by Kevin Craig
Stan Wawrinka won his third major title on Sunday at the US Open as he defeated Novak Djokovic in four entertaining sets, 6-7(1), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3.
Wawrinka, who was match point down in his third round match against Dan Evans, has now won the 2014 Australian Open, the 2015 French Open, and the 2016 US Open and has equaled Andy Murray’s number of major titles at three. Wawrinka is now just one title at Wimbledon away from completing the career grand slam.
“I don’t know what’s happening right now,” said Wawrinka, who has now won his last 11 finals in a row, in his post-match on-court interview. “I’ve been practicing hard since many million years. My goal is to give everything I have to be the best player I can…that’s what happened tonight.”
The first set really set the tone for the duration of the match as the two great friends and warriors battled for an hour to see who could take the early lead. As Djokovic battled back from 40-15 to break Wawrinka in his first service game of the match, eventually taking a 3-0 lead, it looked like the Suisse had not come to play.
Djokovic, though, had referred to Wawrinka many times before the match as a big-match player, and that is exactly what the No. 3 seed proved to be as he was able to fight off three break points later in the set, two of which were set points, and broke the Serb when he served for the set, eventually forcing a tiebreak.
In that first set tiebreak, it was all Djokovic as he didn’t let the thought of him getting broken while serving for the set get to him. The No. 1 player in the world was able to breeze to a 7-1 win, putting himself within two sets of his 13th major title.
The second set saw Wawrinka, who hit 46 winners in the match, begin to settle down and start effectively playing his aggressive style of tennis, earning a break in the early stages for a 4-1 lead. Djokovic would be able to break the Suisse later in the set and got it back to 4-4, but when he served at 4-5, Wawrinka was able to assert himself in the match again and break to even up the match at one-set-all.
In a third set that lasted almost 80 minutes, Wawrinka fought off three break points in the opening game before breaking Djokovic for a 2-0 lead. He would save another break point in the next game to go up 3-0, but the pressure from Djokovic on Wawrinka’s serve finally paid off as he broke the Suisse on his sixth chance of the set to get back on serve.
It would remain that way as neither player saw a break point until Wawrinka did so in the 12th game. After Djokovic had missed out on a game point to force a third set tiebreak, he would proceed to lose the next two points, as well as his service game and the set, allowing Wawrinka to go up two sets to one.
Djokovic, who won just three of the 17 break points that he had in the match, began dealing with a toe injury early in the fourth set, allowing the No. 3 player in the world to race out to a 3-0 lead. After fighting off a break point to hold for 1-3, Djokovic took a medical timeout before Wawrinka went to serve, an action that did not please the Suisse.
The short break required for Djokovic’s toe injury almost got into Wawrinka’s head too much as he had to fight off three break points in the next game to hold for 4-1. From there, it was straightforward for Wawrinka as he would go on to hold in a deuce game to close out the match and the championship, earning himself his third major title.
“This is honestly amazing. I came here without expecting, without having the goal to win…There was so much emotion. This is something that I never had before,” said Wawrinka.
Wawrinka’s three major titles go along with his gold medal from the 2008 Olympics in doubles and his 2014 Davis Cup title, adding up to what has been a very decorated career for someone who had to perform in the shadow of one of the greatest players of all time for the majority of his career in Roger Federer.
The US Open title makes Wawrinka the only active player to have won multiple major titles after turning 30-years old.
Despite the disappointment for Djokovic, who is still having a stellar year slightly under the radar, which seems absurd to say, he remained humble in defeat.
“This has been absolutely deserved. You were the more courageous player in the decisive moments,” Djokovic said to Wawrinka. “He was the tougher player, he knew what to do.”
The praise from Djokovic did not go unnoticed by Wawrinka, who made sure to return the gesture.
“We know each other for many, many years. Because of you, I’m where I am today,” said Wawrinka to Djokovic, citing the No. 1 player in the world as his inspiration throughout the past few years.
Angelique Kerber won her second major title on Saturday at the US Open as she defeated Karolina Pliskova, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to claim the trophy in New York.
After winning the Australian Open in the beginning of the year, and now the US Open, Kerber became the first player other than Serena Williams to win two majors in one year since Justine Henin did so in 2007. This title for the German proves that she deserves the No. 1 ranking that she will receive on Monday.
