For what feels like the first time all tournament, we finally had a day that went largely to plan for the top dogs. Well, unless you’re Kevin Anderson that is.

Sure, there were some wobbles for Rafa Nadal and Serena Williams, but ultimately it was only Anderson sent packing, courtesy of a straight-sets defeat to ninth seed Dominic Thiem – only his second loss in eight meetings.

Bringing to a close a remarkable twelve months of grand slam tennis for the big South African, which saw him go from a semi-regular top-20 player to world number five and a two-time major finalist – not bad for anyone, let alone a 32-year-old in his eleventh year on tour. It might be a cliché, but no player exemplifies the value of hard work than Anderson. Here’s to hoping he can keep the fairy tale going in 2019.

Here’s your three to see on day 8 in NYC:

Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) [29] v Madison Keys (USA) [14] – First on Arthur Ashe (12:00pm start)

Fresh off a hard-fought, well-earned upset of Wimbledon champ Angie Kerber, Dominika Cibulkova now gets 2017 finalist Madison Keys in a match where she has plenty to prove. Winless in four meetings with the American, Cibulkova comes into this one a clear underdog, and yet the way she’s playing you’ve got to give her every chance. Indeed, Keys looked very shaky early on in her previous match against Aleksandra Krunic, and the feisty Cibulkova isn’t the type to take her foot off an opponent’s throat, should Keys let her place it there in the first place. By all means, give the edge to Keys, but if Cibulkova manages to make it a dogfight, she’s got every chance of pulling the upset.

Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) [26] v Naomi Osaka (JPN) [20] – Second on Louis Armstrong

The breakout stars of the spring and summer American hard court swings respectively, Naomi Osaka and Aryna Sabalenka now get the chance to duke it out for hype train supremacy. Relatively quiet since her triumph in Indian Wells, Osaka has looked like a one-woman wrecking crew in New York, claiming three bagels in the six sets she’s played so far, but Sabalenka comes in fresh off destroying fifth-seed Petra Kvitova – something has to give. What that is – and when it happens – it’s impossible to say, really the only guarantee here is that some poor tennis balls are going to get obliterated, but that’s all you need to make this appointment viewing.

Marin Cilic (CRO) [7] v David Goffin (BEL) [10] – Third on Louis Armstrong (Not before 4:00pm)

The hits keep coming for Marin Cilic, who after his great escape against Alex De Minaur, now gets a man who can make things similarly difficult in David Goffin. Leading the head-to-head 3-2 (albeit with Cilic having taken the last two), Goffin has shown he knows how to get the best of the Croat, and comes in with a decent run of form, having made it to the Cincinnati semis by taking out even bigger hitters Kevin Anderson and Juan Martin Del Potro along the way. If Cilic is to survive this one, he’ll have to do a much better job maintaining his level than he did against De Minaur, especially in terms of staying on the attack and taking time away from Goffin, lest he grant the Belgian opportunities to end points with his backhand. Doable? Yes, but given the circumstances and opponent, a bigger ask than Cilic would like.


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