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US Open PIX: Djokovic enters quarters; Sakkari survives thriller

Last updated on: September 07, 2021 13:42 IST
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Images from Day 8 of the 2021 US Open in New York on Monday.

IMAGE: Greek Maria Sakkari's win ensured there will be a new US Open women's champion this year. Photograph: Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Greek Maria Sakkari emerged triumphant from a gruelling three hour, 30 minute battle with former champion Bianca Andreescu at the US Open on Monday, clinching a 6-7(2), 7-6(6), 6-3 victory to reach the quarter-finals.

 

Sakkari helped the Canadian to an early break in the first set with a trio of double faults before finding her footing.

Andreescu, the 2019 champion, won a punishing 21-shot rally to open the first-set tiebreak before clinching the set with three straight points, capping it off with an ace.

Sakkari, who faces fourth seed Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-final, said she knew she had to change her approach to stay in the match.

"I knew that I lost the first set because I was doing some things wrong. I was not very brave. So I had to change that," she said.

The Greek struggled with her serve again in the second set, putting up five double faults, but broke her opponent in the second game to get her nose in front. She then held serve in an 11th game that lasted 10 minutes.

IMAGE: Maria Sakkari said she was prepared for the match to go even deeper but was happy it did not. Photograph: Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The second set tiebreak went Sakkari's way, the 17th seed clinching it at the fourth attempt.

Down 3-2 in the third set, Andreescu received treatment on her left thigh before leaving the court for a medical timeout and returning with her leg wrapped.

With Sakkari leading 5-3 and up 30-0 in the ninth game, a hurting Andreescu screamed, "This sucks!" but managed to fend off three match points before the Greek converted on a fourth.

Andreescu missed the 2020 season due to injury and the challenges of playing in the COVID-19 pandemic and failed to get beyond the first round at Wimbledon or Roland Garros this year.

Sakkari said she was prepared for the match to go even deeper but was happy it did not.

"I was prepared for 7-6 in the third. But if you know, if it comes easier then I'll take it," she added.

"I knew it was gonna be a very tough match. She loves this court, her best memories," said Sakkari, who reached the Roland Garros semi-finals earlier this year.

Her win ensured there will be a new US Open women's champion this year.

Djokovic overcomes slow start to advance

Novak Djokovic

IMAGE: Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his round of 16 match against Jenson Brooksby of the United States on Day 8 of the 2021 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City, on Monday. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

An out-of-sorts Novak Djokovic scraped his way to a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win over American wildcard Jenson Brooksby on Monday to move into the US Open quarter-finals and three wins from tennis immortality.

Chasing a 21st major that would seal a calendar year Grand Slam, Djokovic had difficulty getting into gear against the 99th ranked Brooksby, who for a moment looked capable of derailing the Serb.

For the second consecutive match the world number one came out flat and dropped the opening set, something he will not want to do in his quarter-final when he faces Italian Matteo Berrettini in a rematch of the Wimbledon final which he won in four.

The sixth seeded Italian will mark a big step up in quality for Djokovic, who has not faced anyone ranked inside the top 50, including a qualifier and a wildcard.

The match got off to an extraordinary start as Brooksby took the first set with shocking ease.

Novak Djokovic

IMAGE: In the quarter-finals, Novak Djokovic faces Italian Matteo Berrettini in a rematch of the Wimbledon final which he won in four. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Playing for the first time on Arthur Ashe Stadium against one of the all-time greats, Brooksby was unfazed while three-times champion Djokovic sprayed shots helter-skelter, committing 11 unforced errors to just one by the young American.

That was the wake-up call Djokovic needed and he broke Brooksby at the first opportunity in the second set, letting out a mighty roar.

Djokovic would win the second but the 20-year-old American made him work for every bit of it, particularly in a grinding fifth game that lasted close to 20 minutes before Brooksby would get the break.

The last American man standing and coming off his first ever five-setter, Brooksby began to fade in the third, going down a double break as Djokovic finally began to dial in his game.

Leading 2-1, Djokovic continued to improve in the fourth and moved clear with a double break and offering zero break point opportunities to his opponent before sealing the win.

