Jennifer Brady reaches 1st U.S. Open quarterfinal

Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Jennifer Brady clasped her hands, threw back her head, closed her eyes and soaked in the biggest moment of her tennis career.

“Wow,” she said, describing the moment. “Just wow.”

The 25-year-old American led a contingent of players into their first U.S. Open quarterfinals on Sunday, beating former champion Angelique Kerber 6-1, 6-4 with a dominant serve and forehand.

A bracket lacking many tops players because of injuries and coronavirus concerns has given up-and-comers a chance to seize the moment. Nobody has done it better than Brady, who has yet to drop a set and has lost only 19 games in her four matches.

For Kerber, it was an abrupt end to a resurgent week. The 2016 U.S. Open champion couldn’t make headway against the American, whose biggest challenge came leading 3-2 in the second set.

Brady took a medical timeout and returned to the court with her upper left leg wrapped.

“My leg was bothering me and I wasn’t serving well,” said Brady, who is based in Florida and ranked No. 41. “I was glad to close it out.”

Brady had never reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal. Her impressive week – as good as anyone’s – has provided a breakout moment.

“She’s hitting the ball really fast,” Kerber said. “She’s playing well. She has confidence. Let’s see how far she can get here, but for sure she can get far.”

Brady will play Yulia Putintseva, who threw her racket to the ground after dropping the second set in her match – an outburst that became a turning point.

The 35th-ranked player recovered for a 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 victory over No. 8 seed Petra Martic and her first berth in a U.S. Open quarterfinal.

“Before the third set I said to myself, `Whatever happens, you just make it difficult for her, you’re not going to make any mistakes, you’re going to move her around the court as much as possible,”‘ Putintseva said.

Martic took a medical timeout to get her left foot treated and wrapped before the final game of the match. She finished with 39 unforced errors – 14 more than Putintseva.

In the men’s bracket, fifth-seeded Alexander Zverev is the first German to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals since Tommy Haas in 2007.

TRY NO. 57

Alize Cornet of France reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open for the first time, giving her another chance for that elusive first berth in a Grand Slam quarterfinal. It’s her 57th chance to finally get that far.

The 56th-ranked player has played in the last 54 Grand Slams, the longest active streak and tied for fourth-longest in the Open era. Japan’s Ai Sugiyama played in 62 consecutive Grand Slams.

“I’m pretty proud of this record, let’s say, because it just means that my career has been very consistent since I’m 17,” said Cornet, 30. “It’s not easy never to be injured, never to win a slam, not to drop in the ranking. I’ve been between (No.) 10 and 90 for my whole career, so it’s quite a good consistency I’ll say.”

She’ll face Tsvetana Pironkova in her fourth-round match Monday.

“I’m not a player that gives up,” Cornet said, adding, “I’m proud of this resilience.”

STREAK ENDS AT 13

With top-seeded Novak Djokovic defaulted, a streak will be broken.

The last 13 Grand Slams have been won by either Djokovic (5), Rafael Nadal (5) or Roger Federer (3). Defending champion Nadal chose not to play the U.S. Open out of pandemic concerns, and Federer is recovering from knee surgery.

U.S. sweeps Uzbekistan, advances to group stage in Davis Cup

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The United States swept its way into the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals, getting the winning point in a 4-0 victory over Uzbekistan from the doubles team of Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek.

They beat Sergey Fomin and Sanjar Fayziev 6-2, 6-4, after Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald had won singles matches in Tashkent.

Ram is No. 3 in the ATP Tour doubles rankings and partnered with Joe Salisbury to win the last two U.S. Open men’s doubles titles. But the Americans opted not to use Ram last year in the final round, when they dropped the doubles match in a 2-1 defeat against Italy in the quarterfinals.

Krajicek was making his Davis Cup debut, having reached No. 9 in the doubles rankings late last year.

“They had five great days of preparation, and as anticipated they came out really sharp and got the early break in the first set. And after that it was like two freight trains, there was no stopping them,” interim captain David Nainkin said.

Denis Kudla then beat Amir Milushev 6-4, 6-4.

The winners of the 12 qualifiers being held this weekend advance to the Davis Cup Finals group stage in September, along with reigning champion Canada, 2022 runner-up Australia and wild-card recipients Italy and Spain.

Eight teams will advance to the closing matches of the Davis Cup Finals scheduled for Nov. 21-26 in Malaga, Spain.

In other matches:

France 3, Hungary 2: On indoor hard courts in Tatabanya, Hungary, Ugo Humbert won it for the French with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Fabian Marozsan. Adrian Mannarino had forced the deciding match by beating Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Serbia 4, Norway 0: On indoor hard courts in Oslo, the visitors, playing without top-ranked Novak Djokovic, put away the match when Filip Krajinovic and Nikola Cacic edged Viktor Durasovic and Herman Hoeyeraal 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Hamad Medjedovic then outlasted Durasovic 6-4, 6-7, 10-4.

Sweden 3, Bosnia 1: On indoor hard courts in Stockholm, Mikael Ymer sent the hosts through by beating Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.

Lesia Tsurenko to face Zhu Lin in Thailand Open final

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HUA HIN, Thailand — Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine reached her first final in four years after the top-seeded Bianca Andreescu retired with a shoulder injury during their semifinal match at the Thailand Open.

Tsurenko, in search of her fifth WTA title, was leading the 2019 U.S. Open champion 7-5, 4-0 when the Canadian stopped playing.

The former world No. 23 fought from 3-5 down to take the first set and reeled off eight straight games before Andreescu retired with a right shoulder problem.

“Bianca is such an amazing player. She is capable of hitting all kinds of shots and gave so much trouble today,” said the 33-year-old Tsurenko, now ranked 136th. “But I was just fighting and I told myself positive things that I can do it. Unfortunately, she had to retire.”

The Ukrainian last lifted a WTA trophy in Acapulco in 2018 and hasn’t been to a final since Brisbane in 2019.

She will face Zhu Lin of China in the final.

“She had some good wins in the Australian Open,” Tsurenko said. “She is one of the dangerous players in this tournament. She is going to give a good fight.”

In the all-Chinese semifinal earlier, Zhu benefited from a barrage of unforced errors from Wang Xinyu and prevailed 6-2, 6-4 for her first WTA final.

The world No. 54 player, who reached the last 16 at the Australian Open in January, relied on her solid baseline game to force errors.

“It was very windy, so I tried to be patient and keep my first serves in,” said the 29-year-old Zhu, who will team up with Wang in the doubles final against Hao-Ching Chan and Fang-Hsien Wu of Taiwan.