2015 US Open – Day 6

Day-6 Eye Openers:

  • Eugenie Bouchard. She slipped, fell and hit her head in the ladies locker room on Friday night. She has withdrawn from the doubles and mixed doubles draws, and her situation is being monitored to see if she’s fit to continue play in the US Open Round of 16
  • Donald Young. #Yimlife. On Sunday, he will make his second Round of 16 Grand Slam appearance. (Reached the R16 here in New York 4-years-ago). Young defeated Troicki 4-6, 0-6, 7-6(3) 6-2, 6-4. That is a major-league comeback. Roland Garros Champ Stan Wawrinka is next in Young’s determined sights
  • Johanna Konta. At 24-years-old, the World #97 reached the 4th-Round of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career today, defeating Andrea Petkovic in straight sets. Next up: Petra Kvitova
  • Roger Federer. He has yet to drop a set at this year’s Open, and has only been broken twice. Both breaks coming from Kohlschreiber today
  • Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza. One of the most electric dream teams in doubles history reached the Round of 16 with a win today. They are the reigning Wimbledon, Charleston, Miami, and Indian Wells Champions. They didn’t launch the partnerhsip until just before Indian Wells this past March
  • The Grandstand. So long, old friend. Sabine Lisicki’s 3rd-Round defeat of Barbora Zahlavova Strycova was the final US Open singles match to be played on the storied court

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Round-3 here in Arthur Ashe Stadium:

[5] Petra Kvitova def. [32] Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) – Grace. Power. Fist-pumps. Petra Kvitova is in a good place right now. Both on the tennis court and in her head. She now knows it was mono that zapped her motivation and focus early in the season. She’s listened to her body. She’s calmed her mind. She carries confidence knowing that despite the health setbacks, she’s still managed to win three of her 17 career WTA singles titles this year. After defending her title in New Haven last week, there’s no doubt that this is the best Petra has felt on the tennis court in quite some time. With a dominating win over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of the Slovak Republic today, she’s back into the US Open Round of 16 for the first time in three years, enjoying her job again. Next up: Great Britains’ Johanna Konta.

[2] Roger Federer (SUI) def. [29] Philipp Kohlschreiber – “You can’t win this tournament in the first week, but you can lose it.” Words that crossed Roger’s mind before he took the court for his 3rd-Round match with good friend, Philipp Kohlschreiber. Even though Roger had won all nine of their previous matches, he’s practiced enough with the German to truly appreciate the punishment Kohlschreiber can dish out on a good day. (Just ask John Isner after the past two US Opens). That confident modesty served Federer well today. He sent Philipp packing in just one-hour and 33-minutes 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. To Kohlschreiber’s credit, he’s the only player that’s actually broken Roger at this year’s Open, winning two of his return games. After the match, Pam Shriver asked the 5-time US Open Champ if he would bring out “the saber” for the Isner match in the Round of 16. (“The saber”: Roger’s new agressive return tactic where he charges the server, picking up the return nearly on the service line – impressive when it works). Roger admitted that it wouldn’t be the best strategy against a hard server like Isner. To which Pam responded: “…and if you want to have another set of twins, it’s probably not a good idea.” Too true. Oh, and we learned that Roger took the family to see Broadway’s “Hamilton” last night…and he really liked it. Back to tennis…

[20] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) def. [11] Angelique Kerber (GER) – “FIGHT FOR EVERY BALL. EVERY BALL!” Six words Victoria Azarenka screamed at her box during her 2-hour and 52-minute, 3-set win over Germany’s Angelique Kerber on Saturday: 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. Mary Jo Fernandez, after the match, was spot-on in saying the match was easily one of the most exciting of the tournament so far. The level of tennis was phenomenal. In the first set, Kerber broke early, but Vika broke-back down 3-5, then broke again to claim the set. Kerber held serve throughout the second, and earned the set with two breaks. The decider was a thriller. The two traded breaks to start the set, then Azarenka broke again to go up 3-2. From Love-40 down, Vika managed another hold, two games away from the win. At 5-3, Vika came close to winning the match in the return game — and that 29th game was truly a microcosm of the entire match. Here are my notes from the exchange:

