U.S. Open Day 5: Live Coverage

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Welcome to live coverage of day five of the U.S. Open. Here are the results so far:

4:25 p.m.

Novak Djokovic got another free pass at the U.S. Open, advancing when his third-round opponent, Mikhail Youzhny, stopped because of injury after only six games.

This came Friday, two days after the man defending champion Djokovic was supposed to play in the second round, Jiri Vesely, withdrew a couple of hours before that match because of inflammation in his left forearm.

Youzhny quit after only 31 minutes while trailing Djokovic 4-2. Earlier, Youzhny received treatment from a trainer for what appeared to be a back problem.

The No. 1-seeded Djokovic moved into the fourth round at Flushing Meadows for the 10th consecutive year.

4:10 p.m.

Marcos Baghdatis beat Ryan Harrison 6-3, 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-1 to move into the round of 16 at the U.S. Open on Friday, ending the run of the American qualifier who had pulled off the one of the biggest upsets of the tournament.

Harrison had reached the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time when he defeated the No. 5 seed and Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic on Wednesday.

For the 44th-ranked Baghdatis, the victory ends a nine-match losing streak in Grand Slam third rounds. It’s his first appearance in a U.S. Open fourth round and the first fourth round at any major since 2009. He will play the winner of the match between 10th-seeded Gale Monfils and Nicolas Almagro.

3:25 p.m.

Eighth-seeded American Madison Keys rallied from down two breaks in the third set for another great escape at the U.S. Open.

Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka twice served for the match Friday, but Keys got the break both times and went on to win in a third-set tiebreaker 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (3).

The 18-year-old Osaka was wiping away tears on court after she lost her fourth straight game to allow Keys to even the third set at 5-5.

In the first round against 60th-ranked Alison Riske, Keys came back from down a set and a break to win in 2 hours, 26 minutes. Riske had two points on her serve at 5-4 in a second-set tiebreaker to try to close out the match.

The 81st-ranked Osaka was playing in just her third Grand Slam tournament and first U.S. Open, but she made it to the third round at both the Australian and French Opens this year.

Asked on court if this was the best comeback of her career, Keys said: “For sure. Hands down.”

3:15 p.m.

American Jack Sock eliminated 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic to reach the fourth round at Flushing Meadows for the first time.

The 26th-seeded Sock won 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 on Friday, taking all 14 of his service games and never facing so much as one break point. And he handled the Croatian’s big serve just fine, breaking the No. 7-seeded Cilic on four occasions.

The 23-year-old Sock’s only previous trip to the second week of a Grand Slam tournament came when he got to the fourth round of the 2015 French Open.
Sock is now 2-0 against Cilic, having come back from two sets down to win their Davis Cup match this year.

2:30 p.m.

Ninth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is the first men’s player into the round of 16 at this year’s U.S. Open.

Tsonga beat 23rd-seeded Kevin Anderson – a surprise quarterfinalist in 2015 – 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) on Friday. Each player had 13 aces, but Tsonga managed to break Anderson’s serve twice while saving all seven break points he faced.

Anderson upset Andy Murray in the fourth round last year at Flushing Meadows, but he’s struggled with injuries this season.

The U.S. Open is the only major at which Tsonga has not reached the semifinals. He was the 2008 Australian Open runner-up.

1:20 p.m.

Roberta Vinci, last year’s U.S. Open runner-up, didn’t drop a game in the first set, failed to serve out the match in the second, then hung on in the third to keep another run at Flushing Meadows going.

The seventh-seeded Italian needed nearly two hours to top 102nd-ranked Carina Witthoeft 6-0, 5-7, 6-3 in the third round Friday. This is the fourth time Vinci has reached the round of 16 at the U.S. Open – she’s done it just three times combined at the other majors.

And last year, she stunned Serena Williams in the semis to thwart her Grand Slam bid. It was Vinci’s first major final at age 32.

The 21-year-old Witthoeft, who’s been ranked as high as 49th, was looking to make her first Grand Slam round of 16. She’s now 0-5 against top-10 opponents.

