Normal service seems to have been restored at the upset ridden U.S. Open 2017 which had already been hit by a plethora of withdrawals from former champions among many others, as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal made their way into the second week of the tournament on Saturday. Also giving company is the Austrian Dominic Thiem and the former 2009 champion Juan Martin Del Potro – who has still to drop a set in three matches so far at the Open.
The five time champion Roger Federer, seeded third, had for the first time in his career, played two five set matches in the first two rounds at a grand slam, had only one blemish in the third set when he dropped serve for the only time in the one hour forty six minute match as he won 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 against the veteran Spanish left hander Feliciano Lopez to set up a meeting with the German veteran Phillip Kohlschreiber who had a 7-5,6-2,6-4 win over the last remaining Australian in the draw, John Millman who is playing on protected ranking after his comeback from injury.
In a much improved performance, the Swiss had 13 aces and hit 32 winners, most importantly had only 16 unforced errors while converting on five out of twelve break point opportunities. He also saved five out of six break points he faced and won 85% first serve points. The straight set win comes as a big relief after two consecutive five setters in the stifling New York heat against the American teenager Frances Tiafoe and the veteran Russian Mikhail Youzhny.
The top seeded Spaniard Rafael Nadal, winner in 2010 and 2013 stayed on course for a first ever showdown in New York between the two all time greats after a come from behind win over the 59th ranked Leonardo Mayer of Argentina. The match lasting three hours and fifteen minutes on Arthur Ashe stadium, Nadal won 6-7(3), 6-3,6-1,6-4. He next faces the Ukrainian Alexander Dolgopolov, nicknamed “The Dog” because of his unique style of tennis. Dolgopolov who has been accused of match fixing – which he has rubbished, was in imperious form as he beat Serbian Davis cup player Victor Troicki 6-1,6-0,6-4.
In what was a welcome return to form, the 24th seeded Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro caused a minor upset as he beat the Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut with surprising ease, 6-3,6-3,6-4 in two hours and ten minutes on Grandstand court. That sets up a meeting against the Austrian sixth seeded Dominic Thiem who progressed with a 7-5,6-3,6-4 win over the 30th seeded French left hander Adrian Mannarino.
The remaining two spots in the round of sixteen in the top half of the draw have been claimed by the ninth seeded David Goffin of Belgium who advanced after last year’s semi finalist Gael Monfils of France retired trailing 5-7,1-5 on Louis Armstrong stadium due to injury. The ninth seeded Goffin now faces the 19 year old Russian Alexander Rublev, who beat the fast improving Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia Herzegovina, 6-4,6-4,5-7,6-4. Rublev had upset the in form Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, the winner of the Masters series event in Cincinnati, in the second round on Thursday.
The following is the list of matches in the bottom half of the men’s draw to be played on Sunday with my pick mentioned first:-
Sam Querrey (17) v. Mischa Zverev (23)
Kevin Anderson (28) v. Paolo Lorenzi (-)
Denis Shapovalov (-) v. Pablo Carreno Busta (12)
Lucas Pouille (16) v. Diego Schwartzman (29)
The top seeded Karolina Pliskova staved off a match point in the tenth game of the second set and also rallied from an early break of serve in the decider to beat the 27th seeded Shuai Zhang of China 3-6,7-5,6-4 in the first match of the day on Arthur Ashe stadium. She was followed by the American Coco Vandeweghe who upset the 10th seeded Agnieska Radwanska of Poland 7-5,4-6,6-4 in a gripping two hour fifty six minute match.
The Russian Daria Kasatkina upset the French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia with a surprisingly easy 6-3,6-2 win on the Louis Armstrong stadium. Elina Svitolina, the fourth seed from Ukraine prevailed over the American Shelby Rogers 6-4,7-5, while Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic ended the run of Kurumi Nara of Japan with a 6-3,6-2 win in just 70 minutes.
Another Japanese Naomi Osaka who had upset the defending champion Angelique Kerber of Germany, lost to the Estonian Kaia Kanepi 3-6,6-2,5-7. Another American Jennifer Brady enthralled the crowd with a hard fought 6-3,4-6,7-6(3) win over Monica Nicolescu of Romania.
In the final match of the day on Arthur Ashe stadium which started just before midnight, American Madison Keys took out the Russian Elina Vesnina 2-6,6-4,6-1, thus becoming the fifth American lady in the round of 16. For the first hour of the match which finally ended at 1:46AM New York time, Vesnina looked in charge but Keys turned it around magnificently to earn her spot in the round of sixteen to be played on Labor Day, Monday 4th September.
The following is the list of matches to be played on Sunday in the bottom half of the women’s singles with my pick mentioned first :-
Maria Sharapova (-) v. Anastasija Sevastova (16)
Sloane Stephens (-) v. Juliana Goerges (30)
Garbine Muguruza (3) v. Petra Kvitova (13)
Venus Williams (9) v. Carla Suarez Navarro (-)
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@]