  • [15-40] Double match point (#1)
  • [30-40] Match point (#2) – clutch southpaw FH winner from Kerber (deuce)
  • [Deuce] Extended rally. Lunging volley winner from Vika. Match point #3
  • [Ad-Vika] Match point (#3). Vika couldn’t convert
  • [Deuce] Vika winner
  • [Ad-Vika] Match point (#4). Kerber backhand winner up the line
  • [Deuce] Kerber double fault
  • [Ad-Vika] Match point (#5). Kerber forehand winner up the line. Two fists in the air. Arthur Ashe Stadium erupts
  • [Deuce] Vika sends a return long
  • [Ad-Kerber] Vika winner on the forehand smash
  • [Deuce] Vika sends another return long
  • [Ad-Kerber] Kerber finally holds serve with an overhead winner. Fists in the air. Even louder Ashe eruption.
  • [Azarenka up 5-4, now serving for the match]

Match point (#6) came at 40-Love in the following Azarenka service game, where Vika claimed a spot in the Round of 16. During the post match interview, we learned what Vika kept repeating to herself on thrd set changeovers: “Pinish. Pinish. Pinish.” It’s basically a word that her hitting partner Sascha Bajin came up with to motivate her – and obviously make her laugh. It’s a combination of “punish and finish.” Punish yourself…punish your opponent…and finish the damn match. Pinish. Earn the win. That she did on Saturday. On Labor Day, she’ll face American Varvara Lepchenko, who’s making her first appearance in the Round of 16 at the US Open.

[2] Simona Halep (ROM) def. Shelby Rogers (USA) – Congrats to Mount Pleasant, South Carolina’s Shelby Rogers on her first 3rd-Round Grand Slam appearance. Wins over Sachia Vickery and Kurumi Nara put her in position to face World #2 Simona Halep on Saturday Night, and there were plenty of positives to take away from the match: She gained experience on the sport’s biggest stage. She got a crack at a top-2 player. She was able to break Simona as Halep served for the match. Simona hit all her marks in the straight-sets win and will face Germany’s Sabine Lisicki in the Round of 16. Should the top-2 seeds reach the Final, Halep will get a chance to deny Serena the Calendar Slam. While Williams won their two most recent clashes in the Miami Semifinal and Cincinnati Final, Halep did defeat Serena in the WTA Finals last November.

[3] Andy Murray (GBR) def. [30] Thomaz Bellucci (BRA)  – These two haven’t played each other in four years. Bellucci actually won that match on clay at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Madrid 6-4, 6-2. Of course, that was before Olympic Gold – before a US Open title – before Andy ended the 77-year drought of UK-based Wimbledon Champions. Murray dictated play at his own pace Saturday night securing his spot in the 2015 US Open Round of 16 with a 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 win. How in-control was the 2012 US Open Champ? Andy broke Thomaz at love, 5-all in the third, avoiding the tie-break to win the match on serve. He’ll have to search hard to find the necessary self-loathing to fulfill his need to “be grumpy with himself.” Andy will face Kevin Anderson on Labor Day. Anderson won the Winston-Salem title en-route to this year’s Open. The two last played at the AEGON Championship prior to Wimbledon. Murray defeated Anderson in the Final 6-3, 6-4. They also played earlier this year in Miami’s Round of 16, where Murray won in three: 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

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Round of 16. Arthur Ashe Stadium: Day-7 Schedule.

  • [DAY] [27] Jeremy Chardy (FRA) vs. [9] Marin Cilic (CRO)
  • [DAY] Anett Kontaveit (EST) vs. [23] Venus Williams (USA)
  • [DAY] [19] Madison Keys (USA) vs. [1] Serena Williams (USA)
  • [NIGHT] [23] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) vs. [1] Novak Djokovic (SRB)
  • [NIGHT] Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) vs. [13] Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)