“It means a lot to me. When I was a kid I was always dreaming to one day be the No. 1 player in the world. To win Grand Slams. And today is the day. I won my second Grand Slam here…I’m the No. 1 player on Monday, so it’s just amazing,” said Kerber. “All the dreams came true this year.”
Both players came into the final with loads of confidence, which goes without saying as both had won six matches in New York to get to this point. Kerber, though, was playing with the comfort in her mind that, win or lose, she would be the new No. 1 player in the world when the rankings come out on Monday.
Pliskova, on the other hand, made it past the third round of a major for the first time and was on an 11-match win streak that included her title in Cincinnati that saw her defeat Kerber in the final.
Pliskova, who hit 40 winners and 47 unforced errors in the match, got off to a shaky start, as expected in her first major final, and Kerber took advantage. A break in the opening game by Kerber was followed up by an impressive serving performance in the first set in which she saved all three break points that she faced. Already up a break at 5-3, the German was able to break again to take the set and put herself just one set away from her second major title.
The tables turned in the second set, though, as Pliskova massively raised her level. The Czech didn’t face a single break point in the set and was able to continuously pressure the serve of the 2016 Australian Open champion. Three of Kerber’s five service games in the set went to deuce, and one of the games that didn’t was the game in which Pliskova was able to break. That one break was all the No. 10 seed needed to level the match and forced a deciding third set.
“I just found in myself some power in the second set,” said Pliskova, who won 89 percent of her first serve points in the second set.
Pliskova continued to play at her high level in the third set, breaking Kerber early to get a crucial lead. After going down 3-1, though, Kerber was able to fight back and get back on serve, winning three games in a row to make it 4-3.
From that point forward, both players were playing at peak levels. Kerber was playing her steady game and hit virtually no errors in the latter stages of the match, while Pliskova was blasting the ball from all over the court.
Serving at 4-5, though, Pliskova began to falter, as she had in the opening set. Kerber capitalized on this brief lapse from the Czech and broke at love to close out the match and win her second major title.
“I was really trying to stay in the moment, trying to play my game and being aggressive. I was just really trying to enjoy the final,” said Kerber of her comeback in the third set.
After a stellar 2016 season that saw her win two major titles and reach the No. 1 spot in the rankings, Kerber has little left to prove to the tennis world at the age of 28.
“Just amazing. I won my second Grand Slam in one year. That’s the best year in my career. It’s actually just incredible…it means so much to me,” said Kerber. “Congrats to Karolina…the last few months you have played incredible. You are a tough opponent and for sure you have a great future.”
“Congrats to Angie, she really proved she’s the world No. 1. It was a great match and I’m very honored to play with you,” said Pliskova, who is just 24-years old. “Even though I couldn’t get the win I’m really proud of myself. I’m really happy the way I was playing the last three weeks and hopefully many more titles to come.”
by Kevin Craig
Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka set up an epic matchup in the final of the US Open that will take place on Sunday as they both won their semifinals on Friday in four sets.
Djokovic and Wawrinka have had many great battles throughout the course of their career, including the 2015 French Open final which Wawrinka won in four sets.
Djokovic, who will play in his seventh US Open final after winning the first semifinal of the day, took out Gael Monfils in what was one of the stranger matches of 2016.
“It was a tough one to be part of…I’m just very glad to overcome that,” said Djokovic. “I think he actually played the best tennis of his life on hard courts this season…so it was a good win for me today.”
Monfils, who had come into the semifinal stage without dropping a set, looked to be completely out of sorts in the opening set against the No. 1 player in the world.
After quickly finding himself down 5-0 after 16 minutes, Monfils appeared to try to change up his strategy to a method that looked like complete indifference. The Frenchman began to give minimal effort in the majority of points at the end of the first set, but the crazy part is that it actually worked. Monfils was able to roll off three games in a row before Djokovic finally closed out the set.
“I tried to get in his head…I’m just embracing the fact the guy is too good for me, and I try to switch strategy…Is not academic, but I try to win. I think I’m gutsy to try that, you know, against the world No. 1,” said Monfils, who hit 11 aces, but also 11 double faults.
