For the first time since 2004 Rafael Nadal will end a calendar year without having claimed a Grand Slam, after the Spaniard was sensationally ousted from the tournament by Italy’s Fabio Fognini on Day 5.
Day 5 Recap
When the two-time champion collected the opening couple of sets against Fognini and went up a break in the third set, it appeared as though an early night was on the cards for the Spanish superstar. But Fognini refused to give in and, throwing caution to the wind from the baseline, smacked 70 winners as Nadal squandered a two sets to love lead in a major for the first time in 152 matches.
In other men’s matches on Day 5, top seed Novak Djokovic eased past Andreas Seppi in straight sets but defending champion Marin Cilic was forced to 5 sets to see off a gallant Mihkail Kukushkin. Feliciano Lopez scored a surprisingly straightforward win over Milos Raonic, as Jeremy Chardy ousted David Ferrer and Benoit Paire continued his dream run by upsetting Tommy Robredo. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was another to advance on Day 5, whilst Roberto Bautista Agut progressed when David Goffin was forced to retire.
In the women’s tournament, the Russian Makarova overcame a cramping episode to see off Svitolina, as Venus Williams wound back the clock, turning in a vintage display to defeat Belinda Bencic in straight sets. Sister Serena came back from a set down to beat compatriot Mattek-Sands, whilst Madison Keys beat Agnieszka Radwanska for the first time in five career meetings. Meanwhile, Eugenie Bouchard recaptured some of her 2014 form, delivering a stellar performance to see off Dominika Cibulkova in 3 sets.
Matches of the Day – Day 6
1. Roger Federer vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber
These two are both veterans of the ATP Tour and know each other well, often practising together. Kohlschreiber has a terrific one-handed backhand and a very compact, solid all-round game, but deep down I don’t think he really believes he is capable of beating Federer on the big stage.
Federer has waltzed past his first two opponents and, whilst Kohlschreiber will be a tougher challenge, I still think the Swiss star will come through without too many anxious moments. Federer in 3.
2. Victoria Azarenka vs. Angelique Kerber
As I noted earlier this week, Victoria Azarenka loves playing in New York and is a dangerous floater in the women’s draw. Angelique Kerber is another player who revels in the conditions at Flushing Meadows, with the German bursting into the limelight with a run to the semi-finals of the 2011 US Open.
The left-handed Kerber is a talented shotmaker, but Azarenka loves to play against heavy hitters and is the better mover of the pair. On this basis, I’ll back the Belarusian to move through to the round of 16, but not before getting a lengthy workout courtesy of Kerber. Azarenka in 3.
3. John Isner vs. Jiri Vesely
Rising star Jiri Vesely recorded a tremendous win in round 2, the Czech youngster ousting Croat veteran Ivo Karlovic in a hard-fought 5-setter. Can the 22 year back it up against another huge server in the form of John Isner?
Isner would have been expecting a serving shootout against Karlovic, but instead he finds himself pitted against a tricky leftie in the form of Vesely. I think the home crowd support for Isner, combined with some fatigue on Vesely’s part, gives the American the edge. Isner in 4.
4. Richard Gasquet vs. Bernard Tomic
Former Wimbledon quarter-finalist Bernard Tomic was extremely impressive on Thursday night, putting aside the awkwardness of playing compatriot Lleyton Hewitt and fending off multiple match points to take down the former world number one in a gripping 5-setter. Tomic is now in the round of 32 in New York for the first time, but I think the second round victory will have taken a hell of a lot out of the Aussie.
Gasquet has lost to Tomic before, and so knows the danger that he poses. I expect the Frenchman, a former semi-finalist in New York, to start strongly in this clash and never relinquish his lead against a fatigued Tomic. Gasquet in 4.
5. Sam Stosur vs. Sara Errani
Former champion Sam Stosur has struggled in recent years to recapture her form of 2011, which saw her upset heavy favourite Serena Williams to win her one and only major title in New York. However, the Aussie’s heavy kicking serve and ballistic forehand make her a dark horse in the tournament if she boosts her confidence by stringing together a few wins.
Former French Open finalist Errani is a quintessential counterpuncher and, whilst she will capitalise on any mistakes from Stosur, the match will be dictated by the Aussie. Look for Stosur to go after Errani’s weak second serve en route to a businesslike victory. Stosur in 2.
Put your house on: Andy Murray. After scraping past Adrian Mannarino, I think Murray will be in better form against the Brazilian Bellucci today.
Upset alert: Petra Cetkovska knocked out Caroline Wozniacki on Thursday and she has to be a chance of taking down Flavia Pennetta today.
Likely to go the distance: Big-serving Kevin Anderson and young gun Dominic Thiem appear poised to slug it out to the wire today. I’ll back Thiem in 5.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow. In the meantime, follow all of the action on Twitter: @satelliteserve.