With Serena Williams out of the US Open, all eyes have turned to Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula in the women’s draw. With six of the top-10 seeds from the women’s side already eliminated, the tournament seems wide open for one of the top American women to win their first-ever US Open.
While Coco Gauff may be the fan favorite, she has never made it this far in the US Open before and found herself in a battle today against Shuai Zhang that she was lucky enough to survive, clawing to a 7-5, 7-5 win.
The other American woman playing today, Alison Riske-Amritraj was not as lucky, falling in straight sets to Caroline Garcia of France.
Matteo Berrettini Survives Upset Bid
The underdog, who has been playing great tennis so far this tournament, came out firing from the start, taking the first set 6-3. However, Berrettini didn’t back down from the fight, winning a second set tiebreaker 7-6 (7-2) and then taking the third set 6-3. The energetic Davidovich Fokina won the fourth set 6-4 to force a fifth set, but the Italian broke his opponent in his first two service games and cruised to an easy 6-2 set victory.
“I was down a set and a break, and I think he was playing a really good level of tennis,” said Berrettini after the match. “I wasn’t feeling bad. It was just he was just playing better than me. I kept believing in my game, my strokes. I was able to take the second set in a tiebreak, I think that was the key to the game.”
It was a much-needed challenge for Berrettini, who was off to a strong start to the summer before getting COVID and being forced to miss Wimbledon. He then had an abbreviated hard court circuit and had looked inconsistent so far in the tournament. His serve has been dominant at times, but he has also mishit groundstrokes, as he did today, and given away far too many points.
However, he made more big shots than he missed today, hitting 49 winners to 47 unforced errors. He also notched 18 aces to Davidovich Fokina’s four and simply proved to have too big a serve. Yet, Davidovich Fokina can exit the tournament with his head held high. His non-stop motor and passionate play won over a lot of fans this week.
For Berrettini, he will advance to the quarter-finals for the US Open to take on another winner from today, 5th-seed Casper Ruud.
“We kind of have like similar game, said the Italian. “We like to play, like to run around our forehands. You know, like putting a lot of spin on the ball, being aggressive. I think the key is to be aggressive before him. I’m going to try to make him run and not gonna run too much. Yeah, the key I think is to be aggressive, to use my weapons, my serve, obviously my forehand.”
Casper Ruud Cruises to Four-Set Victory
Last round, Tommy Paul gave Casper Ruud the fight of his life before running out of gas in the fifth set. Today, 23-year-old Corentin Moutet simply wasn’t able to do the same as Ruud won 6-1, 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2.
“6-1, 6-2, 6-2 seems pretty easy, but it was tough,” said Ruud after the match. “All the games we played, it was close. And I was fortunate in some situations to get the breaks here and there. Things were going my way.”
While Ruud is being polite, it was really a match that the Norweigian controlled from start to finish. He hit 69% of his first serves in and won 72% of his first serve points. He also won 75% of his net points and won 42% of his receiving points en route to breaking Moutet seven times. All of those stats were superior to his opponent, who had a solid run through qualifying and into the main draw where he defeated Stan Warwrinka and upset 21st-seed Botic van De Zandschulp in the second round. However, Ruud proved to be a level too much for the young Frenchman.
“It was pretty humid today, so honestly it was a bit of a challenge sometimes to keep cool,” explained Ruud. “But in these conditions, I know that I need to focus a lot on myself and keeping my head cool. Just tried to stay in the zone.”
With as easily as he handled the challenges today, it almost makes you wonder if we would have seen Tommy Paul into the quarter-finals had he been able to finish the job on Friday.