The No. 10 seed looked to keep that same strategy going in the second set, but it stopped working. Djokovic figured out how to work around the listless Monfils and breezed to a two-sets lead, but not before boos aimed at the Frenchman rang out around Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The jeers started as Monfils, who faced 20 break points in the match, prepared to serve down set point. He proceeded to ask the crowd to get louder, sarcastically, before hitting double fault to give Djokovic the second set. That was followed by louder jeers, and Monfils looked like he may have received the wake-up call he needed.
After dropping serve to open up the third set, Monfils would roar back and look like he was the one who had been in charge of the entire match, breaking Djokovic twice before fighting back from a 0-40 hole while serving for the set to hold.
“I should not have allowed him to come back into the match after two sets to love up and 2-0 in the third, that was the momentum shift,” said Djokovic. “He started believing in himself and the crowd…was behind him. They wanted to see the long match.”
Monfils appeared to have returned to the form that got him to the semifinals, but more importantly he was able to get the crowd back on his side. The fourth set, though, would once again be controlled by Djokovic.
After an early exchange of breaks, the Serb would break Monfils twice more to close out the win and earn his spot in the final.
“It was a strange match, as it always is when you play Gael, who is very unpredictable player,” said Djokovic. “I was completely caught off guard when he just stood there and chipped the ball back and didn’t do much.”
While Djokovic was able to start scouting his next opponent and prepare for the final, Monfils had to answer to criticism from the press, namely John McEnroe, who was not shy in calling out the Frenchman for his performance in the first two sets.
“I’m very sad to learn that such a legend criticize me, because…I want to be the best. It’s tough. I try my best,” said Monfils, who hit 52 unforced errors. “I’m sorry if you think I’m unprofessional, but I’m working. I’m learning. I think I’m failing, for sure, a lot, but I try to stand up…because when he calls me unprofessional, he calls…all my team, actually, unprofessional.”
In what was a much tighter and more entertaining second semifinal, Wawrinka was able to defeat Kei Nishikori in four sets after being down a set and a break.
“I knew it would be really tough…I’m really happy. It was an amazing atmosphere again. To tell myself that I’m going to be in the final, it’s something crazy,” said Wawrinka.
The Suisse will now play in his third major final and he is looking to keep his record in major finals perfect. He has won the only two that he has played in as he defeated Rafael Nadal in the 2014 Australian Open final, as well as the aforementioned triumph over Djokovic at the 2015 French Open.
“I’m really excited. I’m really happy. I want to enjoy that moment. I’ve watched the final so many times here,” said Wawrinka, who will finally get to play in the US Open final for the first time.
After a straightforward first set in which Nishikori controlled and took advantage of the only break point of the set, Wawrinka was able to battle back from a break down in the second.
The Suisse lost his serve in the opening game of the set before breaking back a couple games later. The pressure continued though as Wawrinka saved six more break points in the set before breaking Nishikori in the 12th game of the set to level the match.
Set No. 3 saw Wawrinka continue to play well as he was able to break Nishikori twice. Just like the second set, the Suisse was able to break in the final game to close it out, this time giving himself a two-sets-to-one lead.
In the fourth set, almost everything went the way of the Suisse as he was able to break three times and ease his way into the US Open final.
There will be no secrets between Djokovic and Wawrinka on Sunday as they have played each other 12 times since 2012, as well as six times in majors. While Djokovic leads the career head-to-head record 21-4, no one will be able to predict what will happen in the final.
by Kevin Craig
Caroline Wozniacki reached her third US Open semifinal on Tuesday as she defeated an injured Anastasija Sevastova, 6-0, 6-2 to start off a lackluster night session that saw the men’s match between Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga end with the Frenchman retiring.
The Dane, a former world No. 1, reached the only two major finals of her career at the US Open, coming in 2009 and 2014. The win puts her into her first semifinal at a major since that run to the final of the US Open in 2014.
“It’s amazing to be back here. It’s the best feeling ever,” said Wozniacki, currently ranked No. 74.
The former world No. 1 had no issues starting off the match as she was able to break Sevastova to get out to a quick lead. It was just a couple games into the match, though, that the Latvian took a tumble on the baseline and rolled her ankle, essentially killing off any chances she had of winning the match.
