US Open Day 7: Fernandez upsets Kerber, Alcaraz wins again

  • Matt Trollope

Teenagers Leylah Fernandez and Carlos Alcaraz continued their incredible US Open runs with dramatic fourth-round victories on Sunday.

Canada's Fernandez produced an enthralling 4-6 7-6(5) 6-2 win over Angelique Kerber to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, where she will face No.5 seed Elina Svitolina, a straight-sets winner over Simona Halep.

Spanish rising star Alcaraz, another 18-year-old, then saw off German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk in five sets to secure his own Grand Slam last-eight debut.

Also on Sunday, Daniil Medvedev beat Dan Evans in straights sets to advance to the quarterfinals for the third straight year.

READ MORE: "If I play good, it's tough to beat me," says Medvedev

The No.2 seed is yet to drop a set and next faces surprise quarterfinalist Botic van de Zandschulp, after the Dutch qualifier upstaged 11th seed Diego Schwartzman in five sets.

Night session: Auger-Aliassime advances, Alcaraz next

After 1am local time, reigning Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova withstood Garbine Muguruza's challenge to advance to the quarterfinals, in what is her first appearance in the US Open main draw.

Krejcikova stormed to a 6-3 4-0 lead before Muguruza recovered and earned three sets points, only for the physically ailing Krejcikova to complete a 6-3 7-6(4).

Earlier, in an absorbing encounter on the same court, Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime rebounded from the loss of the first set to end Frances Tiafoe’s inspired run on home soil.

Auger-Aliassime ultimately out-steadied the flashy Tiafoe, holding his nerve to serve out a 4-6 6-2 7-6(6) 6-4.

Auger-Aliassime had never before reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal but has now notched two straight after also progressing to the last eight at Wimbledon.

He will next face Alcaraz, who backed up his five-set upset win over Stefanos Tsitsipas with another five-set triumph.

Trailing two-sets-to-one, Alcaraz summoned his physical reserves and dominated the final two sets to beat a misfiring Gojowczyk, who finished the match with 84 unforced errors.

Alcaraz’s 5-7 6-1 5-7 6-2 6-0 triumph sees him become the youngest man in the Open Era to reach the US Open quarterfinals.

Fernandez continues fairytale run

Just as she did against Naomi Osaka in the third round, Fernandez recovered from a set and a break down to oust another multiple major champion in Kerber.

The Canadian held points for a 5-2 first-set lead but soon found herself down 6-4 4-2 as Kerber’s experience and relentlessness shone through.

But Fernandez then won a succession of magnificent rallies that captivated the packed crowd at Louis Armstrong Stadium, and after snatching the second set, she looked the fresher player in the third.

Her win sets up a quarterfinal showdown with Svitolina, who won the latest instalment of her rivalry with Halep to reach her eighth career major quarterfinal.

Svitolina and Halep had split 10 career meetings but on Sunday the Ukrainian, a recent bronze medallist at the Tokyo Olympics, won 6-3 6-3 in a brisk one hour, 16 minutes.

Like Medvedev, Svitolina is yet to drop a set this tournament as she seeks a second straight appearance in the US Open semifinals.

Despite the loss it was nonetheless an encouraging week for Halep, who had played just two matches before the US Open since May due to a calf tear, and later, a smaller adductor tear.

DRAW: US Open women's singles

In a later result, No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka stormed past frequent doubles partner Elise Mertens, dropping just five games to move into her second straight major quarterfinal.

Sabalenka, who reached the Wimbledon semifinals in July, next faces Krejcikova.

Medvedev’s brilliant form continues

Medvedev dissected Evans 6-3 6-4 6-3 and has now won 12 consecutive sets at Flushing Meadows this year.

The Toronto champion, who also reached the Cincinnati semis, has now won 12 of his past 13 matches and is by far the most decorated, in-form player remaining in the bottom half of the draw as he seeks to replicate his run to the 2019 final in New York.

DRAW: US Open men's singles

But first he will have to get past the inspired Van de Zandschulp, who won his seventh straight match at the US Open thanks to a 6-3 6-4 5-7 5-7 6-1 upset of Schwartzman.

The world No.117, who ousted eighth seed Casper Ruud earlier in the tournament, led Schwartzman 4-2 in the third set, and held two match points in the fourth, before steadying in the fifth.

Stat of the day

Van de Zandschulp has built a staggering 17-4 record at Grand Slams this year after coming through the qualifying rounds at all of them.

The 25-year-old lost in the first round of the Australian Open to fellow qualifier Alcaraz, before upsetting No.19 seed Hubert Hurkacz to reach the second round at Roland Garros. He fell in the final round of Wimbledon qualifying but entered the main draw as a lucky loser and again won a round.

And now he’s won seven straight matches in New York.

In 2021 he has won more than 40 matches and improved his ranking from 156th to 117th; he is expected to rise to the cusp of the top 60 with his US Open run.

Tweets of the day

Quotes of the day

"I don't want to say 'expect this' because, I mean, you never know, but I'm just really happy to be in the quarterfinals here because I really like playing at the US Open, especially with the crowd and the atmosphere is really enjoyable here."
- Aryna Sabalenka

"I'm super excited to be in my first second week in the Grand Slam, so it's amazing for me. It's a dream come true, no? I didn't expect to play quarterfinals here. So I think it's a really good performance from me in these matches."
- Carlos Alcaraz

"Right now I'm feeling good. I think I'm playing really aggressive right now. I think the most aggressive I've ever been, making lots of winners, serving really good. I want to keep this going, feeling that I'm in a good mind."
- Elina Svitolina, who has now won nine matches in a row after winning the WTA Chicago title, and 14 of her past 17. 

"I have to say when I'm playing against guys who are better than me, or better in general, my level is also increasing. So I prefer to play against better guys. Yeah, I started playing better myself."
- Botic van de Zandschulp

"I gave everything I had today. She played I think unbelievable match. Of course I wish to be in the next round here, but I will take a lot of positive things to the next tournaments and to getting ready for the next ones. It's great to see that I'm back, that I have the joy on court, that I can play good tennis again, that I can still win against the best players."
- Angelique Kerber, after falling to Leylah Fernandez.

Day 8: Ones to watch

Monday’s schedule opens with an enticing clash between No.4 seed Alexander Zverev and 13th seed Jannik Sinner, but all eyes will be on Ashe on Monday night.

That’s when world No.1 Novak Djokovic seeks to take another step closer to his historic sweep of all four Grand Slam titles in 2021 – and American rising star Jenson Brooksby tries to stop him.

ORDER OF PLAY: US Open Day 8

Following that match comes the fourth-round clash between 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu and Greek star Maria Sakkari.

Andreescu-Sakkari is one of several must-watch women’s matches on Monday; elsewhere, Iga Swiatek takes on Belinda Bencic at Armstrong and Karolina Pliskova tackles Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Grandstand.

Another teen phenom, Emma Raducanu, faces Shelby Rogers – conqueror of top seed Ash Barty – on Ashe bidding to join fellow 18-year-olds Alcaraz and Fernandez in the quarterfinals.