Shelby Rogers rallied from 5-2 down in the third set to beat world No.1 Ash Barty on Saturday night in the biggest upset of the US Open so far.
Men’s world No.1 Novak Djokovic avoided a similar shock, beating Kei Nishikori for the 17th time to stand just four match victories from an historic calendar-year Grand Slam.
Earlier on Saturday, sixth seeds Matteo Berrettini and Bianca Andreescu – who both enjoyed breakout performances in New York in 2019 – returned to the second week with wins over Ilya Ivashka and Greet Minnen respectively.
Also progressing were Polish star Iga Swiatek, Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic, qualifiers Emma Raducanu and Oscar Otte, and No.17 seed Maria Sakkari, who ousted Petra Kvitova in straight sets.
Night session: Barty, Shapovalov bow out
Cincinnati champion Barty rode a seven-match winning streak into her third-round clash with Rogers, a player she had beaten in all four of their 2021 meetings and against whom she led the head-to-head series 5-0.
But she sprayed 17 unforced errors in the opening set as Rogers took it comfortably.
The Australian found her range in the second set and continued to control the match in the third as she built a 5-2 lead – but despite twice serving for the match, she could not close it out.
Rogers played brilliantly to recover, and, buoyed by an energised home crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium, she expertly mixed offence and defence in a tense tiebreak to seal an unlikely 6-2 1-6 7-6(5) win.
Rogers returns to the fourth round for the second straight year; in 2020 she saved multiple match points against Kvitova to advance to the quarterfinals, where she fell to eventual champion Naomi Osaka.
She will attempt to reach the same stage again when she faces Raducanu on Monday.
In another upset unfolding at the same time at Louis Armstrong Stadium, South Africa’s Lloyd Harris eliminated No.7 seed Denis Shapovalov 6-4 6-4 6-4 and will next face 22nd seed Reilly Opelka, who beat Nikoloz Basilashvili in straight sets.
Other night matches saw fourth seed Alexander Zverev extend his winning streak to 14 matches after beating an injured Jack Sock, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova dismissing Varvara Gracheva 6-1 6-4 to set a meeting with Karolina Pliskova.
Djokovic, Berrettini nearing quarterfinal clash
Djokovic has not lost to Nishikori since being stunned by the former world No.4 in the US Open semifinals of 2014.
He ensured there would be no repeat of such a result at the same venue, rallying to a 6-7(4) 6-3 6-3 6-2 win on Ashe.
As is often the case when playing Djokovic, Nishikori pushed the Serb in several entertaining exchanges, only to make errors at crucial moments. He finished with 56 unforced errors.
Djokovic will next play rapidly-improving young American Jenson Brooksby, who beat No.21 seed Aslan Karatsev 6-2 3-6 2-6 6-3 6-3.
Berrettini, who reached the semifinals at Flushing Meadows two years ago, beat Winston-Salem champ Ivashka 6-7(5) 6-2 6-4 2-6 6-3 to end the Belarusian’s eight-match, 17-set winning streak.
The Italian belted 27 aces among 69 winners to progress, and remains on track for a quarterfinal showdown with Djokovic – should he get past Otte – in what would be a rematch of their Wimbledon final.
Berrettini’s countryman Jannik Sinner saw off Gael Monfils in five dramatic sets to advance to the last 16, having never previously cleared the first round.
The 20-year-old led Monfils by two-sets-to-love and a break in the third, and then by 4-0 in the fourth, before eventually triumphing 7-6(1) 6-2 4-6 4-6 6-4.
Stat of the day
Meanwhile, Otte became the lowest-ranked player into the US Open fourth round in 15 years after ending the inspired run of 37-year-old Andreas Seppi in four sets.
Otte, a qualifier ranked 144th, also qualified for Wimbledon and reached the second round, where he pushed Andy Murray to five sets in a memorable Centre Court battle.
He is on a six-match winning streak at Flushing Meadows, and joins fellow qualifiers Peter Gojowczyk and Botic van de Zandschulp in the last 16 – the first time three qualifiers have reached this stage of a major tournament since Roland Garros in 1995.
Andreescu, Swiatek move through
A US Open champion in 2019, Andreescu continues to gather momentum, thumping lucky loser Greet Minnen for the loss of just three games.
Andreescu has now won three straight matches in New York, her longest winning streak since she reached the Miami Open final five months ago.
Her win sets up a Miami semifinal rematch with Sakkari, who hit 19 winners past an error-prone Kvitova in the first match of the day on Ashe to reach the fourth round for the second straight year.
