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US Open PIX: Djokovic cruises; Osaka survives scare

Last updated on: September 05, 2020 11:37 IST
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IMAGES from Day 5 of the 2020 US Open in New York on Friday.

Novak Djokovic

IMAGE: Novak Djokovic in action during his third round match against Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany on Day 5 of the 2020 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, in New York, on Friday. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Top seed Novak Djokovic continued his dominance of Jan-Lennard Struff on Friday with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 win to advance to the fourth round of the US Open.

 

Djokovic, a three-times champion at Flushing Meadows, was never really pushed by the German, who has taken just one set off the Serb in their five career meetings.

The only drama came early on when Struff had break point opportunities but could not convert against Djokovic’s serve in the first game.

The players stayed on serve until Struff sent a forehand wide on break point to give Djokovic a 5-3 lead. The Serb held to love the next game after firing an unreturnable serve to take the first
set and coasted the rest of the way.

"It was a very, very good performance from my side," Djokovic said after recording his 600th career win on hard courts.

"I managed to read his serve well. Made one necessary break in the first set, I faced one or two break points in the opening game.

Novak Djokovic

IMAGE: Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his third round match. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

"Obviously the trajectory of the match can go differently if you lose your serve against a big guy like Struff, who serves really well and has a very aggressive, powerful game from the back of the
court," said the Serb, who is looking for an 18th Grand Slam title.

"But I moved well and after the first set, the second and third was a really great feeling on the court."

Djokovic and Marin Cilic, who won the US Open in 2014, are the only two men remaining in the draw who have won a Grand Slam tournament.

Djokovic will be a heavy favourite when he faces 20th seed Pablo Carreno Busta on Spain in the fourth round on Sunday.

Osaka survives scare to reach last 16

Naomi Osaka

IMAGE: Naomi Osaka celebrates winning a point during her third round match against Marta Kostyuk. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images

Former champion Naomi Osaka survived a third-round scare before grinding out a 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-2 victory over fearless Ukrainian teenager Marta Kostyuk to reach the last 16 of the US Open on Friday.

The Japanese fourth seed initially looked like she would enjoy a routine day on the court but was forced to dig deep to secure victory after two hours and 33 minutes against an 18-year-old
making her US Open main draw debut.

"She didn’t back down from me or from, like, the speed of my ball, which for someone that young is kind of amazing, because I feel like, you know, the first set went that way, and then she could have faded in the second set," said Osaka.

The two-times Grand Slam champion Osaka also said her left leg, which was heavily taped following the hamstring injury that forced her to withdraw from the final of a tune-up event last week, was still not 100%.

"It could be better," she said. "But I think for a three-set match, the amount of movement that I did, and the fact that I felt like I could have kept going if I really needed to, is definitely a good sign."

Naomi Osaka

IMAGE: Naomi Osaka saved five break points in a 14-point game to draw level and from there won 16 of the next 19 points to close out the victory. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images

After Osaka had breezed through the first set, a match filled with shifts in momentum suddenly turned in Kostyuk's favour as she broke her opponent for the first time to pull ahead 4-3.

Kostyuk consolidated the break but dropped the next three games and had to hold serve to force the tiebreak. She dropped the first two points but won seven of the next nine to close out the set, leaving Osaka to fling her racquet down in frustration.

"Everything was going really well for her during the tiebreak," said Osaka. "She came to the net, and I hit it as hard as I could towards her, and she made it, and I was just, like, ‘whoa, this
is unbelievable’."

After Kostyuk went ahead 2-1 in the final set, the Ukrainian had her right ankle taped for the second time in the match.

Osaka then leaned on her experience, digging deep to save five break points in a 14-point game to draw level and from there won 16 of the next 19 points to close out the victory.

Zverev beats Mannarino after delay over health protocols

Alexander Zverev

IMAGE: Alexander Zverev in action during his third round match against Adrian Mannarino of France. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Alexander Zverev feared his tie with Adrian Mannarino may not go ahead on Friday due to COVID-19 protocols but the German secured a 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win in a match delayed almost three hours due to talks between organizers and New York health officials.

