The U.S. Open women’s draw was blown wide open by a series of upsets on Friday but it was business as usual on the men’s side with Roger Federer leading a parade of seeds into the third round at the year’s final Grand Slam.
The shockwaves began early on another sunny day at Flushing Meadows with 32-year-old qualifier Mirjana Lucic-Baroni dismissing Romanian second seed Simona Halep 7-6 (6), 6-2 to reach the fourth round. Lucic-Baroni, who failed to build on her run to the 1999 Wimbledon semi-finals, was almost overcome by the victory.
“I mean, I’m a little bit emotional now. Sorry,” she said, wiping away tears. “It’s been really hard. After so many years to be here again, it’s incredible. I wanted this so bad. So many times I would get to… a place where I could do it. Then I wanted it so bad that I’m kind of burned out. I’m so happy.” The tremors continued at the U.S. National Tennis Centre as Swiss teen Belinda Bencic ousted sixth-seeded German Angelique Kerber 6-1, 7-5 to reach the round of 16 in her U.S. Open debut.
The tournament also lost a fan favourite when Italy’s Sara Errani posted her first career win over twice champion and 19th seed Venus Williams, coming out on top in an absorbing roller-coaster clash 6-0, 0-6, 7-6 (5). By the time fifth seed Maria Sharapova had closed out the action under the Arthur Ashe Stadium floodlights with a laboured 6-2, 6-4 win over Germany’s Sabine Lisicki, the top of the women’s draw had lost four of the top eight seeds. The top 10 men’s seeds, however, remain intact. Federer, Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer, sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych and seventh-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov all advanced on Friday. The highest-ranked casualty was Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, the 11th seed, who was ousted by 45th-ranked Dominic Thiem of Austria 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was ousted in the third round Saturday by 145th-ranked qualifier Aleksandra Krunic. The 21-year-old Serb fell onto her back in celebration after a last groundstroke by the third-seeded Kvitova sailed wide for the final point in the 6-4 6-4 shocker.
‘JUST REALLY FAST’
Federer, chasing an 18th Grand Slam title, served up a tidy 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over big-hitting Australian Sam Groth to ease into the third round. The former world number one has feasted on Australian opponents in grand slams over the years, piling up an 18-1 record against men from Down Under, and Groth, who was facing a top 10 opponent for the first time, proved little more than a distraction to the Swiss maestro.
Throughout the one hour and 48 minutes contest the Australian took his best shots at the 33-year-old, including booming serves of over 140mph. “The 142, honestly I hit it and I turned around,” said Federer.
Paes-Stepanek moves continued…