US Open Day 8: Djokovic survives, Sakkari beats Andreescu in epic

  • Matt Trollope

Novak Djokovic now stands just three wins away from an historic calendar-year Grand Slam after beating a gallant Jenson Brooksby in the fourth round on Monday night.

The four-set win sets up a Wimbledon final rematch with Matteo Berrettini, while Berrettini’s fellow Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova also advanced to the quarters.

PLISKOVA: "I think I have a good chance to beat all those girls"

There she will meet Maria Sakkari, who delivered 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu her first ever US Open defeat with a three-and-a-half-hour victory concluding at 2.13am local time – the latest-finishing women’s match in tournament history.

Earlier in the day, Emma Raducanu’s remarkable US Open run continued when the British teenager routed Shelby Rogers to reach the quarterfinals on her tournament debut.

The qualifier’s 6-2 6-1 win was her seventh straight in New York and sets up a showdown with surging Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic, who eliminated No.7 seed Iga Swiatek.

Bencic’s fellow Olympic champion Alexander Zverev also progressed, beating Jannik Sinner in straight sets to return to the US Open quarterfinals for the second straight year.

Standing in his path is South Africa’s Lloyd Harris, who advanced to the last eight of a major for the first time after beating Reilly Opelka in four.

Night session: Djokovic through, Andreescu out

Djokovic looked tense in a first-set blowout and struggled to contain Brooksby in a second set filled with dramatic rallies and epic games – all intensified by an electric crowd.

But after dropping serve in a memorable fifth game that extended to nine deuces, Djokovic, remarkably, broke Brooksby straight back to lead 4-2 in the second.

From there, the world No.1 ground down the young American both physically and mentally to win 1-6 6-3 6-2 6-2.

Even more dramatic was the captivating slugfest that followed at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Sakkari recovered from 4-1 down in the first set, fended off break points that would have seen Andreescu serve for the match in the second set, and came within two points of defeat as Andreescu erased three set points in the subsequent tiebreak, before eventually outlasting the Canadian 6-7(2) 7-6(6) 6-3.

Andreescu had been a perfect 10-0 in US Open main draw matches but it was Sakkari moving on to a second Grand Slam quarterfinal of 2021.

In June she reached the semis at Roland Garros, where she held a match point against eventual champion Barbora Krejcikova.

Raducanu, Bencic set up quarterfinal clash

Raducanu trailed Rogers 2-0 in the first set before rattling through 11 straight games to take command at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Rogers had stunned world No.1 Ash Barty with an incredible performance on Saturday night in the previous round, but against Raducanu she sprayed more than twice the number of unforced errors to her winners.

The Brit wrapped up victory in 66 minutes and has now won 18 of her past 22 matches – and 14 consecutive sets at Flushing Meadows.

Similarly in-form is Bencic, whose 7-6(12) 6-3 win over Swiatek improved her post-Wimbledon record to 13-1.

Bencic skipped ahead 5-3 before Swiatek rebounded to lead 5-2 in the subsequent tiebreak, but Bencic refused to wilt, saving three sets points to snatch a taut opening set and then controlling the second.

Like Raducanu, Bencic is yet to drop a set at this tournament and appears in the last eight in New York for the third time in her career.

In a later result, Pliskova saw off Roland Garros finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5 6-4 to improve to 19-4 since the start of Wimbledon.

Zverev extends win streak to 15

In perhaps even better form is Zverev, now unbeaten in 15 matches since Wimbledon thanks to his 6-4 6-4 7-6(7) triumph over Sinner.

Sinner upstaged Zverev in the fourth round at Roland Garros last year, but on this occasion, the German pounded 17 aces to help him to victory, despite a third set wobble from 4-2 up which later forced him to save five set points.

Harris, meanwhile, continued his impressive season by avenging his recent Toronto Masters defeat to Opelka.

There, Harris fell in a third-set tiebreak, but on Monday at Louis Armstrong Stadium he completed a 6-7(6) 6-4 6-1 6-3 triumph.

It marks the fourth quarterfinal of 2021 for the world No.46, but but by far the biggest; he had never previously been beyond the third round at a Grand Slam tournament.

On Armstrong, sixth seed Berrettini ended the run of German qualifier Oscar Otte 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-2 to progress to the quarterfinals at his third straight major tournament.

Stat of the day

Raducanu’s win sees her join fellow teenagers Carlos Alcaraz and Leylah Fernandez in the last eight in New York.

And it means that for the first time time in 20 years, there are teenagers through to the US Open quarterfinals in both the men’s and women’s singles draws simultaneously.

You have to go all the way back to 1988 to find a time when it was two 18-year-olds achieving the feat; Raducanu and Alcaraz have emulated tennis greats Andre Agassi and Gabriela Sabatini.

Fernandez turned 19 on Monday and celebrated with cupcakes.

Tweet of the day

Quotes of the day

“I feel like here I have had kind of my first big successes in a Grand Slam. I was 17 when I made my first quarterfinal. I definitely feel like it's just adding to the experiences, you know. I feel like from all of these situations you can always learn something.”
- Belinda Bencic, whose three trips to the last eight at Grand Slams have all come at the US Open.

“In Tokyo, all of a sudden it clicked, because in Wimbledon I had a very bad serving match against Felix. That was the reason I lost. Since Tokyo it's been a lot better, but it can still be a lot better, as well. The serve is the shot I spend the most time on. I am someone that needs that repetition, and I feel like the hard work maybe starts coming along.”
- Alexander Zverev

“It's just been better managing match after match, bringing the same quality, the same level of tennis. I always knew I had the ability. I never had a problem beating some of the top guys. But it was consistently playing at that level, which was a little bit more challenging for me.”
- Lloyd Harris

“Personally I am surprised that I'm here. I didn't expect… I knew I was doing a lot of great work that would pay off someday, but you never know when. I'm super appreciative of the moment. Having to be here in the US Open, quarterfinals, after not playing for 18 months, is absolutely just incredible.”
- Emma Raducanu

Day 9: Ones to watch

Four US Open singles quarterfinals feature successively at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday, with the biggest arguably the prime-time night battle between top-10 stars Aryna Sabalenka and Barbora Krejcikova.

ORDER OF PLAY: US Open Day 9

No.2 seed Sabalenka is the highest-ranked player left in the women’s field and is seeking a place in back-to-back major semifinals against the reigning Roland Garros champion, who is, incredibly, contesting the US Open main draw for the first time.

Men’s No.2 seed Daniil Medvedev opens the day’s play against Dutch qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp, before 12th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime closes it against breakout star Carlos Alcaraz, who is appearing in his first major quarterfinal.

MEDVEDEV: "If I play good, it's tough to beat me"

So to is Alcaraz’s fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez, who takes on fifth seed Elina Svitolina in the second match of the day.