A rematch of their scintillating Miami semifinal is set for the #USOpen Round of 16, as Bianca Andreescu will face Maria Sakkari for a spot in the quarterfinals.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) September 4, 2021
In Miami, Andreescu won 76(7) 36 76(4).
Andreescu’s fellow major winner Swiatek, who triumphed at Roland Garros in 2020, snapped Anett Kontaveit’s seven match winning streak with a 6-3 4-6 6-3 victory.
The seventh seed has now reached the second week at all four majors in 2021, at the same time notching her best ever US Open result.
She will attempt to reach her third career Grand Slam quarterfinal when she faces 11th seed Bencic, an impressive 6-2 6-4 winner over American Jessica Pegula.
In a later result, fourth seed Pliskova sent down 20 aces to dismiss Ajla Tomljanovic 6-3 6-2, and has now won 18 of her past 22 matches.
Upset of the day
While few results could top Rogers' shock win over Barty, it was the scoreline of Raducanu's performance that was perhaps an even bigger surprise, especially given her ranking of No.150.
The 18-year-old British qualifier overwhelmed Sara Sorribes Tormo – a player in excellent form in 2021 – for the loss of just one game.
Raducanu threatened to double-bagel the world No.41 when she surged to a 6-0 5-0 lead, before completing a 6-0 6-1 triumph in just 70 minutes.
She has now reached the fourth round at back-to-back majors and, after entering Wimbledon ranked 338th, is projected to make her top-100 debut.
Tweet of the day
Never seen a performance like it !!!!!👏🏼🤯@EmmaRaducanu Take a bow girl 🔥— Katie Boulter (@katiecboulter) September 4, 2021
Quotes of the day
"She took me down twice in Australia in front of her home crowd, she took me down in my home town (in Charleston), and then she really embarrassed me in Madrid. So I guess I just wanted to show her what New York could do (laughter). But man, she is a competitor. She's such a fighter. And I have so much respect for her. I mean, what she's done this year is unfathomable. She hasn't been able to go home for the whole season, she's won five titles. The level she brings every week is just what we all aspire to do."
- Shelby Rogers on ESPN, discussing Ash Barty.
Shelby Rogers and Ash Barty crossed paths en route to their press conferences, shared a hug and some laughs.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) September 5, 2021
Shelby on Ash: “Honestly, I could do this for another 20 minutes.”#USOpen pic.twitter.com/3XHRPivIfu
“My first time in a fourth round of US Open. I'm pretty proud of that. It doesn't matter what's going to be my final result, but still we did a great job. Being in fourth round of all the Grand Slams this year, it shows that really I am going the right path.” - Iga Swiatek
“Arthur Ashe is the place where you bring the energy, where you feel this kind of electric atmosphere, particularly in the matches like this where it's decided in a few points. The crowd was involved. It was loud. It was nice. I thrived on that.”
- Novak Djokovic, after coming through his toughest test of the tournament so far against Kei Nishikori.
“I hope that it can continue like this the whole way and I can be 14-0 at the US Open (smiling). That's my goal.”
- Bianca Andreescu, after improving her career record in main-draw matches to a perfect 10-0 at the US Open.
“Even with the years and years I've been playing here, it's one of the greatest atmosphere I have to play in. I'm definitely disappointed with the result, but I'm full of joy deep inside with that atmosphere.”
- Gael Monfils
“I think I'm playing better tennis here than at Wimbledon. Of course being on the hard courts, they're less forgiving than grass. But honestly, I think with the amount of matches I have played and the experience that I have accumulated in the last four, five weeks, my game is just getting better with each match.”
- Emma Raducanu, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon before replicating that feat this week at the US Open.
Day 7: Ones to watch
Sunday’s Arthur Ashe Stadium schedule is a dream for tennis fans, opening with a clash between Elina Svitolina and Simona Halep – a rivalry locked at five wins apiece for each.
Following that match, second seed Daniil Medvedev will look to continue his dominant US Open when he plays Brit Dan Evans, who has equalled his best ever major result.
Felix Auger-Aliassime takes on Frances Tiafoe in a night-time blockbuster before major champions Garbine Muguruza and Barbora Krejcikova face off in the last match of the evening.
Elsewhere, Canadian Leylah Fernandez looks to back up her upset win over Naomi Osaka when she comes up against Angelique Kerber on Louis Armstrong Stadium, while Fernandez’s fellow 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz – who stunned Stefanos Tsitispas on Friday – plays Gojowczyk on Grandstand.