U.S. Open Live Coverage: Day 7

Getty Images
0 Comments

4:35 p.m.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat American Jack Sock in four sets to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the second straight year.

After failing to covert one match point in the third-set tiebreaker, the ninth-seeded Tsonga dominated the fourth for the 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-2 victory Sunday.

Sock, the last man from the United States left in the draw, was trying to reach his first major quarterfinal. No American man has made the last eight at the U.S. Open since 2011.

The 26th-seeded Sock upset 2014 U.S. Open champ Marin Cilic in the third round, never facing a break point. But on Sunday, he had just five aces and was broken six times.

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

Tsonga could next face top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who faces 21-year-old Kyle Edmund later Sunday. Asked what kind match he hoped for between those two, Tsonga joked, “really, really, really long.”

4 p.m.

Marcos Baghdatis was warned by a chair umpire for using his cellphone during a changeover while losing his U.S. Open fourth-round match against Gael Monfils.

Baghdatis, the runner-up at the 2006 Australian Open, sat in his sideline chair after falling behind 4-1 in the second set and fiddled with his phone, holding it near a white towel that was on his lap.

Using a phone during a professional tennis match is not allowed, and chair umpire Alison Hughes noticed what was going on.

Later, Baghdatis told reporters he was messaging his wife.

2:50 p.m.

Caroline Wozniacki eliminated eighth-seeded American Madison Keys 6-3, 6-4 Sunday to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals, her deepest run at a Grand Slam tournament in two years.

Wozniacki is a two-time runner-up at Flushing Meadows, but she is unseeded and ranked only 74th after a season filled with injuries and poor results. She hadn’t won a match at a major in 2016 until arriving in New York.

She lost U.S. Open finals in 2009 against Kim Clijsters and 2014 against Serena Williams.

On Sunday, Wozniacki made only seven unforced errors, 26 fewer than Keys.

1:30 p.m.

Gael Monfils’ sizzling summer rolls on with a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open.

The 10th-seeded Frenchman swept Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 on Sunday to improve to 18-2 in matches he’s played since a first-round loss at Wimbledon. That stretch includes the highest-level tournament title of his career at Washington.

Three days after his 30th birthday, there were still classic Monfils moments in this one, including an attempt to tie his shoe in the middle of a point. But he has yet to drop at set at this U.S. Open.

The 31-year-old Baghdatis hadn’t reached a Grand Slam round of 16 since the 2009 Australian Open.

1:15 p.m.

Anastasija Sevastova, who retired from tennis for nearly two years, has reached her first major quarterfinal.

Sevastova upset 13th-seeded Johanna Konta 6-4, 7-5 on Sunday to become the first Latvian woman to make the final eight at a Grand Slam since Larisa Savchenko in 1994.
Still just 26 years old, Sevastova retired in 2013 because of a series of injuries that had made tennis no fun anymore. But she returned to the sport at the start of last season, and her ranking has steadily climbed to 48th.

Her previous best run at a major was a round of 16 appearance at the 2011 Australian Open.

As in her second-round upset of third-seeded Garbine Muguruza, Sevastova struggled to serve out the match. And as in that victory over the French Open champ, she finally closed out the win with a service break.

Sevastova broke Konta seven times in 11 service games.

Konta, an Australian Open semifinalist, collapsed to the court with trouble breathing during her second-round match, but she didn’t appear to have any physical problems Sunday.

1:05 p.m.

Roberta Vinci, last year’s U.S. Open runner-up, is back in the quarterfinals.

The seventh-seeded Italian beat 99th-ranked Lesia Tsurenko 7-6 (5), 6-2 on Sunday. Vinci has never reached the quarters at any of the other three Grand Slams, but she’s now done it four times at Flushing Meadows.

She made her first major final here last year at age 32, stunning Serena Williams in the semis to thwart the American’s Grand Slam bid.

Vinci has been bothered by an injured left Achilles tendon and struggled physically at times Sunday. Exhausted after the match, she had tears in her eyes.

The 27-year-old Tsurenko had never been past the third round at a major before this tournament.

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

australian open
Mike Frey/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

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

us davis cup
Mike Frey/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

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.