Vinci was two points from victory while serving at 5-4 in the second set, but Witthoeft broke back, part of a run of four straight games to even the match. Vinci went up a break to start the third only for Witthoeft to later get the set back on serve. Then Vinci won the last three games to move on.

1 p.m.

Two-time U.S. Open runner-up Caroline Wozniacki has reached her first Grand Slam round of 16 since 2015 Wimbledon.

Her ranking down to No. 74 after an ankle injury and on-court struggles, Wozniacki beat Monica Niculescu 6-3, 6-1 on Friday. It’s the first time since January she’s won three matches at the same tournament.

Against the 58th-ranked Niculescu, who presents an unusual style with a forehand slice, Wozniacki played more aggressively than her normalyeefensive game. Wozniacki is now 7-0 against the Romanian, who was trying to equal her best performance at a major by reaching the round of 16.

12:35 p.m.

Anastasija Sevastova has followed up her upset of Garbine Muguruza by equaling her best performance at a Grand Slam.

About 38 hours after she stunned the French Open champ, the 48th-ranked Sevastova swept past No. 59 Kateryna Bondarenko 6-4, 6-1 on Friday to reach the round of 16 at the U.S. Open. The Latvian also made it that far at the 2011 Australian Open, but in May 2013, she retired after a series of injuries.

Sevastova returned to tennis at the start of last season, and at this year’s Australian Open, she played her first major since 2011. She reached the second round at Melbourne and Roland Garros then lost her first match at Wimbledon as she steadily climbed back up the rankings.

Bondarenko was a U.S. Open quarterfinalist in 2009 but hasn’t been past the third round at a Grand Slam since.

11 a.m.

Three past champions are on the U.S. Open lineup Friday, with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Marin Cilic all seeking to move on to the round of 16.

The No. 1-ranked Djokovic, who experienced problems with his right arm in the first round and didn’t have to play in the second when his opponent withdrew with an injury, takes on 61st-ranked Mikhail Youzhny in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

No. 4-seeded Nadal faces Youzhny’s doubles partner, Andrey Kuznetsov, on Ashe at night, while No. 7 Cilic plays No. 26 Jack Sock of the United States in Louis Armstrong Stadium.

On the women’s side in Ashe, second-seeded Angelique Kerber, the Australian Open champ, faces 17-year-old American qualifier CiCi Bellis. And former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki – down to No. 74 in the rankings thanks to injury issues and early exits at tournaments – takes on No. 58 Monica Niculescu.

Weather should not be a factor, with sunny skies and temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s.

Rybakina, Sabalenka to meet in Australian Open women’s final

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Mike Frey/USA TODAY Sports
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MELBOURNE, Australia — What all seemed so different, so daunting, even, about trying to win a Grand Slam title to Elena Rybakina a little more than six months ago is now coming rather naturally.

And if she can win one more match, she will add a championship at the Australian Open to the one she collected at Wimbledon.

Rybakina, a 23-year-old who represents Kazakhstan, reached her second final in a span of three major tournaments by beating Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (4), 6-3 at Melbourne Park on Thursday, signaling a rapid rise toward the top of tennis.

“Everything was new at Wimbledon,” Rybakina said after hitting nine aces in the semifinals to raise her tournament-leading total to 44. “Now I more or less understand what to expect.”

That could come in handy Saturday, when she will face No. 5 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus. Sabalenka reached her first Grand Slam title match at age 24 by beating unseeded Magda Linette 7-6 (1), 6-2 in Thursday’s second semifinal.

Sabalenka improved to 10-0 in 2023, winning all 20 sets she has contested this season.

More importantly, the victory over Linette gave Sabalenka her first taste of success in a Slam semi after going 0-3 at that stage until now, losing each previous attempt by a 6-4 score in the third set.

Rybakina and Sabalenka employ a somewhat similar brand of tennis, relying on big serves and big hitting at the baseline. Sabalenka is far less cautious, though, and her penchant for high-risk, high-reward play was evident against Linette, who had never before been past the third round in 29 appearances at majors.

Sabalenka finished with a whopping 33-9 edge in winners, but also compiled more unforced errors – including a trio that led to a break at love by Linette in the opening game.

