Novak Djokovic’s quest for his 18th grand slam title came to an abrupt end after he was defaulted trailing 5-6 in the opening set against the 2017 semi finalist Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain. In the afternoon session on Sunday, just after squandering three set points in tenth game on Busta’s serve, Djokovic dropped his own serve and hit the ball in disgust which accidentally struck a female lines judge on the Arthur Ashe Stadium. The official cried out and began gasping for air as she collapsed to the ground as the ball hit her full toss in the throat.
Djokovic rushed over to check on the lines woman who was also attended by a doctor and a physiotherapist. The tournament referee Soren Friemel had around ten minutes of discussion with the World number One who pleaded his case. As per the rules, Friemel handed out a disqualification, and the Spaniard advances into the last eight. Djokovic would lose all ranking points and prize money from the tournament.
The draw has opened up following Djokovic’s unexpected and dramatic exit, and this means a player born after the 1980s will for the first time win a grand slam title. Carreno Busta will play the left handed Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who once again came from behind to beat the seasoned David Goffin of Belgium. The 12th seed, one of three players from Canada to reach the last sixteen, had come from the brink of defeat against the American Taylor Fritz, rallied after dropping the first set in a tie-break to advance to the last eight with a 6-7(0), 6-3,6-4,6-3 win over the seventh seeded Goffin.
The remaining two winners on Sunday were the fifth seeded German Alexander Zverev who defeated Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2,6-2,6-1, and the Croat Borna Coric who showed little signs of fatigue despite playing two five set matches in the tournament as he beat the Australian Jordan Thompson 7-5,6-1,6-3 to book a clash against Zverev on Tuesday. Coric, who saved six match points to beat the fourth seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece had tested positive for Covid-19 in June, also required five sets to beat the Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero in the second round.
In the bottom of the draw which saw matches played out on Labor Day, the second seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria produced superlative tennis to end the hopes of the 15th seeded Felix Auger-Alliasime after a 7-6(4),6-1,6-1 win on Monday afternoon on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Thiem squandered an early break of serve in the first set as he failed to serve out the set in the tenth game, the three time grand slam finalist moved into top gear and after taking the first set in a tie-break took control of the match losing only one game each in the next two sets. He now plays the Australian Alex De Minaur who ended the run of another Canadian Vasek Pospisil after a surprisingly easy 7-6(6),6-3,6-2 win. The unseeded Pospisil who had gone the distance in his previous match against Roberto Bautista Agut, which came after his upset of fellow countryman Milos Raonic, ran out of gas after dropping the first set in a closely contested tie-break.
The third seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev, last year’s beaten finalist, ended the run of the last remaining American in the men’s draw, Frances Tiafoe, after a 6-4,6-1,6-0 demolition in the night session on Monday. The Russian won the last eight games in a row and took 17 out of the last 20 points as he booked an all Russian match up against Andrey Rublev. The tenth seeded Rublev came from behind to beat last year’s semi-finalist Matteo Berretini of Italy, seeded sixth, after a 4-6,6-3,6-3,6-3 win.
The following is the Quarter Final line up with my pick mentioned first alongwith the head to head record:-
Denis Shapovalov (12) v. Pablo Carreno Busta (20); Busta leads 3-1
Alexander Zverev (5) v. Borna Coric (27); Coric leads 3-1
Daniil Medvedev (3) v. Andrey Rublev (10); Medvedev leads 2-0
Dominic Thiem (2) v. Alex De Minaur (21); Thiem leads 2-0.
In the ladies section of the draw, Serena Williams is now only three wins away from a record equalling 24th career grand slam title as she avenged last week’s loss to Maria Sakkari of Greece after a 6-3,6-7(6),6-3 win on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Labor Day. She plays the Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova. The former world number One Victoria Azarenka of Belarus faces Belgium’s Elise Mertens in the last eight. Naomi Osaka of Japan, the 2018 champion takes on the unseeded American Shelby Rogers, another American Jennifer Brady completes the quarter final line up against Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]