US Open Day 4: Top seeds Djokovic and Barty progress

  • Matt Trollope

World No.1 Ash Barty led a procession of women’s seeds into the last 32 as the third round line-up took shape at the US Open.

The Australian beat Clara Tauson in straight sets, while Iga Swiatek, Petra Kvitova, Belinda Bencic and Angelique Kerber were also among the winners on Thursday.

Alexander Zverev dominated Albert Ramos-Vinolas to reach the third round and Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini also advanced, but 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz exited as the upsets continued in the men’s draw.

Night session: Djokovic, Andreescu, Pliskova progress

Novak Djokovic took another step closer to an incredible sweep of all four major titles in 2021, with a straight-sets win over Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor in the Ashe night session.

Djokovic improved to 23-0 in Grand Slam play this season after cruising to a 6-2 6-3 6-2 victory.

It sets up a third-round meeting with former world No.4 Kei Nishikori, who earlier beat Mackenzie McDonald in five sets.

Djokovic has won his past 16 matches against Nishikori dating back to 2014, when Nishikori stunned the world No.1 in that year’s US Open semifinals.

Meanwhile, Bianca Andreescu remains undefeated in US Open main-draw matches thanks to her 6-4 6-4 win over Lauren Davis at Louis Armstrong Stadium – her first win in straight sets in more than three months.

Andreescu is now a perfect 9-0 at the tournament and advances to the third round of a major for the first time since winning the title in New York two years ago.

The sixth seed faces Belgian lucky loser Greet Minnen for a spot in the second week.

Later in the evening, fourth seed Karolina Pliskova held off Amanda Anisimova in a brilliant second-round match, saving a match point to triumph 7-5 6-7(5) 7-6(7) in a battle of incredible ball-striking from the baseline.

Pliskova, the Wimbledon finalist who has won 17 of her past 21 matches, next takes on Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic, a 7-6(6) 6-4 victor over 30th seed Petra Martic.

Men's No.7 seed Denis Shapovalov booked a place in the US Open third round for the fifth straight year thanks to a 7-6(7) 6-3 6-0 dissection of Roberto Carballes Baena.

Next up for the Canadian is the rapidly-improving South African Lloyd Harris.

Barty extends win streak to seven

Cincinnati champion Barty was largely dominant against Tauson, slamming 11 aces among 33 winners while the powerful Dane managed just 14.

Barty led 6-1 5-3 and, despite a brief wobble as she served for the match, managed to settle and close out a 6-1 7-5 triumph, setting up a fifth meeting in 2021 with Shelby Rogers, who is yet to beat Barty in any of the previous four.

Joining Barty in round three was seventh seed Swiatek, who recovered from 6-3 2-0 down to beat Fiona Ferro of France 3-6 7-6(3) 6-0.

Swiatek and Barty are projected to meet in the quarterfinals.

Kerber guaranteed a similarly-exciting match-up in the last 32; playing a second-round match held over from Wednesday, she beat Anhelina Kalinina 6-3 6-2 to book a date with 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens.

No.10 seed Kvitova dismissed Kristyna Pliskova 7-6(4) 6-2 and will next play 17th seed Maria Sakkari – a 6-4 6-2 winner over Czech Katerina Siniakova – while Bencic and Jessica Pegula both won in straight sets to set up a third-round meeting.

Also winning through were Roland Garros finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and last week’s WTA Cleveland champion Anett Kontaveit, who stopped recent Cincinnati finalist Jil Teichmann 6-4 6-1

Stat of the day: Raducanu's rise

British qualifier Emma Raducanu continued her dream-like run with a 6-2 6-4 win over China’s Zhang Shuai.

The 18-year-old has reached the third round at back-to-back majors; in July she went all the way to the last 16 at Wimbledon in what was her first ever appearance in a Grand Slam main draw.

DRAW: US Open women's singles

And beginning with that captivating run at the All England Club, she has now won 16 of her past 20 matches – including five in a row, all in straight sets, in New York.

Raducanu has improved her ranking from 338th to No.150 in that time and next takes on Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo; a win could see her crack the top 100.

Zverev, Berrettini, Opelka progress

Zverev needed just one hour and 14 minutes to trounce Ramos-Vinolas 6-1 6-0 6-3 and extend his winning streak to 13.

