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US Open PIX: Djokovic, Osaka advance; Pliskova shocked

Last updated on: September 03, 2020 10:22 IST
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Images from Day 3 of the 2020 US Open in New York

Djokovic overcomes slow start to extend win streak

Novak Djokovic

IMAGE: Serbia’s Novak Djokovic serves the ball during his second round match against Kyle Edmund of Great Britain.Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images

World number one Novak Djokovic brushed aside Briton Kyle Edmund 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 on Wednesday after a sluggish start to remain unbeaten in 2020 and move into the third round of the US Open.

On a hot, humid day at Flushing Meadows, Edmund was left bathed in sweat while a cool and collected Djokovic stayed on course for his 18th Grand Slam title and improved his 2020 match record to 25-0.

It stands as the second best start to a season since the Serb went 41-0 in 2011.

With the two other members of the sport’s Big Three — Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal — absent from the tournament, Djokovic is heavy favourite to hoist the trophy and the Serb overcame a slow start to show why.

“Mentally, Kyle played a fantastic first set, did not do much wrong,” said Djokovic, who celebrated his victory by moving to the centre of the court and acknowledging the canned applause. “It was anybody’s game really for a set and a half."

“Winning the second set I felt more comfortable. Overall, it was a very good test and I am happy to get through.”

Edmund took a tight opening set, laying down an ace to clinch the tiebreak 7-5.

It was only the sixth set Djokovic had dropped going all the way back to the Australian Open and he did not surrender another to the 44th-ranked Briton.

A serve that was misfiring in the first began to find the mark in the second, the Serb securing the early break on an Edmund double fault on the way to levelling the match.

Djokovic again seized the initiative in the second with back-to-back breaks to jump ahead 4-1 but struggled to close out the set, Edmund rallying to cut the advantage to 5-4 before the three-times champion held for a 2-1 lead.

When Djokovic broke to open the fourth Edmund’s last bit of resistance vanished and the Serb delivered an emphatic knockout punch to set up a third-round clash with Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

“I played a great match against him at the Western and Southern Open but it is different conditions here,” said Djokovic.

“If we are going to play on centre court, he is a big server there is not much breeze so that probably helps the server.”

“Let’s see, I like my chances best-of-five.”

No sign of slowdown as Osaka beats second-round challenger

Naomi Osaka

IMAGE: Naomi Osaka of Japan wears a mask with the name Elijah McClain on it following her second round win against Camila Giorgi of Italy.Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Former champion Naomi Osaka made quick work of second-round opponent Camila Giorgi 6-1, 6-2 at the US Open on Wednesday, in a lopsided matchup at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in which she showed no sign of slowing down.

A dominant Osaka came roaring out of the gate, winning the first five straight games in near-pristine form, committing just four unforced errors in the first set and winning 10 of her 12 first-serve points.

Osaka, who was forced to withdraw from her Western & Southern Open final last week with a left hamstring injury, walked onto the court with her left leg wrapped in medical tape but showed no signs of fatigue during the match, firing off four aces and forcing her opponent into 24 errors.

“My serve was pretty good,” the 22-year-old said after the match. “I’m really happy with my attitude. I thought I was really positive throughout.”

Osaka, who kept Italy’s Giorgi on the run throughout the match, kept the pace up to complete the affair in just one hour and 10 minutes.

“I’m definitely seeing the importance in time management. I learned a lot from watching Serena yesterday because she was down almost 3-0 but I feel like she picked it up when she knew what she needed to do,” Osaka said in a televised interview after the match.

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam winner, defeated Kristie Ahn 7-5, 6-3 in her first-round match on Tuesday.

The fourth-seeded player, who represents Japan and has emerged as a torchbearer for change within her sport, wore a mask before and after her match honoring Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died after a violent encounter with Aurora, Colorado, police officers in 2019.

Top seed Pliskova humbled by inspired Garcia

Karolina Pliskova

IMAGE: Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova reacts after losing a game against Caroline Garcia of France (not pictured) on Day 3 of the 2020 US Open.Photograph: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Top seed Karolina Pliskova suffered a shock 6-1, 7-6(2) loss to Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia in the second round of the US Open to blow the women’s draw wide open.

