On a somewhat uneventful day at the final grand slam of the year, American players were in action and there were mixed results for them as Jack Sock upset the 2014 champion Marin Cilic of Croatia with surprising ease 6-4, 6-3, 6-3; however John Isner and Ryan Harrison were defeated by the fast improving Kyle Edmund of Britain and Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus respectively.
The seventh seeded Cilic who won his maiden ATP 1000 title beating Andy Murray in Cincinnati, looked completely off colour as the 26th seeded Sock advanced to the round of sixteen in New York for the first time in his career. It only took one hour and forty one minutes on Louis Armstrong stadium as Sock produced 25 winners, he converted on 4 out of six break point chances and never faced a break point on his own serve.
Sock will now face a stern test against the ninth seeded Frenchman Jo Wilfred Tsonga who continued his domination of the South African Kevin Anderson with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4) demolition on the Grandstand in 2 hours and 50 minutes. Both Tsonga and Anderson had 13 aces each. Tsonga converted on only two out of fifteen break point chances, while the 23rd seeded Anderson failed to convert on any of his seven break chances.
The defending champion Novak Djokovic who had received a second round walkover from Jiri Vesley of the Czech Republic was once again barely made to sweat as he progressed after his opponent Mikhail Youzhny of Russia conceded the match after trailing 2-4 in the first set, the 2006 & 2010 semi finalist retired with a left-leg hamstring strain.
Djokovic was granted permission to practice an extra hour on centre court at the Arthur Ashe stadium. Heading into the second week, the top seed has only played one full match beating Jerzy Janowicz in four sets on o pening day. He next faces Kyle Edmund who had a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(5) win over the 20th seeded John Isner of U.S.A.
Two more Frenchmen have entered the last sixteen, the in-form Gael Monfils who was a winner of the ATP 500 event in Washington, had a straight forward 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win over the Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, while the promising 24th seeded Lucas Pouille rallied from a 1-2 deficit in sets to upset the 15th seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 3-6, 7-5, 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 in three hours and twenty four minutes.
Pouille who was within two points of losing to Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland in the previous round now faces the daunting prospect of playing the two time champion Rafael Nadal of Spain who had little trouble dispatching the Russian Andrey Kuznetsov in routine fashion, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 in the first match of the evening session on Arthur Ashe stadium. Nadal has not dropped a set in three matches against Istomin, Seppi and Kuznetsov. Pouille who also made the quarter final at Wimbledon has played two back to back five setters under the punishing New York sun.
Following are the eight round of 32 matches to be played on Saturday with my pick mentioned first :-
Andy Murray (2) v. Paolo Lorenzi
Grigor Dmitrov (22) v. Joao Sousa
Ivo Karlovic (21) v. Jared Donaldson
Kei Nishikori (6) v. Nicolas Mahut
Stanislas Wawrinka (3) v. Daniel Evans
Nick Kyrgios (14) v. Illya Marchenko
Juan Martin Del Potro v. David Ferrer (11)
Dominic Thiem (8) v. Pablo Carreno Busta
Among the ladies, in what was the best match of the day, the promising American Madison Keys came from 1-5 down in the third set before prevailing 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(3) against the 18 year old Naomi Osaka of Japan on Arthur Ashe stadium. There were convincing straight sets wins for the German Angelique Kerber, two time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, Johanna Konta of Britain and the Latvian Anastasija Sevastova.
The remaining two wins were completed in three sets by last years finalist Roberta Vinci of Italy who beat Carina Witthoeft of Germany 6-0,5-7,6-3, and the little known Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko who came from a set down to beat the 12th seeded Dominica Cibulkova of Slovakia 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and thirty one minutes.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]