The key to both semifinals turned out to be a first-set tiebreaker. Azarenka lost the mark on her strokes, for the most part, making things smoother for Rybakina, while Sabalenka raced to a 6-0 lead in hers. It wasn’t the case that each and every shot Sabalenka hit landed right on a line, but it must have seemed that way to Linette.

“In the tiebreaker, I really found my rhythm,” Sabalenka said. “Started trusting myself. Started going for my shots.”

Rybakina’s win over Azarenka, the champion at Melbourne Park in 2012 and 2013, added to what already was an impressive run through a string of top opponents. She also beat No. 1 Iga Swiatek and No. 17 Jelena Ostapenko – both owners of major titles – and 2022 Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins.

“For sure, they’re very experienced players,” said Rybakina, whose parents and sister have been in town throughout the Australian Open. “I knew that I have to focus on every point.”

She delivered serves at up to 117 mph (189 kph) and stinging groundstrokes that she used to close points seemingly at will on Thursday. Her performance was particularly noteworthy against a returner and defender as established on hard courts as Azarenka, a former No. 1 and a three-time runner-up at the U.S. Open.

“Kind of hard to digest,” Azarenka said. “Obviously, I had quite a few chances that I gave myself.”

Rybakina is just 23, 10 years younger than Azarenka, and the future sure looks bright at the moment.

Rybakina might be seeded just 22nd in Melbourne, and ranked just 25th, but those numbers are rather misleading and not indicative at all of her talent and form. She did not get the usual bump from her title last July at Wimbledon, where zero rankings points were awarded after the All England Club banned players from Russia and Belarus because of the invasion of Ukraine.

Rybakina was born in Moscow; she switched to Kazakhstan in 2018, when that country offered to fund her tennis career.

It was breezy and chilly at Rod Laver Arena from the start of Rybakina vs. Azarenka, with the temperature dipping below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius).

That had a role in the way the first set was as much of a seesaw as can be, with each player seeming to gain the upper hand – and then ceding it just as quickly. Both found the conditions slowed down the tennis balls.

“Kind of misjudged a lot of balls,” Azarenka said.

Rybakina encountered similar issues and her occasional inconsistency was encapsulated by the very first game. She began, inauspiciously enough, with a double-fault, before holding with the help of three aces.

Azarenka nosed ahead by breaking for a 3-2 lead on a leaping, full-extension volley winner with both women at the net. Rybakina, though, broke right back, and then once more to go up 5-3.

Azarenka saved a set point at 5-3 with a terrific down-the-line forehand passing shot, wound up taking the game with a backhand she accented with a shout of “Let’s go!”

A mistake-filled tiebreaker ended with Azarenka pushing a forehand wide to cap an 11-shot exchange, and the set belonged to Rybakina. She broke at love for a 2-1 lead in the second, and while they competed for another 25 minutes, the outcome was never really much in doubt.

Sure, Rybakina again faltered for a bit while trying to serve out the victory at 5-2. No one expected Azarenka to go quietly. But one last break, aided by a double-fault from Azarenka, allowed Rybakina to take another step toward another trophy.

“Ready,” she said, “to give everything I have left.”

Paul, McDonald on US Davis Cup team; Nainkin interim captain

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Mike Frey/USA TODAY Sports
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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Australian Open semifinalist Tommy Paul and the player who eliminated Rafael Nadal at Melbourne Park, Mackenzie McDonald, are among the players picked by interim captain David Nainkin for the U.S. Davis Cup team’s matches at Uzbekistan next week.

Nainkin’s appointment was announced Friday, three weeks after Mardy Fish’s tenure as captain ended.

Nainkin has been with the U.S. Tennis Association since 2004. He will be assisted against Uzbekistan by Dean Goldfine, who coached 20-year-old Ben Shelton during his quarterfinal run at the Australian Open.

Paul beat Shelton in that round before losing to Novak Djokovic on Friday night.

The other members of the U.S. roster are Denis Kudla, Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek. Kudla replaces Jenson Brooksby on the team.

The matches will be played on indoor hard courts on Feb. 3-4.