“I felt real sorry for her. I kept pushing her back and making her run,” said Wozniacki, who was aware of the injury but did not want to give her opponent any room to get back into the match.
After taking the first set with no trouble whatsoever, it looked like the second set would take a similar path. Wozniacki was able to race out to a 4-0 lead as Sevastova continued to struggle with the ankle injury.
In the fifth game, however, the Latvian was able to finally get on the board as she fought off three break points to hold for the first time in the match. She would hold again in her next service game and looked to finally be in the match, but it was too little too late.
In the next game, Wozniacki held with ease to close out the win, setting up a semifinal with the 2016 Australian Open champion, Angelique Kerber. The German leads the head-to-head record 7-5, but the Dane holds a 5-4 lead in hard court matches.
“She’s had a great year so she will be tough to beat, but I’m going to do my best. That’s all I can ask for myself,” said Wozniacki. “I always believe in myself, no matter what my ranking.”
by Kevin Craig
Karolina Pliskova ended the opportunity of having an all-Williams semifinal at the US Open as she defeated Venus Williams on Monday, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(3).
“I put everything in there, I’m happy that I won it,” said Pliskova.
The 10th-seeded Pliskova reached her first quarterfinal at a major with the win that saw her battle back from a being down a set and a break in the second set, while she also had to fight off a match point in the third.
In the first, the Czech didn’t have much to offer for the crowd-favorite Williams. The American, currently ranked No. 6 in the world at the age of 36, rolled out to a 3-0 lead in the first set with ease. That lead would expand to 5-1 for Williams, but she would have difficulty closing out the set as Pliskova would break her twice and actually got the set back on serve.
With Pliskova serving at 4-5, though, she quickly fell into a 0-40 hole and was unable to battle out of it as Williams broke on her third chance to close out the set and take a lead.
The second set saw some of that momentum for Pliskova from the end of the first set carry over. Despite going down a break early, the Czech didn’t let it crush her hopes, as she immediately broke in the next game before breaking again two games later, eventually having a 5-3 lead. Serving out the set at 5-4, Pliskova had no troubles levelling the match as she held at 15 to take the match into a decider.
Pliskova, who hit 33 winners in the match, continued to be in charge early on in the third set, pressuring Williams in her first two service games. The pressure paid off as Pliskova broke for a 2-1 lead before fighting off three break points in the next game to go up 3-1. One sloppy game at 4-3, though, would cost Pliskova the lead as Williams broke easily to level up the match.
With Pliskova serving at 4-5, it looked like the opportunity had slipped out of the hands of the 24-year old as Williams had a look at a match point. Pliskova was able to hold her nerve, though, and earn a tough hold for 5-5. That gave the Czech a confidence boost that allowed her to break in the next game and attempt to serve for the match at 6-5.
After quickly going up 40-0, with three match points in hand, it looked like Pliskova had finally sealed the deal. It would never be that easy with Williams, one of the most decorated tennis players of all-time, on the other side of the net. The American was able to save all three of those match points, winning five points in a row to break back and force a final set tiebreak.
“To be honest, it was very difficult after I lost my serve for 6-6. She played a very good game but I was still focused,” said Pliskova.
In the tiebreak, the fight-back from Williams had finally reached its limit. Pliskova was able to race out to a 6-2 lead where the American saved a fourth match point. At 6-3, though, the job was finally completed as the Czech capitalized on her fifth match point to ensure her place in the quarterfinals of a major for the first time in her career.
“So far I’m happy that I got my first quarter-final. I’m going to enjoy this moment and prepare for the next match,” said Pliskova, who will take on either the No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwansa or Ana Konjuh in the next round.
by Kevin Craig
Simona Halep was able to fight off a valiant effort from the No. 31 seed Timea Babos of Hungary on Saturday at the US Open, solidifying her spot in the fourth round of the US Open with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 win.
“I don’t know how I came back. I felt like I didn’t play my best but I was fighting to the end for every ball,” said Halep.