The US Open third-round clash was originally scheduled to start at 2.30 p.m. local time on Louis Armstrong Stadium but was pushed back while the United States Tennis Association engaged in "collaborative dialogue" with health officials.

"I was told there is very little chance that we were going to play," Zverev said courtside after the match. "The New York State called and said he (Mannarino) shouldn’t play.

"So it was back and forth, back and forth ... it was political, not about us players."

Mannarino was placed under an "enhanced protocol plan" after coming in contact with fellow Frenchman Benoit Paire, who pulled out of the tournament having tested positive for COVID-19.

"I was preparing to go on court at 2.30 p.m. The tour manager came to talk to me and explained the situation that the state department of health took over the city," Mannarino told reporters.

"The city allowed me to play but the state took over this decision to say I’ve been exposed to a positive case so I should be quarantined in my room and not be able to go on the court.

"They told me they were trying to contact some guys and see if this decision could be changed. Obviously a lot of effort has been done, they pushed the match back -- Sascha (Zverev) agreed,
which is nice."

Adrian Mannarino

IMAGE: Adrian Mannarino was placed under an "enhanced protocol plan" after coming in contact with fellow Frenchman Benoit Paire, who pulled out of the tournament having tested positive for COVID-19. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

When the players finally arrived on court at 5.15 p.m., Mannarino claimed the opening set in a tiebreak as an untidy Zverev posted 26 unforced errors.

"It’s also different because we were supposed to play during the warmest time of the day, with our rackets a bit tighter, prepared for the ball flying a bit more," said world number seven Zverev.

"But then we came out here and played basically a night match."

The German rediscovered his rhythm in the second set to find a way past Mannarino’s serve in the 10th game, unleashing a blistering forehand winner to get to one set apiece.

With momentum on his side, Zverev converted a further five break points opportunities to book a last-16 spot for the second consecutive year in New York.

Zverev next faces Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who defeated Britain’s Cameron Norrie 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Shapovalov wins battle of young guns

Denis Shapovalov

IMAGE: Denis Shapovalov claimed a place in the 1ast 16 at Flushing Meadows for the first time since he made his US Open debut in 2017. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Denis Shapovalov won the battle of North American young guns by grinding out a 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 win over Taylor Fritz on Friday to move into the US Open fourth round

The match played out exactly as one would expect from two of tennis’s rising talents with the 12th-seeded Canadian Shapovalov and 19th seeded American Fritz engaged in a seesaw tussle.

The entertaining 3-1/2 hour match in an empty Arthur Ashe stadium ended with Shapovalov back in the 1ast 16 at Flushing Meadows for the first time since he made his US Open debut in 2017.

From their nearly identical Nike kit to their resumes Fritz and Shapovalov bear are remarkable resemblance.

Shapovalov is 21-years-old and seeded 12th while Fritz is 22 and seeded 19th.

Fritz was named ATP Tour newcomer of the year in 2016 with Shapovalov claiming the honour in 2017. Both won their one and only ATP titles in 2019.

Their games, however, are different. Fritz the big server works from the baseline while Shapovalov can serve and volley unafraid to come to the net.

But in the decisive fifth set it was the Canadian’s serve that made an impact Shapovalov laying down seven aces to just one from Fritz.

"I was struggling serving because he was putting his racket on everything and he was playing so solid," said Shapovalov, who has taken the long route to the last 16 with his opening two matches going four sets. "In the fourth set when I was down a break I was able to loosen up and got the rhythm back on my serve.

"I was really happy with the way I served especially that last set."

Fritz had a chance to serve out the match at 5-3 in the fourth but Shapovalov grabbed the break he needed to drag the set to a tiebreak which he won.

Recharged by his rally, it was the Canadian who raced ahead 3-0 in the fifth before closing out the contest with another break when Fritz’s return sailed long.

