The quarter-finals are set at the 2018 US Open with just eight women left in the hunt for the final Slam of the year. Monday featured a couple of dramatic matches and confirmation that the bottom half will produce a finalist that has never won a Slam before. Read on for six stories in Monday’s Set Points post from the US Open.
Keys continues dominance over Cibulkova
Madison Keys extended her head-to-head record to 5-0 against Dominika Cibulkova with a routine 6-1 6-3 victory. Keys used the same tactic as she did against Krunic, opting for the kick second serve that was very effective at keeping Cibulkova back behind the baseline on return. Keys was secure in all aspects of her game and was notably strong off the backhand side, hitting a couple of stunners of that wing.
Cibulkova threatened a comeback in the second set as she reeled off three straight games from 0-2 to 3-2. Credit to Keys who didn’t lose her focus and won 12 straight points from 3-3 before breaking for the straight sets victory in 76 minutes.
Keys has made three Slam quarter-finals this year and the only place she didn’t do it was at Wimbledon! This could have been Kerber in the fourth round so the draw did fall her way rather favourably because the German player has always been a tough match-up for Keys. Match-ups are huge on the WTA tour. I just suddenly thought that it’s not far fetched that we could see a repeat of last year’s US Open final again this year…
Osaka’s first Slam QF
In a battle of 20-year-olds aiming to reach their first Slam quarter-final, Naomi Osaka edged a tense and gripping battle to beat Aryna Sabalenka, 6-3 2-6 6-4. Osaka snapped Sabalenka’s eight match winning streak and five consecutive wins in three set matches. I was so excited about this match and i’m so glad that it lived up to expectation. I was quite certain it would be a damp squib and decided in straights! The quality wasn’t always there but it was highly competitive and fascinating from start to finish.
There were many mini battles and momentum swings in this match. Osaka saved a break point at *1-2 in the first set and then went onto win four of the last five games to win the first set. Sabalenka ran away with the second set after claiming her first break of the match at 1-1 in the second set. I thought Sabalenka had the edge at the start of the decider with the early break but she was unable to consolidate. From there on, Osaka was brilliant on serve and dropped just two points in her last three service games.
Sabalenka lived dangerously on serve but went big and bold, and found first serves to get out of trouble. Sabalenka saved three match points at *4-5 *0-40 but this time succumbed to the pressure. Osaka landed her most aggressive return of the game at 40-40 and then Sabalenka double faulted, her 6th of the deciding set, on match point.
Osaka was tearful at the end and it was the most emotion i’ve ever seen from the Japanese player on the court. I’m pretty sure her coach, Sascha Bajin was feeling it at the end too!I was impressed by Osaka’s ability to hold her ground against Sabalenka’s piercing groundstrokes. Sabalenka was understandably mad at the end and flung her racquet, but she gave a very good handshake. No doubt that Sabalenka will be back and contesting the latter stages of Slams many more times. I really wanted both players to win this match 😭.
Tsurenko outlasts Vondrousova for first Slam QF
On the verge of retirement after the first set, Lesia Tsurenko staged an extraordinary comeback to beat Marketa Vondrousova in a dramatic three setter, 6-7(3) 7-5 6-2. It was another brutally hot and humid day in New York. Tsurenko suffered in the heat in the first set and it was pretty painful to watch during the first set tiebreak.
Vondrousova was the better player in the first two sets but she just couldn’t put Tsurenko away. Tsurenko didn’t throw in the towel and kept plugging away. Then it was Vondrousova who seemed to be feeling it more with her leg towards the end of the second set. As the court moved into shade, Tsurenko started to look stronger as Vondrousova’s movement became more and more impeded.
Tsurenko served out the second set at the second time of asking and then eased through the decider with much of the damage done in an erratic three opening games from Vondrousova. Tsurenko served out the match on her third match point. Sounds like Vondrousova wasn’t so happy after the match via Ben Rothenberg on Twitter where she said she thought Tsurenko was acting. That’s very disappointing.
Highlight of the first two sets – a guy in the crowd continually cheering for Lesia with his “who is the best? Lesia’s the best!” chants 😂. I now know what they referring to in Sevastova’s press conference linked below.
While I was sleeping…
Carla Suárez Navarro beat Maria Sharapova, 6-4 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals of the US Open for the second time in her career and on her 30th birthday! Very happy for Carla who has had a brilliant few weeks 😊.
Sevastova’s press conference
Sevastova is always a good listen in press conferences. I enjoyed her insight of watching matches as a spectator in Ashe.
It will be a case of déjà vu as Stephens will play Sevastova in the QFs. S.Williams will play Pliskova in the night session.