Pliskova, a former world number one, had no answer to Garcia’s power and precision as the Frenchwoman raced out of the blocks to open up a 5-0 lead in the opening set.

The Czech was helpless in the face of her unseeded opponent’s relentless onslaught and her exit marked the worst performance by a women’s top seed in New York since Simona Halep’s opening round defeat in 2018.

Pliskova, who was dumped out in the opening round of last week’s Western & Southern Open warm-up, fought back in the second set to force a tiebreak but the end result was never in doubt.

“It was very close to going into a third set and I was ready for it. She didn’t play badly,” said Garcia, who celebrated her victory by running the breadth of the court with her arms outstretched.

“I stuck to my game plan and every point was very important. Now I can take confidence from a good win against a top player.”

The women’s top seed has not won the title at Flushing Meadows since Serena Williams in 2014 and Garcia ensured the trend continued with a stunning performance.

She broke Pliskova in the Czech’s first two service games, quickly going 4-0 up, and rallies were in short supply as Garcia used her power to fire angled returns past her bewildered opponent.

The Frenchwoman ended the opening set with 15 winners to Pliskova’s one and started the second with another break of serve.

The top seed grew visibly frustrated as the match wore on, at one point smashing her racket after her opponent chased down a shot into the open court to deliver a perfect cross court return.

Pliskova managed to recover from 2-1 down in the second and briefly put Garcia on the backfoot, taking a 5-4 lead before the Frenchwoman saved two set points and held serve to force the tiebreak, which she dominated.

“I think she played (an) amazing set and a half,” Pliskova told reporters. “I got my chances later in the second set.

“She was just playing super aggressive, going for her shots. I maybe didn’t play my best. I didn’t serve that great, especially early in the match.”

Garcia will face last month’s Lexington champion Jennifer Brady, who beat fellow American Catherine Bellis 6-1, 6-2 to advance to the third round.

Kvitova overcomes tough start to advance

Petra Kvitova

IMAGE: Petra Kvitova in action during her second round match against Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine at the 2020 US Open in New York, on Wednesday. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images

Petra Kvitova overcame a rocky start to defeat Kateryna Kozlova 7-6(3), 6-2 in the second-round of the US Open on Wednesday.

 

Sixth seed Kvitova was off her game early on, committing 20 unforced errors during the first set - twice as many as her Ukrainian opponent - as she struggled with her serve.

The twice Wimbledon champion committed a fifth double fault to hand Kozlova a break point and a 3-2 lead but recovered to save set point at 5-4 and eventually took the set on a tiebreak.

She got back on track in the second set to break Kozlova’s serve in the first game before firing off consecutive aces and a pair of winners en route to a 2-0 lead.

A relieved Kvitova wrapped up victory with a powerful serve that a beleaguered Kozlova was unable to return.

“I couldn’t move well, I couldn’t swing as I wanted,” the 30-year-old Czech said. “I’m really happy that I found the way. I really had to fight.”

Kerber battles to reach third round

Angelique Kerber

IMAGE: Angelique Kerber returns the ball during her second round match against Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images

Former champion Angelique Kerber came through a fierce all-German tussle against Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-3, 7-6(6) on Wednesday to book her place in the third round of the US Open.

Kerber, seeded 17th, was fast out of the blocks as she moved into a 3-0 lead but 109th-ranked Friedsam settled down and made her more illustrious compatriot work hard for victory.

Friedsam broke back but surrendered her own serve in the sixth game from 40-0 to allow 2016 winner Kerber to regain control with another break.

Angelique Kerber

IMAGE: Angelique Kerber celebrates winning a point. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images

Kerber broke immediately at the start of the second set but again Friedsam refused to buckle and responded to break back when left-hander Kerber fired a forehand wide.

Friedsam, who suffered first-round exits on both her previous main draw appearances at Flushing Meadows, grew increasingly confident and worked tirelessly to force Kerber into a tiebreak on Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Kerber drifted an attempted dropshot wide on her first match point at 6-5 but a wild forehand from Friedsam offered her another chance and she converted at the second attempt.