The 5th seeded had been struggling in 2016, by her standards, but has managed to turn that form around in the past few months. Since May, when her ranking fell to No. 7 after having been ranked No. 2 at the start of the year, Halep has a 29-4 record. During that impressive run of form, the Romanian has racked up three titles, two of which were Premier level events, and had a 13-match win streak.
To no one’s surprise, Halep has continued to play well in New York, not dropping a set in her first two matches. Babos, though, gave Halep her first scare of the tournament, and almost sent her packing.
In the first set on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Halep looked to be in the same form she has been all summer, breaking Babos three times and saving the two break points she faced in the set. She only had difficulty in one of her three service games of the set, as she only dropped one point in the other two games.
Babos looked to have things figured out early on in the second set, as she took Halep to deuce in her first service game of the set before breaking the Romanian the next three times. Those three breaks for Babos were more than enough to level the match at one set each.
In the third, the Hungarian continued to have the momentum on her side as she broke Halep for the fourth time in a row to go up a break in the first game. Serving at 3-2, though, Babos finally cracked and the 2014 French Open runner-up broke back, but almost gave up another break at 4-4 as she had to dig out of a 15-40 hole to hold. In the next game, though, Halep was able to break Babos to close out the nervy three-set victory.
“I was trying to push her back. I was trying to run for every ball. I did everything I could today and I’m really happy I could finish the match in my way,” said Halep.
The 24-year old Halep, who was a point away from letting her opponent serve for the match, is now into the fourth round of a major for the third major in a row and the ninth time in her career. She will take on the No. 11 seed Carla Suarez Navarro for a spot in the quarterfinals.
by Kevin Craig
Madison Keys completed an extraordinary comeback on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday at the US Open, coming back from 1-5 down in the third set to beat Naomi Osaka of Japan, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(3).
“For sure. Hands down,” said Keys when asked if this was the best comeback of her career. “The crowd today was amazing, and getting to play at your home slam on Ashe is a feeling like you can’t even describe.”
Keys, the No. 8 seat in this year’s US Open, has been in terrific form this summer, holding a 19-4 record since the French Open. The impressive run she has been on saw her sitting at a career high ranking of No. 9 coming into the event, and with her results in New York, will see her propel to an even higher career high ranking when the new rankings come out.
With a title in Birmingham, a finalist appearance in Montreal, and reaching the medal rounds at the Olympics in Rio, Keys, at 21-years old, was touted as one of the outside favorites at the final major of the year, but received a massive scare from her 18-year old opponent.
Osaka, who has been highly regarded as one of the best prospects on the women’s side of the game in recent times, had an impressive result early in the year as she qualified to get into the Australian Open before reaching the third round. Her ranking as hovered in the 80-120 range in 2016, though, as she has not been able to win more than two matches in a row since her run in Melbourne.
The Japanese looked to make it three wins in a row on Friday as she broke Keys in the opening game of the match and got off to the exact start she needed. Keys, however, was up to the task and broke back just three games later to get back on serve. From the 2-2 game onward, the rest of the first set was very straight forward as neither player had a look at any break points and none of the games went to deuce until the final game of the set.
In the 12th game, Osaka gave Keys, who hit 37 winners in the match, just the smallest window of opportunity at 30-40, and the American took advantage as she broke to close out the first set, 7-5.
The second set was much different as four of the 10 games went to deuce, yet only one break point was converted. That break went to Osaka in the ninth game as she was able to fight off two break points in the early stages before taking the lead late. After converting her first break point of the set for a 5-4 lead, Osaka went on to hold comfortably at 15 to force a decider.
All the momentum looked to be on the side of the 18-year old as she would get within one game of reaching her first fourth round at a major, holding a 5-1 lead. Keys, though, knew how big of an opportunity this was for her and she didn’t let it slip, breaking Osaka as she served for the match, not even allowing the Japanese to have a look at a match point.
“I just knew that if I stayed in the match that I could maybe have a chance to come back and get back in it,” said Keys, and that was exactly the case as she fought herself all the way back to a final set tiebreak.
The unreal comeback from Keys, who won 80 percent of her first serve points in the match, was concluded as all the momentum was on her side at this point. The American was able to jump out to a 5-2 lead in the tiebreak, and there was no looking back from that point as she would close out the match three points later and place herself in the fourth round of the US Open for the second year in a row.
