just wasn’t happening.”

Keys will now face Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova. The lefty rallied from a set down to outclass 21-year-old former NCAA champion Peyton Stearns 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-2 under the Armstrong roof.

Vondrousova fell behind 4-1 but started to make things interesting late in the first. She would lose her first set of the event but then rally going into lockdown as Stearns began to miss. Vondrousova shrugged off some shoulder issues to win her 11th straight Slam match and make her third quarterfinal at this level.

Keys and Vondrousova have never played.

On Armstrong, Ons Jabeur couldn’t find the range or the form as 20-year-old Qinwen Zheng advanced 6-2, 6-4 over the 3-time Slam finalist.

Zheng had 21 winners to 17 unforced while Jabeur had 17 winners to 33 unforced.

Zheng earns his first Top 10 win in a Slam and she’ll need another to keep going, that’s because her next opponent is No. 1 in waiting Arya Sabalenka. The Belarussian cruised past Daria Kasatkina 6-1, 6-3 in 75 minutes.

Sabalenka was relieved to finally have the No. 1 ranking on her resume.

“I had no doubt that Iga was going to make it to the final,” Sabalenka told the crowd. “I was sad that she lost, but becoming No. 1 means a lot to me.

“I’ve been pushing myself a lot this year to make this goal and I still can’t believe it,” she said. “But I didn’t want to be distracted for tonight.”

Quarterfinals begin Tuesday with American teen and for some the new tournament favorite Coco Gauff colliding with Jelena Ostapenko in a third meeting. The two have split two encounters with Ostapenko won their last meeting in the 2023 Australian Open in straight sets. Gauff, then 15, beat the Latvian in the final of Linz in 2019 for her first career title.

“I felt like I was playing a lot of tournaments quite well, but some moments here and there were not working,” Ostapenko said after beating Swiatek. “I still kept trying and kept working.

“I feel like now my game is getting back in place and I’m playing more free, in a good way, and not thinking too much.”

Temperatures are expected to be in the 90s which could be a big advantage for the Florida-born Gauff.

“She’s hot or cold, to be honest,” said Gauff looking ahead. “With Jelena, she’s a striker, ball-striker. I lost to her in Australian Open this year. Just staying in the match. I might get some more free points with her, more so than Iga. Maybe not. Maybe she’ll hit so many winners.”

In the evening, No. 10 Karolina Muchova will battle No. 30 Sorana Cirstea for a spot in a first US Open semifinal. Muchova is ahead of Cirstea 3-1 in their tour-level contests winning twice this year in Montreal and Dubai while Cirstea won in Miami. Cirstea is appearing in her second Slam quarterfinal having never been to a semifinal.

“We’ve had very tough matches, very tight battles every time we played against each other,” Cirstea said. “Only this year we played three times, so I think we know each other quite well. I’m really expecting a tough one.”

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