Novak Djokovic is now only within 4 match wins of becoming only the second men’s player in Open Era to complete a calender grand slam after overcoming a hesitant start to beat Kei Nishikori of Japan in four sets on Arthur Ashe stadium on Saturday. The world number avenged his shocking loss, seven years ago, at the hands of the former world number four with a 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 win to keep alive his hopes of emulating the Australian Rod Laver who completed the slam in 1969 in the Open Era, fifty two years ago. He is joined by Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berretini in the last sixteen.
Djokovic, who is also hoping to surpass the tally of 20 grand slams, a record he holds jointly with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, lost serve in the third game before fighting back with a break in the eighth game as the first set went into a tie-break. Nishikori took advantage of few backhand errors to claim it 7-4. Djokovic broke in third game and then saved five break points in the next game, and another two in the sixth game before breaking serve for a second time to win the set 6-3. He then broke in fourth game before Nishikori got the break back in the seventh. Djokovic broke in the very next game before winning the third set on his second set point. From 2-2 in the fourth set, the top seed moved into a higher gear claiming the next four games, as he won the fourth set 6-2 on his third set point.
Alexander Zverev extended his winning streak to fourteen as he advanced after the resurgent American Jack Sock retired in the fourth set of their evening encounter under lights. The fourth seeded German, winner of the Gold medal in Olympics and his fifth Master’s series title in Cincinnati going into the Open, led 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 2-1 when the former Top 10 player Sock retired. The Italian Matteo Berretini needed four sets to beat the Winston-Salem Open winner Illya Ivashka of Belarus 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 in three hours and fifty minutes on the Grandstand court, but the seventh seeded Denis Shapovalov was bundled out by the South African Lloyd Harris in straight sets who advanced after a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 rout.
Djokovic next goes on to meet the wildcard American Jenson Brooks by who knocked out the 21st seeded Russian Aslan Karatsev 6-2, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in three hours and fifty three minutes. Zverev faces the Italian Jannik Sinner who squandered a two sets lead before beating the last remaining Frenchman Gael Monfils on Loius Armstrong stadium after a 7-6(1), 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4 in three hours and forty four minutes. Berretini next plays the German qualifier Oscar Otte who took out the Italian Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5. Another American to advance was the in-form Reilly Opelka who outlasted the Georgian Nikoloz Bashilashvili 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-4 and next faces the Lloyd Harris in the round of sixteen.
In the bottom half of the men’s draw, second seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia was in devastating form as he beat the Spaniard Pablo Andujar Alba 6-0, 6-4, 6-3 in just under two hours and now plays the Briton Daniel Evans who rallied from a two set deficit to beat the Australian Alexei Popyrin 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(1) in four hours and seven minutes.
In what was the biggest upset of the tournament so far, 18 year old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz became the youngest player since 1992 to reach the fourth round of a grand slam after ending the hopes of the third seeded Stefanis Tsitsipas 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(2), 0-6, 7-6(5) in four hours and eleven minutes on Friday afternoon. The 55th ranked Alcaraz now faces the German qualifier Peter Gojowcyzk, who took out another qualifier Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland 3-6,6-3,6-1, 6-4.
In yet another upset, the American Frances Tiafoe upset the fifth seeded Russian Andrey Rublev in front of a raucous home crowd in the evening session on Friday that finished after 1:30AM on Saturday morning. Tiafoe prevailed 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(6), 6-4, 6-1 but not before the Russian fought back from a 2-4 deficit to win the next four games forcing a decider on a day when all four matches on the showpiece Arthur Ashe stadium went the full distance. Tiafoe next faces the promising Felix Auger-Alliasime who nearly blew a two set lead to beat another Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3 in three hours and fifty eight minutes on Louis Armstrong stadium on Friday.
The Argentine Diego Schwartzman, seeded eleventh, was a straight forward 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 winner over little known Slovak qualifier Alex Molcan, ranked a lowly 138th. He next faces another qualifier from Netherlands, Boltic Van De Zandschulp, ranked 117th, who took prevented an all Argentine clash as he beat Facundo Bagnis 3-6, 6-0, 6-2, 6-2.
The following is the line up for the last sixteen with my pick mentioned first:-
Novak Djokovic (1) v. Jenson Brooksby (WC)
Matteo Berretini (6) v. Oscar Otte (Q)
Reilly Opelka (22) v. Lloyd Harris (-)
Alexander Zverev (4) v. Jannik Sinner (13)
Carlos Alcaraz (-) v. Peter Gojowyczk (-)
Felix Auger-Alliasime (12) v. Frances Tiafoe (-)
Diego Schwartzman (11) v. Boltic Van De Zandschulp (Q)
Daniil Medvedev (2) v. Daniel Evans (24)