"It was really a tricky match and when you play against a German it's never easily mentally," Kerber, playing in her 50th Grand Slam tournament, said on court.

Kerber will face an American challenge next, either 13th seed Alison Riske or Ann Li.

Tsitsipas grinds down Cressy to reach third round

Stefanos Tsitsipas

IMAGE: Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece hits the ball against Maxime Cressy of the United States. Photograph: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Stefanos Tsitsipas weathered a serve-volleying storm from Maxime Cressy before grinding the American wildcard down 7-6(2), 6-3, 6-4 to reach the third round.

In a slow-burning contest of short, sharp points, fourth seed Tsitsipas had to fight off a set point against the French-born Cressy, who thrashed down 21 aces and chipped-and-charged relentlessly on a muggy night at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Impressing in his main draw debut at a Grand Slam, Cressy dragged the Greek deep into the final set but was broken in the ninth game as fatigue set in, allowing Tsitsipas to close out a tough win on serve.

Tsitsipas will next play Croatia's Borna Coric for a place in the last 16.

Shapovalov comes through Kwon scare to reach third round

Denis Shapovalov

IMAGE: Denis Shapovalov. Photograph: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Denis Shapovalov blew hot and cold as he was twice forced to come from behind to beat Kwon Soon-woo 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 and secure a place in the third round of the US Open for a fourth straight year.

The 12th seed was in all sorts of trouble against the unheralded South Korean at the Louis Armstrong Stadium, losing the first set in a tiebreak and going 4-2 down in the third after leveling up the contest.

The 21-year-old Canadian broke back for 4-3 and called a medical timeout to have some treatment on his hip area before storming to victory by winning 10 of the last 12 games.

"Definitely an extremely tough match today," Shapovalov, who made 57 unforced errors, said on court.

"I was up in the tiebreak in the first set, didn't go my way. And to bounce back in the second was really tough. So I'm really happy to get the win today."

Kwon belied his lowly ranking of 73rd in the world with some fine tennis in the first half of the contest, making up for what he lacked in power with great movement and some fine shots.

Shapovalov, though, contributed to the digging of the hole he found himself in, blowing a 5-2 lead in the first set tiebreak with a string of errors and giving up his serve in the third despite a couple of good chances to put the game away.

When his serve was working, however, he always looked like having too much for his 22-year-old opponent and so it proved as he sealed the contest when Kwon netted a return after three hours and 42 minutes on court.

Shapovalov, who went out to Kevin Anderson and Gael Monfils in five-set thrillers in the third round on his last two visits to Flushing Meadows, will next face American Taylor Fritz.

Sloppy Martic leads way into round three

Petra Martic

IMAGE: Petra Matric of Croatia during her second round match against Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images

Eighth seed Petra Martic sailed into the third round with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko.

Unforced errors from Martic allowed her 349th-ranked opponent to stay in the match but the Croatian compensated for some sloppy play by hammering down eight aces.

Martic had Bondarenko under almost constant pressure, creating 16 break chances but converting just four.

One of those breaks came in the final game as Martic took advantage of her third match point to send the 34-year-old Bondarenko to the exit.

With the top 24 seeded women all safely through the first round, Martic led the way into the third, leaving her one victory away from matching her best US Open result from a year ago when reached the round of 16.

Gracheva knocks out Mladenovic

France's Kristina Mladenovic, seeded 30th, failed to convert four match points as she was stunned by Russian youngster Varvara Gracheva 1-6 7-6(2) 6-0 in the second round.

Vondrousova crashes out

The Czech Republic's Marketa Vondrousova crashed out of the US Open in the second round when Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich beat the 12th seed 6-1, 6-2 on Wednesday.

Vondrousova, who reached the French Open final last year, endured a disappointing outing with her 16 winners overshadowed by 21 unforced errors as she became the highest seed in the women's field so far to be eliminated at Flushing Meadows.

Sasnovich converted four of eight break points while saving all six she faced on her serve to wrap up the match in just 65 minutes and advance to the third round of the US Open for only the second time in her career.

The 26-year-old will next face either compatriot Vera Lapko or Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva, who play later on Wednesday.

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