2021 US Open: Review Of Pre-Quarterfinals

Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berretini are safely through to the quarter finals of the final grand slam of the year in New York, and are being joined by Felix Auger-Alliasime of Canada, Lloyd Harris of South Africa, the Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz and little known Dutch qualifier Botic Van De Zandschulp.

The top ranked Novak Djokovic who is chasing the calendar grand slam and a record 21st title got off to a terrible start against the American Jenson Brooksby who ran away with the first set 6-1. Djokovic would get an early break in the second set but Brooksby broke back in a lengthy fifth game which went to deuce ten times. Djokovic failed to hang on to four game points and the American converted on his sixth break point. Djokovic recovered quickly in the next game as he took a 4-2 lead on his second break point of the game. From there on the 99th ranked Brooksby’s offered only token resistance as Djokovic prevailed 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to set up a rematch of the Wimbledon final against the Italian Matteo Berretini. The sixth seeded Italian, ranked eighth in the world had a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over the qualifier Oscar Otte of Germany, ranked 144th in the world, in only two hours and twenty two minutes on Louis Armstrong stadium.

Alexander Zverev of Germany extended his winning streak to 15 after beating the 20 year old Italian Jannik Sinner 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(7) in the first match on Labor Day on Arthur Ashe stadium. The Olympic Gold medalist and winner of the ATP Masters in Cincinnati, the fourth seeded German looked to be cruising to an easy win after breaking serve early in the third set. But the 16th seeded Italian broke back in the eighth game and had two set points on Zverev’s serve in the twelveth game. Zverev saved those and then three more in the tie-break to avert a potentially tricky situation to claim the win in straight sets.

Zverev’s next opponent is the unseeded but fast improving Lloyd Harris of South Africa who took out the highest remaining American left in the draw as he rallied after dropping the opening set in a tie-break on Louis Armstrong stadium. The South African squandered six break point opportunities in the first game of the match and then after breaking Opelka’s serve in the ninth game dropped his serve to love as the American saved one more set point in the first set tie-break which he won 8-6. After failing to convert three break points in the fourth game, Harris saved one in the fifth before finally leveling the match at one set all in the tenth game. From there onwards the 46th ranked Harris completely dominated the 24th ranked Opelka to emerge a 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 winner in two hours and thirty five minutes.

The 2019 finalist Daniil Medvedev, seeded second continued his serene progress into the quarter-finals as he beat the Briton Daniel Evans 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in only one hour and forty five minutes on Sunday in the first match on Arthur Ashe stadium. The second seeded Russian, who was a finalist in Melbourne this year, hasn’t dropped a set in four matches and hasn’t dropped more than four games in all the twelve sets played in New York. He will not play the 117th ranked qualifier from Netherlands Botic Van De Zandschulp who maintained exemplary composure despite blowing chances in the third and fourt set against the Argentine Diego Schwartzman as he became the first player from Netherlands in 17 years to reach a grand slam quarter-finals. Playing under a closed roof on Louis Armstrong stadium, the Dutchman dominated the first two sets and looked headed for a straight sets win as he took a 4-2 lead in the third set. That’s when the 11th seeded Schwartzman started a comeback as he took the next two sets to force a decider. Zandschulp, who served 15 aces, put aside the disappointment of not serving out the match in the tenth game of the fourth set when the Argentine saved two match points. He would barely miss a first serve and broke twice before finally clinching the four hour and twenty two minute encounter on his fifth match point in his 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 5-7, 6-1 win.

The other quarter-finals on Tuesday will feature two if the brightest talent as Canada’s Felix Auger-Alliasime takes in the Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz. After dropping the first set against the unseeded Frances Tiafoe in the night match on Arthur Ashe stadium, the fifth seeded Alliasime booked his second consecutive quarter-final spot in as many grand slams as he rallied against the fiftieth ranked Tiafoe. In a close third set which effectively decided the fate of the match, Alliasime squandered two set points in the tenth game and one more in the twelveth game on the American’s serve. He saved one set point in the ensuing tie-break which he won 8-6 before closing out the three hour and twenty minute match 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(6), 6-4.

Alliasime who also reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals takes on the Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz who ended the hopes of the German qualifier Peter Gojowcyzk after a 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 win in three hours and twenty six minutes. The 18 year old Spaniard who caused the biggest upset of the tournament beating the third seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round dominated the 141st ranked German after breaking serve in the fourth game of the fourth set on his fifth break point opportunity in a lengthy game which had seven deuces.

Following is the quarter-final match up with my pick mentioned first:-

Novak Djokovic (1) v. Matreo Berretini (6) ; Djokovic leads 3-0
Alexander Zverev (4) v . Lloyd Harris (-) ; Zverev leads 2-0
Felix Auger-Alliasime (12) v. Carlos Alcaraz (-) ; First meeting
Daniil Medvedev (2) v. Botic Van De Zandschulp (-); first meeting.

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