Berrettini comparatively struggled, but eventually saw off Frenchman Corentin Moutet in four sets to book a third-round meeting with Ilya Ivashka, last week’s Winston-Salem champion who eliminated Vasek Pospisil.

DRAW: US Open men's singles

Another player in strong recent form is Reilly Opelka; the Toronto Masters finalist, seeded 22nd, beat Lorenzo Musetti 7-6(1) 7-5 6-4 to advance to the third round at Flushing Meadows for the first time.

Later on Thursday, 17th seed Gael Monfils overcame Steve Johnson in four entertaining sets while No.21 seed Aslan Karatsev, seeking to rediscover his stellar form of earlier in the season, saved two match points to oust Jordan Thompson 3-6 3-6 7-5 7-6(9) 6-1. 

In other results, 13th seed Jannik Sinner saw off American wildcard Zachary Svajda in four sets while another local wildcard, Jack Sock, upstaged No.31 seed Alexander Bublik 7-6(3) 6-7(2) 6-4 4-6 6-3 to reach the last 32 at a major for the first time since Australian Open 2017.

Sock, a former world No.8 currently ranked 184th, next faces Zverev.

Upset of the day

There was another upset in the men’s draw, with 10th seed Hurkacz surprised in four sets by 37-year-old Italian Andreas Seppi.

Hurkacz won two US hardcourt titles earlier in 2021 – Delray Beach and the Miami Open – and later reached the Wimbledon semifinals; he arrived in New York after a recent run to the Toronto Masters quarterfinals, where he nearly beat eventual champion Daniil Medvedev.

But despite comfortably winning the first set, Hurkacz faded to a 2-6 6-4 6-4 7-6(6) loss to the world No.89.

Seppi, who earlier overcame Marton Fucsovics in five sets, now faces German qualifier Oscar Otte for a place in the fourth round.

Tweet of the day

Quotes of the day

“It's not something I love to play all the time because, I mean, obviously he's the toughest opponent, one or two. I rather have someone rank lower. I mean, I always love the challenge. Even though I had a bad record, I always try to be positive. I'm sure it's going to be tough one, but I do my best.”
- Kei Nishikori after setting up a third-round meeting with Novak Djokovic, against whom he trails the head-to-head series 2-17.

“We saw she was reading ‘Gone With the Wind’ last week. We asked her about it. I'm a massive reader myself, and we've been chatting about what books we have been reading. That was 1900 pages, I think she said. I said to her, I've had a 1000-page book or 980-odd-page book last week and that was long enough for me. I don't know how she stays interested in the big ones for so long. I prefer little ones that don't make my arms tired.”
- Ash Barty discusses books with Iga Swiatek, with whom she practised at the US Open.

“I finish it already. (I think it took me) three weeks? Something like that. I finish it yesterday, and I cried. Maybe that's the reason I was emotional in the match … that was a joke. Well, I mean, once when I was a junior I had a situation when I couldn't stop reading the book, so I read until like 2am, and I lost the match next day. So that was pretty stupid. But I was 16, so other people go to parties and I just read a book until 2am.”
- Iga Swiatek on finishing Gone With The Wind.

“I thought, actually didn't think I played great, and that's what I loved about it. I won the match not playing great. I picked up my level, made some nice adjustments on my return. But it started off ugly. I was clutching in the breaker. Stayed tough, I put pressure on him, and that's what I think good players start to do is they win when they are not playing well.”
- Reilly Opelka, through to the US Open third round after winning for the eighth time in his past 10 outings.

Day 5: Ones to watch

Friday is all about third-round blockbusters, particularly in the women’s draw.

The Arthur Ashe Stadium schedule opens with an incredible clash between two-time major champions Victoria Azarenka and Garbine Muguruza – they have split four career meetings – before third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas takes on Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz.

Kerber versus Stephens is another match sure to capture interest; it is scheduled in the late afternoon at Louis Armstrong Stadium.

ORDER OF PLAY: US Open Day 5

Other matches pit Simona Halep against Elena Rybakina, Felix Auger-Aliassime against Roberto Bautista Agut, Aryna Sabalenka against Danielle Collins, and Elina Svitolina against Daria Kasatkina.

Ashe’s night session features a clash between fifth seed Andrey Rublev and local star Frances Tiafoe, after Naomi Osaka attempts to extend her Grand Slam winning streak to 17 matches when she plays Canadian rising star Leylah Fernandez.