Next up for Shapovalov is Belgium seventh seed David Goffin who was a 6-1, 7-6(5), 6-4 winner over Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic.

Kvitova advances to fourth round at Flushing Meadows

Petra Kvitova

IMAGE: The US Open is the only Grand Slam event where Petra Kvitova has failed to reach the semi-finals. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Czech Petra Kvitova struggled with unforced errors but still had enough weapons to defeat American Jessica Pegula 6-4, 6-3 on Friday to advance to the fourth round of the US Open.

The two-times Wimbledon champion had 28 unforced errors and five double faults but moved up a gear when it mattered to win her first career meeting with baseline battler Pegula.

Sixth seed Kvitova broke the World No. 63 twice in each set and completed the win when Pegula sent a return wide.

"I'm definitely happy that I'm through the first week. Few weeks ago I didn't have idea that really the US Open will take place. For me (it) was a miracle that it's really happening.

"I know that if I didn't come maybe one day I (was) going to regret that I didn't come."

Pegula, who reached the last eight of the Western & Southern Open warm-up event, matched Kvitova shot for shot from the baseline early on, forcing the Czech left-hander to save two breakpoints in the fifth game.

Kvitova decided to mix things up by advancing to the net more often and after a trade of breaks she managed to take the opener with a second break of serve.

Kvitova lost concentration at the start of the second set and as her errors mounted she let loose several screams to get some positive energy back into her game.

After falling behind 2-0 she won the next three games to bring the set back on serve. Pegula held to make it 3-3 before Kvitova went on another three-game run to finish the match.

"Second set I was down. It was really a big fight those two or three games which I really had to fight very hard. That probably was the turning point," Kvitova said.

"I tried to go little bit more for the volleys I would say because she really played great from the baseline."

The US Open is the only Grand Slam event where Kvitova has failed to reach the semi-finals and next up for her will be another American in Shelby Rogers, who earlier advanced with a 6-2, 6-4 win against compatriot Madison Brengle.

Kerber through to last 16

Germany's Angelique Kerber plays a return during third round match against USA's Ann Li.

IMAGE: Germany's Angelique Kerber plays a return during third round match against USA's Ann Li. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images

Germany’s Angelique Kerber advanced to the last 16 of the U.S. Open with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over 20-year-old American Ann Li at the Louis Armstrong Stadium on Friday.

Kerber, a three-times Grand Slam champion who won the title at Flushing Meadows in 2016, converted four break points while Li -- who is ranked 128 in the world -- was let down by 28 unforced errors.

Li did however give a good account of herself, taking risks with some powerful forehand winners that caught the 17th seed Kerber off guard, but the 32-year-old German dictated play on the crucial points and was broken only once in the contest.

Kerber will next face either France’s Caroline Garcia, who knocked out top seed Karolina Pliskova in the second round, or American Jennifer Brady.

Martic staggers into last-16 

Croatia's Petra Martic plays a return during her third round match against Russia's Varvara Gracheva

IMAGE: Croatia's Petra Martic plays a return during her third round match against Russia's Varvara Gracheva. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images

Croatian eighth seed Petra Martic survived another sloppy display to see off Grand Slam newcomer Varvara Gracheva 6-3, 6-3 on Friday and reach the US Open round of 16 for the second consecutive year.

Martic, who struggled through an error-riddled match against Kateryna Bondarenko in the second round, was again often her own worst enemy, allowing her 20-year-old Russian opponent to stay in the contest.

The match got off to a ragged start with three straight breaks before Martic managed to hold serve and grab a 3-1 lead.

While Gracheva continued to pile up the errors, Martic began to settle into the match, holding her serve and breaking the Russian a fourth time to take the opening set.

However, it was more of the same in the second with the pair trading breaks before Martic took control, moving into a 4-1 lead and holding on for an uneven win.

After victories over two players outside the top 100, Martic will have to clean up her play with Grand Slam champions Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber lurking on her side of the draw.

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