Raducanu's dream run continues with Rogers thrashing

IMAGE: Emma Raducanu takes selfies with fans following her victory against Shelby Rogers of the United States at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

British teenager Emma Raducanu continued her dream run at the US Open on Monday by overwhelming American Shelby Rogers 6-2, 6-1 to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final.

Going through qualifying to get to the last eight at a major is a stunning accomplishment by itself, but the 18-year-old has done it without dropping a set.

Raducanu, who burst onto the scene in July by reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon on her Grand Slam debut, has gone one better at the US Open in dominant fashion.

After a 6-0, 6-1 hammering of Sara Sorribes Tormo in the previous round, Raducanu was nearly as ruthless against Rogers as she dispatched the last American in the women's draw in 66 minutes.

"It feels absolutely amazing to play in front of all of you and Shelby is a great opponent... she's had a great week so I knew it was going to be a tough match," Raducanu said on a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium, with the crowd buzzing over what they had witnessed.

Up next for the youngster is Swiss 11th seed and Olympic champion Belinda Bencic, who advanced with a 7-6(12), 6-3 win over Polish 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek.

"I feel like I'm building with each match," said Raducanu. "I'm really excited to see what I can do on Wednesday.

"Belinda's a great player who's in great form so I know I'm going to have to bring it."

IMAGE: Going through qualifying to get to the last eight at a major is a stunning accomplishment by itself, but Emma Raducanu, 18, has done it without dropping a set. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Playing on Arthur Ashe Stadium court, the sport's biggest stage, for the first time, the teenager got off to a nervous start with world number 43 Rogers taking the early break to go 2-0 in front.

However, if anyone thought Raducanu would again crumble under pressure, as she had done at Wimbledon during her fourth-round exit, the Briton showed that she has come a long way in just two months.

From the third game of the match, it was one-way traffic for Britain's 150th-ranked qualifier. She quickly settled in and stormed through the next 11 games to take the first set and lead 5-0 in the second.

"It means a lot to have gone out there and to have performed," said Raducanu, clearly enjoying her moment in the spotlight. "Shelby Rogers is an extremely experienced opponent, so I knew I would have to bring it today.

"To play on Ashe for the first time, it was a little bit of a nervy experience in the beginning.

"I was really proud of myself, how I managed to settle and regroup and find a level that at the end took me to the win."

The 28-year-old Rogers, coming off the biggest win of her career with a third-round upset of Australia's world number one Ash Barty, appeared flat and was soon shell-shocked.

The American had rallied from 5-2 down in the third to beat Barty but there was no way back against Raducanu, who never allowed the American an opening.

"That was pretty embarrassing," said Rogers, who had 29 unforced errors to just 14 by her opponent. "It was a tough day at the office.

"It took everything I had to beat Barty. I guess that was a little apparent today. The tank was a little bit empty.

"She's been doing a lot of great stuff but I don't think she had much of a challenge today."

The quarter-finals will feature two teenagers with Canada's Leylah Fernandez, who celebrated her 19th birthday on Monday, taking on fifth seed Elina Svitolina for spot in the last four.

Pliskova sends Pavlyuchenkova packing

IMAGE: Wimbledon runner-up Karolina Pliskova has put up an astonishing 58 aces so far at Flushing Meadows this year, by far the most of any of the remaining players. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova mounted a strong defensive effort to send Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova packing 7-5, 6-4 in the fourth round of the US Open on Monday, keeping on track her bid for a maiden major title.

The Wimbledon runner-up fired off seven forehand winners and converted on break point in the final game in the first set, before fending off six of Pavlyuchenkova's seven break point opportunities in the second set inside the Grandstand.

The Czech had lost in the pair's previous two encounters - in Madrid this year and at the 2020 Australian Open - but would not be denied a fourth trip to the US Open quarter-final as she came out on top in a 14-shot rally on the second-to-last point before breaking Pavlyuchenkova's serve to close out the match.

The world number four has put up an astonishing 58 aces so far at Flushing Meadows this year, by far the most of any of the remaining players, and next faces either Greek Maria Sakkari or Canadian Bianca Andreescu in the quarter-final.

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