It was smooth sailing for virtually all of the big names on Day 6 of the tournament, with Federer, Murray, Wawrinka, Kvitova and Halep all booking their places in the second week at Flushing Meadows.
Day 6 Recap
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was largely untroubled by Slovak Anna Karolina Schmiedlova on Day 6, claiming a straight sets victory, whilst second seed Simona Halep breezed past American Shelby Rogers. Eighteenth seed Andrea Petkovic wasn’t so fortunate, going down to the streaking Johanna Konta.
Former champion Sam Stosur was forced to 3 sets to overcome Sara Errani, with the Aussie to next face another Italian in the form of Flavia Pennetta. Lepchenko and Lisicki were also forced to deciding sets to book their places in the fourth round, as was two-time Victoria Azarenka, who scored a fighting win over Germany’s Angelique Kerber.
In the men’s tournament, second seed Roger Federer recorded another straight sets win, this time over Philipp Kohlscreiber, with Richard Gasquet and Stan Wawrinka also notching 3 set wins. After surviving a scare against Mannarino, Andy Murray turned in a more polished performance to account for Thomaz Bellucci, whilst Tomas Berdych needed 4 sets to defeat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
John Isner and Donald Young gave the New York crowd plenty to cheer about on Day 6, with Isner winning the first couple of sets over Jiri Vesely before the Czech player retired due to a neck injury. Meanwhile, former prodigy Young launched his second heroic comeback of the tournament, overcoming a 2 sets to love deficit to oust the twenty-second seed, Viktor Troicki of Serbia. Young will now face Wawrinka for a place in the quarter-finals.
Matches of the Day – Day 7
1. Novak Djokovic vs. Roberto Bautista Agut
Novak Djokovic may have dismissed Andrea Seppi in straight sets in the third round, but it wasn’t as comfortable a match as the final score would indicate, with the top seed finding himself short of breath on multiple occasions and being forced to get out of jail on a few occasions.
Bautista Agut is into the round of 16 at Flushing Meadows for the second consecutive year, and the Spaniard’s heavy hitting baseline game makes him a threat on the courts in New York, where the ball bounces high enough to be consistently in his preferred hitting zone. Djokovic should have too much class and experience, having beaten Bautista Agut in both of their previous meetings, but I think the Spaniard will compete strongly in at least a couple of the sets today. Djokovic in 3.
2. Feliciano Lopez vs. Fabio Fognini
When he’s not arguing with chair umpires or infuriating spectators, Fabio Fognini is capable of some spectacular shot-making. In making an incredible comeback against 14-time major winner Rafael Nadal in the third round, Fognini not only showcased his abilities from the baseline, he also showed great heart and commitment to the cause – attributes not often associated with the feisty Italian.
Lopez defeated Milos Raonic in straight sets in round 3 and looks to be in good form. The big test for Fognini, therefore, is whether he can back up his terrific upset of Nadal with another quality performance, or whether he will turn in a poor performance to continue the inconsistency that has plagued his career to date. Fognini is capable of anything, but to my mind the smart money is on Lopez in this one. Lopez in 4.
3. Marin Cilic vs. Jeremy Chardy
2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic was given an almighty scare by the diminutive Kazakh Mikhail Kukushin in round 3, the Croat forced to go the distance to see off a gallant Kukushkin. Those sets were the first dropped by Cilic in New York since last year’s fourth round, so I don’t think too much should be made of it, especially given that Kukushkin is a tricky opponent at the best of times.
Cilic’s opponent today, Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, is another dangerous opponent. The twenty-seventh seeded Chardy took down seventh seed David Ferrer in the round of 32 and, if the Frenchman can get his serve and forehand combination working well, he’s capable of causing problems for Cilic. That said, I think Cilic has a slight edge over Chardy in most categories and so I expect him to squeeze through in a close 4-setter. Cilic in 4.
4. Benoit Paire vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
The eccentric Benoit Paire has always been capable of making a terrific run at a Grand Slam, with the Frenchman possessing great shot-making flair alongside a solid technique. Paire has ousted seeds Nishikori and Robredo so far in the tournament and, whilst Paire has lost both previous matches against Tsonga, the flamboyant nineteenth seed has found it difficult playing compatriots in the past.
These two know each other’s game very well and Paire won’t be intimidated by the fact that Tsonga is the higher-ranked and better-known player. Former Australian Open finalist Tsonga has to start the match as the favourite, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Paire spring another upset. Paire in 5.
5. Madison Keys vs. Serena Williams
The master against the heir apparent? No doubt that’s the way that the USTA will be viewing this match. Serena Williams has swept all before her in the past 12 months and, despite not exhibiting her best form in New York so far this year, now stands just four wins away from completing the calendar Grand Slam.
Madison Keys has enormous potential and, importantly, has taken some important steps this year towards realising that potential, knocking out Venus Williams before falling to Serena in the semi-finals of the Australian Open this year. Keys competed strongly in the first set of that match before falling away in the second set, and I think it will be a similar result here, with the youngster pushing Serena in one set but being unable to maintain her intensity for the entire match. Williams in 2.
Put your house on: Venus Williams. She was in vintage form against Belinda Bencic and I think she will be far too good for Estonian Anett Kontaveit today.
Upset alert: As previewed above, I think the enigmatic Benoit Paire could continue his giant-killing run against countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga today.
Likely to go the distance: If she can overcome the locker room fall and subsequent head injury that forced her to retire from the doubles and mixed doubles on Saturday, I think Eugenie Bouchard will be too good for Italian veteran Roberta Vinci today. That said, I think the Canadian will have to earn the win in a long one.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter: @satelliteserve.