Wawrinka, Azarenka return to U.S. Open quarterfinals


NEW YORK — Victoria Azarenka and Stan Wawrinka, both two-time Grand Slam champions, make trips to the U.S. Open quarterfinals an annual affair.

Their experience showed Monday against American opponents who don’t know how it feels to go that far at a major.

Azarenka, whose ranking is down to 20th after two injury-plagued seasons, is starting to look like the player who took Serena Williams to three sets in the final at Flushing Meadows in 2012 and ’13. On Monday, she won 6-3, 6-4 over 46th-ranked American Varvara Lepchenko, who had reached her first U.S. Open round of 16.

”My game was not really a problem. It was just being able to find your rhythm and find the way to apply that game on the certain moments in the tough situations,” Azarenka said. ”So I think that was more of – I wouldn’t say mental, but just more of a consistency.”

Wawrinka had a few more tense moments against another American who has never been past the fourth round at a major.

Donald Young had come from behind in his three previous matches, twice rallying from down two sets, but Wawrinka’s power and poise never gave him much of a chance to do it again no matter how loud the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd roared. The fifth-seeded Wawrinka won 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, taking control in the final two sets behind his bigger serve.

Young, currently ranked 68th, had upset Wawrinka in five sets in the second round of the 2011 U.S. Open. Wawrinka is a different player now, though, winning the 2014 Australian Open and this year’s French Open.

His signature backhand deserted him at times Monday and he smashed a racket after getting broken for the first time in the second set. But he faced just two break points in the final two sets, both coming when he was already up 5-1 in the third.

”I start the third set really right again,” Wawrinka said. ”I was physically there trying to play again more aggressive the way I start the match.”

Wawrinka next faces Andy Murray or Kevin Anderson. The most anticipated men’s match of the day closes out the night session with another Swiss-American showdown: Roger Federer against John Isner.

Azarenka introduced a new fashion statement to Ashe: gauze wrapped around both biceps. She joked in an on-court interview that after throwing around a football Sunday – she does it for fun and to help with her service motion – she wanted to look tough like an NFL player.

The real reason was ”really a little bit embarrassing,” Azarenka conceded. The skin on the inside of her arms had been chafing against her top.

”It’s so weird,” she said.

Azarenka will play second-seeded Simona Halep, who had never been to a U.S. Open quarterfinal herself but does know how it feels to play deep into a major, losing the 2014 French Open final.

Halep gritted out a three-set victory over Sabine Lisicki, the 2013 Wimbledon runner-up. She won 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-2 in 2 hours, 38 minutes on a hot afternoon, with both players limping around by the third set.

Halep had her left thigh wrapped after wasting two set points in the first. With Lisicki a point from forcing a second-set tiebreaker, the players staged an 18-shot rally. Halep was hobbling by the end but somehow chased down a ball in the corner and got it back, and with the whole court in front of her to hit a winner, Lisicki netted a backhand. Halep doubled over in pain and stretched her leg, yet still managed to go on to win the game to force a third set.

It was one of 10 times she broke the big-serving Lisicki, who had a whopping 72 unforced errors.

After a 10-minute break because of the heat, the 24th-seeded Lisicki was the one struggling to move in the third set as she started cramping.

Elena Rybakina hits 10 aces in Miami for 12th straight win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina extended her winning streak to 12 matches by delivering 10 aces – her fourth consecutive outing with at least that many – in a 6-3, 6-0 victory over 25th-seeded Martina Trevisan on Tuesday in the Miami Open quarterfinals.

Rybakina has 46 aces through four matches at the hard-court tournament in Florida and a WTA-leading 201 this season.

The 23-year-old, who represents Kazakhstan, improved to 20-4 in 2023, including a run to the Australian Open final in January and a title at Indian Wells, California, last week.

She is trying to become only the fifth player to win the women’s trophies at Indian Wells and Miami in the same season. Top-ranked Iga Swiatek did it a year ago; she withdrew from Miami this time because of a rib injury.

“Of course it would be amazing to achieve something like that,” the 10th-seeded Rybakina said about the prospect of completing what’s known as the Sunshine Double, “but it’s still far away.”

So far in Rybakina’s career, 13 of her 18 semifinal appearances have come on hard courts. She will face No. 3 Jessica Pegula or No. 27 Anastasia Potapova for a berth in the final.

Trevisan reached the French Open semifinals in 2022.

In fourth-round men’s action Tuesday, No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was beaten 7-6 (4), 6-4 by No. 14 Karen Khachanov, while defending champion Carlos Alcaraz, Taylor Fritz and Jannik Sinner all beat seeded opponents in straight sets.

Alcaraz, who returned to No. 1 in the ATP rankings last week, got past Australian Open semifinalist Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-4 to set up a meeting against Fritz, the top-ranked American man and seeded ninth in Miami.

Fritz compiled twice as many winners, 22, as unforced errors, 11, and only dropped serve once during a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 7 Holger Rune. That put Fritz into his first quarterfinal in seven appearances in Miami – and his first matchup against Alcaraz, a 19-year-old from Spain who won the U.S. Open in September for his first Grand Slam title.

“I’m really excited for it,” Fritz said. “I think that a lot of people are really excited for that, too.”

No. 10 Sinner eliminated No. 6 Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-4 and has yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Sinner’s next opponent will be unseeded Emil Ruusuvuori, a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 winner against No. 26 Botic van de Zandschulp.

Fritz, Sinner reach Miami Open quarterfinals with 2-set wins

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Taylor Fritz and Jannik Sinner beat seeded opponents in straight sets at the Miami Open to move into the quarterfinals.

No. 9 Fritz compiled twice as many winners, 22, as unforced errors, 11, and only dropped serve once during a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 7 Holger Rune.

That put Fritz, the highest-ranked American man, into his first quarterfinal in seven appearances at the hard-court tournament.

He will face either No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz or Australian Open semifinalist Tommy Paul next. Alcaraz is the defending champion in Miami.

No. 10 Sinner eliminated No. 6 Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-4 and has yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Sinner’s next opponent will be No. 26 Botic van de Zandschulp or unseeded Emil Ruusuvuori.