“I think the biggest thing is just…I’m never giving up and I’m fighting to the very end. That’s something to pat myself on the back for. But also definitely going to sit down later and work on some things for the next round because I don’t want to be two points from losing again,” said Keys.
This match-up between Keys and Osaka is surely one that will be seen many times again in the future, and possibly even in the later rounds of major tournaments. For now, though, Keys will focus on her fourth round match with former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki that will take place on Sunday.
The American has bowed out in the fourth round of the first three majors of the year, but will hope to go at least one better here in New York, and possibly match her career best result at a major; reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open in 2015.
by Kevin Craig
American qualifier Jared Donaldson reached the third round of the US Open on Thursday as he defeated Viktor Troicki of Serbia in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3 6-3.
Not only does the win for Donaldson send him into the third round of a major for the first time in just his second appearance, but it will also propel him to a new career high ranking inside the Top 100.
Coming into the US Open, Donaldson was in fine form as he qualified for the tour level events in Washington, D.C. and Toronto, while totaling five tour level main draw wins. Two of those came over Fabio Fognini and Nicolas Almagro, and he was surely expecting to receive a wild card into the US Open.
When the list of wild cards was announced, though, the 19-year old, who is coached by Taylor Dent, was snubbed and was forced to win three matches in the qualifying tournament. With a chip on his shoulder and the feeling that he still had something to prove, he won his three qualifying matches with ease, not dropping a single set and only getting taken beyond 6-3 twice.
After that impressive run in qualifying, the No. 122 player in the world continued to impress as he pulled off arguably the biggest upset of the opening round, beating the No. 12 seed David Goffin in four sets, including a bagel in the fourth set.
With risen expectations on his shoulders, Donaldson, who only has one challenger level title and three futures level titles to his name, showed no signs of extra stress or pressure as he strolled into the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and left with a routine win over a perennial Top 40 player in Troicki.
After going down an early break in the first set and staring down a 4-1 deficit, Donaldson started to show off the good form that he had been displaying all summer, winning six of the next eight games, including two breaks, to take the first set.
From the point in the first set when it was 4-1 in Troicki’s favor, Donaldson clearly became the better player as it looked like he was the veteran on the court and Troicki was the teenager. The American quickly found himself up a double break in the second set, breaking the No. 35 player in the world in his first two service games of the set.
Troicki would get one break back, but it did not phase Donaldson as he was able to break back later in the ninth game to close out the set and grab a two sets lead.
In the third set, Troicki kept it much tighter and even had a look at two break points early on. The American was able to fight those off at 1-1, though, and didn’t look back. Donaldson would go on to break for a 4-2 lead before fighting back from a 0-30 whole in each of his next two service games to close out the straight sets win.
Donaldson will either face fellow American Donald Young or Ivo Karlovic in the third round.
by Kevin Craig
Ryan Harrison upended the No. 5 seed and 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic in the second round at the US Open on Wednesday, 6-7(4), 7-5, 7-5, 6-1.
“This is the tournament you dream of growing up,” said Harrison. “This has been a really special year. I’ll never forget it.”
Harrison’s younger brother Christian also qualified for this year’s US Open, so this event had already been a special one for the Harrison family. Ryan’s performance on Wednesday on the new Grandstand Court only helped to sweeten the already great experience.
The 24-year old American, who has been on a great run of form this summer, got off to an impressive start and made it clear that he would not back down to the powerful Raonic. After getting an early break for a 3-2 lead, Harrison, the former No. 43 player in the world, was broken right back but kept his composure to force a tiebreak in the first set. Raonic, though, looked to take charge of the match at that point as he raced out to a 4-1 lead before eventually taking the tiebreak and the set.
Once again, though, Harrison, who finished with 48 winners, was able to keep his composure early on and not back down. The No. 120 player in the world got out to an early break and held a 4-1 lead before seeing six set points on Raonic’s serve at 5-3. The Canadian was able to fend all of those off, though, before breaking Harrison in the next game, looking like he had fought off the effort from Harrison.
That was not the case, though, as the theme of the match continued. A mentally tougher Harrison fought back again, breaking in the 12th game of the set to level the match.
“It’s mental maturity, a little bit of stabilization with everything around me that is allowing me to play with a sense of calm and also with excitement,” said Harrison of his new mental toughness that helped him battle through adversity in the first two sets to keep the match tight.
Raonic was able to fight through that stumble late in the second set as he jumped out to an early break lead in the third. The match completely turned after just a couple games in the set, though, as the Wimbledon finalist began to feel some physical issues.
After calling the trainer for an issue with his wrist, Raonic began to limp around the court, allowing Harrison to break back to get back on serve before once again breaking in the 12th game to take a two sets to one lead.
“The left arm, the right forearm there towards the end of the third, both quads, a little bit hip flexor on the left. It was just catching me all over,” said Raonic.
The match was well over as the fourth set began as Raonic clearly had nothing left in the tank. After a surprising hold to start off the set, Raonic was broken in his next two service games while Harrison lost just two points on serve in the whole set, including a hold at love in the final game. A fine recipe for Harrison to close out the match and earn his best career win, putting him in the third round of a major for the first time.
“I’m excited that emotionally and from an execution standpoint I was able to put enough in play and be aggressive enough to take the win,” said Harrison, who was able to break the big serving Raonic seven times in the match. “I’m still young. I’m 24. I’ve got a-ways to go, especially with guys playing well into their 30s now.”
While Raonic’s injury played a factor in Harrison winning the match, nothing can be taken away from the American’s performance on Wednesday, as well as throughout the entire summer, as he has earned a spot back in the Top 100 for the first time since January of 2014.
“He’s been playing well…I didn’t create this pressure for myself or this kind of stress on myself…he did that,” said Raonic of Harrison’s performance.
Harrison, who had previously beaten Raonic in Indian Wells in 2011, will take on Marcos Baghdatis in the third round of the US Open.
At The US Open, Ana Ivanovic Loses Fifth Match In Row, Third Since Marriage To Bastian Schweinsteiger
by Kevin Craig
Former world No. 1 and 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic was upset in her first round match at this year’s US Open, losing to Denisa Allertova in straight sets, 7-6(4), 6-1.
“It’s an amazing feeling right now,” said Allertova of the Czech Republic.
The No. 89th ranked player in the world didn’t get to the start she envisioned as Ivanovic was able to break in the opening game of the match. After fighting off multiple break points to hold for 3-1, it looked like the Serb had withstood the fight she would receive from Allertova in the match. Ivanovic’s service games became much easier, that is, until she attempted to serve out the first set.
Serving at 5-4, Ivanovic quickly fell behind 15-40 and lost out on her opportunity to gain a set advantage. She would have another crack at it, though, as she broke Allertova right back. Once again, however, Allertova refused to go away and broke in a lengthy 12th game, saving a set point along the way, to force a tiebreak. It was there that Allertova was able to steal the first set, as well as all of the momentum in the match, taking the tiebreak 7-4.
“I put myself in a position to close out the set…and then I don’t. This is what’s been really frustrating so this is something I really have to re-assess and work on,” said Ivanovic in post-match press conference of her recent struggles.
There was no looking back for the Czech as she broke in the opening game of the second set to essentially finish off the match. Allertova dealt with almost no pressure on her serve in the set, losing just five points in three games with no break points to face. The No. 89 player in the world would break in Ivanovic’s last two service games of the match to seal the deal, taking home the straight set victory.
“I’m so happy. It was a tough match. She’s a great player. But I just focused on every point and tried to play my best,” said Allertova, who improved to 7-1 in first round matches at majors.
Ivanovic, who also lost in the first round at Wimbledon this year and has now lost in the first round of the US Open two years in a row, is currently ranked as low as she has been since October of 2010. She is also in danger of finishing the year with a below .500 record for the first time in her career, as her current record in 2016 sits at 14 wins and 15 losses. Her loss Tuesday was her fifth in a row and the third in a row since her July 12 marriage to German soccer star Bastian Schweinsteiger.
“It is very disappointing. Obviously you want to try to do your best at the biggest events and I really felt like I did everything I could,” said Ivanovic. “It’s really disappointing…so I really have to try and stay a little bit positive even if it’s very hard.”